Our Contributors are experts in their areas of design and decorating. You’ll enjoy their helpful articles with designer advice, trends, Designer DIY’s and ideas that you can easily apply in your own home.


GraceAnn Simoni

Interior Redesign and Staging Expert

GraceAnn Simoni, IRIS, MSA, CIRS, CISS, NAPO, shares with us budget tips and advice for decorating with your existing furniture and accessories. And when it’s time to sell your home, GraceAnn’s staging advice can help you sell your home quickly and for a good price.

GraceAnn Simoni“I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. without the use of an alarm clock!! Why? Because I am so excited to face another day doing what I am passionate about,” says GraceAnn. “As a child I loved to play with my doll furniture arranging and re-arranging, play office with lots of paper pushing and to play school, with me as teacher, of course. Thankfully that is exactly what I am doing and have been since 2001.

“I started Yours Redesigned by GraceAnn to help busy people get the Home They Want in the House They Have™, using the concepts of Interior Redesign or A Day of Beauty for Your Home™. In 2002 the demand for help in getting homes prepared to sell added the Home Staging arm to the business.

“Finally, and best of all, in 2005, I became an IRIS, (Interior Redesign Industry Specialists) approved trainer. Now as the Midwest Staging Redesign Institute, I can help others turn a passion for decorating and helping people in to a profession. What I loved as a child has brought me full circle to the best home based business I could ever imagine.”


Leona Gaita

Interior Design Expert

Leona Gaita is has an infectious enthusiasm for her work as an interior designer. She specializes in space planning, color and fabric selection and full-scale interior design and renovation. She shares with us her inspiring ideas and advice to help us enrich our homes and lives with beauty and elegance.

Designer Leona GaitaIn 1994, Leona Gaita joined Gaita Interiors, a staple of the local community for over 40 years, serving Larchmont, Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. With a lifelong involvement in the fine arts and design, Leona expanded the friendly neighborhood upholstery shop into a full service design firm.

“As I think about what people really need right now, in terms of the economy, and what I can offer, blogging about design seemed to be the most direct way of helping people help themselves,” says Leona. “My ultimate goal, for my clients and my readers is always for their home to reflect their very own unique outlook and personality. I hope that through my posts here and with my own Gaita Interiors blog, I can give the average person the tools they need to beautify their living environment for themselves, and have fun doing it!”


Mari Robeson

Interior Design Expert

Mari Robeson — an Interior and Product Designer, and a published Illustrator — strives to bring beauty into the world whenever she can. Mari shares with us her Interior Design tips and advice, and makes learning design concepts fun. With her fresh, creative projects, Mari spreads her love of color and beautiful textiles.

Mari RobesonDesign has been a part of Mari’s life for as long as she can remember. She has a BS Degree in Art & Design from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Mari has designed everything from restaurants to children’s rooms. Many of her homes have been featured locally and in national magazines. She and her husband own WM Design Consultants located on the beautiful Central Coast of California.

When working with her clients Mari noticed that, more often than not, they would have a challenge finding the perfect fabric to pull a design together. With her background in Graphics and Illustration, she went looking for a way she could create that fabric herself. Designing Textiles soon became a perfect marriage of her Interior Design and her Graphic Design. She recently launched her own line of home décor accessories and textiles, made right here in the USA.

Most days you can find Mari working up her latest designs or teaching Interior Design Workshops in her colorful studio nestled in the countryside. If you’d like to know more about Mari’s Open Studio Dates and Times, Interior Design Workshops and the Latest News, visit her website:, or her blog:


Susan Serra, CKD

Kitchen & Bath Design Expert

Susan Serra, Certified Kitchen Designer, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, member NKBA, has been a specialist in kitchen interiors for over 20 years. Owner of Susan Serra Associates, Inc., producing beautiful kitchens since 1991, Susan’s philosophy about kitchen design is focused, interestingly, toward comfort in the kitchen. Susan shares with us her advice and ideas for creating comfortable and beautiful kitchens and baths.

susanserrackd“A kitchen’s primary purpose is to perform numerous functional activities surrounding food preparation and serving. However, I’ve been an advocate for years toward encouraging my clients to bring a bit of the ‘living room’ into the kitchen…to build comfort into the kitchen, where we can linger, socialize, and engage in a variety of activities. A kitchen is not only for cooking and dining-it’s also for relaxing, socializing, and spending quality time therein. My own 2003 kitchen renovation included a raised sofa as part of the in-kitchen dining area, wide screen TV, and numerous precious paintings and valuable pieces. Be surrounded by what you love!”

Susan’s kitchens have been published by national home design magazines for many years, often by Better Homes & Gardens publications. Susan is a valued resource for insight on kitchen design topics by the media, including Martha Stewart Radio,,, and more. Susan’s blog, is the most widely read blog on kitchen design, authored by a professional kitchen designer, and it’s a place where she can share her thoughts, tips, and ideas on the heart of the home…the kitchen!


Diana Durkes

Furniture Makeovers and Upcycling Expert

Diana Durkes believes that home is where both the heart and creativity live. In a culture where big box style is everywhere, she makes room for individuality with a little DIY know-how. As she gives furniture and accessories new lives, Diana shares with us her ingenuity and workmanship.

Diana DurkesHer rehabs start with rescued pieces and salvaged materials that are still “perfectly good,” such as orphaned tables and chairs with good bones that just need a little work. And she guides style expressionistas through their own restorations.

With a background in media and retail, Diana’s design interests were piqued while growing up. “On any given Friday morning, my mother’s friend Phyllis would stop by for coffee and minutes later, the two of them would be trying the couch on this side of the living room, the wing chair over there,” says Diana.

Diana writes for Time Out Chicago in the Tossed and Found column that showcases her signature before-and-afters each month. She also pens the blog Garage Sale Warrior for the Chicago Trib’s Chicago Now. More makeovers can be seen at Fine Diving in Chicago, Diana’s do-it-yourself design blog, where she gives how-to’s to her growing fan base of fellow DIY Design Junkies.


Regina Garay

Decorative Painting and Surface Design Expert

Regina Garay is an accomplished artisan with creativity and energy to spare. A specialist at all manner of decorative painting techniques, Regina shares with us tips, how-to’s and trends in surface design that we can apply in our homes, as well as inspirational designs from public spaces.

Decorative Painter Regina Garay“You know how when you meet your true love, your heart beats faster, you feel a little nervous and all you feel is a happy giddiness? That’s what happened when I painted my first room. Since that time, I’ve come to love all aspects of decorative painting and all manner of surfaces it can transform — it is truly what I was born to do and am endlessly curious about.

“I started Garay Artisans in 1998 and when it really snowballed, my brother and sister came on board to help. Based in Orlando, FL, we have since transformed many spaces, including the Grand Bohemian Hotels in Orlando, Savannah and Asheville, the Hilton at Walt Disney World Hotel and the Orlando Airport. In 2008-2009, we won the national Grand Prize for the American Painting Contractor’s Top Job Awards, which is given to the company with the project that had the highest level of creativity and execution for that year.

“The siblings and I opened our own studio in 2007 to continue using our decorative painting skills and now produce handcrafted wallpapers and beautiful antique and ornamental mirrors. I write the Fauxology blog, and the family podcasts together at Sibling Artistry, to share our obsession with the decorative arts. I’ve found kindred spirits from all walks of life and I look forward to meeting many more here at!


Sherri Blum

Nursery and Kids Room Design Expert

Sherri Blum loves putting her talents to use designing beautiful rooms for her tiny clients. She is one of the U.S. pioneers specializing in interior design for children’s rooms. Sherri shares with us trends, designer projects and advice for creating beautiful, yet functional kids rooms and baby nurseries.

Designer Sherri Blum Sherri holds a Bachelor’s Degree, and a certification with DTI, Decorator’s Training Institute. She is a Professional Member of Certified Interior Decorators, International and an Associate Member of IDS, Interior Design Society.

Sherri’s designs are popular among celebrities and have been featured in numerous media including Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, People Magazine, Good Morning America, The Tyra Banks Show, Dr. Phil Show, HGTV, Pregnancy Magazine, Ideas for Great Baby Rooms book.

Sherri founded Bare Walls Design Co. in 2001 and in 2003 opened Jack and Jill Interiors. She especially enjoys interacting with each child to discover his or her unique personality and express that personality through her room design, creating a magical space that will inspire.

Sherri has been seen doodling and sketching since she could hold a pencil. In 2003, her love of art and whimsy led to the creation of her designer line of children’s wall art, clocks and hand-hooked, wool, signature rugs, Sherri Blum Designs, offered in over 400 boutiques internationally. Sherri writes the Jack and Jill blog, and resides with her family in rural Pennsylvania where she is inspired daily by her children and the beautiful, surrounding countryside.


Steve & Cathy Lambert

Garden and Landscape Design Experts

Steve and Cathy Lambert have created distinctively dramatic, custom gardens since 1989, through their award-winning design/build firm, Garden Lights Landscape & Pool Development in Orinda, CA. They share with us their advice and expertise on all areas of landscape including: Design, softscape, hardscape, pools, spas, ponds, streams, waterfalls and lighting.

Cathy and Steve LambertSteve is the chief designer and oversees all construction. He holds a BA in Landscape Design and Contracting from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo; his California Contactors Licenses for landscaping and pool construction; and a Master Gardener Credential from UC Berkeley.Steve continues to educate himself on new techniques and industry trends.

“A landscape design should reflect the taste and personality of the homeowners. Your front yard is your home’s first impression and your back yard your own private retreat. A garden should blend beauty and form with practicality and function. I’m delighted when years after a project, clients continue to tell us how much they enjoy their yard and how frequently they receive complements on it.” – Steve

Cathy left her California Parks Company, Director of Marking job in 2001 to be a work-at-home mom and apply her PR and Marketing expertise to the family business. Formerly a writer for outdoor publications, since 2005 Cathy has co-written with Steve The Orinda News’ Way to Grow column.

“We’re a great team. Steve is a walking plant encyclopedia with years of design and construction experience. I love wordsmithing his technical information into something easy to understand and fun to read for the everyday DIY gardener. We’re thrilled to join the inspired group of design bloggers and to sow creative seeds in the minds of the Design Junkies for their outdoor spaces.” – Cathy

Chief Design Junkie’s commentary: Cathy and Steve are some of my best friends in the world and some of the most fun humans you’ll ever meet. That said, they create the most romantic & enjoyable garden spaces I’ve seen anywhere. (And they dance a mean swing.)


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