Do As A Designer Does

Say hello to “Do As a Designer Does,” our monthly advice column dedicated to answering readers’ burning interior design questions with some of the best brains in the business. Have a question? Shoot us a message on Instagram, or email us at editorial@semihandmade.com for a chance to be featured!

For this month’s installment of Do as a Designer Does, our expert is Bobby Berk. While he really needs no introduction, Berk is best known as Queer Eye’s resident design expert. Before his Netflix stardom, Berk made a name for himself as an interior designer in New York. In addition to launching his own brand, he worked for companies like Restoration Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Portico Home + Spa over the course of 20-plus years.

Question:

Hey Bobby,

I move basically every year, so it’s hard to choose decor because I never know how much space I’ll have in my next place. Plus, moving things like shelving and wallpaper is really tedious because I have to take them all down. Do you have any “apartment life” design recommendations or resources? 

Thank you! 

Rachel from Irvine, California

Answer:

Hey Rachel,

Rather than focusing on temporary elements that you can’t take with you in each move, invest in timeless pieces that will easily transition from space to space. I call these pieces the “foundational” elements of any room, not only because they serve as the bedrock of any home or apartment, but because they stay in style for years to come. Think rugs, sofa, chairs, tables, and dressers. 

When selecting these pieces, opt for something that is neutral and classic in shape and size, rather than something bold, trendy, or colorful. Approach these pieces like you would your favorite pair of jeans—they fit perfectly, they always look good, and you can easily accessorize them to create a totally different look. The same is true for your foundational pieces of furniture. By going neutral, you can bring in fun and temporary elements to give them a custom look in each new space. 

For example, you can add colorful pillows and textiles to transform the look of a neutral sofa in each new living space. In the bedroom, you can decorate a dresser with new art, lighting, and small accessories to give it a personal feel, and you can transform a classic upholstered headboard with a unique vintage throw. In the dining room, you can bring in fun table accessories like vases, table runners, and flowers to add color and personality. All of these small additions allow you to keep things feeling fresh, and they’re easy to swap out from move to move (or even season to season). 

If you can’t do away with pattern and color, consider temporary wallpaper. My line with Tempaper is perfect for renters. You simply peel and stick, and when you’re ready for a change or when you decide to move, you can peel it off without any damage to your walls. You can also apply it to the back of cabinets, the back of a door, or as a stair runner for a pop of color. 

The kitchen is another space that’s notoriously hard to customize in rentals. I suggest swapping out hardware to give dated cabinets a fresh look—you can even take it with you when you move to your next space. To refresh your kitchen floors, you can try peel-and-stick tile that can be laid directly on top of existing linoleum. 

Just because you’re moving year to year doesn’t mean that you can’t create a space that feels original, fresh, and fun! 

Good luck!

xx Bobby

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