Mix it up. Furnishings don't have to match in period and style and can span traditional to contemporary. "I just like to surround myself with things I love, no matter what the style," she said.

Don't forget the foyer. Create a welcoming space for entering your home with a special table to hold fresh flowers and a bench to take off shoes and set down packages. Hang a mirror, as well. "It's an economical way to decorate a wall and there are such wonderful frames you can choose for the mirror," she said.

Invest in area rugs. They anchor a sitting area, add color and pattern and can soften a room that has hard lines or surfaces. "My hearth room rug is like a painting on the floor," she said.

Timely family photos. Some designers advise only displaying a minimal number of photos. Skogmo is a fan of filling tables with framed snapshots, but "pick meaningful and current photos — put the baby pictures in the bedroom."

Lynn Underwood