Podcast, Ep. 308: Mixing Patterns in a Neutral Room with Design Alchemy

Design Alchemy Founders

Our guests this week are Deborah Costa and Kristine Renee, the mother-daughter design duo behind interior design studio Design Alchemy, based out of Sacramento, California. They join us to talk about creating patterns in neutral rooms that are timeless and fit your style. Deborah and Kristine give some great ideas for warming up a room, why Kristine loves a good bathroom project, and the importance of the architectural elements of a space that are primarily important to her.

Design Alchemy Interior Sample

What You’ll Hear On This Episode: 

  • How did Deborah and Kristine form Design Alchemy?
  • Why did Christine and Deborah decide to partner up and become a design duo, and what is it like working as a mother-and-daughter team?
  • How are each of their styles different?
  • What is the appeal of a neutral space?
  • How to use patterns in a neutral space to make it feel tranquil yet also welcoming.
  • Deborah and Kristine talk about knowing what pattern to pick and the different feel behind stripes, florals, etc.
  • How can you see what may work and what won’t?
  • What patterns are Deborah and Kristine loving right now?
  • How about color patterns that pair well together?


Decorating Dilemma: 

Hi ladies!

I have been a long-time follower of the podcast, listening from Virginia, and am just now getting around to submitting a design dilemma! I absolutely love decorating and am an avid interior design lover, so I’m very excited to hear what you have to say about my current decorating dilemma.

My dilemma is about our living room: The living room is a long and narrow room, which has made decorating rather challenging. It spans the entire left side of our house. Since it’s the only hangout room, it also doubles as a playroom for our one-year-old. This is the room I focused on when we first moved in 4 years ago and we started by painting the room and “custom designing” this sofa from a furniture store. Two years later we were able to get the two gray antelope swivel chairs. I love the sofa and the chairs individually and really thought I could get them to work together. However, the thing I keep going back to is wishing I got the sofa in a white Crypton instead of the dark beige linen.

Reupholstering the sofa and/or chairs is not in the cards since we just spent a good part of our budget on those. Although I love the wall color for our downstairs (Behr Ginger Sugar; a warm gray), I also feel like the paint color in the room may help solve the issue. A different rug may also help. Thoughts? Is there anything else you suggest instead or in addition to that? I’m also open to other design advice and constructive criticism! How can we fix the neutral blob situation?!

Thank you so much for all your help!!!

– Margot


First off, we just want to start by saying great work for going with a pattern on your accent chair, an interesting arm on your sofa, and picking out a rug in your dining room.

We could totally tell that you love design and have great taste. Here are some suggestions: putting the blue piece behind the sofa and finding some great sconces behind the sofa would anchor that area. Maybe brass or a polished nickel, or something with a metallic element to bring in some reflection and some interest. The upholstery on the sofa is fine, and maybe a colorful nubby throw on the Ottoman could create multiple spaces in the environment.

We recommend you try to section off the living room from the dining room and create an interesting story in each that are complementary, but not necessarily the same. Maybe like a bold window treatment in velvet. We think you are being too hard on your sofa, and do you really want to be cleaning a white sofa with kids? For more white, maybe adding some white pillows could go a long way.

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Kelley Bostian

Kelley enjoys a light and livable home and is always searching for that perfect "finishing touch" antique piece. Here on How to Decorate, it's his goal to help you bring your own unique design vision to life.