HGTV’s Monica Pedersen talks design from World Market Center

As an interior designer and featured expert for HGTV’s “Bang for Your Buck,” Monica Pedersen has the task of telling homeowners what they got right with their design choices and what they got wrong. They love hearing the former. It’s the latter that can get tricky.

“It’s a delicate situation,” says Pedersen, in town for Winter 2011 Las Vegas Market at World Market Center. “But, I just want to take the pressure off. I think about design all day. Let me do it for you.”

But design, not unlike fashion, comes down to style choices, and that can get personal. That’s why Pedersen assures clients she will come back for a redo if they put their trust in her and don’t like the end product. For the show “Designed to Sell,” the Chicagoan made that offer close to 100 times. She never had one taker.

One feature she’ll change time and again in a client’s home is an accent wall that doesn’t accent anything. It’s officially her design pet peeve. Unless there’s a fireplace that needs framing, a room separation that needs a bit of an introduction, or something similar, there’s no point. Before dipping the roller in Louboutin red paint, she suggests asking yourself what you’re accenting. If you don’t have an answer, you don’t have a need for an accent wall.

Not too many people these days are making design changes that won’t increase the value of their homes. With the economy and real estate market still shaky, homeowners are more likely to put money where it’s likely to come back to them.

For this, Pedersen recommends focusing on the kitchen and bathroom, with special attention to fixtures. New faucets and showerheads will make for a shallow dig in the wallet with a deep impact on the room. Next, consider appliances. Paneled appliances and stainless steel still appeal most to buyers, but black gets a pass, too.

Don’t forget the green aspect. More and more buyers are hitting their real estate agents with questions like “How much water does this faucet consume?” and “Are these appliances energy-efficient?” Forget the trendiness, they’re looking for long-term savings. In the end, Pedersen says homeowners should make changes that will add durability and value.

As a woman who never let a toolbox intimidate her, she encourages other women to start taking the “man” out of handyman work. If you insist on leaving those projects to the man of the house and the man of the house never gets them done, she’s got one question for you. “Can you read? Then you can do it,” she says.

Good instructions, combined with all the video tutorials you can find on the Internet, make handyman work much less daunting than some people like to make it out. Pedersen herself started picking up her own hammer at her father’s urging. While he gave her the basics for simple projects (Pedersen insists a tile backsplash is a cinch), her mother did the same with sewing. That could explain why she’s quick to incorporate textiles into her room makeovers. She signs her design signature with dramatic drapery, charming prints and functional fabric. For instance, she’ll use fabric to separate a space or hide an eyesore.

Pedersen describes her design style as traditional, comfortable and inviting. Three features just one Chicago winter can quickly instill. “When there’s a 40 below wind chill, the last thing you want is a shiny white floor greeting you,” she says.

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