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10 Design Tips to get a Million Dollar Room


Highly sought after interior designer, Stef-Albert Bothma, shares his insider tips on creating a Million Dollar Room without spending a million dollars.



Interiors by Stef-Albert at 432 Park Avenue​

A room is like a garden—best to clean it up and keep it fresh. Tend to it regularly, and don’t be afraid to cut back from time to time.


Anyone can splurge and throw a bunch of expensive items together and call it “design.” The key is to use one or two substantial pieces and complement the backdrop with smart

and inexpensive finds. Keep it simple, as one inexpensive chair could very well look sculptural, interesting and expensive. Remember always that it is not about volume, but composition. Treat furnishings like characters in a play. Have them relate to one another, as apposed to simply filling the stage. Imagine practical use, conversational purpose, and above all, choose what you truly like.


A room must have no more than two overall ideas. This applies to color scheme and general ambience. Choose your dominant palette and then add a few complementary elements. Remember, when a woman is well dressed you see her, not the clothes or jewels. The same applies to a room: when a room is well designed, people look good, while focal pieces and art stand out. Less is always more, so keep it simple.


Patterns and ornamentation are to embellish and accentuate, not confuse. The eye must be able to rest. Stick to a monochromatic backdrop while using pattern and motif to accentuate. Or, use pattern as a backdrop with solid accents. Balance is key, so whatever you choose, remember to counterbalance with its opposite.


Create a focal point. Pick a piece of art you like and build your room around it. It can be a poster, a drawing, a painting, a flea market find or street art. I usually start with art or an

interesting rug and then build the room around it. A room is like a song, it must have a bass line and a structure. It must hang together and be easy to understand. Once this is in

place, you can embellish and improvise.


Scale is the key to any successful room. What you see in a store or magazine may not be right for your space. Check your ceiling height and leave enough breathing room between pieces. Keep arm heights the same, and watch out for overstuffed furnishings unless your space can accommodate it or dictates it. What looks good in a catalogue as a room staged in a California home may not be suitable for your New York apartment, for instance. Just

because you have crown molding does not mean you have to accentuate it by using a contrasting color. Open up your room, let it breathe, and all details will present themselves.

Question architectural elements you are presented with; eliminate, accentuate or incorporate?


Ground your room with a rug of substantial size. Be sure your furnishings are placed at least one third or halfway over the rug, never short of it. 8. Slipcovers are super solutions for seasonal change, variety and inexpensive elegance. If your backdrop is neutral, you

can dress your room a fresh “outfit” by simply changing the slipcovers on existing pieces seasonally. For instance, holiday cheer with plaids and layers with flowers and objects

to go. Spring with all white and blossoms to accentuate. Winter with herringbone, tweed and a splash of color. You will be amazed how easy it is to change a room and remain inspired.


Generic rooms are for hotels, not homes. Pick interesting and unusual pieces, but most of all, things that you truly love. A room designed with personal passion and in accordance

with your personality and lifestyle can never fail. Move things around at free will as your mood and lifestyle shifts throughout the year.


Choose comfort above all. Shapes and forms may be interesting to the eye, but unless a room is comfortable and personal, neither you nor your guests will want to linger. A successful room not only looks good, but more importantly feels good! Watch out for synthetics, plastic, vinyl and cold surfaces. Have one good piece rather than 10 cheap ones. 


As a musician, a composer and an artist, Stef-Albert Bothma brings his creative eye and his artistic ability to create beautiful, warm and uncluttered living spaces. His clientele have included heads of state, Forbes 100 members, notable celebrities, and the internationalelite. He has completed projects in France, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Stef-Albert Studios is based in Manhattan with satellite offices in Paris and Los Angeles. See his work at



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