After a brief blogging hiatus, which is known to happen when you bring home a new puppy while gearing up for the biggest shopping month of the year, we’re back and ready to talk about interior design. I love how social media has democratized the once inaccessible sophisticated, modern interior design and styling through applicable tips and abundant inspiration.
Picture from @thehouseofsilverlining on Instagram.
With the endless scrolling feature on Pinterest, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to get the best return on your design investment. We sat down with Dustin Matinkhah, owner of local home decor store Dara Modern, who helps clients create their dream modern home as a design consultant. Learn how Dustin approaches design, why he decided to open a decor and furniture store in Salt Lake City, and 5 quick ways you can modernize your kitchen and bathroom in our interview below.
How did you get into design?
“Growing up, my parents were involved in architecture and electrical engineering, so I was educated about good design from a young age. We traveled a lot and I developed a heightened appreciation for design and architecture. After college, I had the opportunity to assist with building a modern home and be involved in the development of several other modern homes in the Salt Lake area. It was during my search for modern products for my own home that I realized there was a missing hole in the Utah market.”
Why did you decide to open Dara Modern?
“For years I thought, someone really needs to open a modern design store, but there’s obviously a fear of failure that comes with it. I was working as a real estate agent and knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term, so I decided to take a leap and apply for a business license. I contacted brands I was a fan of and memorable ones I saw in design magazines to start selling their products. Within a month I opened a pop-up shop to test the viability during the holidays and ensure I was able to pay off my initial investment.”
Picture from @project_n10mber on Instagram.
What are some trends you’re seeing that are having a positive effect on interior design?
“The rise of a more minimalist style. It’s good for the environment because Americans are so materialistic, we live in so much excess. Going more minimal makes you focus on what you like most by reducing clutter and waste. This enables us to appreciate individually designed items because they are so much more highlighted. From a more detailed lens, larger slab tile versus smaller tile and grout. This is great for bathrooms because it’s much less busy and easier to clean.
From a materials perspective, the reintroduction of white oak flooring is a great new standard. You still get the warmth of a hardwood floor, but it’s light enough that it doesn't feel overbearing.”
What are some design trends you feel are past their prime and shouldn’t be used?
“At a high-level it great to see the death of McMansions. People are designing homes that are a more practical, manageable size. They want just what they will use, which is easier to keep up and if you efficiently design a space it feels plenty big.
Subway tiles are a bit overdone in my opinion. In opposition to minimalism, clutter without purpose is never good. You still see that happening in home decor.
Finally, overpriced knock-offs that are cheaply made. When you knock something iconic off and price it above its quality and value, it’s in poor taste. There’s a difference between a knock off Eames chair and overpriced knock off items that aren’t well-engineered. I encourage people to invest in pieces they love.”
Picture from @tandcinteriors on Instagram.
What are 5 quick things you can do in your kitchen to give it a modern feel?
- Swap out the lighting! Put in modern fixtures and replace your can lights with a dimmable, clean white color. It makes a huge impact.
- Change out your hardware. Personally, I like no or minimal hardware. Push latch hardware is a great way to refresh a kitchen. If you’re going to get new hardware, I like a simple black chrome that’s less ornate or commit to simple exaggerated hardware pieces that span the cabinet. I stay away from stainless steel because it’s hard to keep clean.
- Reduce the number of upper cabinets by installing open shelves. They help make a kitchen feel more modern and open. However, if you’re a messy person then open shelves aren’t a good option for you.
- Carrying your countertop into your backsplash. This can be achieved more affordably by applying a solid piece of glass that’s painted to match the countertop. It’s clean, minimal and once again easier to clean. People have so much stuff on their counters I don’t think it’s worth it to invest in a fancy backsplash with grout that’s a pain to clean.
- Hide clutter and if you can update appliances to be more seamless. Have places to put stuff away, for pets, kids, etc so it doesn’t get left everywhere. For appliances that aren’t pretty, why not make it look like the cabinets? Companies are now coming out with chic, more simple kitchen lines that blend in nicely.
What are some items that are worth investing in for the kitchen?
If you’re into coffee, a nice coffee maker is something you’ll appreciate daily.
A good dishwasher because we use it all the time, and everyone still uses a dish rack in addition to that. Dish racks are inevitable, so get a nice one that collapses and you can put away, similar to the Dorai Dish Rack.
If you’re going to do a bigger project, a nice porcelain or ceramic sink is a great investment. Again, avoid stainless steel because it’s so hard to keep clean and always shows watermarks.
Picture from @_the_stables_ on Instagram.
What are some cost-effective things people can do to improve their bathroom?
- Organize your stuff on the counters. I like to use a caddy or tray to help define a space to put your things. Trays within the tray, give things a spot so you declutter the rest of it and keep it organized. For a recent bathroom I helped design, I bought these acrylic trays for everything, towels, q-tips, cotton balls, etc. Then something for the soap and lotion next to sink, such as the Dorai Sink Caddy. This forces you to condense things into one area to free up space everywhere else, it’s a better use of space.
- In addition to reducing chaos on the counter, add more storage with floating shelves. Another suggestion I implement is a couple of towel hooks instead of a towel bar. They look good, they are minimal and you can fit more towels than 1 bar. It’s such an easy solution.
- For the flooring, refresh your bath mat with something more modern, such as the Dorai Bath Stone. If your space is big enough, it’s nice to have a flower or plant.
Let’s say you have a more dated bathroom, how would you give that space a refresh?
- Install Large mirrors: they help your space feel brighter and larger, who doesn’t want that? I recommend mirrors that go from the counter to the ceiling. I rarely use framed mirrors, it doesn’t seem practical. You can’t see your whole self and it makes the wall feel big.
- I mentioned it above but larger tiles. For a while, 12’ x 12’ tiles were the trend, then 12’ x 24’, now moving into 24’ x 24’.
- If you can invest in plumbing, I like a clean under-mounted sink with wall-mounted faucets that clears up counter space.
- Lose the small bathtub and do a nice walk-in shower, assuming you have a tub somewhere else.
- Finally, lighting is always huge. You need nice and functional lighting in a bathroom.
There are so many good pieces of advice and we appreciate Dustin’s time! We love becoming more design savvy on all things interior, and there’s definitely some low hanging fruit in our home that we can improve upon with these tips. We hope you enjoy learning about modern home design and decor as much as we do!
If you’re a local Utahan, we’d love for you to join us on November 22 for a pop-up shop and holiday celebration at Dara Modern from 4:30-6:30 pm. We hope to see you there!
Featured images from Instagram @spaces.collective