My cousin Kara has always had an ear, and an eye, for what works.

Kara DioGuardi has been a successful music industry mogul for decades now, having written many of the popular songs we know and love, as well as signed amazing talent that has gone on to become favorite entertainers. She knows a good thing when she sees it!

She and her adorable and hilarious contractor husband love to buy and renovate beautiful properties. I have visited them in many of these places, and always appreciate her unique vision for creating a space. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if they turned up sometime soon as the next HGTV power couple!

While visiting them in their newly renovated waterfront home in Kittery Maine in March of this year, I asked her about her philosophy of design.


Following are her thoughts:

What to consider when creating your space.


“I kind of look at design as the reflection of all the facets of your family, and yourself.

So when I’m feeling like I want to be in a space that’s cozy and warm and kind of relax, I envision that space, and what that would feel like… and what that would look like.

And that’s different from maybe where I want to have a drink at the end of the night, or where I want to eat, with my family, so I kind of think about what feels good to me in terms of when I want to relax. For me that’s a very comfortable couch, with lots of pillows, so I create a space that reflects that.

Depending on the house, do you want to have color in it?

Is that color going to be too stimulating? Or does that color brighten up an older house that feels somber if there aren’t colors?

In an older house I had, which wasn’t on the water, (and still in Maine) in the dead of winter it looked grey. I wanted those colors inside, to pick me up and make me feel happy and light.

The house I have in Kittery on the water, when we bought it, it was all very dark inside. Very small rooms, very Georgian Colonial, small windows –  the house just wanted to be opened up.

It wanted full length windows, floor to ceiling, and there was this incredible view that was being hidden! And the minute you opened up all the walls, you realized that the outside kind of came in, so you wanted the whole house to focus on the beauty of the outside. So by creating a monochromatic palette, it allowed the outside to come in. Especially during the summer, it’s absolutely beautiful.


Creating open spaces…


I’m really into open floor plans, because I think you can create many different spaces within them.
It allows you to have all the people you love in one space yet not be on top of each other. Whereas in the old style of doing homes everything was sort of cut off, and so you’d have one person in one room, and you couldn’t see them, and you’d be screaming ‘come down for dinner!’ or whatever.

I love open floor plans with the kitchen, and the living room, and the dining room kind of altogether, and just creating these spaces through rugs and seating and lighting.

I really don’t like matchy-matchy. I’m into taking old and new, mid-century modern things and putting them altogether and creating a history that’s not just ‘oh, I only buy this. I only do that.'”




On choosing what you like when creating your space.


How do you choose your tiles and wallpaper, etc? I love how you mix patterns.

“I think time is the most important thing. It’s research and development where you really look at the internet, and look at your Pinterest boards.
Look at some of the best. I always refer to the restaurants and great hotels. They usually have amazing designers. I look at what they’re doing, and see what fits my style. I don’t necessarily pull the tiles they are using, but it gives me ideas and the more ideas you have the more you can sort of start to say ‘Ok, this is what I think would be good.’

Then if you give yourself time, maybe a week later your looking at it and think, ‘no, it doesn’t feel right.’

If you’re just running out and trying to make decisions, quickly, you may make the wrong decisions.

You have to look at many many different things. The internet is a great tool for that because you really can go to Pinterest and type in something, and then the next day see something else. Then you just have to say when you’ve looked at enough things, and you have a feeling for what it is you want, you have to make those decisions. But you have to be really educated about what you like.

People always say ‘Oh, I re-did my house, I wish I’d done this, I wish I’d done that’. You can’t always get it right the first time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Because the thing is, you can always change a paint color; you can always donate or sell something you bought that you end up not being crazy about.

But truly, when people say, ‘Oh, I’m not creative, I work in a bank’, we are all creative. We all have the ability to choose what we surround ourselves with, who we surround ourselves with and that’s where creativity really begins.”


Listen to the interview on Anchor Radio!

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She’s my cousin, and having grown up with her I have always been so impressed with her talent and proud of her achievements. I don’t always describe it well in my own words, so here is a little about her from her official bio:

“As one of the most successful contemporary songwriters in the world, Kara’s songs have appeared on more than 160 million albums. She has had over 50 charting singles with artists such as Pink, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Rascal Flatts, Gwen Stefani, Enrique Iglesias, Celine Dion, The Band Perry, Leona Lewis, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Natasha Bedingfield, Avril Lavigne, Santana, Meatloaf, and Darius Rucker, to name a few. Kara was also a judge on seasons 8 and 9 of the hit FOX show “American Idol.” Her book, “A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love & American Idol”, was released in 2011. Later that year, she also made her Broadway debut as Roxy Hart, in Chicago.

Her company Arthouse Entertainment, remains one of the most successful boutique publishers in the world, with hits by Jon Bellion, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, and Cee Lo Green.”

Kimberly is a home and lifestyle coach, helping women identify and realize their best home and life.  She has been featured in publications and podcasts, and is a Huffington Post contributor.  She believes our surroundings and relationships have a direct effect on how happy we are. If you want to learn more about how to live in alignment, raise your vibration and create your peaceful, happy home and life, click here to get weekly tips and more information on working with her.