Posted by Aisha Coleman in Orlando, Home Design

No matter what interior style you identify with, who couldn’t use some interior design tips from a couple of industry professionals? Today, we bring you just that!

Meet Christy Scanlon, President and Owner, and Warren Haseltine, a Senior Designer at Masterpiece Design Group, a model merchandising, commercial, and residential interior design firm located in Winter Park, FL.

A recent interview with the dynamic duo uncovered everything from what it’s like designing for a builder, to what inspires them as well as some tips for us to use in our own spaces.

Check out this video for some home design tips and read on for the full interview.

What’s your experience in the interior design industry?

Christy: I’ve been in the industry for about 25 years. I’ve always been self-employed. Even in high school I was self-employed. When I got out of school, I learned model merchandising and design from some of the largest design firms in Orlando. I learned the trade and decided to start my own company.

I did go to school for design, but I’d say my experience is more life experience. I feel it really is something you feel inside, and you understand scale and color and how things work together. I think it has to be a passion you have.

Warren: I’ve been here at Masterpiece for over 10 years now. I started at Disney, got some design experience there, and then branched off to find my niche and love of interior design and now mainly do model homes.

I also got my degree in interior design, but I really feel it comes down to something you have to know you have, and just kind of evolves from there. A lot of on-the-job experience really makes you a much better designer.

What’s it like designing model homes?

Christy: There’s a big difference! With models, we are trying to inspire buyers to see themselves living in the home in the future, whereas in a residential design we are designing for the clients’ taste.

We have to design for the masses, so we don’t want to hone in on one specific look when we are trying to appease different buyers. We love picking out finishes in the M/I Homes Design Studio and create the dream that a homebuyer can come in and see themselves living in that house. That is our ultimate goal: to create that idea that this home could be theirs.

Warren: I feel like I get to design my dream home every time. There is always something new we get to try. It’s great starting with something simple—like just jotting down some ideas on a piece of paper—to walking in the final product and seeing how it came together.

Kitchen With Mixed Metals

What do you love most about being a designer?

Christy: I love the feeling I get when people see a space that is properly designed and how it inspires. It’s about putting the entire look together and that “Wow” you get from a client.

Warren: I love that I get to be creative. This gives me my outlet to try new things. It’s always changing and there is always something new, so it keeps me on my toes.

How do you begin your design process?

Warren: Color in interior décor is often the starting point. When you start to pull together the area rugs, art work, pillows, and fabrics, it supports the color and leads the design in the right direction.

Christy: We are often inspired by a mood shot. It could be something we online or something from a catalog. It helps us to come up with a design that we can put our own spin on so that it is unique to the room we are working on.

As a designer, where do you find inspiration?

Christy: I find inspiration in very unusual places. Like in a restaurant, I notice interesting elements on the screens between the booths, the front door, or maybe a ceiling detail. I was recently inspired by some design elements in a VBRO that I stayed in. I have even found inspiration even a fence or mailbox detail that I drive by in a community. It triggers something in my mind that we can then develop into another element for our design.

Warren: I think you can find design inspiration in anything! I even find it at the grocery store in the packaging, something with a neat pattern. I start with a small pattern, and I like to see how I can turn it into something big—a wow moment. I also like a lot of color and a lot of contrast. Like if we paint a dark accent wall, we put a lot of light or white accents.

Loft Hangout Space

How and why should homeowners use texture in interior decorating?

Christy: Texture is important to design! It can help a room feel more comfortable and more lived in versus everything feeling too sterile.

For example, in a living room, you want to make sure the pieces you sit on regularly have a nice texture to them. It can be brought out on the frame or the finish of a piece of furniture. It gives uniqueness so that not everything feels the same. Texture can be brought out on a fabric on drapery, like a trim or banding—it adds some accent.

What is your advice on layering in home design?

Christy: Layering helps give a complete look. I like things in threes. It is the 3 pieces together that I feel complete the look. As an example, think of bookshelves: it can be so much more than just books! You can layer in picture frames, accessories, and small greeneries. Layering helps create a collective look.

Warren: Layering can be as simple as starting with the paint on the wall. Then you add artwork and continue to build out. Think of it like getting dressed for the day. You start with your shirt and pants, then you add a watch, your earrings, your makeup. It’s the same for your room: you keep layering until you have your complete look.

Layered Home Decorations in Living Room

How do you recommend using lighting in interior design?

Warren:You want to feel comfortable in a room. There are many types of lighting in interior design, and picking the right scale of lighting can make a huge difference. Adding a variety of lighting (overhead to lamps to under cabinet) can make a room feel completely different. Layers of lighting can make a huge difference!

Christy: It’s also important to have natural lighting. In model homes, our draperies barely cover the windows because we want all that natural light to come in. There is also a big trend on larger scale light fixtures right now, where they are a very dramatic piece of the design of the room. We are seeing them in all price ranges as well. You can cluster light fixtures together to create a larger look.

What interior design rules do you live by?


  1. Know your style! We recommend you go online and check out sites like Houzz and Pinterest and create an idea board. This will help filter the many different design elements to what is important to you. Scale is one of the hardest things to master. You can over do or under do things by having the scale off.
  2. Make sure the colors are working well together. Don’t let the color tones fight.
  3. Mixing metals in interior design helps create a more unique design. You don’t have to stick to the same finish.

Warren: Don’t be afraid to mix it up. You don’t necessarily have to buy a whole suite of the same furniture. Mixing it up gives it more variety, makes it more personal, and will feel more custom.

Luxurious Owner's Bedroom Design

So whether your home is in need of a design update or maybe you’re just figuring out your interior decorating style, either way, I hope you can use these tips and tricks to decorate your space. And be sure stop by any of M/I Homes – Orlando Metro model homes to see Masterpiece Design Group’s work in action.


Aisha Coleman

Have questions about interior design? Looking to take on a DIY home project? Interested in discovering new things to do in your hometown? Ready to learn about the new home construction process? Aisha can help! With over a decade of experience in her role as Internet Sales Manager in M/I Homes of Orlando, Aisha's ready to share a wealth of knowledge on all these topics and more. You can trust Aisha's insights as she is a Florida local and enjoys spending time with family by either traveling or relaxing at one of Florida's many beaches.

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