Design on a dime with Jessica Stout Design

Moving is such a pain in the you-know-what. Packing, unpacking, carrying heavy boxes- it’s all bad. While I hate the process of moving, the upside is that you have a blank canvas to put your unique stamp on.

But what if you don’t know how to decorate? What if you see a cute piece but have no clue how to work it into your current design? If that’s the case, it might be time to consider hiring an interior designer.

I know, I know, interior designers sounds expensive, but according to Jessica Marhoefer , owner of Jessica Stout Design, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve always thought hiring an interior designer would be out of my budget, but Marhoefer (Stout is her maiden name) says she can and has worked with any budget, even the small ones.

Check out the Q&A I did with her about designing and check out some of her work.

Q.  How long have you been an interior designer?

A. I graduated from Ball State University in 2009 with a degree in interior design and a minor in marketing. I started a full-time interior design position that following Monday designing custom wine cellars. So I have been working in the interior design field for a total of five years now.

Q. How did you get started?

A. I’ve always liked to work with my hands and be creative, but I didn’t always know how to make a career out of that. I would spend hours rearranging the furniture in my dollhouse or building elaborate homes out of Legos as a kid. My mom usually let me do whatever I wanted with my bedroom – it was constantly changing. I even had a hammock in my bedroom as my bed at one point when I was young. I grew up watching my grandpa build furniture out of wood by hand and admired his attention to detail and work ethic. I guess you could say being creative is kind of in my blood.

Q. Describe your design style?

A. My design style is constantly evolving so it is challenging to define it in just a couple of words. It really depends on the day, my mood, the trends and the colors of the seasons. I will always stick to the classics, mix in some vintage, with a touch of modern. I like to follow the basic design rules, but I know when to break them to achieve a high-end designer look. I’m not afraid to take risks. That is how you create a really unique, one-of-a-kind space. All designs should have some meaning behind it. I’m not afraid to incorporate ‘grandpa’s chair’ even if it doesn’t exactly coordinate with other items in a space solely because it has meaning behind it.

yellow and gray bathroom

Photo provided by Jessica Stout

Q. What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about hiring an interior designer?

A.That they can’t afford them, or that it is going to be super expensive. It doesn’t have to break the bank! My main objective is to save you money. Instead of spending a lot of money and wasting a lot of time making mistakes in your home decorating, I will effectively show you the right way to design a space. And in the end, save you money and time. Also, a well-designed space doesn’t have to be a product of all custom-everything. It is about spending your money where it counts, and saving where you can, to get the biggest impact.

Q. Can you really work with any budget?

A.I can, and I have! Everyone has a budget, no matter big or small. It is just about being creative with that budget and using my design skills to get the most bang for your buck. I’ve decorated an entire space for only $500. It was a challenge, but I was forced to think outside the box, use items in unconventional ways and put my DIY skills to the test.

gray and coral master bedroom

Photo provided by Jessica Stout

Q. For those of us on the low-end of the budget spectrum,  what are some tips you can offer to jazz up a space?

A. Instead of spending your money on a bunch of small items to fill a space, spend your money on a couple of large decorative items. Larger items in scale are going to make much more of an impact than a lot of little accessories around a room. Anything you can DIY (do-it-yourself) will also help with staying within that budget. For example, buy second-hand furniture and re-paint the piece to give it an updated, modern look. Paint is the cheapest thing that will give you the most bang for your buck. There is so much you can do with paint, especially on the walls of a space. I painted large horizontal stripes on one wall in my living room/dining room and it made a huge impression in the space. Stripes on the wall or even a stencil painted on a wall can be artwork in its self.

living room makeover cover photo (1)

Photo provided by Jessica Stout.


Q. Where are your favorite places to shop for home décor?

A. Anywhere and everywhere! I like to look for smaller unique items at Goodwill, thrift and antique stores or yard sales. For new pieces I love Target, Ikea and West Elm. Personally, I like a good mix of old and new items to create a unique space. My home is filled with yard sale finds and furniture pieces from Ikea. Target is really one of my favorites if I had to pick just one store. They have everything from furniture to accessories to lighting. They always have a rotating stock of inventory and they have been killing it with staying on trend and lending a high-end design style at an affordable budget.

Q. How often should people change the décor in their homes?

A. I think good design is always evolving and changing. You should never have a space in your home that sits exactly the same way for more than 10 years. You should always be adding in some new artwork or rearranging pillows on the sofa. Adding and rotating smaller items such as accessories keeps a space feeling modern and up-to-date. But a good rule of thumb for a complete overhaul or re-decorating is every seven to 10 years. After 10 years it’s probably time to reevaluate your furniture, new paint, new window treatments and decorations.


Q. What is the most challenging area in a home to decorate?

A.For most people it’a a bookcase. It needs to be filled with both books and accessories while not feeling cluttered all at the same time. It’s hard for most people to layer in items for a ‘full’ yet ‘uncluttered’ bookshelf. These smaller, finishing details of a room are always the hardest for people, but that is what really makes your house feel like a home.

jessica stout design bookshelf decorating (2)

Photo provided by Jessica Stout.

Q. When it comes to designing your home you shouldn’t spare any expense on…

A.  A good sofa! This is usually one of the most expensive furniture pieces in a home because this is the piece that grounds your living room. If you are like me, I spend a lot of time in my living room on the couch. It is where we gather with friends while entertaining, or watching a big game on Saturdays. It is the place of relaxation on the weekends. It’s usually the piece of furniture that will get used the most in a home so it should be really good quality. It pays to spend a little more money upfront on an item that will last for many years.

If you want to know more about Jessica, follow her on social media here:

Do you think you’ll hire an interior designer?


P.S. Don’t forget to check out the Artichoke Designs pop-up sale at the Indiana Design Center happening now until Aug. 8. Find new decor for a fraction of the price.

'Design on a dime with Jessica Stout Design' have 8 comments

  1. July 31, 2014 @ 3:46 PM Jessica

    Thanks Whitney!!! I feel so honored and humbled to have worked together with you on this!!! I hope people get some good tips with this!!


    • August 4, 2014 @ 7:30 PM Whitney

      Thank you for doing it for me!


  2. July 31, 2014 @ 6:43 PM Kelly

    I love Jessica’s style! I would definitely hire her to help me…in fact, I need to!!!!


  3. July 31, 2014 @ 11:33 PM Julie

    I might be bias but I think Jessica is the most talented and creative person I know- she also happens to be my sister. How lucky am I to always have her to bounce ideas off of! She has designed two spaces for my home- master bedroom and my daughter’s nursery. We are in love with both!!! I am consistently giving her name out to friends and co-workers. She truly can help with the largest projects down to the smallest!!


    • August 4, 2014 @ 7:29 PM Whitney

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with being bias. =).


  4. August 4, 2014 @ 1:33 PM Laura

    Great post!! I always thought there is no way I could afford an interior decorator, by to know how much (it little) they can work with gives me hope!!


  5. August 5, 2014 @ 10:05 PM Lenze

    Great post. However, the links aren’t working 🙁


    • August 6, 2014 @ 9:12 AM Whitney

      Thanks for that. They should be working now.


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