Meet Our Designer – Amanda Kratochvil

Let’s get to know your designer, Amanda, a little bit better.

“I’m the first to admit I fell into my profession. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I did know I wanted to be creative, help people and never get tired of my job.

I chose my major on a whim and instantly fell in love. A lot of people tell me that they would love to make things pretty like I do, and while that is a perk of the job it’s not my central motivation. Each day is different, my clients are all unique and I love getting to live my passion every day.

My favorite detail of my job is the space planning. I love taking a space that doesn’t function for the homeowner and making it work for them. Everyone lives just a little bit differently; I love finding out the little details of my client’s life so that I can make their lives easier and tailor their space to their lifestyle.

Something like relocating the entirety of a kitchen to another part of their house so that they have a better flow with their entertaining space, or something simple like changing the swing of a door to help make the space feel more open and less crowded. Seeing the look on my client’s face when they realize that something is possible with their existing space that they’ve hated for so long makes my job worth it.

It’s like a giant puzzle; how do I fit these client specific pieces into a space without compromising on design, building and safety codes or my clients wants/needs? I love being able to play with the pieces to make what, is ultimately, a masterpiece for them.

My one goal for design is to create a functional, beautiful space tailored to my client’s needs.”

For more info about your designer check out her bio in our about section.
Photo Credit: Joseph Bacanskas 

Design Isn’t Just for the Two-Legged

In 2018 Americans spent $72.56 billion on their pets. It’s no wonder that people are starting to take their pets needs into consideration when talking about design.

Most aspects of pet design are more about the logistics of caring for and cleaning up after your pet. There are some smart ways to not only make your life easier, but make your space look great while keeping your fur babies in mind.

Litter Box Cabinet.

Having a built-in area to keep your litter box in is a great idea, it not only keeps some of the smell out of your space but keeps the mess in an enclosed area, making clean up a breeze. I’ve even seen some that are vented to keep air flowing. Check out these cool designs:


Pet Feeding Stations:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve kicked my pets water dish a time or two (who am I kidding, I kick it all the time). Getting creative with how and where you keep your pets food and water dishes can be  as simple as a piece of furniture, like the one shown below that does double duty, this will also keep pups out of the cat’s food!

Or something a little more built in like this suspended pet feeding shelf. As a bonus you can custom tailor it’s height for your pet.

Cats are known climbers, meaning it may be impossible to keep them off your furniture, sometimes you just have to embrace it. With a design like this cool bookshelf, you and your cats are bound to be happy.Your cat is more likely to keep out of your stuff if they have their own spot in your shelves!

Doggy beds:

Whether your crate your dogs while you’re away, or if you just want a place that’s just Spot’s but struggle to find the right place to keep the crate or bed without having to constantly move it around when visitors come or just leave hanging around your house looking shabby. If you have the space for it, doing something that is built-in create an aesthetically pleasing functional solution. Whether it’s under stairs or built into cabinetry, these fantastic places to hide your crate. Just look at these cozy homes:


This post inspired by the Housewarming & Studio65’s favorite four legged (and one spunky 3-legged) friends:

West Seattle Basement Design with Storage Solutions

I had the pleasure of working with a client on a project recently where were configured their existing basement layout.

Their wish list included:

  • Adding 1 bedroom
  • Creating a smaller laundry area
  • Adding a ¾ bath
  • Creating an area for a desk
  • Adding more storage

The client wanted to incorporate an office area, but they didn’t want a full-blown desk in the middle of their family room. Before our work, they had a rather large office area that was rarely used. The desk area was meant to be more of a side-line feature than the star of the show.

This is the final layout design we came up with (before on the left, final on the right):

In the process of space planning, we realized a few things. By changing the location of the garage entry to what used to be the “office” area and re-purposing the old bathroom/laundry room area as a new bedroom, we didn’t really have a dedicated space for a desk that wouldn’t infringe on the family room or storage areas. We came up with a solution that not only provided the family with a desk area, but extra storage as well. We utilized a typically underused portion of the basement…the underside of the stairs.

We created a multi-function desk and storage area under the stairs. The shelving above the desk is set back to allow for headroom, and the shelves on the left are scaled to fit bins for toys and office supplies.

This was an extremely rewarding project because we completely transformed the way this space functions and feels. The clients now have a light, bright and beautiful basement space that they can enjoy for years to come.

For more photos check out our portfolio. 

A Guide to Organizing and Finding Inspiration

Inspiration board created using Canva.

If you’ve ever worked with a designer, they will often ask you to give them inspiration images. Sometimes it can be overwhelming finding images that adequately depict what you’re looking for in a space, especially if you don’t like some aspect of the image.

Here are some important tips for finding those images…

  1. You don’t have to love everything about the image to save it, it could be the way the kitchen is laid out, the tile in the shower or even just the way it feels.
  2. Take notes about what you do and don’t like about the image as you find them, often you’ll end up compiling hundreds of images and then not remember what it was that you liked about the photo. Here’s what you need to take note of:
    1. What do you like about the image?
    2. What do you dislike about the images?
    3. How does it make you feel and is that how you want to feel in your space?
  3. If you’re using Pinterest or Houzz, don’t just re-pin, add a description making note of your likes/dislikes of the image.
  4. If it’s physical images, from magazine or even printed images, take sticky notes and write down notes on each.
  5. If you’re just googling images of what you’re looking for, and don’t want to use Pinterest or Houzz a simple way to digitally compile your images would be to just use PowerPoint to drag and drop images and add notes. It’s easy to manipulate and you don’t have to worry about pictures and text mixing changing layouts. If that’s too much work, try using Canva to create a mood/inspiration board.
  6. It doesn’t have to be of the same type of space you’re working on, you can find inspiration anywhere, your garden, artwork, public spaces..etc.. The important thing is to make note of what it is that you like so that we can help you implement that into your new space.
  7. Finally, this is probably the most important part, go back and look through the images you’ve saved a second time. Sometimes you’ll have found better images after the fact and can then narrow down your wants for your new space.



Small Bathroom Big Impact

Designing small spaces isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when you’re working with just shy of 34 square feet. Thankfully, the client and I had established realistic expectations for the space. It was the little details that made the difference in this tiny bathroom’s functionality.

This was one of my favorite projects because I got to collaborate with the client, who is a commercial interior designer. She had a few “must-haves” such as this fabulous Cambria Waterstone in Skye and this super high tech, Bluetooth compatible lighted Roburn medicine cabinet with USB charging ports, Bluetooth speakers, touch control and a nightlight.

It was the little details that really made this bathroom sing. We switched the location of the sink and toilet, so you don’t run directly into the toilet bowl. The hallway wasn’t a main walkway, so we switched the door to swing out so that the bathroom itself was more spacious, and no longer felt too tight. We eliminated  a door to the shower to allow for better flow, which was possible because the floors were tiled and water safe.. A high shelf that spans from the shower to the doorway provides extra storage without taking over the small space.

The results were this stunning, functional space that our clients are absolutely in love with.

For more photos check out our portfolio.

Built by Better Builders.




Nirvana in a Small Space

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush

Decorating a small home can seem like a daunting project—especially when you’re transitioning from a larger space. A good first step is to focus on the positive aspects of living in a small space: less maintenance, greater efficiency and function, and of course, the beauty and coziness factors.

Whether you’re downsizing to a smaller home or transitioning into a retirement community, small-space living does not mean the end of good design; instead, it is an opportunity to be smart and intentional with your design and decor. It’s a chance to shed some tired things and surround yourself with only items that you love, need, and use. While it’s a big task to sort through a lifetime of possessions, most of the hundreds of people my company has helped with this process express a feeling of liberation and peace once they’ve pared down to just their favorite and most useful things.

Many people choose to keep just their artwork or a single statement piece of furniture and start from scratch with the rest of the furnishing. Whether you choose from pieces you already own, or you shop for new pieces—or a combination of the two approaches—here are some tips for making your small space beautiful and functional.

Create rooms within rooms. Floating seating areas within a room rather than pushing furniture against the walls can actually make a room seem larger and airier. Desks or side tables can be placed against walls and used for work, dining, or display. A throw rug in the seating area will ground and separate the spaces.

Employ furniture that can serve multiple purposes.  A sofa table behind a floating sofa can double as a work surface—just pull up a chair. Bins underneath can hold office or hobby supplies. Reconsider the shin-bruiser bulky coffee table. Instead, use two smaller ottomans or trunks, preferably ones that do double duty as additional storage.

Smaller scale furniture need not be boring and uncomfortable. Look for smaller pieces that are still full and comfortable. Throw pillows can be used for extra comfort and to add bright pops of color. Larger pieces like sofas or loveseats are usually best upholstered a bit more neutrally while patterned side chairs and throw rugs can add layers and interest to a room.

Look up and maximize space by going vertical. Choose wall sconces instead of table lamps to free up surface space on side tables and nightstands. Use vertical space for storage and display. Floating shelves or custom casework can act as a focal point in a room.

Let in the light. Hang window treatments above the window frames as close to the ceiling as possible and position rods so curtains can be opened all the way to the edges of the windows. This lets in more light and gives the illusion of taller ceilings and wider windows.

Downsizing to a smaller space does not mean saying farewell to good design. It is an opportunity to embrace the wisdom of how you really want to live in a home and what makes your heart sing. What do you truly love to look at? What do you really need and use? How are you most comfortable? When you fill your space with only beautiful, useful, comfortable things that are intentionally placed for the best flow and function, you have reached design nirvana. Go for it! You know what you like!

Karen Pfeiffer Bush is a senior living specialist and owner of two Seattle-based companies, Housewarming ( and Studio 65 ( Contact Karen at (206) 719-1662 or email her at


Here are a few resources for smaller-scale furniture:

Del-Teet Furniture, 10308 NE 10th St, Bellevue,

West Elm, for interior design assistance and access to designer showrooms.


Originally published on 3rd Act Magazine, in the Spring, 2018 issue.