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"Does anyone have a farmhouse sink that they love?  We put in concrete and it hasn't held up." Photo: Natalie Gagnon, Kitchen Design: Jill Kalman

Featured Article

Design by Committee

How Social Media is Helping Homeowners Problem Solve

Article by Interview with Jen Berniker: creator of DesignPort

Originally published in Westport Lifestyle

Odds are every homeowner has some sort of “design dilemma” right now: “Shades or drapes?” “What size rug?” And the impossible: “Which shade of white?” So where do you go for design advice when you are not working with a decorator?  

Enter DesignPort, a new Facebook group for crowd-sourced design and renovation advice. Created in October of 2020 by Westport mom, design obsessive, and one of our writers, Jen Berniker, DesignPort is populated and cultivated by local homeowners. Already it has 1,500 highly engaged followers (some posts receive close to 100 comments in a day!)  

We cornered Jen to get more information on her design idea.

What inspired you to create DesignPort? 

Jen Berniker: Not everyone can hire a professional designer. If it’s a small project, like picking new doorknobs, you probably don’t need a designer anyway. The problem is there are about 900 doorknobs on Fortunately, there are people who already researched this topic and can tell you the difference between polished nickel and brushed chrome and what’s the most budget-friendly round flat knob you can buy and where. I wanted to create an organized way for people to tap into that knowledge base.  

Is DesignPort trying to take the place of a professional designer? 

JB: DesignPort doesn’t take the place of a designer; it gives you inspiration and useful tips for smaller projects. If you need a suggestion for a light fixture, a funky wallpaper, a sofa that will save your back (and maybe even your marriage), these are all things that have been asked and answered in this community. 

We also have some professional designers in the group, who are an amazing resource for members to get high-level advice. It’s a great way for designers to get their names out there. Although the moderators and I try to keep the page free of unsolicited advice and advertising.  

What’s are some of the most popular posts? 

Bathrooms and powder rooms, and we’ve seen great ideas. Bold paint, statement wallpaper, and a stylish mirror can make a major difference for a relatively minimal cost. Kitchen posts are often about small upgrades, like backsplashes. Others ask if they should renovate the kitchen or just paint the island a new color and change the knobs. Some posts have included kitchen floor plans and members respond back with marked-up versions. People also love “before and after shots” and time-lapse videos of DIY projects. 

Recently someone asked for “three things you can’t live without in your home.” The top answers were: a big pantry, a mudroom, and two dishwashers.  Honorable mention went to a central vacuum system and heated floors in the bathrooms. 

What kind of photos should we post?

The key to success is taking a well-lit wide shot of your unfinished space, then posting a few options you like. Votes and other ideas will pour in from the hive mind.  

Any quick design tips?

  • Do buy planters and pillows at Home Goods, not art.  Support a young artist and buy a print or photo. 
  • Don’t be afraid to put holes in your walls. Hang that photo!  
  • Do try a minimal round mirror over a long console table.  
  • If your sofa sits on the ground, do a coffee table on legs, and vice versa. 
  • Do make a Pinterest page.  Don’t look at prices, just style.  Seeing all of the things you like in one place will help you narrow down options.   
  • Do play with paint to make a traditional house feel modern: Paint your walls and trim the same color. Paint your trim dark and your walls light. Paint your interior doors a neutral color that complements your floors.
  • Do think about proportion before you purchase a rug, light, sofa, etc. As with clothes, the fit is as important as the style, and chances are, you can go bigger. 
  • If you aren’t sure, ask DesignPort! 

How do I join? 

You need to be approved by a moderator but anyone can join and invite friends. Go to and follow on Instagram @designportCT

  • Painting interior doors a soft neutral makes a big impact.  This door in Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray. Photo: @homeforseven
  • "Please help me pick a shade of white!"
  • Check out my quick fix bathroom update.  Photo: Iris Greenfield
  • Check out my quick fix bathroom update.  Here is the "Before."  Photo: Iris Greenfi
  • "Does anyone have a farmhouse sink that they love?  We put in concrete and it hasn't held up." Photo: Natalie Gagnon, Kitchen Design: Jill Kalman
  • Miseno Bratton Doorknob (purchase at
  • Simple Style: Round Mirror ( over miminal console ( Vase from McGee & Co. Photo Credit: Jen Berniker
  • "Does anyone have a farmhouse sink that they love?  We put in concrete and it hasn't held up." Photo Credit: Natalie Gagnon
  • "Does anyone know the source for this splatter paint wallpaper?"
  • Fun Bathroom Before & After.  Design and photo by @stewartschafer
  • "Help! Need kitchen stools should I do A or B?"  Photo Credit: Sarah Manning
  • "Looking to paint the island for a more modern look.  Any suggestions on a color? Or should we keep as is?" Photo Credit: Stacey Levkoff
  • "Anyone have a fun/funky mirror suggestion for this bathroom?"  Photo: Sarah Blumberg