4 Quick Tips to Working With A Designer (of any kind)

I’ve worked with a lot of clients. Most of my clients are bloggers but I also work with small business owners to build websites, as well as do some consulting for home design projects. Regardless of what kind of project I’m working on I’ve found there are some key qualities and tips I often want to give my clients. Most of the time these come with some hindsight or reflection of mistakes I make or projects that don’t go exactly as either me or the client would have liked.

I am not perfect. I make a lot of mistakes on the reg. It’s my favorite thing in the world to have a client squeal with joy from what I can give them. But, I’ve also had a few train wrecks for projects. Nothing puts a pit in my stomach worse than an unhappy client. I think any designer (of any kind) can tell you that’s the last thing they want when they work with someone.

4-Quick-TipsKeep in mind, these tips go both ways! When you hire a designer it’s a partnership, you each have to pull your weight. Here are my tips to you:

4 Tips to Hiring a Designer1. Do your homework.

Don’t just wing it. Come in to the partnership of working with a designer with a game plan. Know what you like and what you don’t like. Ask questions. Go see what others have done.

One of the best things I have my clients do is create a Pinterest board. This seems almost cliche. But, it’s the best way for me to get a visual for what they like. This is just a small piece of homework.

When it comes to working with a blog designer, if you are just starting your blog, go out and do some research on blog designs and the anatomy of a blog before jumping in feet first. One of the questions on my little questionnaire I give to clients asks about navigation and sidebar. I cannot tell you how many times I get asked what those are. If you are going to be a blogger, you gotta know what those are and more importantly how you want yours to function.

Tip #1 – do your homework. It will benefit you in the long run and the process will go so much smoother.

tip22. Be organized.

As you begin planning your design project, keep it organized. If this means using a notebook of ideas, labeling your emails or coming up with your categories for our navigation, just make sure you keep it organized.

Here are a couple free resources I handed out at the Go Blog Social workshop back in February. These are simple blog design check lists to help you organize your thoughts.

Design Your Blog Checklist 1

Design Your Blog Checklist 2

(If you enjoy the free resource, would you tweet about it for me?)


3. Be decisive.

Although you are hiring a designer to design your project – it’s going to eventually be yours whether that be a living room, blog, website or any type of space. You might hire the designer for their creative brilliance BUT you still have to make decisions.

The good news is… if you do tip #1 really well, this tip becomes a whole lot easier.

There is nothing wrong with deciding to make edits or revisions. There is nothing wrong with deciding you don’t like exactly what the designer presents you. But, there is nothing more frustrating than a project that just hangs out there because of indecisiveness. Ick. Don’t do that.

tip44. Communication is key.

I could probably write a whole blog post in and of itself with just this one tip. The most important thing to remember about communication is that it is a two way street – for sure. I’ve done some reflecting on old projects and be the first to admit – “Man, I should have communicated that better.” or “I should’ve asked them that questions earlier.”. Communication takes work.

Keep in mind when you are working with a designer that DESIGN = TIME. Time is money. Some projects and budgets only allocate for so many revisions before it’s going to start costing you to keep making edits. It takes time to answer email and questions. It takes time to come up with proofs. It all takes time.

Sometimes I think about some of my projects and if I took their invoice and divided it up into an hourly rate instead of a flat fee – they are getting one heck of a deal! With that being said, my number one goal as a designer is to make sure you are getting what you want.

Anything else you’d add to this quick list? There are probably a 10-15 other items I could add to this list but I’m more curious to know if you’ve ever worked with a designer and what tips you would give those hiring one. Ready, go.

The Ultimate Guide to Throw Pillows

There is just no denying the I have a pretty large obsession with throw pillows. I think they are one of the easiest (and noncommittal) ways to transform a room INSTANTLY. There aren’t very many home decor pieces that have the power of throw pillows.


I’ve had friends text me and people comment – “Where do you get your throw pillows!?”.  Here, my friends, is the answer. Pay close attention. I have some tips up my sleeve.

The Ultimage Guide to Throw Pillows via Ashley Ella Design

I’m all about color. I love love love color. However, I think there are many times that fun colors should go alongside neutral colors, like black and white. Here are some of my favorite black and white options for stylish throw pillows.


IKEA $5 Black + White Striped Cover (insert is extra)
Arianna Bell Black + White Diamonds (custom sizes available)
IKEA $10 Black + White Diamond Cover (insert is extra)
Whitlock & Co. Spotted Cover  (insert is extra)
Society Social Fireworks Pillow (with insert)
The Ultimate Guide to Throw Pillows via Ashley Ella Design

Society Social Leopard Print Pillow (with insert)
 Dwell Studio Geometric Pattern (with insert)
LuLu & Georgia Gold and Black Pillow 
(with insert)
ON SALE! HD Buttercup Pillow (with insert)
MotifPillows Gold and White Cover (no insert)

Leopard is a neutral… right? We’ll I certainly believe so. These neutrals go great with just about any floral fabric or graphic pillow below. If you don’t like committing to much to color, these are an easy way to still have a stylish look without the vibrant hues.

Ultimate Guide to Floral Throw Pillows

Society Social Orangie Floral Pillow (with insert)
Zara Home Floral Pillow Cover (insert extra)
Aurelia6311 Etsy Shop Floral Cover (no insert)
dekowe Floral Cover (no insert)


Michelle Dwight Hello Pillow Cover (no insert)
HomeGlow OMG Pillow (with insert)
Urban Outfitters Good Vibes Pillow (with insert)
Michelle Dwight Get It Girl (with insert)

Ultimate  Guide to Throw Pillows

Arianna Belle IKAT Blue and Turquoise (no insert)
Furbish Studio Palm Beach Pillow
(with insert)
Society Social Jade Pattern Pillow (withinsert)
Target Pink Burst Pillow (with insert)
IKEA Colorful Striped Cover (insert is extra)

Whew! That’s a lot of information. Did you get all that?

Here’s the thing… some of these pillows that have these really popular designer fabrics (like the leopard and palm beach leaves) can be found in multiple different places. For instance, I love the Orangie Floral pillows. I just had to have two. However, I wasn’t willing to pay $155 for those bad boys. I hunted down the name of the fabric and actually ended up finding the covers for super cheap on Ebay. I always recommend scoping out Etsy or Googling the fabric before buying an overpriced item.

Now, let’s talk inserts. Not all pillows come with inserts. A lot of the time you are actually just purchasing the cover and the insert is sold separately.  My favorite places to buy high quality but affordable inserts are JoAnn’s Fabric or IKEA.  JoAnn’s ALWAYS has a coupon online or on the phone app. Make sure to take that and your inserts will feel like a total steal.

Now let’s pair some of these pillows together. Often times, I have people tell me they know what they like but they don’t know how to put patterns and colors together. Here are some suggestions for pairing pillows. And, the best part is… all these combos are UNDER $100.

Throw Pillow Combo's Under $100 via Ashley Ella DesignThrow Pillow Combos Under $100 via Ashley Ella Design

What does do you want to know about pillows? Are you a pillow hoarder yourself? Do tell!

Enjoy The Ride Free Background


Just popping in for a fun little freebie on the blog today. Life is back in full swing after my adventures to Go Blog Social. Sometimes my weekdays get so jammed packed with everything I sit and design a quick blog post at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night because it’s literally my only time of day. Anyone else out there feel me on that one?

All too often in my constant running from here to there I forget to just enjoy the ride. Even if it is busy or hectic or I feel like the only time I ever sit down is when I’m in my car. Just enjoy it. So here’s a daily reminder you can save to your desktop or put on your phone.

Enjoy the ride my friends.


Jamie Montalto Photography (+ a giveaway)

I get asked all the time if I want to swap services. I’ve had some funny requests. Every now and then someone gives me a compelling pitch of how they will promote my services or what service they can exchange with me and I take them up on the offer. Most of the time I decline – it’s hard to work for free!

But recently, my “big” (yeah, that’s sorority talk) came to me and said she needed my help and would I want to swap. And you know what I said… heck yes! Honestly, even if she didn’t want to swap and just wanted a favor, I would have done it. If you’ve ever been in a sorority you have to understand my loyalty to this sister of mine.

But turns out Jamie (that’s my big) is exceptionally talented. She is a photographer based here in KC. She’s just starting out with her services but she has been photographing her family for a little while and it is so amazing. I’m jealous of any photographer because I am not one.

So we started working on her project. I began by helping develop her logo and here’s what we came up with:

logo-variationsAnd then we started on her website and came up with some pretty great ideas together. Hey – teamwork makes the dreamwork, people!



If you get a second, check out jamiemontaltophoto.com. Also, if you are in the KC area, Jamie is giving away a FREE session (a $300 value) if you simply go like her Facebook page. That’s it!

I’ve shared some of her fun photos on my instagram but here’s another couple fun shots for you to see just how awesome she really is.

Ashley Ella Design


Ashley Ella DesignI’m NOT a fashion blogger. I envy the girls with so much self confidence that they can post full body shots of themselves. And I’m the kinda girl that’s pretty much never liked a photo of myself in my life. But, I literally almost cried when I saw the photos Jamie took of me. She did such an amazing job of capturing me in my environment.

She’s worth the “like”. I promise.