Professional interior designer Leslie Hart-Davidson from HDD Studios is always asked a ton of questions at her seminars and speaking engagements about current decor trends. Today she'll answer the top 3 most popular audience questions:

Question 1

Q: Kitchen remodels can be a huge expense costing tens of thousands of dollars, but what can I do to make the biggest impact if I only have a fraction of the budget?

A: The biggest impact completely depends on the bones of your kitchen. How structurally sound are your cabinets? If they're in decent shape but just tired looking, you have many options for updating the look of your kitchen. Here are the top ways to make a big impression for the least money:

• countertop: quartz is hot since it's non-porous and more durable/less maintenance than granite. Marble-look quartz by Cambria is hot and won't stain or etch like real marble.

• paint: a fresh coat of paint on cabinets and the walls can transform a space. Keep in mind that oak cabinetry will definitely show the grain despite layers of paint, so don't expect a sleek contemporary look from your 80's golden oak. It's perfectly fine to mix colors as well! Try a darker color on the base cabinets and white on the bottom, then use coordinating hardware to complete the look.

• hardware: if you want to update the finish of your brass hardware but don't want to drop a ton of cash, start with a $4 can of spraypaint first. Some hardware pieces can be $15 or more EACH, so make sure the investment is a functional one. Big box stores have a decent selection, as does

• backsplash: tile backsplashes are a hot commodity, especially in place of the standard 4" piece that comes with most countertops. Tile down to the counter makes the 18" high space feel taller and bigger. Classic white subway tile will never go out of style and is reasonably priced. Jazz up the look by adding a glass row or pencil liner instead of using pricey all glass material.

• lighting: nix the icky rectangular fluorescent tube in the center of your kitchen in favor of a more updated pendant or semi-flush option. Pinterest is FULL of ideas for replacement for both the rectangular configuration or the drop ceiling style.

If your cabinets are in a sad condition but you're not ready to replace them, DO NOT invest in a new countertop yet. Paint them if you'd like and concentrate on replacing hardware, updating lighting and upgrading the hinges on the existing boxes.

Question 2

Q: What's the best way to hang artwork on my walls?

A: OOK brand hangers are a designer go-to for proper, safe, minimally damaging installation. Their unique J-style hook with a protruding collar allow for the perfect angle for the special nail to hold tight in the wall. The OOK hangers can hold between 5lbs and 100lbs. For a great tutorial on proper hanging and measuring, check out Leslie's designdemocracy YouTube channel for a how-to:

Question 3

Q: How do designers charge for their services? Is a consultation worth the money for my project?

A: Educated and credentialed designers generally have several methods of billing. The first is an hourly fee similar to what you'd pay an attorney for advice and knowledge. Depending on the designer's experience, the hourly fee can range from $75-250 per hour. The next method of billing is a flat rate for a larger project. Typically, a contract is signed that details all of the responsibilities of the designer, including consultations, drawings and selections, project management and ordering of products. The flat rate is generally a percentage of the overall budget.

Is a consultation worth it? Many homeowners spend well more than what an hourly consult fee would cost on design mistakes, so consider the investment like an insurance premium. Do your research to find a good fit in personality and style with a designer to make you feel relaxed during the meeting, and by all means do your homework and write out questions before the designer arrives. The HDD Studios website has a helpful list of pre-consultation homework to ensure the best use of time and the most productive consultation: