Goodwill Home Décor Expert - Merri Cvetan

Goodwill Home Decor Expert Merri Cvetan

I started my career as an interior designer when we finished remodeling our home that was built in the 1890s. I loved the space planning, choosing finishes and decorating every little inch. It was trial and error, and we made mistakes, but I learned a lot along the way. Along with being a learning process, working on our home was also a hands-on project. We did everything ourselves (actually, my husband Tom did all the building and heavy work, I did the fun stuff!). I’ve had the decorating bug ever since I was a little girl, but I wanted to know everything about design, so, as a result I returned to college (Mount Mary) for a second degree in Interior Design.

I’ve been collecting antiques and vintage furnishings forever. My favorite shopping places are flea markets, antique stores and of course, Goodwill. I love DIY projects and saving money by taking an object and re-purposing it into something beautiful and useful. I’m also an amateur photographer, love to travel and study French (J’adore tous ce qui est franҫais)!

Although I love to entertain, I’m not much of a cook. My party philosophy is "if the table looks fantastic, it doesn’t matter what you serve."

My weekly column for Amazing Goodwill and my design blog, Design Coach, are about all things design, living a stylish life and entertaining (like setting a great table). I share DIY projects, decorating and design tips, as well as ideas and secrets.

If you have a specific question for Merri, feel free to email her at

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Watch Merri on Windy City Live! ... See more videos featuring Merri (and more) on our AmazingGoodwill YouTube channel!

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Feb 22, 2017 3:04:49 PM

Celebrate Mardi Gras


Mardi Gras means fat Tuesday in French. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Although many cultures (mainly those with large Catholic populations) celebrate the day, New Orleans is famous for their public festivities. If you can’t get to the city with the famous French Quarter this month, plan a party at home.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Feb 15, 2017 1:58:56 PM

Made in the Shade


Lighting is such an important part of decorating a room. Not only do lamps illuminate a space and allow you to work and read, but think of them as room accessories. Lamps and shades come in all sorts of sizes, colors, finishes and options. They don’t have to be expensive if you know where to shop and can see potential in bland or boring styles.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Feb 8, 2017 2:54:09 PM

Valentine's Day Love Story

Everyone loves February 14. The challenge is to come up with someone unique and personal for the special person in your life. Cards put your thoughts into words, and who doesn’t like a box of chocolate? But this year, I wanted to design something different, so I decided to spell out my feelings!

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Feb 1, 2017 4:42:38 PM

Artful Arrangement

Trays are such useful accessories that designers are putting them in every room. They provide a place for items you need at hand in the bedroom and bathroom, as well as the dining room or living room—they make a design statement. Trays come in every size, material and color imaginable. The one you choose to decorate your coffee table says a lot about your style and personality. They can also be very expensive. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for creative DIY alternatives.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Jan 26, 2017 2:30:54 PM

Kiss & Make-Up


Getting and staying organized is a challenge for most of us. It’s particularly challenging if you have a small bathroom or share a bath with others. I like to keep the items I use every day handy and at hand. As I walked the aisles at Goodwill one day, I found an old wood remote control caddy on a turntable.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Jan 19, 2017 11:51:47 AM

Window of Possibilities

I love houses with lots of windows. Windows with a view are the best, but windows facing a brick wall will also do as long as they let in light. If you happen to have a room with a not-so-pretty view, create your own with a window frame!

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Jan 12, 2017 4:37:00 PM

How Time Flies!

January is the perfect time of year to start new projects. Since it’s cold outside we hunker down until spring. This photo bracelet has been on my to-do list for quite a while. It turned out so cute, I think I’ll get a head start on Mother’s Day and birthday gifts. 

Not many people wear watches anymore. I know I seldom put one on. My cell phone is just too convenient. That’s probably why Goodwill’s jewelry department has lots to choose from. I like this one, because of its bead bracelet band.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Jan 3, 2017 4:16:07 PM

After the Holidays ...

Christmas decorations are festive and pretty. For a few weeks your home is cheerful and bright. Then January rolls around and ornaments and garlands are packed away until next year. It seems as though winter lasts until May with short days and long nights! Now the house seems empty, dark and not so cheerful. So what can you do? Here are a few decorating tips to make your home comfy and cozy again until the spring thaw.

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Dec 29, 2016 12:30:52 PM

New Year’s Eve Party


Where did the year go? It just doesn’t seem possible that 2017 is almost here. If nothing else, New Year’s Eve is another excuse to continue the celebration with family and friends. Our December 31st parties have changed over the years, but we’ve spent the last day of the year with the same friends. (I have visions of us all making too much noise in the nursing home someday!)

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Dec 21, 2016 3:18:45 PM

Colorful Christmas Stockings!

There is always so much to do the last few days before Christmas. Finish your shopping, finish baking cookies; finish the decorating then trying to squeak out some time for yourself! If you’re still in the “finish decorating” mode, I have a fast and easy stocking project for you. You should have figured out by now that I traded traditional red and green for turquoise, pink and purple this year. The challenge was to find stockings in coordinating colors. Since I didn’t have any luck, I headed to Goodwill to buy sweaters and shirts in those colors. (I loved the turquoise and aqua so much, I stopped there!) 

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Dec 15, 2016 10:22:09 AM

DIY Christmas Table Décor

I love easy DIY projects that look like a million bucks when you’re finished. Throughout the year, I collect small wooden boxes and metal sleighs knowing that when December rolls around I can transform them into original Christmas gifts. 

Posted by Merri Cvetan on Dec 7, 2016 4:26:54 PM

Kitchen Christmas Wreath

Since my mannequin Christmas tree in the turquoise, purple, pink and silver was so successful; I decided to use this bright color scheme throughout my house. And I do mean throughout my house, since I decorate every room. Next stop is the kitchen and what could possibly be better to adorn a kitchen wreath than cookie cutters! I don’t bake anyway, so they’re better on display than in a drawer.