Think of this as a little 101 in decorating. While we all cannot possess the eye for exquisite design and detail — we can decorate our homes as though we do. In some ways, interior decorating can be thought of as a formula with specific steps; building blocks that will help create your very own interior design. On the other side, there is an art to decorating; a flair that doesn’t really follow any rules or formulas. While you may not have an artful flair, you can begin to learn how to develop one. How? Well, there are some basics when it comes to pulling together the interior design of a room. By following these 10 steps you can begin to create a peaceful and functional interior space that takes your four walls and makes them feel like home.
1) Functional Layout Interior design must begin with a functional layout of a room. To begin, we suggest looking online for the numerous free offerings of online tools for room layout and design. In these design programs you can input room measurements, furniture measurements and then play with room layout to see what is most optimal. We learn a lot of our floor plan mistakes the hard way, so why not virtually design your room first, avoiding the drudgery of moving heavy furniture around, and failing repeatedly to get the proper layout. Functionality of your home is very dependent on individual lifestyles. If you have an empty nest, then you may be more willing to invest in expensive pieces and room decor, while busy families may prefer an open floor plan that is unobstructed by numerous decorative objects. Consider your individual living needs and then choose the right design software that can help you achieve your ideal layout.
2) Splurge on Seating Most designers will tell you that if you are going to splurge on one item, then let it be the sofa. Choosing the correct seating for a room is overwhelming! What color do you choose? What fabric? What size? How much should you spend? What is a good quality sofa? This New York Times article offers some insightful advice when it comes to choosing a high-quality sofa. Visiting numerous design showrooms will also help you in the initial search of style options that suit your needs and tastes. But before venturing out to shop, MEASURE! It would be awful to fall in love with a piece only to discover that it is too large for your space. We suggest you narrow down your choices to a few final options and then choose based on highest quality. A sofa can be a lifelong investment when the best quality is purchased, so buy the best that you can afford. Oh, and choose a fabric that you won’t grow tired of…who wants to live with a floral patterned couch or a dated “it was hot when I bought it” color the rest of their lives?
3) Decorative Objects It seems frivolous to add objects into a room that have no real use. Why would I buy something that I cannot use? Well, the answer is simple—because it makes a style statement, thereby adding to your decor. An eye for appealing aesthetics is something that you may not posses right away, but through trial and error, you can discover the correct assortment of decorative objects that work in your home. A lot of interior designers say that if you absolutely love something, then buy it, you will find a place for it and a way to make it work. This mantra may work for those of us with a seasoned design knowledge, but not for the more timid newcomers to design. If you are at a loss, we suggest browsing through magazines and interior showrooms to see what you love. Take notice of the way showrooms display their decorative objects; notice that most things are placed thoughtfully into groupings and not strewn about individually through the room. Most of all, buy what you love; what speaks to who you are.
4) Add Some Green Plants are commonly an after-thought. This is a design mistake. You may think that you have a room completely, immaculately designed, but look to see if you have incorporated plants and natural elements. It is amazing what happens to the warmth and design spirit of a room the minute that you add a tall potted palm plant. Immediately the room seems fresher and more properly put together. The Huffington Post offers numerous houseplant suggestions that make your home brighter and the air cleaner. Even if you consider yourself anything but a green-thumber, you can still incorporate easy-care houseplants into your interior design—you will be so that glad when you admire the new level of interior design your room achieves thanks to greenery.
5) Add Layers Layering a room is paramount to comfort and visual warmth. Look to the room in the image below. A fuzzy area rug is layered over the rooms main carpeting; pillows are perched in layers on the bed and on the chairs; curtains layer the windows; a blanket layers the side of a chair…. All of these elements form a cozy stratum within the room that help it achieve a well-decorated aesthetic. While considering the layers that you would like to add to your design think about choosing varying textures and fabrics— think velvet pillows, silk curtains, mohair blankets, and plush area rugs. All of these different textiles make the layering effect even more lavish. Go from blah to beautiful by layering your room today.
6) Incorporate Black This little-known trick works! No matter what your design tastes— country to minimalist— every interior design should incorporate a few splashes of black. Why? Black adds a sense of depth, character and focus to a room like no other color can. It can be as simple as incorporating pictures in black wooden frames, or a black graphic print on your curtains, or a black stripe lining throw pillows… it doesn’t matter where you choose to incorporate this bold color, as long as you incorporate it somewhere. Some may argue that this same effect can be achieved through other bold colors, but we suggest you just try it with black and see what happens.
7) Create Vignettes As mentioned above, decorative objects can take a space from bland to outstanding. Not only do you have to incorporate decorative objects, you also have to place them into proper vignettes. In home decorating, a vignette is a grouping of objects or furniture. You can create a vignette through a grouping of art on your wall, or a grouping of objects on a table, or a grouping of chairs near a window to create a conversational seating. By arranging your items in this manner, you create areas for the eye to stop, relax and stay awhile. Try arranging your favorite objects on a coffee table, or create a centerpiece of candlesticks on your dining table…anything goes as long as it is a cohesive grouping. If you are new to this idea, then start slowly and keep your groupings limited to 3 items that have common elements such as color, theme, or texture.
8) Make It Yours This is where you get to have fun and showcase your personality. There is nothing worse than a home that doesn’t speak to the owners loves, travels, tastes, passions, and hobbies. If you love color, then find ways to incorporate color through pillows and removable wallpaper. If you have travelled the world, then showcase the pictures you have taken or the items you collected while traveling. If you love giraffes, then incorporate some giraffe print on a foot stool or area rug. Get the picture? Make the interior design speak to who you are. This is where you get to have fun and create your own personal masterpiece.
9) Stick With Classic Lines Whether you are a poor student trying to furnish your first apartment or you are upgrading to the home of your dreams—it is always best to keep the lines of your larger (more expensive) furniture pieces classic. Classic lines are classic for a reason—they will never go out of style. Why spend $5000 on a sofa with bold angular lines that will date itself in 5 years? You can incorporate trends in less expensive pieces, but its best to keep your main furnishings simple, clean and classic. Look to the dining room in the image below. The black dining chairs are classic and go with any decor; they stay on-trend via the leopard fabric that can easily be changed, while the shape of the chair will never go out of style and is a great investment piece.
10) Take a Picture and Then Edit This might be one of the most important steps. After all, a picture is worth one-thousand words. Standing back and taking a snap shot of your room allows you to peer through a new perspective. In a way, a photograph allows you to see the room for the first time, through a visitor’s eyes. Suddenly it becomes glaringly obvious that a picture needs to be moved because it is hung too high, or that you have too many small objects cluttering the room, or that the pillows really don’t work. Taking several snapshots of the room from different angles is the best way to edit a room of its clutter and items that simply don’t work in the space.
Do you feel like this was a little 101 in decorating? While this certainly doesn’t cover all the design secrets (only an interior designer can do that), it does get you started on the right path to creating a well-designed home that is functional and attractive—a home that speaks to who you are. Everyone can incorporate these tips: layout the room properly, splurge on a great sofa, arrange decorative objects into vignettes, layer your rooms, add plants, incorporate black, stick with classic lines, take pictures to edit, and most importantly make it yours. What little tricks do you have up your sleeve to make your a home a well-designed space?