Designer tips: How to pull a look together
Posted March 30, 2015
"Begin with the end in mind" is most likely a familiar phrase that you have heard when starting any type of project. It is a simple statement that is commonly used in my design profession; however, it is not always just that simple for a design novice. A clear and precise image of your finished project is not always easy to envision especially when designing an undeveloped space. You may struggle with exactly how to pull a look together. Creating a spectacular room design can be a challenge if you have not developed a plan and customized an approach to execute your plan. To accomplish a successful design, it is very important to lay out a plan for your room by pulling together photos of design inspirations that work best for your lifestyle. Decide on how these design elements will function in your newly designed space prior to making a purchase. A great way to begin your process is to gather items in your personal collections that you like the best. Now look for the commonality of the elements among these pieces. Are they similar in color or shape? Are they intricately detailed or clean-lined and simple? Once you determine what draws you, shop for complementary pieces that expand the vision for your space and ideally your lifestyle. Remember, the design of things we surround ourselves with showcases our dreams, desires and also our personal style.
When working with clients, I have discovered that most people want the same or similar results for their finished project - a room design that is functional, stylish and adds value. Everyone loves an area that feels new and creates a comfortable yet social living arrangement. When designing for larger spaces such as family rooms, master suites, and particularly homes with open floor plans, it is important to create ‘zoned areas’. Zoned areas are smaller areas within a larger space defined and used for a distinct function and/or purpose. A truly functional design is customized to suit your everyday lifestyle.
So let’s talk about creating functionality for your space…
Space planning is one of the most important steps in the design process. To start your design process, it is critical to know the size and dimensions of your space. This allows you to purchase and place items that are “size-suitable” and will provide balance to your space. Your space should have furniture items that are the appropriate size and scale for the room. A general rule is to have at least two feet of maneuverability around seating areas and approximately three or more for pathways.
To create a functional space, start with your larger furniture items and lay out a furniture arrangement that works best for your family’s lifestyle and interactions. Starting with the larger items will establish the functional baseline which helps to dictate the direction of your design. The use of area rugs will not only ground or zone the space, but each area rug will define your various functional areas. Incorporating flexible seating in a room is one way to increase functionality in your overall design. You can achieve this by purchasing furnishings that can be easily rearranged to suit most occasions. For example, when establishing a zoned area as a dining space, it is important to incorporate flexible seating by using comfortable, fully upholstered fabric seating to accommodate overflow seating for your living space.
If you are using existing larger items in your room design such as a sofa, dining table or bed, it is best to reduce the room to a simplistic and classic state. In other words, remove all smaller contingent items and accents to establish a core for your design. This will also help de-personalize the room and ensure that the room is not out of sync with your authentic style and provides an opportunity for a fresh and new design direction.
When choosing your accent furnishings and accessories, consider items that will complement the overall appearance of your design while making your life easier. For example, consider choosing durable fabrics that can withstand everyday wear and accidental spills. Other examples are using rounded tables to avoid sharp corners for kids and incorporating multi-purpose furniture that contains storage. For displaying photos, choose sofa and occasional tables that have two or more display shelves. This will not only add a decorative element for your space, but it will also provide greater functionality in helping to diminish clutter and optimize organization.
Functionality plays a very primary role in the design process; however, it does not mean that you have to compromise the style of your design.
So let’s talk about how to incorporate your style in your design….
Style is defined as a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of living. Colors and fabrics play a huge role in styling a room; it can establish the mood in a room. Be sure to choose the items that are conducive for the mood you want to create. For example, neutral fabrics and tones can create an open and airy feel, while the accent pieces should add the pops of color in the room. To create a romantic look, fabrics such as silks, cashmere and lace can be used while rugged textures such as leather, wood and canvas would be used to create a masculine look.
When planning your design space, it is particularly important that shapes and colors are given sensitive consideration. This can often dictate your design direction and design style. Take time to choose colors that you love. Be sure to have a mix of neutrals as well as vibrant tones. The choice of neutral color should be extended to the wall designs while heavily contrasting accents should be applied sparingly. To create a cohesive look in your home, choose a dominant hue and scatter the color throughout the room. In addition, color repetition keeps your eyes moving and it also connects your spaces together. Accent walls should be used as punctuation for your design in areas that are focal points or areas that should be emphasized.
Choose artwork that represents who you are and what you love. When hanging your artwork you should ensure that the pieces hang at a consistent height or at eye level. Hanging your artwork at the same general height allows your viewing level to remain consistent and not disconnected.
Lastly, repeating design details in open and adjacent rooms provides visual continuity and creates an even flow. One room should introduce the next room in similar style and color. The easiest way to obtain this introduction without totally matching the two rooms is by using the color used least in a room as the primary color in an adjacent room. Repeat details and use different shades of the same colors to connect your spaces.
Now that you have chosen a furniture configuration that functionally works for your space and incorporated your style through color, fabrics and accents, let’s talk about adding value. I define value as something with low cost, high return, and worth the effort.
So how does one increase value in a space while limiting costs?
Attention to detail is very important when choosing items for your design space. When quality craftsmanship and details are made apparent during the design process, your home increases its worth and appeals to a greater audience. One way of accomplishing this is to enhance the existing architectural features by choosing trim colors that contrast with your wall color. This provides emphasis on the details and allows the feature to be showcased. For window treatments, update your windows with moldings instead of more costly custom fabric window treatments. If you have wood furniture that is well built and in great shape, consider refurbishing the pieces by re-staining, painting or by adding new updated knobs and drawer pulls.
Most importantly, I believe the value in a space is more than just monetary. A well-designed space can be a positive influence to your mindset and your sense of well-being. Design serves great value in positively impacting behaviors and can increase and improve your social interaction. For example, creating a design space that is influenced by nature will not only stimulate your senses but will also promote a healthy and harmonious living environment. To create a harmonious look and feel, consider pulling your design inspiration from your favorite scenic view such as a beach front or autumn landscape. Value is added when your space emulates what makes you feel great and provides inspiration. Decreasing stress and anxiety is also important for adding value to your design. Be sure to de-clutter and organize your space by incorporating adequate storage. All items should have a designated home or area for return. Lastly, to stimulate your senses, add candles and scents to promote relaxation.
In summary, beginning with the end in mind is great advice; however, formulating a plan for execution will provide the best results along the way. Being fully engaged in the design process will allow your room design to evolve into what is fundamentally an extension of who you are. Consider first the functionality of the space which creates the foundation for your design and provokes the direction of your overall design. Next, showcase your personal style through your color and fabric selections- choosing items that you love and ultimately incorporating items that reflect your personality. Lastly, add value to design by not only enhancing details that add to your home value, but also promote harmony to improve your way of living. You should never have to limit functionality or style while maintaining your home value. In fact, the more successful you are with your cost-reducing efforts, the greater chance you have to introduce your own personal style, creativity, and produce overall value.
My motto at HE Designs, LLC is… “Design is not just paint, fabric and accessories; design can change your way of living to ultimately change your way of life!”
If your room design is done well, it will never become old or passé but will always remain timeless, classic and representative of your authentic self.
Howard Eason, a self-taught Interior and Creative Designer, was featured as a cast member on the second season of HGTV’s All American Handyman and became one of 20 contestants on the show to compete in weekly timed elimination challenges. He successfully made it through to the top 12 on the series. Eason launched his company, HE Designs, LLC, as a full-time focus in 2011.