If you’re designing the interior of your home on your own, it’s hard to know where to start. You have a vision in mind and a checklist of to-do’s, but what comes first? What are the most important aspects of your overhaul that you need to keep in mind throughout the design process?
In this article, we’re going over the do’s and don’ts of creating the perfect, functional living space.
Not Hiring a Professional to Help
How did you know that this would be our first piece of advice? It is so important to hire a professional interior designer, as well as a licensed qualified contractor. A professional designer is skilled to help you avoid costly mistakes and make things go smoother overall.
When the Bedford Brooks team is on a consultation one of the tools we bring with us is a simple form that allows us to show our clients an estimate of what things may cost. For instance, let’s look at a living room make-over.
- Minor repairs $ 1,500.00
- Painting $ 1,200.00
- Sofa $ 3,000.00
- 2 Occasional chairs ($650 each)
- Side Table $ 400.00
- Coffee Table $ 800.00
- Table Lamp $ 250.00
And the list goes on. You may be surprised at how quickly things add up, however, this way there are no surprises and you can budget accordingly.
The first stage in any design is to pre-plan as much as possible. Whether you’re planning on a full home renovation or a small decorating project, the more thought and planning that goes into this stage the better the overall results will be.
A professional will take all the interior measurements which will include doorways, trim, windows etc. and put the measurements in a planning tool such as AutoCAD. You can simply draw this out on graph paper but be accurate.
Scale is very important; start playing with the different layout designs and don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Once you have the layout with all or most of the items you think you will be purchasing or placing you can get started. For example, if you’re out shopping for a new sofa you know now where the best placement of that sofa will be and the width, height and depth you’re looking for.
Invest in premium lighting and if you are thinking about pot lighting, sconce lighting or valance lighting, plan this out and budget a reasonable amount for the purchases. Take your time when looking for light fixtures. There are usually great sales on for lighting, don’t settle here.
Not Having a Focal Point in Each Room
Again, this is another common interior design mistake. A lack of a focal point means that furniture is likely to be organized in a very haphazard and random manner. This is a mistake because it creates a sense of disorientation and means that you and your guests don’t have anything to put your focus on. It also suggests that the room lacks purpose.
An added benefit of having a focal point in your room is that it will make arranging everything else much easier, since your focal point means that all other furniture will be arranged around it. So, how do you decide what will be the focal point? Think about the overall function of the room to help guide you. In a living room or basement, for example, the focal point will generally be the television and television set. Other focal points might be the desk or bookshelf in an office. Focal points can also be selected on the basis of being topics of conversation, like a large painting or fireplace. Keep in mind that rooms that are larger in size can have multiple focal points as well.
Forgetting to Think About the 5 Senses When Designing a Room
When it comes to designing a room, it is easy to get bogged down by the larger details, like furniture and paint colours. However, a room really comes together when it’s designed with all five senses in mind: hearing, smell, taste, touch and sight.
This goes along with another common design mistake, which is not incorporating nature, like plants, into a room. The simple addition of a plant can touch on two important senses: our sight, which will provide a sense of calmness when we look at the plant, and our sense of smell, which will invigorate us when we smell its freshness.
Balance and Symmetry
Each area, vignette, wall hanging and accessory placement must have certain symmetry to it. IYou can feel it when things are out of balance or out of symmetry. Some common design mistakes are;
Hanging artwork or pictures too high:
This is a big pet peeve for our entire team. So many people have this idea that the higher up the wall they go, the better. The general rule is to hang art at eye level, meaning, the centre of the art should be at approximately eye level, about 5’5”. If it’s a collage of images the same rule applies, make the centre of the grouping at eye level height.
Too high or low at the top of the drape or too high at the bottom.
Let your furniture breathe!
Don’t back your sofa or chairs up against the wall. This rule applies to furniture pieces where the side(s) is against a wall.
Think in groups of three’s or odd numbers.
Imagine three sculptural vases place on a side board. All three should ideally be placed in one grouping the higher vase at the back and so on.
Always use a cohesive design thread through your project.
Whether using color, pattern or other design elements—this thread creates an instant sense of flow, calm and comfort.
Not Thinking About Fabrics Before Painting
A very common mistake when it comes to interior design is painting before any fabrics and textiles have even been selected. By fabrics and textiles, we are referring to not only your furniture, but also rugs, pillows and curtains. You might find yourself wondering why this is a design mistake. It is a mistake because it is a lot more difficult to set out to find a rug that you can’t live without and that also goes with your walls than it is to find a paint colour to go well with your rug. At least having a concrete idea of what kind of fabrics and textiles you are going with – even if you haven’t purchased them yet – will ultimately save you a lot of time and even money in the end.
Interior and exterior painting is the most cost effective and dramatic home makeover tool. It can also be the most taunting because no one wants to re-paint walls because the wrong colour was chosen or it just doesn’t look the same on the walls in your house as it does on the little paint chip. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Never apply paint samples to a wall and always order full size swatches to move easily throughout the room at different times of the day. Use two samples in corners to show the intensity of a color reflected off it self; four painted walls can look much different than one.
- Trends vs Fads. Every year Pantone introduces the years ‘new colour.’ 2014 colour of the year was called Radiant Orchid (purple). In 2013 the colour of the year from Pantone was Emerald Green. Orange was also in vogue last year. These colours are stunning, exciting and hey, who doesn’t like to be a little in vogue? However, these are fads and not likely to be trends meaning that unless you can afford to repaint your house than we would recommend that colour fads be used in accessories that can be change out easily, like pillows. Try to choose neutral white tones, not stark white unless this is a deliberate design choice which must be thought out very carefully.
- It’s a good idea to choose your paint colours before you choose your furniture.
- When choosing the sheen of your paint, we prefer to go with a high quality flat paint wherever possible. The higher the sheen the more defects within the wall will show.
- A general rule is to paint the crown moulding with the same paint as the ceiling. The baseboard, trim and casings should be either a satin or semi-gloss.
- Rules are meant to be broken – but leave this with the professionals!
Don’t be matchy-matchy.
Many furniture outlets will try to sell you a sofa with the matching chair, matching ottoman and matching side tables and lamps and, voila, your entire living room is delivered the next day in one big box. Design effort – 0, overall design look – 0.
How many times do you walk into someone’s home and there it is. Many years ago Mom bought herself a little figurine unicorn and since then every Christmas and birthday, sure enough, she has another unicorn gift. Of course there are those of us that just love collecting, which is marvelous, just don’t ‘overload.
Over furnishing a room is a common design mistake.
It’s hard sometimes to let go of that favourite piece of furniture that you bought or inherited, or possibly brought from a previous home. Crowded rooms will make you and your guest feel claustrophobic.
Mix it up.
Bring in at least one piece that would lead to a conversation. It may be a repurposed piece of farm equipment that becomes a sculptor or antique for a modern décor and a modern piece surrounded by antiques.
Make your space your own.
Bring in treasures from your travels; we love pieces that have a story to tell. If you’re a sports enthusiast than perhaps something that reflects that.
The Design Process
Try to avoid being impatient and allow enough time for the design process. Trust that it will all come together and expect delays, back orders, trade delays, and other variables.
For more information about designing the perfect interior, contact the Bedford Brooks team today!