Oh the interior design mistakes I’ve made, have witnessed and/or avoided could fill a house. The idea which with age comes wisdom couldn’t ring more true when applied to one’s home. We all aspire to have attractive interiors, to achieve a specific look. But how wrong I was in how to get there. Here is a bit of shocking interior design advice from a lifetime of experience you can apply to every design project or dilemma.
When I look back on interiors I did 30 years ago, I see trends which translate today into a glaring group of timestamps which, while hot then, are hideous in today’s design eye. On the contrary when I look at interiors I did while working in interior design for almost 20 years, I notice the distinct trait of timelessness and inherent comfort, something I learned at the side of two interior design masters. Contrary to what you might believe, this is the best interior design tip I’ve learned and proven to work, a great room does not start with the idea of creating a look.
You don’t get dressed then check the weather and decide what you are doing for the day, you get dressed based on what you are doing and the weather influences your clothing choices. Interior design works the same way. Follow a logical progression, you will have success. If not your rooms will feel uncomfortable, disjointed and the worst offense, indulgent.
Interior design is the culmination of a mountain of design choices. Should we paint the woodwork? What color should the hallway be? What size rug will fit? What is the best lighting for the bathroom? Where should the hardwood floors stop? The list goes on and on, however the choices one makes determines just how how stable your mountain (results) will be. These choices influence the look, not the other way around.
The one test every design choice must pass is integrity.
- Does it work for the home or inhabitants?
- Does it make sense for the room?
- Does it fill a need or serve a purpose?
Whether it is the color of a pillow, type of bathroom sink, finish on the floor or a piece of furniture, the answer must be yes to all the above for a design choice to have integrity. Why is integrity in design important? This is what makes a room comfortable, makes a room feel good, basically makes the room work. Integrity is the magic or secret sauce to creating a truly beautiful room. Believe me people know, even those you might not expect, they know if a room is bad, it just feels yucky.
Part of creating a wish list for a room is to check to make certain these items pass the test of integrity.
Once you understand how each design choice must have integrity you can embark on your quest for creating a beautiful room. This can only work, will only work, if you begin with a goal. However, the goal is not to create a pretty room, a pretty room is the result of achieving your goal. A winning goal comes from understanding and defining the purpose for the room or interior space.
What is the room for, what does it do, what is it meant to accomplish?
Let’s look at the one room every home has, a kitchen. The purpose of a kitchen is to feed people, to prepare vital sustenance for the home’s inhabitants. Without defining the purpose, in this case to feed, we wouldn’t know to include the important components such as appliances or to make countertops durable, etcetera. The final goal for a specific family kitchen might be, a functional kitchen for two or more people in the primary work area with adjoining eating and gathering space for six.
Notice how the goal does not specify anything about the look, this comes after one has crafted the goal. Once the the necessary parts and pieces of achieving the goal are defined, you can begin to think about the look and feel of the room. This is where so many people go wrong, they put the cart before the horse, or the look before the purpose and goal, which leads to some really screwed up interiors.
Only after defining the purpose of the room and setting the goal do you know the parts, pieces and finishes which are required. You have to know you need a chair, what type of chair, the purpose of the chair, the function of the chair before you can determine what the chair will look like. Beginning to make sense?
Of course we all have a some sort of ideal look or colors in mind, such as wanting a cozy bedroom in blue and to sleep in a kingsdown mattress, or a stylish living room people want to be in or a sparkly elegant bathroom. The point is the look is where we end up, not where we begin. I once had a client who came to me with a picture of these glittery antique sconces she had to have in her new bathroom. Problem was, not only were the sconces totally incompatible with a moist bathroom interior, they would not provide the light she needed. Once we identified the purpose of how she would use the space and defined the goal of the bathroom, she quickly realized the desired sconces would never work and therefore avoided a $6,000 mistake.
Good design follows a very logical formula, basically you have to know what you are doing before you decide what it looks like. When you think about it is isn’t so shocking, the real shocker is how easy it is to do it right, once you know!