Six Decorating and Remodeling Ideas from a Top Interior Design Expert

Determining Your Style

What do you want the space to feel like? Take a look in your closet to find out your style. Do you like tailored items or prefer more relaxed and comfortable pieces? Do you choose specific colors or patterns over others? You can also determine your style by thinking of words that describe the mood you want to create in a room. Traditional, formal, elegant? Playful, humorous, inviting? Monochromatic, streamlined, modern?

Note design inspirations everywhere you go. These are often the first things I discuss with my clients when they hire me to design their home’s interior. You may recall a restaurant or hotel you dined in that caught your eye. It could have been a minimalist interior in Japan or a New York clubby bar with leather chairs.

Find out what you don’t like. PeopleĀ are much more likely to say what they don’t like. We can narrow down our choices by incorporating dislikes. A bold, large-scale pattern might bring back memories of childhood things you don’t want in your home. A wingback armchair might remind you of the time in time-out for pulling your sister’s hair. A specific color may evoke memories of an old design trend you don’t want to recreate. These reactions and memories are personal, and they also define our tastes.

Build Around Your Space

It is essential to plan the space, as it will affect scale. Furniture that is either too big or too small can be used in a room. I blame a particular retailer for the massive furnishings that dominate interiors. Build around the furniture you have room for. Consider the balance in a room. Consider creating zones in larger spaces for different activities. For example, a conversational seating area; an area to watch television; or a table or desk for games or projects. Although I like symmetry, it can feel contrived if you symmetrical all the pieces. Balance a space by considering the visual weight of a design. The key to any strategy is proportion and scale.

Sample Your Paint

The choice of paint is one of your most important and cost-effective decisions. The right paint choice can bring harmony to a space. Take into account the entire house. If you paint only one room, you risk creating a confused look. Consider how colors can affect your mood. Some colors can make you feel calm, happy, or even agitated. I’ve painted interior doors bold black to contrast with crisp white walls.

When comparing options, you should sample actual paint colors on the walls. Observe the colors in daylight, morning light, and night. A perfect shade for one project may not be the best for another. What may work in your friend’s house might not work in yours. Paint chips are a good starting point, but they may not work in your home. Try a few shades of white on the walls, and pay attention to the undertones. You can add touches of yellows, pinks, or blues. The temperature of light is affected by the outside environment. The vegetation and sky can reflect greens and blues on your walls.

Mix high and low price points

It’s not always better to have a pedigree (whether you are buying art, furniture, or dogs). Buy from an “unknown designer or artist and consider the shape, comfort, and how well it works for you. Even the most simple objects can be beautiful and have souls. Feel free to mix expensive and cheap items. It is optional to buy expensive items to make them essential. Spending money on something you love can have the opposite effect.

Start from the Ground Up

It cannot be easy to know where to start. Many people want to know exactly where to begin. In any room, start from the bottom up. Decide on your floor covering. Whether you have or want hardwood floors, area carpets, tile, stone, or wall-to-wall carpeting, it doesn’t matter. Losing other pieces in your space will determine your thoughts about the floor. You will have more color and upholstery options if you choose a neutral tone or a natural fiber that doesn’t have a lot of pattern or color. You can use an antique rug as a starting point to create a palette of colors. You need to plan all these elements together, or you will have a circus effect. Too many factors happen in the same space without it working as a unit. Start with a couch or upholstered chair to limit your style right away. Area rugs offer dozens, if not hundreds, of options. You have options here and can start layering pieces. Making your final flooring decision and then layering is much easier.

Katherine L. Branton

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