Published: 09:00, 19 January 2018
Jennifer Chong, Houzz contributor
Designing your home can be a minefield and there’s a whole host of ‘dos, don’ts and must-haves’ to worry about. Many people know what they like or don’t like, but simply don’t know where to begin when attempting to design their interior.
These basic rules should guide you in the right direction and give you the confidence to create your dream home.
Make a plan
Preparation is key to interior design. Before you do anything, start formulating a plan for where everything will go and how it will look. This is so much better than trying to design as you go along, as you’ll have the time and clarity of mind to properly consider all the options and make informed decisions. Designing on the fly adds an unnecessary element of pressure to the situation and, with part of the work already underway, you may be restricting your options.
Consider everything from your layout, colour schemes, electrics, plumbing and storage all the way down to minor details, such as decorative accessories and furnishings. That way, you’ll have a clear idea of how your finished room will look, which will help you focus your mind.
Good design is all about confidence and if you want to create your perfect home, you’ll need to take your ideas and run with them. Don’t think you have to be half-hearted about things. Identify your design concepts and implement them fearlessly and with commitment to the style. If you give each element a presence, you’ll ensure the room looks intentional and well-thought-out.
Here, the deep blue paint could have been used on just one wall, but by taking it through the whole room, the designer has created a beautiful backdrop and unified the space. Similarly, rather than introducing yellow velvet with just a cushion, she’s gone for a striking armchair.
Embrace what you have
When searching for inspiration, it can be easy to get caught up with the design styles of other people’s interiors. However, translating this into your own home isn’t always simple. Elements of the space such as the amount of natural light it receives, its shape and size, the architectural style, and certain structural features can all hinder your plans.
Look at your room or space and identify what you like about it. Try to highlight those features within your design. Similarly, when you look at your inspiration images, try to pinpoint what it is you love about the picture. It could be the texture of a fabric, the overall mood of the room, or the colour palette used. Once you’ve identified these elements, you can incorporate them into your design in a way that works with your space.
Think about your viewpoint
When positioning any wall-hung piece, consider your viewpoint. This particularly applies to things you’ll actively look at, such as a TV or piece of art.
Since you’ll mostly be watching TV on a sofa, the centre of the screen should be positioned at eye level when you’re seated. Depending on your sofa, that’s around 1m high. This is more about function than aesthetics, but both are important elements of good design.
Art and pictures are often hung too high, so take into account the scale of the room and the average eye level.
Discover inventive ways to display your art
Know lighting is everything
When it comes to interior design, lighting is possibly the most important factor to consider. Often overlooked or left to the end when it’s too late, lighting can make or break your design scheme.
Good lighting makes everything look better and is essential for creating moods and highlighting focal points. A room will also function better with good lighting, whereas too much or too little light can be frustrating. Consider your lighting levels for different moods or times of day, factoring in ambient, accent and task lighting for different activities. Plan this well in advance, as it’s one of the first elements you’ll need to tackle.
A well-designed lighting scheme, like the one in this beautiful kitchen, should work seamlessly. A room with perfect lighting looks great without you realising why.
10 things lighting designers wish you knew
Create a focal point
As you walk into a room, a key focal point will grasp your attention immediately. It centres a room and establishes the personality and style of the space you’re in. Without one, a room can look lovely, but the eye doesn’t know where to fall first and it can lack a little distinction.
Your focal point doesn’t need to be overly dramatic or edgy if that’s not the style of the room, it just needs to have a certain presence. It could be a beautiful piece of art, a striking piece of furniture, or an architectural feature, such as a fireplace or a stunning window. You can also add more points of interest to notice one by one and enhance the experience.
Design around your lifestyle
Good design should be functional as well as beautiful. By considering your and your household’s lifestyle, you can design a home that’s easy and enjoyable to live in. We can’t all be pristine and tidy all the time and, whether it’s kids, pets or messy individuals, it’s best to account for these lifestyle factors in your design rather than fighting them.
Incorporating your lifestyle into your design means thinking about convenient storage, a good layout flow and the types of materials you use. Create zones to contain mess, such as children’s play areas or a dedicated craft table. If everything’s been well-thought-out, it will show in your design and should, in theory, be easier to keep looking good.
Stick to your guns
With an endless supply of inspiration and countless sources of advice, it’s easy to stray from your original design as the process unfolds. New products constantly emerging and everyone wanting to have their say can easily put doubt in your mind over decisions you’ve previously made. However, if you’ve thought it through and planned it well, have confidence in your design and be firm with your choices.
Of course, there’s an inevitable amount of development in the design that might alter things slightly as you go along. Issues can arise that force you to take a different direction, but stick to your original plan as closely as you can without too much compromise. The grass-is-greener syndrome is a huge culprit in distracting you from your goal, but impulse changes can leave your final design looking muddled.
There’s always the worry that there might be something better out there and, to be honest, there probably is, but the only thing that matters is that you love what you’ve designed.
Plan carefully and implement with confidence. I have every faith in you.
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