Interior Design

Are you making these design mistakes?

Designing a space this spring?

You will want to consider these 6 interior design tips before you eagerly dive into any design project. When working with my clients, I always stress the importance of this advice. It’s easy to get overly excited and jump into the design process without a plan. Even us designers have done it (more than once). There is something exciting about a blank canvas. With endless possibilities, the sky is the limit. Once inspiration strikes, it only makes sense to get the ball rolling, right? Yes. However, there are some critical pieces of information you’ll want to keep in mind first! Let’s discuss…

1) Consider storage

No matter what room you are designing, storage is a factor you must keep in mind. Why? Well, no one wants their dirty mismatched socks and underwear to distract from the beautiful bed frame they just purchased! Dog toys are bound to end up everywhere. Let’s be real. But where do they go when they’re not being used? Every detail really does matter when you’re curating a thoughtful design. Many people think this mindset is “over the top”. When in reality, the Pinterest pins you see have taken every minor detail into consideration. Don’t get overwhelmed! You got this. You just need a plan, and you need to stick to it.

So think of it this way – start with the room you want to tackle. Let’s say it’s your bedroom. Great! What are the major items you want to conceal? Obviously, clothing and shoes. No problem there. Jot down on your inventory on a product list. In this case, a dresser. Seems obvious, right? Well sure. It’s not that complicated to hide clothing in a closet or armoire. But it gets deeper than this, people.

Let’s step back and think bigger picture for a second. I want you to put your Marie Kondo hat on. List out the different seasons and the key pieces you want to rock during those seasons. Example – in the summer time, you may have a lovely hat collection you’ll be rocking. Well, those hats can get concealed in the closet. But there are many ways to approach the display – hanging on hooks, propped up in acrylic boxes, staggered on shelves, or hanging on the bedroom wall as decor pieces because they match the vibe! Consider organizing your clothing by color and season within the closet. Some people will rotate their clothing based on the season. If it’s summer, all winter, fall & spring pieces should be tucked away into storage containers in the attic.

In our bedroom example, it’s more than just clothing and shoes we need to consider storing. Think about how your decorative objects such as vases, books, and candles can blend together with functional pieces that you use – like blankets. In the picture below, you’ll see that the armoire offers a perfect solution that works well both aesthetically and functionally.

And on the topic of functionality, you also want to consider how you’ll be using the bedroom. Will you add an office nook because you work from home? Do you have a vintage record collection that you actually want to use and not just show off as decor? Will your dog(s) need a bed of their own? How will you store their belongings? Do you like to read? If so, should you store your books in a way that plays off of their colorful bindings? As a designer, it’s important that I ask questions like this so that I can provide my clients with the best storage options possible.

2) Don’t sacrifice function for style

It’s so easy to opt for a beautiful looking piece of furniture simply because of the way it appeals visually. But what happens when you sit down for an hour or so, get up, and realize your butt hurts? Yeah, that isn’t cool. We want style and comfort! Aim for furniture pieces that provide the functionality you truly need while looking stylish. It’s totally possible to get the best of both worlds when you make a purchase. This doesn’t mean you have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to make both things happen.

Know your functional requirements and don’t bend. Second, know your style direction and stick with it. You have to remain firm in these two areas and not sway because of price, trends, etc. So what is functional design in the first place? Simply put: the design needs to perform the intended function it was built for. If you purchase a side table so that you can set a drink on it, don’t buy something that is flimsy and will fall over once Todo’s tail crashes into it. Consider who will be using the piece. Will guests be using the piece? Will you be using the piece? Everyone’s preferences are unique so it’s just another factor to keep in mind. If you have back pain, you will need a quality sectional with cushions that provide ample support. If you have a cat, you don’t want an open weave fabric that is going to get caught by their claws.

3) Playing it safe isn’t always the best approach

Not everything has to be neutral. Yes, I just said that. Express yourself through your color choices! Follow your design preferences, not just the latest trending styles. It’s ok to learn from designer trends and take bits and pieces of inspiration here and there. But if you tend to gravitate towards bold colors and rustic finishes then by no means should your color palette lean neutral with modern stark finishes. Embrace who you are and lean into hues, patterns and textures that showcase your personal style best.

I have seen many designers push the latest trends on their clients because they personally think these trends look good. There are so many things wrong with this approach. Just because midcentury modern is hot right now does not mean that your clients should embrace that style. I always listen to my clients (deeply) and conduct an information gathering session at the beginning of all engagements so that I can then provide them with a few style directions. Many times, my clients realize they gravitate towards a style that they didn’t even know about! Sometimes they like a combination of two or three styles. Did you know that most designs you see are never representative of one distinct style anyway? That midcentury office design you pinned on Pinterest probably has Scandinavian elements and bohemian influence as well (for example). That is why it is critical that you explore all design styles with a professional before you jump into Target and buy all off Shea McGee’s latest mass manufactured pieces 🙊. Hey, no hate, it’s just you are not a carbon copy. You are a unique individual. And your home should reflect that!

4) Thoroughly explore your finish options

Finishes are things like backsplash, flooring, countertop material, doors, lighting, etc. If you are prepared to tackle a renovation project that requires new finishes, you need to think through this step in depth. In design school, we learned all about the Principles of Design – repetition, rhythm, contrast, harmony, emphasis and balance. When you approach a project from the ground up it’s critical to create interest through the use of these principles. Let me show you a visual example:

In the photo above, symmetry is apparent right away. The scale of the vase/plant inside of it is quite large which creates a focal point. But what about the finishes? Isn’t that what we were talking about? Yes! The flooring direction points back into the hallway space creating an illusion of depth and draws your eye backwards. The color of the flooring is also dark which grounds the space visually. If you were to put black on the ceiling, the space would appear smaller. The remaining white cabinet and countertop finishes add contrast to the space because they are naturally a high contrast to the color black. We see repetition in the ceiling light fixtures and the placement of them creates a nice visual rhythm. The texture on the marble also offers a nice level of interest against the otherwise solid finishes. Does this all make sense?

So how can you apply these principles to your next project? Think about your room as a canvas. You want everything to jive together. You do not want one item to draw your eye in so much that you can’t take anything else in. Every element needs to play its part in the dance. One way you can play around with finishes to ensure that they work well together is by using a software program like Canva. I like to use Canva to put finishes next to each other so I can see how they work next to each other. You should also get samples of the finishes and lay them next to each other if possible. I’m sure you’ve seen designers do this on TV 😊. It’s also important to pair your textiles (fabrics) next to your finishes to see how they work with the rest of the picture!

5) Layer your lighting

Lighting is so underrated! I will say that social media has helped DIYers and self proclaimed design experts level up and understand the importance of lighting. With more information at our disposal these days, it’s naturally easier for people to stay informed on design tips. That being said, lighting still does not get the recognition it deserves. It seems like it’s always a last minute decision by many people that I speak to. When in reality, lighting is like the jewelry of the house. Think of it this way, you spent 2 hours getting ready for a fancy date. Your hair is curled, makeup is on, dress is zipped, heels are on. But something is missing! It’s that bold necklace and earrings! These pieces can totally elevate the entire look.

Similarly, the mood of your home can benefit from layered lighting. There are many types of light sources: ambient, task, accent, and mood. Layered lighting sources add texture and depth to a room, making it more aesthetically pleasing and exciting! You’ll want to consider the natural light in the space, the bulb’s light output, the style of the fixture, and how you want to control it…can someone say, “ALEXA”?! Just remember, it’s all about balance. And no, I’m not just typing this because I am a libra 😜.

6) Measure and space plan ahead of time

One of the biggest design mistakes my clients make is not measuring ahead of time. I know, it’s not fun, but it’s totally necessary. There are many free measuring apps these days if you don’t want to bust out the handy yellow tape measure. Once you get all the measurements down, you’ll need to space plan accordingly. Many people do not consider the type of space they are working with. For example, if your room is open concept, are you zoning the room into different sections? One area for dining, the other for lounging? Maybe you even want three distinct zones – dining, lounging AND entertainment – potentially adding a bar nook area. It is crucial to think about the flow of the space before you hit “add to cart”. The last thing you want to do is invest in an expensive rug that is a pain in the butt to return once your realize it’s way too small for the space.

If you appreciate the level of design at Carly Childs Design and have a design project you’d like to tackle, be sure to reach out! I can assure you that the tips above will all be considered – any many more! I know how overwhelming it can be to actually implements this advice and put it into real practice. I make it my goal to put my clients at ease so they can focus on enjoying their home. The process should always be stress free, fun and exciting. I’d love to work with you and get to know more about your unique style preferences/goals!

-Carly Childs

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