As the holidays approach it’s never too late to gain valuable insight on design for your home. There are many things to consider when taking on any home project. In hopes of preventing design mishaps and shedding some light on good design practice, I am featuring “Twelve Days of Great Design Advice” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/labellacasainteriordesigns. Each day features a recommendation focusing on great design. For my blog, I have consolidated it all so you have it as a resource. I hope you can take this advice and incorporate it into your design plans for the coming New Year.
Design Advice Day One: ALWAYS paint test swatches in several areas throughout the intended room before committing to color! Just because you fall in love with a color from a picture doesn’t mean it will look the same on your walls. For example, some taupe colors can appear more pink than taupe. Color can be tricky so beware! Be careful when you paint a swatch over a darker color. The color and/or change in the finish will show through the paint job unless you sand and prime.
Design Advice Day Two: ALWAYS paint the fifth wall! I have my clients paint their ceilings a shade or two lighter than the wall color. Sometimes I even have them paint the ceiling the SAME color as the walls, especially when using today’s lighter neutral shades. By painting the ceiling you will completely transform the room, make your trim work pop and create a warmer ambiance.
Design Advice Day Three: Never buy furniture until you have measured the room. Once you have the measurements for the new item, use painters tape to lay it out on the floor where you intend to place it. This will provide a true visual gauge whether the items are the correct scale for the space. While you’re at it, make sure it will fit through any entryway, doorway and/or stairs!
Design Advice Day Four: Never buy a “set” from a big-box furniture store, especially if it includes a loveseat. Great design doesn’t come in box sets. I label these types of purchases “temporary” – to fill a short term need. Many of these sets don’t fit well in the room intended. In fact, they usually take over the space. In addition, the quality isn’t great – you truly get what you pay for. The only time I would suggest a client purchase a big box set is when they have young children and plan to replace the set in a few years.
Design Advice Day Five: Never buy furniture unless you can first take home a cushion or fabric sample. Once again, the pattern and color of the fabric in the showroom may not look the same once it is in your home. Different lighting, paint color and flooring can affect the color.
Design Advice Day Six: Never attempt to buy an area rug before you are sure you have the proper measurements. This concept sounds obvious, however, I can’t tell you how many clients have made the mistake of purchasing the incorrect size area rug. If the rug is being placed under a dining table, you want to make sure that the rug is large enough to keep the chairs balanced when pulled out. Also, when using an area rug in a seating area, you want to make sure the rug covers the entertainment space properly – not too short or too long.
Design Advice Day Seven: Never purchase artwork or accessories just to fill a space. Buy what you love and find a space for it. For those of us who aren’t avid art collectors, I am a big proponent of utilizing artwork that has meaning or history. I often ask clients if they have anything personal we can re-frame or re-purpose for the space. Consider artwork which reflects a hobby or interest. Lastly, it’s always nice to look for artwork while vacationing. I have artwork displayed in my home from family vacations throughout the years. From prints purchased from street vendors in France (prior to children) to bright artwork purchased on trips to the Caribbean (after kids), each and every item has a story and a memory associated with it.
Design Advice Day Eight: Never leave subcontractors alone on a renovation. Try to be there 24/7. I understand we all have jobs and to take time off to be on-site can be a burden. However, catching a mistake before it is complete is a great deal cheaper than having to re-do it after the fact. There have been several times on jobs where the subcontractor deviated from the plan and the client and I were able to prevent a mistake before it happened.
Design Advice Day Nine: Limit the number of flooring types! Many of today’s homes’ open floor plans can create havoc on great design. Try to keep the number and types of flooring throughout your home to a minimum. Oftentimes clients purchase or build a home with a standard builder grade flooring. As clients renovate they update the flooring as well. Room by room they change out the flooring. However, failure to use the same flooring makes the rooms begin to appear chopped up and patch-worked. This takes away from the beauty of the open floor plan and flow of the space. Use the same flooring throughout the entire first floor with one or two areas having a large area rug or carpeted space.
Design Advice Day Ten: Never take the lowest bid to save money. Go with your gut. It always knows what is right for you. The old adage “you get what you pay for” runs true. Always obtain a few bids for the job and compare bids objectively.
Design Advice Day Eleven: Don’t do cheap. If you can’t afford it, wait. Use common sense. Some things are great when you can purchase them at a discount, but sometimes you will end up saving money in the end when you invest in high-quality goods. You won’t have to replace them. My words of advice ring true with this, “Do it right the first time.” Sometimes patience is golden and putting off that project for another year or two so you can do it properly will pay dividends later!
Design Advice Day Twelve: Never ever do something because it is a trend. Do it because you love it! Trends come and go but good design stays forever. Invest in timeless goods that will outlast a 10 year trend. Less expensive items like pillows and accessories can be swapped out after a few years. Furniture and pricey renovations you’ll want those to last much longer!