Having participated on this message board for a few years I have noticed that many of the design dilemmas are the same. Based on my experience I thought I might throw some design basics which have always worked for me. I hope others will join in and pass on basic(not style specific) guidelines that have helped them over the years.
1. Do one room at a time and budget for a completed look.
2.Fix the architecture first. If you hate the flooring or the windows, or the lack of wall space no amount of furniture is going to fix that.
3.Choose your "design partner" and exclude all others. Maybe your spouse is a graphic designer, or maybe your mother has always had good intuitive taste. Choose a partner to bounce your ideas off, listen to their criticism, bask in their praise, but keep the opinions down to a minimum.
4.Plan it on paper. Every designer uses a scale of 1/4 inch = 1 ft. Buy some graph paper with 1/4 inch squares at Staples and practice doing floor plans. All it takes is paper, a new hard plastic ruler, and some pencils. Set aside 1 hour every once in a while (skip TV, there's nothing good on anyway)
5. Budget. My favorite formula goes something like this: (JMHO)
rug 10%/windows 10%/sofa 15%/two chairs @15%/entertainment center 20%/ coffee table 5%/2 end tables @2.5% each/lighting 10%/ art 10%
6.Build your color scheme from your rug, pick the drapes second,your sofa third, and paint color last. This one doesn't work for everyone, but everytime I follow this formula the project goes much more smoothly. Others will have different views.
Can anyone else add more or even different advice?
That's a nice start to the basics, Charles D. Thank you for laying out your thoughts. To me, it seems like the first thing one should do is plan. So many questions I read are on the order of, "I've done this, now what do I do with that?" My immediate reaction is to wonder why the poster didn't consider how they would handle all of the major elements before starting the project. Maybe I'm just too left-brain dominant.
Absolutely Gracie. We need to keep in mind that furnishing and designing are two different things. If your sofa craps out and the kids don't have anywhere to sit you have to go out and get what you can afford.For those people who have the luxury to plan a well executed room then doing all your homework up front, would certainly be the way to go.
Yeah, hire you to be number 2?
I think we've heard me complain enough about who I have to bounce things off of
oops! I meant number 3!This message has been edited. Last edited by: WWanda,
I agree. IF it is a formal room, like the living room, then things can wait. But good carpeting and drapery could take a year or more to accomplish leaving an empty room.
I think a lifestyle plan or list of how we actually live and what we do is something that should be done first. It is IDENTIFYING the client (us) as if we were the client.
AS FOR ME:
doing our retirement house and helping to finance the health industry get richer with most of our ** means being creative!
I also believe in 'place holders' to use until I can get the one I want, such as a mantel clock or TV cabinet, or dining table. Those items are useful even at a lower price, BUT may not be the actual items I would wish to be able to afford.
I Have always shopped thrifty mostly raising my kids alone and trying to go to college at the same time and working many jobs. So, yard sales became my BEST option to have real wood (such as hardrock maple dressers, etc.) and quality items for much less. I still have that same thrift mentality and try to create a home with REAL items as opposed to the cheaply made things one can purchase. I do know a few people who do have some of those inexpensive items though as a place holder while they search for the item they want (or save for it).
I wrote this because BUDGET can also be stretched this way, by looking for what we want... but having the use of something in the meantime. This means that the house will not look GREAT at first, as far as design goes...
But we need to LIVE in our homes after all.
I have a LIST and that keeps me from going too far off in the wrong direction as far as my furnishings go, I also have an inspirational folder to keep viewing my style and refining it so I do not suddenly change course or wander off. This took years sometimes to save up enough photos that 'move' me enough that I do not waiver from the goal. My budget is small so I also have to get creative and learn ways to do things myself (such as refinishing or making something).
I think Built-Ins should be included in the first items on a budget. They eliminate CLUTTER right from the start. No need to keep purchasing small (and out of scale) pieces of furniture to dot the rooms and walls to hold collectibles and items to have within reach.
Collectables have to be addressed early on. They create clutter and look a mess when not planned for. A large investment in people's homes can be in collectables. So, planning should be considered early on to accommodate the collection and protect it from dust and allow for them to be placed together in vignettes to be viewed. A large cabinet with room for more is a good idea.
Books, built-ins means planning for books as well. Those are are avid readers want their books close by and kept clean.
Dish and tablescape storage. If we are the type that love to play with tablescapes (I am in this group) then good dish storage is a must. Does not always have to be a glass door china cabinet. The ideal would be a butler's pantry type small room. But any closed storage cabinet or closet can be made to hold all serving ware, tea sets, vases and dishes.
I think a good amount of budget is spent in kitchens, storage, custom closets and Media storage.
Desk or billing area is a must for the tons of mail that comes to the house. An organized, easy to reach area for this task would make it less stressful to attend to. And this can incorporate the computer area with all that comes with its use.
Food storage, yes part of the kitchen, but food has to be processed and if you grow food, as we have a veggie and herb garden, we need to process the food for storage, freezing or cooking, this takes up space and should be considered right away in the planning.
I have seen great Architectural plans all drawn up for a large home without consideration for animals! This client had a group of dogs (around 5) and no rear mud room planned! I suggested a bathing area, place for dogs to enter and leave the house on their own to pen outside. And a door to close off the kitchen before letting them in so they would not access the house with possible muddy feet. The client was so happy to take notes to have plans changed.
Mary Ruth brings up a lot of good points. The advice regarding built in cabinetry I put under the heading of architecture.It should be done at the beginning of the project to improve the function of the home. It's not something you'll be taking with you, so the best rule of thumb is to design your builtin cabinetry to suit the style of the home as opposed to your personal taste. Your stamp can come when it is time to decorate with non structural furnishings.
I would add that this advice is very applicable to the newly wed or first time home buyer. Basic guidelines of design for the uninitiated can save them costly mistakes and disappointment.
I so agree Charles D!
One thing I wanted to add... Pinterest!
There are so many cute rooms out there, especially those that are for a specific look, they are cute, shabby chic or French (what is loosely called French) and it is all set up with the accessories, lace and slip covers, mostly done in white. BUT...
If you are NOT living alone
Have children under 10 yrs old (actually under 18) lol
Intend on having real life company
don't live with a tea cup in your hand at all hours and daydream away
have a pet
and you do NOT need that room for anything other than looking at it.... guess what?
You will be changing things constantly to keep that clean look, nothing in the room is useful if all accessories are coordinated to be a one or two color scheme... no real books to read, no space on the end table...
My suggestion is to REAL rooms that have REAL functions then you can have a life in your house that becomes your home. OH ya and fill it with things and PEOPLE (friends and family) you LOVE! That is my recipe for happiness at home!
This is a wonderful topic and I'm sorry I haven't participated in the discussion earlier. I think, in a nutshell, one has to have a plan. Many people furnish their home over time as their budget won't accommodate a completed room all at once. If you have a plan, fewer mistakes will be made. That doesn't mean you can't alter some things as you go. A better product may have hit the store shelves since you devised your design, a sofa (chair, dining set, chandelier) you hadn't considered may go on sale. You don't have to rigidly stick to your original design, but you should try not to veer off course too far.
This advice is key: [3.Choose your "design partner" and exclude all others.] There's nothing wrong with coming to a discussion board or looking at Houzz and Pinterest for ideas. But eventually one needs to narrow those ideas down into a real room with real function. "Too many cooks spoil the broth" and too many friendly opinions will spoil your room.
And you know WITH a PLAN, it makes it easier to see if things 'fit' into your situation. NO SALE or find is GOOD unless.... it FITS into your plan!
Yes, too many cooks spoil the broth! (spoil the room...)
I find that to decorate or balance a corner vignette in a room but not include the rest of the room in the plan creates only a disjointed corner....
I find that I have to look thru everything before deciding - planning out the whole project - even when I'm doing things in steps.
That also forces me to open my mind up and I'm surprised at how things get tweaked along the way.
I will say that I always will have my big furniture, cabinets, counters, more neutral, or go w/ most of my color schemes to allow me flexibility as my tastes change.
I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of - thankfully i'm pretty good at it(most of the time)
This is a great thread, Charles, and your advice is excellent, as are the posts that have been added. I know I'll use a lot of these ideas.
The only thing I can think to add is that it's often a good idea to use exterior architecture to help determine interior style. That's not to say you can't decorate your room Moroccan if the exterior is English Tudor, but it can be a consideration.
And I'd also consider the location when choosing a style. Proximity to the ocean or the desert or forest can lend itself to a decorating scheme. It's so helpful when the view coordinates with the room!
I have a question for Charles.
WHY pick the draperies before the couch?
Seems to me that the reverse should be true as there are more choices in draperies than in upholstered pieces. Also the couch is more expensive to replace than the window treatment.
I would like to add my two cents worth to this topic, I know Charles has given great advice and covered the topic well. I thought I would mention what I have always thought on this topic.
One thing I remember from college in that discussion is that Charles is right for one school of thought is to pick the drapery after the rug because CUSTOM drapery DOES cost more than a sofa. I have a friend who said in response to the cost of her custom drapery for her large living room.... 'I could have bought a small car with that budget'!
The other school of thought (not an exact rule, just a guideline) is to match the drapery with the sofa, in that case, you would get the sofa first if that budget was larger than drapery.
In CUSTOM work, you have the choice of picking out fabric for both and can coordinate and pull it together before either are upholstered or made.
I bought a sofa at LazyBoy company for my house in Virginia (not custom, must choice of fabrics offered then sofa is ordered) so really semi-custom... and I chose a sample from their selection in the fabric wall area.
This choice with sofa and drapery coordinated works well with tiled or wood flooring or wall to wall carpeting in the home. IF these are in place already, as in the Architectural stage as Charles mentioned... then the drapery and sofa are the the choices for the next color/style to coordinate.
What an interesting thread and a a GREAT way to review and line up HOW you can create a PLAN to insure not wasting money on impulsive choices you might have to change out or might be disappointed in afterwards.
Edited to add quote of the day:
The single most important ingredient in a home is that it must have a soul. I might wind up in a single room one day, but it will be mine; it will represent me.
- Charles Faudree, Charles Faudree Home
*This message has been edited. Last edited by: Mary Ruth,
Oh sure, fix arcitecture first-new windows, tearing down walls etc. costs a fortune. My house had an ugly open staircase-cost for new one was about #7,000.00. So first I had to decorate and live in it for a while, like years. Other things like leaking showers,needing new furnace had to use up savings for the un necessities.
There are a lot of problem question on boards like this about how to "decorate" around things we can't change.
fix architecture does not mean a total renovation for an older home in my opinion. When you purchase a home or have a home that needs large renovations, there is the factor that you KNEW these things needed to be done. These are guidelines not rules...
I am not speaking for Charles but I believe this pertains to your situation. Not everyone has the luxury of decorating a room top to bottom, and there are always fix-it problems to be addressed. His advice and much of the advice that followed is to help people avoid making expensive mistakes on their journey to a completed and well designed room. I know all too well what it is like to live in an older home, spending my money on a new furnace and a new roof instead of a sofa or dining set. Most of us have been there at one point in our lives.
I love this advise. I think when you are renovating a space like a kitchen or a bathroom taking the exterior architectural style is key to longevity.If you want to make a nod to your homes exterior style in your decor that's nice too.A few pieces that continue the exterior theme, creates an instant calm, as visitors get something of what they expected from the outside, incorporated in the inside.
I want everyone to keep in mind that I'm a professional interior designer. What I do for people is a luxury many can not afford. My advise is based on years of experience with full room projects. In which case you would move walls, add trim, replace floors, etc. before you dropped a bundle on your furniture.
To Lu, if (and I'm saying if) you have the luxury of doing a room from scratch, you build the room from the outside in.The drapes become an extension of the framework onto which you build. Your furniture is like the silk scarf and the jewelry layered on top of a classic suit.
To other commentators:
This is advise based, these are not laws that can't be broken. Please give me the kindness due, giving my opinion which goes for $150. per hour is being offered for free in a spirit of kinship with you, my fellow design lovers.Don't jump all over me or any other poster if your experience is different. We're here to share, not to dictate.
Earlier tonite I replied to someone wondering whether to buy the couch, rug or drapes first and I totally agree (based on personal experience) that you should go with the rug.
But what I have to add is:
GO WITH YOUR GUT. Especially in the details. I don't know if I'd call it "feng shui" or what, but every time I rearrange/redecorate, I can tell if it "feels" right. Color, balance, arrangement. I've been known to get up and move a vase or a candle 1/8" just because it was bugging me. Or switch a plant or candle b/c the color wasn't balanced. Sit down -- all around the room -- and look at it. Does it make you feel good? Is it comfortable? Or is something "off"?
Thank You for the helpful information. I have read your post a few times and certainly agree with a plan to help one stay on course.
~Like sands through the hourglass
~So are the days of our lives
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