So, I turned in my blog and was told to “Spice it Up”. So here we go, hoping there are some spices you can cook with.

Design is a trade that is both learned and instinctual. A lot of what matters can be taught and a lot is based on how well you listen. The science, or rules to good design include but are not limited to:

  • Room Measurements
  • Space Planning
  • Proportion
  • Scale
  • The Science of Lighting,
  • Color Theory
  • Symmetry
  • Balance

These are examples of the science that will help you achieve form and function in a space. And function always reigns over form, it’s where you start. What follows is how well we listen. We must listen to what you want the outcome to be, and when it comes to your spin on the “form” we can throw out all the rules to make the space yours. Well kind of… think of it as me stretching the canvas and you painting (within my lines).

For example, if you create a beautiful dining room that is great to look at but… there is no leg room under the table… your elbows are bumping your table mats with every bite… there is no room to backup your chair… you can’t get out to the patio door because the door swings into the hostess chair… you can’t see what you’re eating because the light sucks… and the rug is all bunched up under your feet because there is only one chair leg on it, I have not drawn the lines. I have missed the “science of design.”  So here are my pro tips, some are about the science and some the art you are creating. Design is science, but it is also beauty and opinion, and that is the groovy part – it lets our personality show, it allows us to be individuals, and when done well it becomes your masterpiece.

Pro Tip #1 Form Follows Function

Designing a space is being able to achieve the outcome that is functional first and foremost. It does not matter how good it looks if it doesn’t function you will eventually dislike it.

Pro Tip #2 Measure Twice, Buy Once

Don’t ballpark what will fit in your room, design the room and layout what will fit giving room to function around it. Yes, the dining table is the largest feature in the dining room, the bed is in the bedroom, the desk in the study and the sofa in the great room, but if you must be dropped into the room from the ceiling to use them versus having plenty of space to travel around them, perhaps you have made an error.  Plan for a “walkway” around featured pieces – use a 30” minimum, but 36” is ideal.

P.S. the hallways have to be big enough to get them in the rooms as well.

Pro Tip #3 Leave Space

When furniture pieces need to move, i.e., a dining chair- leave 36” to be safe. You need to be able to push back, stand up, and move back freely otherwise your instantly annoyed and then you don’t even see the decor around you.

Pro Tip #4 Layer Your Lighting

Decorative lighting has become more than function. In fact, some of the best-looking lights have a single vintage Edison-style bulb in them. This isn’t enough to live by and will leave you in the dark. One vintage Edison-style bulb will only put out between 250-400 lumens compared to one incandescent bulb which is around 800 lumens. Lumens measure how much light you get from a bulb. The more lumens mean it’s a brighter light. So, what do you do, sacrifice the look? Nope, plan ahead. Layer lighting with recessed, table and floor lamps as well as natural light to ensure the best outcome. Another example is the bathroom, a decorative sconce may be perfect on the side of the mirror, but overhead task lighting, for example – recessed lighting will insure you don’t leave with clown makeup. You should always have as much lighting coming from below as above.

Pro Tip #5 Keep Flooring Consistent Will Create Elongated Views

People stay in the lines, that’s why they paint lines on a street. A change in flooring defines the space, keeping the flooring consistent and in the same direction will make spaces seem like they go on forever. You can add rugs to individualize rooms, and when you do, get them large enough that at least one of the legs for most of the furniture lands on it. Rugs that float in a room and are not grounding the furniture are just wrong. You can layer rugs to add size, keep that in mind. A great rug layered with a cow hide or fun accent rug works. Just make sure the furniture is level and not rocking on the layers. Hallway runners can be a great way to make the area seem bigger as well. Get them long enough and wide enough, only 4 to 5” of the flooring should be peeking out on each side. We custom cut rugs all the time to make them right. Custom sizing a rug is not that expensive, and can make all the difference.

Pro Tip #6 The 70/30 Rule

Know what you love and what makes you comfortable. Don’t design based on the latest trends, what your friends or neighbors are doing. Once I had an appointment with a client that I have had forever. She was ready to update, and was feeling the pressure of her friends who are building or remodeling to more modern interiors. I have always loved her home; it is very European.  My pro tip is to keep your home updated and make sure your style is represented at least 70%. The other 30% can be what’s on trend and if mixed well will work. If you follow trend 100%, you will date your home and you will always be trying to keep up.  You do you! Any style done well and maintained is current.

Pro Tip #7 Create Order

If you do all abstract art – put something that is an object in the eye flow or leave space the same color to create order. Your eyes need to rest, there needs to be space to breathe or everything starts getting muddled together. Even if you paint your rooms door and trim the same color as the wall and then load up the wall with oversized art, that consistent color break will allow a resting spot for your eyes.

Pro Tip #8 Go Big

Speaking of oversized, most people buy art and lighting that is too small. Accents and art can be whatever size and they need to be. You can also create an impact with a gallery wall or a collection of great pendants. But don’t put too small of painting on a large wall, or a too small of light above a table or kitchen island – it will lose the impact.

Pro Tip #9 Think of Your Window as A Picture in The Room

Let the light flow in and pay attention to what is outside because it becomes a piece of art. If you’re building or remodeling, pay attention. No one wants to sit on a gorgeous fuchsia velvet sofa with embroidered silk botanical pillows and look at your air conditioning units on the outside. Furthermore, when your view is perfect – frame it. Stationary drapery panels skimming the window trim and mounted toward the ceiling will frame the view and make your windows feel tall.

Pro Tip #10 If It Means a Lot to You, It Will Work

If something is sentimental to you keep it, or if you find something you love – buy it. Your home should be filled with what makes your heart sing. This is where you throw all rules out the window. If you love it, it’s our job to make it work!

Here’s to creating your masterpiece! But keep the paint within my lines.


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