Remodeling your space is exciting. It’s a chance to finally create the home of your dreams, to customize the interior to your taste, experiences and memories. However, what often times starts as a day dream can rapidly turn into a nightmare once you get the process started. Between trying to manage the process on the budget and making sense of various interior design styles, it is easy to lose track of the final destination. How do you mix and match colors? When should you add wall art? What is the best fabric for your couch? These and a million other questions race through your head as you try to stay focused and get through the process without losing your mind. That’s when you realize that interior design is a lot more difficult than it seems. In addition to experience and creativity, it requires superb organizational skills and the ability to see the final space in every detail, variation and color combination possible. Unless you have such experience you are risking making costly mistakes or ending up with a space that looks nothing like you envisioned. Luckily, with some preparation and research you can dive into your remodeling project like a pro. So, to get you started, we have prepared a list of some of the most important do’s and don’ts.
#1. A measuring tape is your best friend
You go shopping for furniture, find what seems to be a perfect couch, arrange home delivery, finally get it in your living room and then realize that it’s way too big and now it blocks the entrance to the kitchen. You then have two options: arrange for it to be taken back and start the process all over again or re-arrange the furniture so the couch can fit and get stuck with an awkward set-up. “But it looked so much smaller in the store!” you think. Avoid this unnecessary stress by making it a habit to measure everything and using those numbers to make any decisions from the start.
In fact, keep a notebook where you record every possible dimension you can think of that may come in handy at one point or another. It will also make the decision making process much easier. If you walk into a furniture store with specific dimensions in mind, much of the selection will already be out of the running, narrowing it down to a few items, which you can then evaluate based on style, quality and price.
#2. Be mindful of scale and proportion in design
Linda Floyd, a California-based interior design guru, advises that when we enter into a room, “it must look like a city landscape – a mixture of different levels and heights. No one likes a room that everything in it is at the same level or same in size. It can be achieved by combining furniture with different height and sizes, the art placement and the window sizes.”
While it may be tempting to make everything perfectly aligned, without matching different heights and sizes, you risk creating a space that feels either too bulky or too empty. Unless you are a professional interior designer, the notions of scale and proportion do not necessarily naturally occur to you. In fact, it is counter-intuitive to deliberately try and make the height of your furniture, art placements and window sizes uneven. However, as you browse through interior design styles inspirations online or in a magazine, pay active attention to these factors to train your eye and mind.
#3. Learn the ‘Rule of Three’
Not so much a rule, but a very helpful guideline, the Rule of Three is a method of arranging things in groups of three (although groups of five, seven and nine work as well) as items arranged in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered groupings. “When hanging artwork or decor, two of one thing is merely a couple. Three items automatically make it a collection,” we learned.
#4. Avoid clutter at all costs
Whether you are selecting furniture, wall art or other elements of decor, approach the process with a ‘less is more’ mindset. Add furniture pieces and various design elements gradually. Failing to do so and buying everything at once can easily lead to your room design feeling claustrophobic, even if it’s a large space. Start with the essential items and build up from there. Know when to stop. If your room doesn’t feel spacious enough even with just a few furniture items, try rearranging them. That will often times fix the problem. This tip also applies if you are trying to sell your home. A house/apartment that feels cluttered will make a less favorable impression on potential buyers.
#5. Understand your interior design styles preferences
Before you even start flipping through magazines in search of inspirations, try to picture what your ideal space looks like. Don’t get caught up in current trends. These trends come and go. Instead, imagine a room that you would want to eat/work/watch TV/play with kids/hang out with friends every day for the next five years. If you are having troubles figuring out your ideal interior design style, look for resources online such as this one.
#6. Don’t keep things that you hate
This seems like such an obvious advise, doesn’t it? Yet, you will be surprised how many people keep things that they actively dislike when remodeling – a carpet or an item of decor that was gifted to them. If there is anything around your house that you hate but can’t bring yourself to throw out, sell or donate because of its sentimental value, find a place to store this item. If you hate your carpet but are working with a limited budget, get rid off it just the same! This way you ensure that your mind is not clouded by this carpet when you are designing your dream space. Over time you can save up and buy a new carpet/hardwood floor.
#7. Don’t forget to assign a purpose to each room
This is one of the most common mistakes. We can get so caught up in the process – budget allocation, shopping for the perfect furniture items, selecting wallpaper, finding contractors and a million other things – that we overlook the most basic aspects. To showcase a room’s function, you would then need to create a focal point. It will give your room more structure and direction. In a bedroom a focal point would be the bed. In a living room, it can be a TV, a fireplace or a piece of art. You can create a focal point with a color accent or a view outside the window. Whatever it is, make sure it complements the purpose of the room.
#8. Don’t buy everything from the same store.
We admit it, it’s tempting to go in one store and get every furniture item you need in one go. You can probably get great discounts and save time. However, buying everything in the same color, patterns, fabric and style will deprive your room of any character. As Vicente Wolf, a prominent designer, puts it: “If you layer a space with color, texture, and array of styles, your decor choices will have a much longer life.” If you are not too confident in your ability to mix and match your furniture in terms of all three factors – color, fabric and style – try to do so with at least one. For example, go for the same fabric and style but play with colors.
#9. Avoid pushing the furniture to the wall
It may be logical to maximize space, but you risk creating a boxed-in feel in the room by pushing such items as a couch or a desk all the way to the wall. Bring it closer to the center of the room. If you think the back of your sofa looks too awkward, hide it with a console table placed behind the sofa. That doesn’t mean that you can’t place any furniture against the wall. However, if you are creating a seating area in the living room, it will look more natural and welcoming if the couch, an ottoman and/or armchairs are closer together around a coffee table, making it easy for a group of people to interact.
#10. Don’t be afraid of taking some risks
While you should try to avoid certain mistakes, not taking any risks is not a good idea either. If you stick to simple furniture and beige walls with “safe” wall art choices, your interior design style will be boring at best. Try selecting a bold color for one of the walls. Experiment with a unique piece of furniture that you found at a flea market. You will be able to tone it down, if necessary, with plain wall art of a throw cover. Don’t be afraid to add some personality to your space.