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  • Rochelle Grass

Designing for Your Home

Do you have difficulty putting a room together the way you want it to look? A lot of people do. And that's ok. Each of us is gifted differently. How boring it would be if we all had the same skill set. As an interior designer, putting a room together is one of my favorite things to do. But you don't want me doing your dental work or taking a look at your engine trouble. So, just as you would hire a professional to do those tasks, doesn't it make sense to hire a professional to help you design or decorate your home? But what if there is an interior designer hidden inside of you?

At the end of this post I hope to make you feel empowered to decorate on your own or empowered to pick up the phone and call a professional. This photo is what we call a "Mood Board" or a "Design Board." It conveys how carefully selected items work together to create a cohesive space. Often a designer creates a mood board to show their client what will work in their home based upon conversations, measurements, budget and product availability. Let's use this board for an open kitchen & dining area as we discuss the process for creating a beautiful space.

1. Find an inspiration piece.

You know it when you see it. A fabric, rug, painting, cabinet or color that makes your heart leap. Something that makes you stop and say, "I really like that!" It can be something with one color or a piece that is full of many colors. Ask yourself, "What is it about this that draws me in?" Is it the color, texture, motif? Does it bring on nostalgia? An inspiration piece is the starting point for any design. It's the star player, the drama queen that is going to rule the show. The only warning I have for the inspiration piece is this: Loving an item and living with an item are two different things. I love dark hardwood floors; they are gorgeous. But they also show every single piece of dirt--loving and living with are two different concepts.

2. Test your theory.

Continuing loving with vs. living with, now you've got to put a hold on infatuation and see if it's really love. Will this product work with my lifestyle? Will it work with my current design style? Can I afford it? Does this color work with the lighting in my home? What is the staying power of this item? Eek! Call in the professionals! This may be where you get stuck and that's ok. But let's keep talking.

3. Look for friends.

Friends of your star player.

This mood board started with the elegant gold/gray/cream medallion fabric. It's embroidered on a linen background. Upscale and casual all at the same time. I envision full drapery panels surrounding that stunning round dining table. Look closely. The curves of the medallion on the fabric is repeated in the round table, wallpaper, chandelier and even cabinet knobs. This repeated theme gives a sense of unity and harmony.

4. Opposites attract.

However, all of the same thing can be boring. Adding a few hard edges to contrast the curves. The rich wood cabinets are streamlined; giving them both a contemporary feel and balancing all those curves. A little masculine to counter the feminine. The floor tile and the back splash tile are also straight lined. These hard edges keep the overall look from being too sweet.

5. Everything in moderation.

Great. You've made lots of secondary choices based upon your inspiration piece. But where should they all go? How much wallpaper vs. paint? Is the back splash going between the cabinets or to the ceiling? Do you want that striped fabric on the chairs or on a Roman shade at the kitchen window? What size rug works with the table and chairs? What you put where can make or break the design choices you've made to this point, even if the selections are great in themselves. Knowing a bit about scale, proportion, lighting, and color theory come into play here. You can train your eye a bit on Pinterest or Houzz but you will have to already have some of these skills on your own.

6. Execution.

You have decided what you want, and where you want to put it. Now, who is going to do the work? What tradesmen do you need? You want to hire skilled cabinet craftsmen, wallpaper installer, painter, tile installer, counter-top installer, upholsterer and a seamstress. That's quite a list! This is the team that a designer uses to complete your project. Can you do some of this work yourself? Sure. If you truly know how to accomplish one of these tasks, it can save you a lot of money. I grew up with a DIY Dad and wouldn't trade some of our project time together for anything. But be honest with yourself. If the labor cost you save from installing the tile on your own is going to lower the overall quality and look of the design, don't do it. Tighten the budget elsewhere and enjoy living in a well-designed AND well-crafted space.

How did you do? Do you feel inspired to take on a design yourself or should you start looking for a professional? Remember, you can feel just as empowered either way. We are all different, and that's ok.

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