Inspiration for Designing a Home You Love

The inspiration for decorating a home can come from any number of sources: Perhaps a hotel you stayed in — a home you visited — a photograph that caught your eye in a book or magazine — a color combination that appealed to your senses.

I begin every project with a focal point such as a fireplace or a window with a beautiful view. Since form and function go hand in hand, every room should be as practical as it is attractive.

Once my clients and I determine how a room will be used, I do a scaled drawing of the furniture layout. If more than one arrangement will work, the client will be presented with two or three options. It’s much easier, and a whole lot cheaper, to make adjustments on paper than after the furniture is delivered!

Fabrics and colors are going to set the tone for the room, so after a lot of brainstorming with my clients, off I go to the fabric showrooms. I recommend mixing textured materials with smooth, solids with patterns, or, in a monochromatic scheme, tone-on-tones in contrasting textures. So many choices — contemporary, traditional, transitional, eclectic, global . . . it’s all a reflection of you and your family and your lifestyle.

Once the fabrics are selected, we now have a color scheme. So what to put on the walls? Paint color is a very effective way to create or change the mood and character in a room so a visit to the local paint store is the next step. Then my painter and I put paint samples on the walls, adjusting them as necessary. I never rely on paint chips without getting actual paint samples. The same color can look very different from one room to another depending on lighting, shadows, and reflections, so it’s important to apply samples in EVERY room to avoid making unnecessary mistakes. I like Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and Farrow and Ball paints. Any company’s colors can be computer matched by these paint stores and the formulas will be on the cans if you ever need more paint.

Time to go furniture shopping! Often, a homeowner will have a treasured piece to work into our arrangement. Its period, style, and size will set the tone for new pieces to be purchased. I always have my clients sit on several sofas and in several chairs before making a final decision. Often, I will customize the depth, arm styles, skirts, and legs to insure comfort and get the look we are after. Retail stores such as Crate & Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn have a wide selection of furniture if you choose not to go the custom route. And, of course, import stores and shops off the beaten path can lead to some very special finds.

Lighting is one of the most important components in a renovation. We need it for function and mood and, without it, the project falls short of the sparkle factor. I personally like to use recessed lights on dimmers, along with table lamps and sconces that incorporate metal, ceramic, seashells and beach glass. Palecek is one of my  favorite showrooms. The Foundry is another resource with a large selection of fixtures and lamps, but quite pricey. Lamps Plus is a good resource if budget is a factor.

The choices for window treatments are endless. Shutters, woven woods, drapery panels, shades – or a combination of more than one. Again, function is essential, but aesthetics are a key to our room’s success.

Flooring! Area rugs on hardwood or stone floors. Wall to wall carpeting. Wool, sisal or nylon. Patterned, solid, or textured. More choices, more decisions. Change the area rug with the season – sisal  in summer, wool in winter. Is there a right or wrong decision? No, absolutely not. Many showrooms let me borrow rugs so my clients and I can see what works best in their home. There is no obligation, and costly mistakes are avoided.

And finally, accessories. The final touches that reflect who YOU are. Art, books, seashells, a grouping of ceramics — the list is endless. I love to finish a room with beautiful indoor trees. Placing up-lights behind them on the floor creates beautiful shadows and ambience at night.

Whatever style you choose, enjoy it and know that it is a reflection of YOUR taste, personality, and lifestyle.

Illustration courtesy of Mac-Leod

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