Introducing a few “rules of design” created by designers themselves who are known for “breaking said rules of design”
Ever get super excited about decorating a room and start binge buying a bunch of things that you think will work but when you put it together it all falls flat? That’s heartbreak. You were once on top of the world an hour ago in CB2…and left defeated. This is a common setback people have when designing their home. It can be so frustrating that you might decide to give up and live with it anyway…BUT, us rule-breakers are rooting for you to power through and see the light at the end of this blog.
There aren’t rock solid rules when it comes to decorating; it’s a lot of trial and error honestly, whether you’re an interior designer or a secret spy (my second preferred career). Rules can be broken and spaces can still look good, sometimes even more unique than ever. BUT these guidelines are typically 95% successful. So instead of rules, here are some guidelines to follow if you are that person sitting in a room that is just not working and you can’t put your finger on why.
If we could sum up how to stay on theme in a room it would be with balance, variety and repetition through colors, textures, scale and shapes. This is the condensed version of the million principles of design you learn in design school. The core of designing in my opinion. So, if you are considering redoing a room completely, or simply making a few adjustments, keep this thesis handy for reference as you carry on with my top-secret research paper (& feel free to give us an A++).
Organize your thoughts →
First of all, to begin this process we recommend organizing your overall game plan. It’s actually crucial for a great design. Reimagine your space and completely clear your mind of everything in it: the wall colors, the furniture and décor. Let it be an open-minded blank canvas, a fresh breath from the existing items that are battling with each other. Secondly, we recommend taking measurements and drawing out the room to scale so you can play around with a furniture plan. We know you might not be a professional artist or floor plan master, but a pencil, paper, tape measure and mediocre handwriting skills are all you need.
Developing the aesthetics of your soon-to-be-designer-room is the fun part. Go to Pinterest and start a new board with saving various interior design pictures that you’re attracted to; this could be art, or just simply a picture that represents a color scheme that you like. Creating this will give you a visual language to understand what exactly you want to achieve as far as color and style. Give yourself some time during this step, and come back to it a few times with a fresh mind. If you’re anything like us there might be 10 different styles you’re attracted to, and you can’t seem to marry one. BUT, after pinning your socks off, note what specific things you like about each picture, and what colors you seem to be drawn to the most. Make a decision based on which style and shades you kept coming back to. These pictures sparked your interest, gave you excitement and happiness so why not implement that in your home? Create a space that makes you feel happy. DUH. Happiness rocks. I would choose 3-5 colors including neutrals and stick to those for your color scheme. This visual representation will be great to reference back to if you ever feel like you’re getting off track from the initial design down the road. If you find yourself at a garage sale or a flea market googly-eyed at a vintage piece that doesn’t go with the theme of this room, don’t force it! Stick to your roots, cover your eyes and run out of there. Do you know how many times we’ve fallen in love at a vintage market? At least 1,000 times. There are more sofas in the sea…
If you’re not quite starting from scratch and already have a piece of art or furniture that you’re smitten over and it represents your underlying style and inspiration- pick 3-5 colors from it and there’s your color scheme. (Stick with it friends!)
Find your focal point →
You should pin down a focal point for your room and base the entire design around it. This will have the majority of the colors you chose for your color scheme. It could be a rug, a piece of artwork or furniture. This is the hard part because you’ll want to try to add all of your favorite pieces but letting the one steal the show, is the way to go! Let that statement piece shine and compliment it with the remaining furniture and décor, always leading your eye back to the focus point. Having too many points of focus calls out for your attention and it can leave a space feeling busy and overwhelming. Opting for one is clear and purposeful.
Variety is so important when decorating and without it, a room will be left feeling drab. When it comes to color, you can create variety by using lighter and darker tones of the 3-5 different hues that were chosen for your color scheme. Spreading these colors around will give you more design freedom and it will offer depth, leading the eye around the room. These colors can be displayed through small décor items on a bookshelf, side table or a pillow, and it will always match the rest of the room since it’s coming from the same hue family that was chosen. You can play with color pairings and go for monochromatic, complementary, analogous or triadic combinations.
Texture is also crucial when it comes to variety, without it a space feels like it’s missing something… and it’s typically texture. Providing different sources of texture with finishes, textiles, knick-knacks and other décor items the mystery will be solved. Texture typically adds the perfect natural touch whether it’s through plants, woven baskets or a sheepskin throw. Which are all my favorite things.
Additionally, you’ll want to provide variety through scale and shapes. If you have a lot of squares from architectural details or if your furniture is on the boxier side, make sure to add some other shapes in the room so squares with distinct lines aren’t the only shape that’s being registered. Adding some curves with a couple of sculptural and modular shapes will play with the squares well, providing diversity. When it comes to scale, you’ll want to make sure when you’re decorating and grouping items together that they differentiate in height and width so the different forms can work together in an interesting way.
Balancing with color can be just simply contrasting an object with another object and pairing them together. Colors combos that work for this are: black/white, warm tones/cool tones, and shiny finishes/matte finishes. If you have a room that is overwhelmingly white and dark blue, you should add some warmer tones like a camel brown leather ottoman and wood tones throughout. If you’re crazy for the cozy woods, oranges and reds (raising our own hand here) add white, black, or navy to balance out those warmer tones. When it comes to balance we’ve also learned to never forget to add shine in a room. Add brass, silver, black steel, and glass to even out the solid colors and textures. If you find your room is looking heavy or you have a smaller room, opt for a glass top table instead of a colored one so it’s not so visually heavy.
Making sure you have enough texture in a room is one thing, but balancing it out in the right spaces through textiles and décor will add so much togetherness to a space. If there’s a solid sofa lacking texture, add fuzzy pillows or a sheepskin throw. If you are noticing your bookshelves are mainly solid and smooth vases, add some interest through plants or add a small wicker basket. If you have a velvet or mohair accent chair go for a leather or wood footstool to balance out the textured fabric. If your bookshelves are a sophisticated black metal you can add whimsy décor, organic shapes and funky plants to balance out the simplistic modern lines.
As far as scale and shapes, balancing the big furniture items with each other is crucial to make the room work. Double-check that your furniture isn’t too big in scale because you don’t want you or your guest to feel crammed by large furniture. Negative space is good and not something to not be afraid of. If possible, sofas shouldn’t be directly placed on the wall. Either float sofas or at least pull them a couple of inches off the wall. Paying attention to the corners of rooms is often overlooked you can make a room feel perfectly balanced if you have the corners filled out; If there’s a floor lamp on one end put a tall plant on the other, or vertical art pieces. Recognizing the shapes of your furniture so you can counter the accent pieces next to it in the opposite shape. Pairing different shapes next to each other like a contemporary boxy sofa with a round ottoman, compliments the space well.
Our brains love repetition, especially in design. It registers as something familiar so recurring colors, finishes, textures, sizes and shapes are always pleasing to the eye.
Spreading out these elements thoughtfully, while working in rhythm with balance and variety is what really creates a cohesive space that you will not want to leave.
Bottom line, following these so-called ‘rules’ will create movement and equilibrium throughout the room you are designing and, throughout your home. Noting these details will steer you away from the common speed bumps that come into play with home design. Reevaluating your space doesn’t always issue a new reno project, but making sure your home is on theme and captures your preferred aesthetic is worth investing your time with minimal costs. You spend a lot of time at home. You should feel relaxed and the most comfortable in your own space instead of ignoring rooms that need extra love. We are all about being thrifty; Thriftier than the norm, but you know what’s great about finding amazing things for your home?…Finding amazing things for your home from the thrift store that’s $3. You’d be surprised what you find! GO THIS WEEKEND! WE MIGHT SEE YOU THERE! ————————————–
Creator and Designer: Elena Esters → @lena.esters