Let's review. At this point, you've got the major inspiration for your room, a floorplan, and color scheme. But until now, you've been thinking about a lot of moving parts, weighing options but not nailing down any definitive choices. Now it's about pulling everything together into a final design plan that looks good, makes sense to you, and that you can afford.
Step #1: Start With the Large Furniture
Since furniture is often the largest and most expensive element in a room, it makes sense to start with those big ticket items first. Then you can then start to choose smaller accent pieces, artwork and accessories that work with those major elements. Zero in on one of the dining room tables or sofas that's saved in your research file that also fits in your proposed layout.
This is a good time to go back to Lesson #2 and revisit both the physical features of the room (a.k.a. the dimensions) and the soul-searching you did about your lifestyle and planned use of the space. For every piece that you consider, ask yourself if it will actually work for you. If you have kids, do you want to worry about white upholstery every day? Will a small cafe table have enough place settings for your legendary Sunday suppers? And does it suit your overall style? Will the sofa be long enough to stretch out for naps if that's important to you? Mentally run through the list (or go visit the furniture in the store) to test it out. This is one decision you don't want to rush.
Step #2: Look At Everything Together As One Happy Family
Once your furniture is selected, start filling in the rest of the choices. Your floor plan, or 3D model comes in handy here as it helps you visualize the whole picture. Include wallpaper, curtains, artwork, side tables, and storage solutions. Make a mood board to see them all together, or — if you are using SketchUp — plug them into your 3D model and see how everything works together.
Step #3: Cast a Critical Eye
Variation in color, pattern, texture, and style is essential to decorating — it keeps things interesting. Match-y match-y everything looks staid and flat. It's also largely impractical for those of us who don’t buy all our decor in one fell swoop. People are far more likely to cobble together a room over the years, bringing together a mix of inherited, found and purchased items with a variety of finishes, colors, and styles. When you are putting together your design plan, make sure there's enough surprises in the room to keep everyone on their toes:
Period Styles: There's nothing that says you can't have mid-century combined with traditional antiques, all in the same room. Give each piece at least one companion who shares a color, style, or finish; you don't want any single, solitary pieces of decor hanging out by their little lonesome. That poor piece of furniture needs a friend, lest it look and feel like the odd man out. If your living room is a place to kick back and relax, don’t layer in overly formal or stuffy furniture. Make all your choices equally informal — with simple lines and soft materials — even if they vary in style.
Color: Once you find your color scheme, don't feel like each element in a chosen color has match perfectly. Use the entire family of tones, tints and shades throughout the room. The living room above uses various shades of rosy red, purple-y brown, and darker plum, but still maintains the overall scheme. In fact, the slight variations keep the room from looking too pat and overly designed.
Price Points: Don't buy everything from the same store. Incorporate items from IKEA in with vintage. It keeps your budget down if that's a consideration, and isn't as predictable.
Step #4: Inhale Deeply & Take At Least One Risk
It's totally tempting to play it safe, but this is when risk equals reward. Commit to one design decision that makes you a little uncomfortable. It might be mixing a couple of patterns together that's you're nervous about, or splurging on something you love but don't know if you should buy it. Whatever it is, take a deep breath and do that ONE THING. Chances are really, really good it's not as crazy as you think, and your room will be all the better for it.
Next Lesson: Just do it all already.
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