Probably one of the biggest fears that clients bring to the table is that their design project is going to cost a lot more than they are willing to spend. As result, many who are not familiar with how interior designers work, tend to tackle the project on their own admitting they are willing to settle for less of a result if it means being more comfortable with the end price.
This whole concept opens the door for some good conversation. While there may be some unscrupulous interior designers out there, for the most part, they are only there to help you get the end result that you are looking for at a price you can afford. Their relationships with different showrooms and tradesmen usually offset the cost of their fees so in the end, the price is about the same as if you did it yourself.
However, if you’ve chosen to tackle your design project on your own, there are a few helpful tips for making smart purchases that you will be happy with for years to come.
First, you need to have some idea of the design direction. Without this, you’re likely to end up with a collection of unrelated items hoping that when they come together you will have created your own style. More likely, you’ll have created your own mess.
Look through different magazines and find homes that appeal to you. Clip them out and keep them in a folder. It’s best to do this over a period of time rather than all at once so that you don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with a design “theme.” A good example was the Tommy Bahama style that came on strong a few years ago and then vanished overnight. Being stuck with a house full of this style now would represent an investment that did not pay off. You need a style that will last the test of time.
Next, look at your home in terms of space. The layout is extremely important and has a huge impact on the finished product. Ignore your current layout and furnishings and treat it as a blank canvas. Now look at the features the room may offer. Consider the light source, length of walls, location of windows, doorways, etc. Then think how to make the most use of them. Remember to keep things in balance but that doesn’t mean everything has to be symmetrical. Just be sure not to make the room too heavy in one area.
It’s easier for some people to draw it out on paper in order to move things around and experiment. Designers do this with every project. To do this, convert your measurements to ¼” scale, meaning every foot of the room equals ¼” on paper. There is graph paper available to help you do this.
Move the layout around until you find the plan that works best for your lifestyle. Consider different options such as a sectional instead of a sofa and loveseat. Think about adding some interesting pieces that have multiple functions such as a buffet as your media console or a breakfront as a library.
The next step before you finish your layout is your lighting plan. Lighting can make or break a room. Lighting should come from multiple sources in different areas. A combination of table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers, etc., can make the room much more interesting at night. Think about where you place the lighting to accent the furnishings and accessories as well as provide usefulness when using the room.
Once you’ve laid out your room, you should have a list of exactly what you are looking for and a good idea of the sizes that will work. The best advice here is stick to your list and don’t make any impulse changes once you go shopping. If you buy a sofa that is a foot longer, it’s going to throw your entire plan off.
When you start making your choices, there are a couple of tricks that will ensure you will probably be happier with your purchases for a longer time. Keep the main items such as upholstery and window treatments in solid colors. It’s best to pick out the main items at about the same time rather than having one item delivered to your home before you pick the next. Just imagine trying to haul that sofa back to the store when you want to find a chair that will go with it. If you want a punch of color, do it with accents such as pillows, artwork, area rugs, etc. This is will help keep your cost down in the future should you decide you want to change the look.
Lastly, have a budget. After you do a little initial furniture shopping, sit down with your plan and put a dollar amount on each item that you are willing to spend. When you start to make purchases, refer to your budget, realizing that if you go over in one area, you need to make up for it in another. That way when the project is done, you won’t have to go on food stamps.
And remember, while designers might be able to put together a design in a week or so, it’s not uncommon for a homeowner to take much longer. Take your time. Stick to your plan and budget. And, plan on making purchases that you can live with for a long time.