Our guest editor today is Matthew Dickamore, VP Interior Design with Denton House Design Studio.
Matthew’s article is really about the foundations of good interior design. We’re happy to have his knowledge and experience to share with our readers.
The Laying of the Land
The empty room. The closed door dumping ground. The interior design experiment gone wrong. Over the course of my career, I’ve had countless clients and friends ask me to advise on the design of that “room” in their home Whether it has various paint swatches on the wall (the most I’ve seen had 25!), a misfit collection of furniture from your college days to family hand-me-downs, or bags and bags of recent purchases that haven’t been unpacked, it happens to the best of us. But it’s not hard to steer yourself back onto the yellow brick road of interior design. So when you’re standing in the doorway of your empty, unfinished room paralyzed to make a move, follow my easy road map, and focus on function, style, color and finishing touches.
“… steer yourself back onto the yellow brick road of interior design.”
Function: Regardless if you believe form follows function or function follows form, the first question you should always ask yourself is “what will I be doing in this room?” As an example, let’s talk about the living room. Are you mostly entertaining or will it be the just-look-don’t-touch room where the vacuum marks are always visible? Once you determine how you’ll live in the space, it’s time to tackle the layout. How many seats do you need? Does every chair have a table nearby for placing your drink, food or book? Will the fixed lighting be sufficient or will you need to enhance with table and floor lamps? Do the windows need draperies, shades, or sheers? In my experience, it seems like we always skip over these questions. Not because we don’t have good intentions, but because we just want to dive in (so we can be done sooner). So from the get-go, stop. Take a minute and think about your end goal for the room. I promise you, by doing this you will be much happier (and will not be plagued by a redesign in six months because of a lack of functionality!).
Style: Now that the function of your room has been set, pick a style direction. Use a piece of art, furniture, photo, or trend story from your favorite magazine as your inspiration. Having an inspiration makes the rest of the process so much easier (trust me), as it leads you down a smaller path instead of the spaghetti bowl freeway. Does the room need to incorporate design themes from surrounding rooms or are you trying out something different? Whichever style direction you select, stick to it and keep on moving forward.
Color: Almost every time I help someone with their empty room, it is the paint colors that they’re already set on—and nothing else. Yes, you can do this first, but allow me let you in on a little something: There are millions of paint colors and only hundreds of fabrics on the market pick from. Don’t make this process harder for yourself by having to carry a paint swatch to every fabric and furniture store to match pillows and furniture! It is always harder to match fabric to paint than paint to fabric.It is always harder to match fabric to paint than paint to fabric. This will simplify the process immensely and may end up saving you from an empty room with a wall all that is reminiscent of a patchwork quilt.
“It is always harder to match fabric to paint than paint to fabric.”
Finishing touches: Your furniture is in place, but something still feels off. The finishing touches are the small things that make a room look like someone actually lives there (instead of a furniture showroom). The accessories, art, pillows and throws are the pieces that say, “I live here and this is my style.” And to you, should signify that you are finally done with the room. My tip for finishing touches is to mix new items with existing pieces from other parts of your home. By using existing pieces, you bring a little bit more of your personality and taste into the room—and avoid the museum like quality that new pieces often bring.
The function, style, color and finishing touches—these are are all key directions in your road map for turning that empty room into a livable, lovable room. We all have a room that hasn’t made it to the finish line just yet—even me! Clear it out, get inspired and get started. Soon enough you’ll soon be enjoying your newly finished room (and proud that you made it through the process).
Visit the slideshow to see the photos Matthew has brought as exemplars.