Whether you will be working with a Design Pro or doing a project on your own, here are some Real tips including some nuggets. I some of these tidbits from wonderful mentors and others are just from all that experience. And it all just seems Logical now!
Starting from your front door:
1. Your foyer — or entryway — is the first thing anyone sees. Don’t forget that. Everyone will see this room and no one stays very long, so you can be pretty outrageous (dark colors, unusual art, etc.). It’s also kind of a dressing area, so a shelf, console table (against a wall) or hall tree are good. It’ll hold keys, mail, handbags, etc. A mirror which can be above your table or counter or on another wall or closet door could be a good idea, and there are so very many options. If you are personalizing this space, have fun.
2. Sitting rooms are of different kinds, but most are either TV/media rooms or sitting/living rooms. In any sitting room, unless there is absolutely NO other option or the room is huge with the furniture in the center, don’t enter into the back of a sofa…and especially a taller sofa. It will act as both a physical barrier and a visual barrier, making your room feel smaller and usually less inviting. Plus, most sofa backs are designed to go against the wall, so they are usually not attractive. Instead, to make it more welcoming, use a pair of chairs, ottomans, an open “L” end of a sectional, or even leave the path into the room open (like a “U”). Lighting: if you plan to seriously Read, I suggest having at least one seat with “task” lighting for reading. General lighting can be from recessed cans or torchieres (up-lights), perhaps with halogen bulbs to reflect off the ceiling. But neither of those is really meant for reading or other close work. Tables: whatever you like, but leave enough space to walk around it — and if you plan to have guests, have a place to put a drink or a snack. I JUST started leaving coasters on my all of my family room tables all the time…. (enough said). If the room is more casual, you should assume that anyone sitting at a nearby sofa will (or at least try to) put their feet on the table. that may mean that a glass top is not the best idea for you. TV: I know, LOTS of TVs are over fireplaces, but that’s not really the best place. It can be the only place, and then, so be it. Your TV should be at EYE LEVEL or close to it when you are seated. The farther the TV from the seating, the higher it can be (to a point). Craning you neck is not right and it hurts over time!
3. Dining areas: Even if you have a table for 12, no one expects that you will have 12 matching chairs. Forget it. For a bigger table, 6-8 matching is plenty. All side chairs is fine, too, or all arm chairs. For serving: have a place to “land” with your food when you serve it. It can be a shelf, buffet (low) or tall breakfront with a deep enough base (“deep” is the front to back dimension). If you store most of your dishes, etc. somewhere out of the dining room, get what you need or do something that’s just decorative. Lighting: if you want a chandelier and it won’t crowd the room visually, it’s great and can be very expressive of your taste. Antiques, new reproductions, contemporary “suspension” fixtures–as they are called–all work. If you have a table in a multipurpose space, well-located recessed lights work (separate switch) or flush mounted fixtures (close to the ceiling) can be very pretty and keeps the look open. Also, sconces or spotlights over serving areas are useful and again, express your style.
4. Kitchen: Make this room as practical as you can and be as organized as possible. If you are reworking an existing layout, make sure you have counter space by every appliance that needs it. If stainless is NOT for you, then don’t do it. Don’t get lots more than you need. Get good advice and pick the highest quality materials you can afford and it DOES matter who supplies it. If you are renting and keeping what’s there, dress it up to make it your own. If you need stools, remember places like Pier One or World Market for those perpetually on sale for 69.00 (or whatever they might be now).
5. Bedroom: I just have a couple of “rules”, and the rest is pretty open. If you can put the bed opposite your entry door, the room will look largest and most inviting. If you have to walk “into” the side of the bed, leave the largest reasonable walkway at the door side. Storage: store as much as you can in closets. Refitting a closet is a good investment and less money than expensive dressers. Use a big basket for the casual shoes your wear every day. Hooks are great. Cozy is one thing, crowded with furniture is another. Everything does NOT have to match. Enough said…maybe a couple of pieces the same set, but that’s plenty. Do you need storage in end tables? maybe not. Closets too small? Need an armoire or wardrobe? Needn’t be dressy, just working in the space is good. Lighting? If you can, have lights that can be switched from the bed. That is AWESOME. And reading lights if you read are wonderful….please pay attention if recessed lights are enough for that…lamps (table or wall-mounted) might be smarter.
6. Kids’ Rooms: make them as flexible as you can. Babies only live in cribs for a short time. Some rooms may work better without a changing table if other furniture if needed more. Good ideas: shelving and storage, comfy adult-sized chair, ability to plug in music or (fancy) night lights near the crib or bed. You may or may not feel that you need hanging space in the closet for baby if you need it for yourself! Try and find a layout that you can change to fit a twin or, if you are converting a “junior bed” frame, a full-sized bed.
7. Baths: simple, good storage and good lighting with something personal is all you need. Maybe add art! Lighting for shaving and makeup belong in front of your face, not over (or over and behind) your head. Lots of options for that which can be fun of just useful. Single-handle faucets are less fancy, but lots easier to use. Shower curtains are lots better than doors for BATHS (like with kids), doors for showers. Powder Rooms: This is the other of the 2 rooms Everyone Sees (this and the foyer). Have fun. Make it serviceable and play it up with color, decor, and artwork, whatever fits you. You can fill this space to match the vibe of the rest of the house– or NOT!!
Lastly, for today, floors and windows: Carpet and rugs are for bare feet and rugs are also decorative. Hard surfaces like wood and tile clean up well, but cost more to install. And you’ll probably need rugs. Windows: room darkening if you need it. I prefer ONLY if you need it, but that’s me. Drapes/fabric shades and shutters cost more than blinds and other shades. Consider your taste, work with someone you trust and look at magazines for ideas.
Thanks, JW & others!! 😉
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