Before my list: There are so many options and so many details and so many sources that I know of and have access to that you probably don’t know, but that’s why I have a job. Remember that mistakes can be costly, so be fair to yourself and don’t go too far out.
Here are some Real Tips (free!) for designing major areas in your home. These are things I learned from mentors and from experience. To me these tips are simply put: Logical. Here’s an overview starting as you enter the front door:
1. Your entryway (or foyer) is the first thing anyone sees. Don’t forget that. It’s also a kind of dressing area, so a shelf, console table (against a wall) or hall tree are good. It works for keys, mail, handbags, etc. And a mirror helps. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your shelf or table; it can also be on a different wall or even a closet door. Have fun and personalize this space! Everyone will see this room and no one stays very long, so you can be pretty outrageous (dark colors, etc.).
2. Sitting rooms into are usually of 2 different kinds: TV rooms or rooms for entertaining and conversation — or solitude.
In any sitting room, unless there is absolutely NO other option, don’t walk into the back of a sofa…especially a taller sofa since it acts as a barrier and also a visual barrier to make the room seem smaller and much, much less inviting.
Plus, most sofa backs are usually designed to go against the wall, so they are PLAIN. Use a pair of chairs, ottomans or the “L” end of a sectional that goes to either side or leave the path into the room open (like a “U”)
Lighting: if you plan to seriously READ, I suggest at least one seat should have correct lighting. General lighting can be from recessed or torchieres (up-lights) with halogen bulbs to reflect off the ceiling, neither is really meant for close work like reading.
Tables: whatever you like, but leave enough space to walk around 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 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.
TV: I know, LOTS of TV’s 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 close to EYE LEVEL 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 will hurt 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. That could be a shelf, buffet (low) or tall breakfront with a serving surface. If you store most of your dishes, etc. somewhere out of the dining room, buy only what you need or do and perhaps something more 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”–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, than 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 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 can be from 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 work for that…lamps (table or wall-mounted) might be smarter.
6. 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, 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, 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.
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