When it comes to gathering ideas and putting them to work in an interior, it’s always relatively easy when you’ve done it a few times; it has the good, the bad, and the ugly phases as we go along, but we stick to it because we love it.
If you’re either an ‘Idea Board and sketches’ kind of designer or a ‘2D and 3D Graphics’ kind of designer, you have fun picking, choosing, matching, and designing.
Getting your idea through to your boss/client/teacher; choosing your wording (simplifying or professionalizing your presentation?), and dealing with the small hiccups that come up in inconvenient times.
Having that doubting moment when you feel that something is just not right and that you either figure it out or do it all over again in a different way; we either do that or just take the plunge and submit the project to the client/boss/teacher and it either passes smoothly or it gets rejected.
And why is that?
No matter how solid our concept is, and how amazing our presentation materials and mediums are, there are these little glitches that sneak up on our work and ruin it.
They’re not obvious ‘look at me!’ kind of mistakes, they’re these little things that corrupt the bigger picture and render the design in the ‘Something is just not right about it’ category to the inexperienced eye or one that puts you in an awkward position in front an experienced eye.
I gathered those glitches into twelve points for you, some of them you may have noticed already and avoided, and some you overlooked and had no idea they might impact your work that much.
So, here are the things you need to keep an eye out for to have that perfect design:
Pick Color Last
Some people start by thinking “Oh! pink is perfect for a little girls bedroom!” or “Warm colors are best for this project..” and I say “Don’t limit yourself!!“.
Picking a color scheme or even the wallpaper and paint before you have your overall idea complete is a bad idea that will subconsciously limit you to ‘choose to match’. Anything that has a color should be put on standby till you have a semi-full picture in front of you.
For example: Choosing pink for a little girl’s bedroom might trap you in a Hello Kitty or Barbie theme but not let you go for, lets say, a no-theme bedroom that will let the girl shape it over and over as she grows (and it might end up pink, too).
Never Get Carried Away in Themes
I bet we all saw that interior that went overboard with a theme, which makes you feel like you got transported to another era or country. While in some cafes, restaurants, and commercial venues it’s appropriate, no one said that the same rules apply to certain interiors, like.. say.. HOMES.
Just hints and splashes of the theme with the appropriate color scheme and other choices will do the job just fine. So the next time someone asks for a Japanese themed interior, don’t go adding so much live bamboo such that all you need is a couple of pandas for a zoo startup! Or pirates.. but that’s another story.
Don’t Over Crowd
Some designers I’ve met love giving their work a feel of luxury by adding too many furniture pieces, art work, moldings, mirrors, accessories, textures .. etc.
Some clients fall for it, only to end up later removing these pieces and telling their friends and family about that overly excited designer that they hired who crammed the place; which will in turn backfire on the designer’s reputation. Some don’t fall for it and take one look at their presentation and hightail it outta there.
Make sure you follow the rule that says “Less is always more“.
A few strategically placed items can make a design look ten times better than an overcrowded or noisy design.
Create a Focal Point
This is related to the previous point; over crowding an interior can be seriously over-doing it, but when we tone it down it can make a design look bland.That’s why I mentioned ‘strategically placed items’.
One of those strategies is having a Focal Point to balance your design and add interest. It’s that wallpapered wall with a really interesting pattern, that huge headboard that has interesting features, or even an over-sized or low hanging chandelier.
The point (no pun intended) is to have something that draws the eye as soon as you enter that room; something that plays the leading role alone or with another single costar, and lets everything else go secondary.
Pay Attention to Scale
This point is related to both previous points and is easily explained; If you have a lot of large scaled furniture or accessory pieces, try balancing them out with smaller pieces rather than a couple of other same sized pieces to avoid crowding. If you have small pieces of furniture or accessories it’s better if you group them together and add a bigger piece to draw focus and avoid clutter. Same goes for heavy textures; better balanced with color blocks or neutrals to avoid noise and vice versa to avoid blandness.
Nothing is more annoying than passing a room and having something blocking your view, so that you have to get around it to see the rest, and nothing kills a design than not having that “Visual Continuity” (especially in public venues spaces).
Make sure you place large furniture pieces near walls, and divide spaces with rugs, arches, or even ceiling colors instead of that two sided bookcase.
Having an open view wherever you go (when possible) will help the spaces connect and the design to appear as if it’s flowing from one room to the other.
Now here’s something unexpected, huh?
Speaking of visual continuity, make sure you got your rules right when it comes to these babies; when it comes to rugs, some people add the word ‘Area’ to them since they have the power to define a space. And when it comes to defining and organizing with rugs, there are 4 rules to follow.
- Area rugs never extend from one space to the other; They either mark a space or extend along a hallway. ‘nough said.
- If the area rug is big and you have enough space, or you’re planning on adding more than one to divide up a big room, make sure you leave 30cm to 45cm of exposed floor on all sides, also making sure that all furniture pieces are placed ON the rug.
- If it’s, lets say a single small room, and a big rug isn’t a bright idea, get a rug small enough to fit but big enough to fill the empty space in the middle of the furniture arrangement; making sure nothing is on top of it, unless it’s a coffee table.
An in-between solution is make sure that all the front legs of the furniture pieces are placed on the rug; this will create a tied-together defined space in big rooms and a good alternative for carpets in small ones.
Layer your Light Sources
This goes for everyone, but is especially important to the people who do 3D. NEVER use one strong source of light for a space; adding a chandelier/pendant in the center then a few scattered light sources around it on the ceiling will give you a bright and evenly lit interior. Other sources on the wall, tables, or floors will give an interesting play of shadow and light that will translate better into the atmosphere than a single strong light source, keeping the rest as supporting roles. Most importantly, pay attention to how many sources and where you are adding them, as well as their luminosity (brightness/dimness) to avoid either glare or harsh shadows.
- In 3D production, it will look more realistic, professional, and inviting.
- In reality it’s user-friendly; helps by adding multiple atmospheres via multiple functions of the light sources.
Pay Attention to How you Hang Things on your Wall
And here I am, talking about picture frames, art works, and mirrors. Some designers hang them on a level that the top matches the height of a door frame or window, others don’t really care as long as they all match on the same line at the top or the bottom of the frame; but it’s not wise if you have low ceilings and it may create an unintentional line around a room. If you have high ceilings it may seam out of proportion. To add variety and to stay safe from “How high is too high..” and “How low should they go..” it’s better if we matched the middle of a piece with the average line of sight which is around 160cm. Depending on the height and width of each piece it will create an interesting alternation and a casual look that will suit any room and any style.
If you know your fashion you will be able to tell a store bought clothing from a designer couture. It’s the same thing when it comes to interiors. The reason is that each designer has a signature, a discreet twist in their designs that shouts out and gives credit to their originality.
Having your own signature isn’t as hard as it seems to be; it’s all about letting your personality shine through, whether you commission for custom made furniture and accessory pieces that you design or the way in which you combine styles in a certain way. Don’t be afraid to go bold with that.
It can be a subconsciously acquired skill but needs some working on, or it can take a while to build up, but you will eventually get there.
Creativity Has No Rules
Yes, I have mentioned a few rules up there.
No, I’m not saying you should break them.
I bet you have your own signature styles and their design principles to follow, too.
I’m not talking about any of those; as designers we have to be creative in order to get that degree in the first place, but how are we creative? By being able to design an interior space that is:
B) To be able to design to our clients’ liking, for example: adding a huge bookcase in a room with a slope ceiling, and yet avoid making it look crowded in such a way that it also allows it to maintain the open space feeling with its wide and free maneuvering circulation paths. Oh, and don’t forget not to block the view!
The list goes on and some people might say “How do you even fit all those demands in one space?!“
This where our creativity comes in; taking opportunity of the circumstances and proving we’re up to the job. I mean, just look at the picture on the right and you’ll know.
Last but not least, Coco Chanel once said:
“before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.“
This isn’t just about women’s style or fashion. It’s about Appearance;You dress up your design and you are its mirror.
Take one look at your work before finalizing it (preferable if you take that look after you had a break from working on anything) and take an element that you favor less and throw it out the window.(for example that piece that you’re not sure of but thought might complete the look, so what the heck!).
If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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