Have an upcoming interior design project? Knowing where to start and where to allocate your budget can be tricky. As an architect with more than a decade of experience I can attest to this. As much as I hate to admit it, I often find myself without a clear way forward. In such cases, I try to break things down into a roadmap that I’m familiar with. I’ve found that three different areas of focus can turn any interior project into a winner without much stress.
Pillar One: Neutral Colors Are Forever
Nearly every client expresses their desire to get crazy with at least one room. This usually is expressed as the desire for some bizarre accent furniture or weird architectural feature. Many times it comes up as a very colorful paint.
I’m not saying bright colors can’t work. I’ve seen plenty examples of deep red walls against mahogany that make my artistic heart sing. Not only are these cases rare but they illustrate great expense as well.
I urge all my clients to reserve their flair for the sensational for paintings, plants, and other types of transient decor. That is, things that can be easily changed.
I recommend painting all walls a neutral base tone that would accommodate black and white photography as well as it would wall-sized abstract sculptures of varying colors. Finding the best paint color for interior walls is more about realizing what you don’t want as it is anything else!
Pillar Two: Furniture Helps Rooms Feel Complete
The key point to consider here is to allow for the expense of buying new furniture when you remodel a room. If there’s existing furniture that’s pat of the overall motif—fine. In many cases there’s a need to reassess which types of furniture are present all together.
There’s no situation where budget isn’t of concern. The key to having well-chosen furniture is to not overextend oneself on construction costs. This isn’t always true but usually a good place to start. For larger projects that involve structural design I recommend allocating 30% of total budget for furniture. There’s nothing emptier than a brand new room without furniture.
Keep in mind that not every piece of furniture in your home has to be from luxury furniture brands. Bargain hunting at the local Salvation Army works just as well. There are online retailers such as WayFair that constantly have sales on large case goods and upholstery. You’re limited in selection but, if you aren’t rushed for time, can save thousands. A little bit of planning goes a long way!
Pillar Three: Less is More
This echoes into every aspect of my professional approaches. Less rooms, less wiring, less space, less colors, etc. By approaching every design decision with the mindset of limiting variables one quickly finds that complex tasks become manageable.
Paint all walls in the house the same color. Use the same shape for all the base molding. Buy all your furniture from the same brand. Buy all your appliances from the same company, in the same color, from the same line. These might sound like hard-nosed stances but there’s a magical lining just beneath the surface.
By approaching decisions so simply I find that an underlying continuity emerges. Each room starts to feel as if it is part of a larger whole. Each theme coalesces into a larger meaning. Uniformity given to underlying layers of design tend to give rise to beautiful systems of harmony on a larger scale. Just remember: interior design is art.
Bringing it All Together
These three basic considerations each have their own merit. Together they provide a basic framework by which one can understand any interior design project more easily. I apply this framework to any project I feel stuck or uninspired about. At the end of the day it’s all about finding inspiration. Sometimes one needs simply to spend some time building one’s canvas before knowing what to paint!