The weather is nice, and not too hot - this is when most people think of redesigning their living spaces. Interior design can seem like a huge job to the uninitiated, but don't fret! If you'd like to rearrange your home like a pro, here are a few interior design tips that will help you find that perfect match between beauty and functionality.
The first thing to consider is how you use the room...a living room has a couch and a TV, a dining room has a table and four to six chairs, and so on...right? Wrong. Regardless of what you call the room, you need to keep in mind how your family members actually use the space when you're planning your new design. Many living rooms start out as a place to watch television, but quickly become the family gathering place for everything from homework to Super Bowl parties to project workspaces. Because of the large, flat surface provided by the dining room table, these tables often become dumping grounds for mail and coats, or serve double duty as a desk when it's time to pay the bills or do taxes. If these things often happen in your home, you may want to consider some options:
- Living rooms are often packed with family members because of the television. Consider using a guest room as a 'television room', if you have the extra space, and use the living room as a gathering space instead. The television can still be moved into the living room for parties or TV night, but this will keep homework and childrens' toys from piling up in the living room, and will open the space up for new design possibilities.
- If you don't have the space for a separate TV room, think about breaking up the living room space. Use a long couch or a narrow table to break the room up into a television-watching space and a homework or project area. If you equip the homework area with a table or desk and a couple of bookshelves, it will help keep the room neat and will clearly define the space for everyone.
- Formal dining rooms really look best if they're maintained as such. If you need a space for the coats and mail, consider placing a coat tree/storage bench just outside the dining room, or selecting a narrow console to place in the room. Consoles are perfect, because you can often find ones that match the table and they have a compact storage space where you can quickly tuck away items that may have been left on top.
- If your dining room is a less formal space, you might want to add some built-in shelves and a fold-up desktop to one wall. This will add a space for you to place mail and a convenient workspace that you can access when it's needed and put away when it's not.
Before you get too crazy with the furniture purchases, you'll want to sit down and work out a budget. Figure out what you can spend for each room, and then subtract 20% from the total. The remaining 80% is your budget - this gives you a little bit of a cushion if you find one expensive piece that you feel you must have, and if you stay within the budget you'll have saved yourself a considerable amount of money.
When purchasing items for your home, don't turn your nose up at discount or vintage stores. Many of these retailers carry hidden gems that would easily make your room complete. Also, most large cities now have at least one architectural salvage shops. These are great places to find custom sinks, mantelpieces, ironwork, and the like for a cost that's usually well below even the Salvation Army.
For general design tips and to develop an eye for color, you'll need to do a bit more research. This may sound overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Your local library will have the latest interior design magazines available for you to look through; if you prefer to come up with concepts at home, you can watch any one of the numerous design programs on HGTV or Bravo; and, or course, you can find plenty of inspiration online. Check out Get Decorating and browse through hundreds of photos from around the world; visit MyDeco for some amazing room planning software; or, if you just need to paint, you can stop by the Sherwin Williams or Behr online color selection tools.
Interior design is work, even for seasoned pros - but if you're willing to do a little research and planning beforehand, and if you keep your needs and taste firmly in mind rather than running with what's trendy, you'll find it's easier and more rewarding than you would have ever imagined.