|Interior design is all around us and it is a terrific source of fun and inspires creativity in those who are not naturally creative. Lounging in the hammock or on the sofa while perusing decorating magazines is a very pleasant way to spend quality time. All these “perfect” rooms give us plenty to think and dream about. Decorating ideas abound and whether or not we make a move to move closer to having the perfect home in reality, dreaming is still enjoyable. It is, however, often overwhelming because the rooms do look so perfect. Once some forward effort is put into actually decorating our homes, we often realize just how much work and expense is involved in striving for perfection. The route to the perfection that we desire also involves a bit of dust and disturbance along the way, in order to make your home look quite different and very much improved over its previous form.There is a state of mind and there are a few techniques you’ll need in order to make good use of this wealth of ideas and projects. Whether you are a do it yourself-er or always hire assistance, projects may still be overwhelming. A clear idea of exactly what is to be achieved must be reached before any work can be done. Do you have a clear idea of your design preferences and style? Often we see beautiful rooms that appeal as we glance at them while lounging in the hammock. Could we actually live in this room and continue to enjoy it and get full use out of it? Often we at Mulberry Interiors, ask a client to provide us with a magazine photo or two that have some elements that they like in a room. Our 20 some years of experience allows us to gather a lot of information from those elements that you like.Developing a consciousness of what sort of design style makes us happy is the first step. We may be attracted to a design style that we could never maintain. The classic example of this is the white sofa and white carpet. Does the look you love suit your lifestyle? Busy families with children and pets may have quite a difficult time keeping this décor style looking good. Perhaps you like the serenity of the look but would be just as happy with hard wearing surfaces in a light look ( photos courtesy of Better Homes). Once having confirmed this, the purpose in looking through magazines could shift to looking out for nice light-looking rooms that would be possible to keep looking that way. By doing this, you will have taken a step toward compiling a collection of photos of rooms that you like but which are closer to a reality that can actually be achieved and maintained. Casual decor can often be just as up-lifting and inspirational as a more formal approach.Start to assemble a workbook where you store these images and take an analytical approach to the room photos that appeal to you. List the elements in the rooms that you like: high ceilings, fireplace, stone elements, dark floor/light walls, tall decorative vase, dark hardwood floors, flowing draperies, textured stone, vintage accessories, wood panelling…or whatever elements appeal to you. Do this in under a minute, if possible. If you are stumped for descriptive phrases, scan the text of the accompanying article looking for how the author describes the space and for how it was put together. What was the designer’s intention?How does each descriptive phrase apply to the room? You will get into the habit of really beginning to see the room, not just the overall impression. Then you can begin to turn your attention to a single item or style element. This may change when you look at the same photo on a different day. This may be because you may have been reflecting in your mind’s eye and are developing ideas of your own. One day you may focus on the wall colour, especially if it is very striking. Later that week, you may be drawn to the drapery treatments or the seating arrangement.What would you change in the photo to make the room suit your personal style better? When you see that element in other design photos, do you still like it, or are there style details that you come to look for? Do you like a small square sofa arm and cream fabric? Do you like to see some pattern in the room, in wallpaper or in a toss cushion? Write down your impressions in point form so that you can clearly explain your vision.Make a collection of photos that contain design details that you dislike. This is very useful information helpful for gaining a clear idea of what might be a beautiful room that you can enjoy for many years, once it has been compiled and installed. Make notes to yourself such as “Don’t like the short drapes, prefer floor length, but that shade of blue is nice” and the like. This saves a lot of time and confusion once it is time to implement a room design. Don’t mix “likes” with “dislikes” You are building a style file to use to work toward achieving your décor plan. You will have a collection of things you love and once you start to put it into action, you can pull from a range of options, should something be too hard to find or too expensive for you. Develop a wish list of things that may be too expensive. You may be able to choose a few things from this list after all, once you see your room coming to fruition. You may be willing to forego your annual vacation or a newer car in order to be able to improve the way your home looks. There’s no need to look at the same old four walls in your home year after year.What colours do you gravitate toward? Squint so that you don’t see the ugly sofa, just the beautiful colour. What would you feel if you could be in this room? Are you bored, calm, fidgety, happy, depressed? Is there something missing? Can you define it? Is the overall impression formal, airy, sombre? You will begin to develop a sense of what colours you want to live with in your home for a number of years. Attach paint chips to your collection and discuss with yourself why you like them. Would other family members like them, or must you use them in a room that you command. Try colour chips that may go with the colours you like. What approximate percentage of the room would you like these colours to take up? Would you like that colour in a pale shade on the ceiling?You may see a project that you feel is simple enough for a beginner. Is it a paint finish on a piece of furniture or a piece of abstract art? Try some of you colour ideas on this project. Even if the project is a failure, you may gain an understanding of the amount of work and expertise that is required to achieve these “perfect” rooms. Do you prefer a formal style? Eclectic? Industrial? Or what have you. Be quite analytical about your preferences and whether they are the same each time you try the exercise. Read up on period style. Do you like Chippendale? Do you like neo-classic style? Take an art history course to expose yourself to the great masters. They may not be something you want to live with, but you will not be harmed by the learning process.How is art displayed in the photos you like. Try to arrange your own art pieces along the same lines. Can you define what was done to make that arrangement look better than just nailing it up on the wall? What is the relationship of the art piece to the sofa in the photo? How much of the wall does the piece or series of pieces take up? How high are the pieces? Do all the walls have art on them? How do the lamps relate to the tables they are sitting on? Become more and more conscious of what is actually displayed in these rooms.What special characteristics does your own home have that could be better served? Do you have tall windows or an interesting fireplace? Is your ceiling tall? Are your rooms very ordinary? Do you have a particularly interesting piece of furniture that could be displayed better? If so, how could they be made more interesting by adding some elements from your style file? You do not need to have a mansion to live well. Is your room balanced?Do you enjoy some pattern in your home? If so, define what types of pattern you are drawn to. What do you dislike? Do you like rooms with more than one pattern? How do you like the pattern distributed? Why go to all this trouble? In order to move beyond wishing you had the home displayed in the magazine, you will gain the self-knowledge that will set you on the path to acquiring quality pieces that are part of a design plan. It is frustrating to purchase something that you think you will love forever, but tire of it in a short time. Having a clear picture in your mind of what suits you best is very helpful in the design process. It will keep you from having your confidence shaken by the opinions of friends or neighbours. You are making decisions for your home, not theirs. Do you like textured surfaces and fabrics? See if there are textural elements in the rooms that you like. These days, many room designs make use of very rustic and weathered furnishings and the look is stunning. Your personal taste may want a little or a lot of this element. Write down your ideas on texture and come back to them and reassess a week later. Professional photo shoots of rooms use tricks to make the viewing angle look a good as possible. The room may not actually function properly this way. There are special relationships of furniture pieces to each other that must be observed. If the furniture is too close together, you cannot live comfortably in the room. A wide angle shot or long view of a room is likely a more accurate way to view the special arrangement of the furnishingsCan you spot the focal point in the room? How does the traffic flow through the room? How does it flow in your own home? Can you make some changes to your own traffic patterns to increase quality of life? Notice how major furniture pieces are placed in the rooms that you like. How do they relate to the focal point? Is the room balanced? You will gain an understanding of furniture groupings. Be sure to make notes on what you like and dislike. Once you have done all this hard work, you will have a greater understanding of your personal style and whether or not you can achieve the look you love in your own home. Making use of the services of an interior designer has proved to be very useful for many people.
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