1. Determine Your Style
How do you want a space to feel? Here’s a trick to help you hone in on your style: take a look at your closet. Do you prefer tailored pieces or do you prefer looser and more comfortable items? Do you gravitate toward certain colors or patterns? Another way to help you determine your style is to think of key words that define how you want a space to feel. Traditional, formal, elegant? Playful, humorous, inviting? Monochromatic, streamlined, modern?
Take note of design inspirations in every facet of life. I often use these as a starting point to discuss with clients when I’m hired to help them design the interiors of their homes. Recall a hotel in which you’ve stayed or restaurant in which you’ve dined that particularly struck your fancy. Perhaps it was a minimal interior from your trip to Japan or a clubby bar in New York furnished with worn leather chairs.
2. Figure Out What You Don’t Like
It is a lot easier for people to express what they do not like. By putting dislikes into the equation, we can eliminate some things and narrow in on others. For example, a bold large-scale print might remind you of something in your childhood that you do not want to see in your own space. Or a wingback chair might bring back memories of being sent to time-outs for pulling your sister’s hair. Likewise, a certain color might evoke feelings of a past design trend that you aren’t eager to repeat. These memories and reactions are very personal and individual, but also define our tastes.
3. Build Around Your Space
Space planning, which impacts scale, is essential. People often use furniture that is too large or too small for a space. I like to blame a certain retail company for the large-scale furnishings that saturate interiors today. Build around the furniture that you actually have space for. Think about the balance of a space. For larger rooms, consider establishing zones for different activities: a seating area that is conducive to conversation; another area for television viewing; a work area with a desk or table for projects or games. Even though I love symmetry, you can make things feel too contrived when you make everything symmetrical. Think about the visual weight and distribution to balance out a space. Proportion and scale are key to any design.