Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

I’m sure that, like most things in life, there is more than one way to plan your room scheme, but today I am going to share with you the approach that I have honed through many years of experience.  I’m going to be using the living room as an example in this case.

Once you’ve decided which room you’d like to design, the first thing to work out is what that room will be used for, i.e. what tasks will be carried out within the space. If it’s a living room, will it be used for entertaining, watching TV, playing board games, or curling up somewhere to read a book or listen to music?  Does it double up as a play space for the kids?

Before – this space was a blank canvas

Then you need to know who will be using the space? What ages, are there any health issues to consider? And what time of day will the room be used the most? Is it a space used mostly during the day or in the evenings, or all the time?

Once you know what and who you are designing for, then you can decide on what items of furniture will be required. How many people will you require seating for? Do you need to create a quiet reading corner? Do you need lots of storage for toys? Or books? Or a spectacular record collection?

Planning the layout

Once you’ve decided on what furniture you need, then you can start thinking about the layout of the furniture. What is the focal point in the space? Is it the TV, an ornate fireplace or a window with a spectacular view?  Think about how you move around the space. Imagine walking in through every door, crossing the room and sitting down on the sofa. Does it feel easy in your mind, or do you keep bashing your ankles on that coffee table that’s in the way?

Only once you’ve sorted out the practicalities of how the space fits together should you start to think about colours. And more importantly how you want the space to feel and what kind of behaviours you want to encourage. I have blogged before about how our colour choices can influence this.  Once I’ve decided on this I then usually create a mood board which I use as a reference point for the scheme going forward.

After – the same view as before

Gather together all your samples and ideas for items of furniture in one place to see how they all sit together, referring back to your layouts to double check that they will fit the space available and work together from a scale perspective.  If you have existing items of furniture, photograph it and double check your measurements and then plot them into your layout.

At this point you can also plan your lighting. Remember to layer your lighting for added interest, thinking about the tasks that you will be doing in the space. If you’re reading, you’ll need light for this. And playing board games you’ll need a light above the table. And if you’re watching TV you might only want the odd subtle pool of light that won’t distract from the screen. I have also written in detail how to plan your lighting.

The reading corner

Once you have finalised all of your plans, it’s time to talk to any builders or decorators. Before they start work, get a schedule from them that specifies what items they will need on site and by when?  Then look at all of the lead times of all of the items you have chosen for your room, and enter everything into a plan.

Only once everything has been planned and scheduled should you give the go ahead for work to start. This way you’re not paying builders to be on site, waiting for items to arrive, and you’re also not facing the stress of having to make decisions yesterday so that you’re not holding up the project.

Happy planning, and do drop me a line if you feel this is too overwhelming and you’d like some help.

  • Posted in Interior Design | Comments Off on How to Design your Home like a Pro

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