Professor's House

Common Design Questions

There are a few common design questions that as a designer I frequently get asked when working with clients, these include:

  • How do I plan where my furniture needs to go?
  • How do I pull a colour palette together?
  • What needs to be considered to ensure I buy the right sized furniture for my room?
  • How do I zone different areas in an open plan living space?
  • How to create a focal point in my room?

To answer these questions, and many more that you may have, I’m going to take you through the design process that anyone undertaking a home décor project should consider. This will ensure that you have the confidence to make decisions, costly mistakes can be avoided, and finally that you are left with a room to be envied by others.

Step 1 – it’s all in the planning

Start your planning by taking inspiration from magazines, online interior design blogs and sites, or generally from anything around you that is a source of inspiration. Collect items that catch your eye because you like the colour or texture and start a file or pin board of all of the things that you collect.
Laying out your images and items will start to shape your design concept and colour palette. Pull out anything that doesn’t seem to fit, use your intuition here after all it is your home. Fix the items and images to a board (also known as a mood board) and have this in a place that you see daily. This will keep you on track with decisions that you make and help you stay true to your original design.

Step 2 – down to the details

Next think about how you are going to use the space; functionality is just as important as how it looks. Take a good look at what you currently have in the room and identify what fits with your mood board and how you will use the space moving forward. There may be some items that you can repurpose by painting furniture or reupholstering a chair or sofa.

Next you need to think about a focal point for the room. Without this the design will feel scattered and unresolved, so you need something to pull it all together. Generally this is something that creates the interest, it could be a piece of artwork that adds impact, a decorative rug or a feature wall in a beautiful wallpaper. This is your jumping off point. Everything from here will need to tie back to your focal point.

Step 3 – fitting it all in

Floor planning is important for many reasons. It assists with choosing the right size furniture for the room, to the best furniture placement and to help zone areas in open plan spaces. Take measurements of the dimensions of the room and note these down on a rough plan. Note the window and door placements and any electrical points and radiators. This will help you when buying new furniture. Try a few different furniture placements to see what works best, which will give you a good chance to consider flow and functionality in the space before committing to buying any larger pieces of furniture. If you are a visual person and struggle with making decisions based on floor plans, cut out life size pieces of newspaper as furniture templates and lay them in the room as you had planned to place the furniture. This will give you a better idea on scale, and how much space you have between each piece. Zone areas by using large rugs, the back of a sofa, a console or even a large shelving unit to create a wall.

Step 4 – tracking the costs

Make a list of the work that needs to be done, and the items that need to be sourced. Obtain quotes for the work and research the items on your list to gain an idea of cost this will allow you to budget wisely. If your budget is running over before you’ve even begun, then perhaps think about phasing the work/purchases, or work out what areas you would feel comfortable doing yourself such as the painting. Don’t forget to include a contingency of between 5% and 10% of the total. Keep a record of all of the quotes and everything that you spend so that you can manage your budget closely. It important to remember that choosing the cheapest quote isn’t always the best way to go. There’s a reason that the quote is cheaper than all of the others. My advice is to choose the one that is sitting in the middle and always try to get three quotes for each work item.

You’re ready to start planning, designing and budgeting. Take your time in this phase, as it will pay dividends in the end. Also ensure you take recommendation on any trades and services that you need to get your project completed. And most importantly have fun with it!
In summary here’s a checklist to get you started:

  • Collate inspiration and ideas
  • Decide on focal point and functionality
  • Draw up a floor plan and include zoning ideas if required
  • Decide on budget and track this carefully
  • Ask for recommendations for trades and services
  • Keep going back to your original mood board to stay on track

If you have successfully designed a room that you feel proud of we would love to hear from you. Feel free to send us your story.

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