Rule Of Design
Coastal style is: • Breezy. Think light, bright and airy: sheer white curtain panels, whitewashed surfaces, bare wood floors and plenty of open space. • Natural. Furniture and accessories use natural materials like sea grass, jute, wicker, rattan, linen and cotton. • Casual. If you can’t imagine kicking off your shoes and putting your feet up on something, it probably doesn’t have a place in a coastal-style home. Coastal style is not: • One-note. Coastal, or beach, style can lean contemporary, traditional or somewhere in between. The easy, natural mood is more important than the specifics. • Heavy. Do away with excess layers. Think of leaving some floors bare and windows uncovered (or lightly dressed). • Dark. You can find dramatic inky blues in coastal homes, but darker hues tend to be accents, not the main event. Key Element: Natural Textures and Beachy Hues Coastal homes gat...
7. Document Mark your floor plan with precise lighting locations so you can refer to it later, and be sure to make a copy for the electrician so there is little room for confusion. Ask your contractor for an updated quote in case there are any cost increases due to lighting changes as a result of the electrical walk-through. 8. Verify Walk through the home after junction boxes are installed but before the drywall is hung. Are the right lights in the right place? Will your counters be well-lit? Will your art be in the dark? It may be a hassle to move a light fixture now, but it is much easier and less expensive to do it before the drywall goes up. And every time the sun goes down, you will be grateful you did.
6. Consider Shadows When a recessed downlight is placed over the aisle between the kitchen counter and the island, where will it cast shadows when you are standing at the range? Too often fixtures are installed in the wrong place because ceiling geometry is considered more important than what you are doing with the chef’s knife. Creative lighting solutions can greatly improve workspaces.
2. Prepare a Floor Plan Print out a floor plan and sketch in your anticipated furniture layout. If you’re working with an interior designer, solicit their help. Don’t just look to the ceiling for placement of overhead lights. Mark walls that you might use for hanging art and highlight dark corners that could benefit from additional light. 3. Come Prepared Make sure you or your contractor come with a floor plan, a tape measure, permanent markers and a clipboard. It never hurts to have a tape measure to figure out spacing and furniture arrangement. Permanent markers will allow you to mark the studs and subfloor with locations. And the clipboard? It may be the only clean writing surface in the home. 4. Walk, Don’t Run Walk through the home room by room, and expect to spend several hours if you are building a new home. Compare your marked-up floor plan with the actual structure to make sure your preferred light fixture is possible in that l...
How to Do an Electrical Walk-Through of Your Home. 1. Review Your Ideabooks Go back through your Houzz ideabooks of spaces you like and home in on the lighting in those photos. Can you identify where the lighting source is located and what type of fixture is being used? Jot down notes, such as “need an outlet under the sofa” and “love the cove light in this dining room.”
12 Key Decorating Tips to Make Any Room Better: There are some rough principles that guide us to ensure a great result every time. They are just tried and true things that work. 1. Pick the Paint Color Last: There are thousands of paint colors with various tints, tones and shades. And each one looks different from home to home, because light sources vary, meaning what looks good in your current home might not in your new one. You want the color that best complements your upholstery, artwork, rug and whatever else. 2. Give your furniture some breathing room. Resist overcrowding a room. Gracious living means space to maneuver with ease. This is really great news if you are working with a tight budget. You don’t need to fill up a space with lots of furniture. Spend more of your budget on fewer but better-quality pieces, and your room will look better than if it’s stuffed to the gills with flea market finds. The high-backed chairs shown here, for...
3. Hang artwork at the right height. Galleries and museums hang artwork so that the midline (center) of each piece is 57 inches to 60 inches from the floor. (The average human eye level is 57 inches.) And you should do the same. In a room like this, where the ceilings soar, there might be a tendency to hang the art higher. But remember: It needs to relate to human scale, not the structure’s scale. If you’re not sure, take a picture. It’s remarkable how much a photo can reveal. Print it out or use Photoshop or an app to draw on the photo. This can give you a sense of whether a larger or smaller piece of art is needed or a tall plant might be best to fill a vacant spot.
4. Know how to arrange furniture on a rug. There are basically three ways you can arrange furniture on your rug. All on: The rug is large enough to place all of the furniture legs on top of it. This creates a more luxurious feel. For this, bigger is better. Just be sure to leave at least 12 to 18 inches of floor surface on all four sides of the rug’s borders. All off: If you have a small room, keeping all legs off the rug is a great cost-effective choice. You don’t want to pick too small a rug, though, or it may look insignificant, like an afterthought. The rug should appear as though it could touch the front legs of each of the seating pieces. This approach is best suited when you’re layering a pattern over a larger solid or textured rug. Front on: Put just the front feet of all your seating pieces on the rug to tie the arrangement together visually and create a well-defined space while lending a feeling of openness.
5. Resist the urge to be too theme-y. For example, the Cape Cod look is a very popular request. You know the hallmarks: beadboard, a blue and white nautical palette, some sailboat paintings. But this has been done so many times, it lacks individuality. In this room the coastal vibe was achieved through a palette, artwork and materials that give the effect without drawing on the obvious clichés. 6. Consider sight lines. Your focal point should be free and clear from one room to the next, so that it feels like you’re being drawn between them. That’s why the best spot for a focal point is usually directly across from the entrance to the room.
7. Create a focal point. There are leading roles and supporting cast members in any production. The same holds true in design. Choose your star and make it the focal point to anchor a room. Allow other items to take a secondary role. Don’t ask everything to have a leading role; it will just result in visual noise. Your focal point might be a dramatic hood in the kitchen, a mantel and art piece in the living room or a headboard in the bedroom. Whatever it is, choose something that will draw attention. In this room the fireplace and the lighting work together as a collective focal point, bringing your eye right to the center of the composition and anchoring it there.
8. Edit your collectibles. Don’t hang on to a piece that just doesn’t fit. I don’t care if your great-aunt Sally gave it to you. If it’s not working for you, then find a new home for it (maybe in a different room). The unifying theme here is the use of black in the utilitarian pieces. The balance is almost perfect. It reminds me of something Coco Chanel said about accessorizing: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” In design, know when to stop.
9. Vary the scale. What looks good in the store may look like an elephant in the room when you bring it home. Or it’s too tiny to be of any significance. So always vary scale and proportion. The oversize sunburst mirror frame fills up the wall space nicely here, while the sand dollars make an interesting grouping below. They would be much too insignificant individually. Threes and fives make for more pleasing arrangements than even numbers.
10. Add layers of lighting. In this kitchen seating area, the backsplash is lit, the artwork is highlighted and the cabinet interiors are filled with light. One central lighting fixture would not have had nearly the same dramatic result. Professionals build layers of lighting to create interest, intrigue and variety. In a room where everything is lit evenly, nothing stands out. Pick a focal point and perhaps a secondary focal point and highlight those. Add general ambient lighting and some lower lighting, like table lamps, for interest. 11. Be bold. Personality is what makes a space great. Make your own statement and have fun. The more you try, the more you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t. Incorporate unexpected elements for drama. The unconventional ottoman seats, library-style bookshelves and oversize chandelier here are all unexpected in a conventional living room, but the result has charisma. Eschew expected pieces and interpretations if you want a room that will really wow. 12. Ignore all principles in favor of creativity. Having some guidelines gives people a good starting point for furnishing and decorating t...
Not Considering the Location of Accessories Not giving enough thought to the location of accessories, such as towel bars and shower storage, will affect how the whole space functions, Gordon says. “It can mean frequently used items have to be positioned out of reach, or wall-mounted accessories end up in the way of drawers or cabinetry doors. “You also need to plan where accessories will go, so you can install enough secure fixing points,” she says. After all, nobody wants to have a wobbly towel bar or the toilet paper holder to fall off the wall — “which is what can happen when they’ve only been screwed into a plaster sheet,” she says. Solution: “Think how you’ll use and move through the space when planning where to position accessories on your bathroom layout,” Gordon says. Put towel bars within easy reach of the shower, bath and vanity. Put hand towel bars where they won’t prevent vanity drawers and doors from opening. Also ensure that structural supports are in place before the walls are finished so that accessories have something to attach to, she says. Tip: Consider a recessed tiled niche in the sh...
Storage That Lacks Function Jenefer Gordon, principal at interior design firm Eat Bathe Live, says failing to consider exactly how you use your bathroom means that the items you keep there often don’t have a proper home. “They end up being left out on the vanity, creating a cluttered look, or stored far from where you actually use them,” she says. Solution: Consider how you use the bathroom and exactly which items need to be stored there, and then measure them and give them a dedicated spot, Gordon says. “For example, electric toothbrushes and shavers can be stored in a recessed mirrored cabinet with power inside, shallow drawers with dividers are great for makeup, and towels and standing toiletries can be placed in deep drawers,” she says.
Measuring Incorrectly Santilli warns that inaccurate measurements can end up being costly when you need to work multiple elements into your layout. “It’s a common mistake not to take account of the little things, such as the way a door will swing or the gap between the toilet and the vanity,” she says. Solution: “Always measure twice before you select fittings and fixtures for your bathroom to make sure they’ll fit. Think how doors and drawers will open and how you will move through the space. Your builder, plumber or project manager should also be able to help you with this process,
Not Creating Separate Zones “When space is plentiful, I often see uninspiring and empty-looking bathrooms, with all the fixtures around the perimeter of the room and an empty space in the middle. Creating zones would have made these bathrooms far more functional and welcoming,” Roussos says. Solution: Consider dividing a large bathroom into separate zones for the bath, shower, vanity and toilet. “This may be as simple as putting a stud wall into the center of the room,” she says. “Creating zones will enhance your experience of the bathroom and make it feel more luxurious.”
Poor Lighting Roussos says inexperienced renovators often simply resort to downlights over the vanity, shower or toilet instead of putting in a proper layered lighting design. “As a result, the bathroom is often too bright and lacks ambiance, which makes it far from a relaxing space to spend time in,” she says. “Plus, the bright overhead lighting creates shadowing when you look in the vanity mirror —dreadful when you’re putting on makeup or shaving.” Solution: Roussos suggests planning a layered design that includes several lighting sources. “It should feature lighting for ambiance; concealed LED strips are a great option, as they don’t consume much energy and can be left on to create a low-key mood. Put them under vanities and shaving cabinets, behind mirrors and in shower niches,” she says. “Then add in lighting for other purposes,” Roussos says. “For example, incorporate task lighting to assist with grooming or putting on makeup, such as a pair of wall lights on either side of the mirror. These will illuminate your face from the front, which is the most effective and flattering direction.” Tip: Ask your electrician to wire lights so that they can be turned on independently. Thi...
Rookie renovators often don’t consider storage options beyond vanity drawers and cabinets. Schemes & Spaces. “This often means the vanity ends up too clunky and dominating. As a result, the bathroom feels small and crowded.” Solution: Think of alternative places to house bathing products, toiletries and toilet paper: “Can you work some custom [cabinetry] into the floor plan to store larger items? What about vertical wall-hung cabinets?” She points out that you also can use these to incorporate mirrors, lighting and towel bars, saving even more space in the bathroom and giving it a more purposeful feel.
Here are some key measurements for medicine cabinets and vanities. • A medicine cabinet above a vanity should be the same width as the vanity or slightly smaller — never larger. • Recessing a medicine cabinet into the wall will give your bathroom a more streamlined look. • The right length for a vanity countertop depends on the size of the room. For a family bathroom or en suite, 36 inches is considered a standard minimum length, but 48 inches is a little more practical. • A double sink will need a countertop that’s at least 60 to 72 inches long. • The ideal depth for a vanity is 21 inches, although it will depend on the depth of your sink. • If you have a semirecessed sink, you may be able to make your vanity less than 21 inches deep. • When specifying your vanity depth, make sure you include enough room so that you can clean the sink and faucets.
Water closets: The minimum space requirements for a water closet are 30 inches (76 centimeters) in width where it is centered in the space, and 24 inches (61 centimeters) of clear space in front of the fixture. It’s advisable to make the width a minimum of 36 inches (92 centimeters) and the length of the space in which the fixture rests at least 60 inches (152 centimeters). If your budget and space allow, you might want the water closet to be its own separate room, a setup especially popular in the past three decades. This room should be a minimum of 36 inches wide (92 centimeters) and 60 inches (152 centimeters) in length. For luxurious accommodations, a width of 42 to 48 inches (107 to 122 centimeters) and a length of 66 to 72 inches (168 to 183 centimeters) will provide a spacious and comfortable setting.
Medicine cabinets: Since we easily collect various toiletries, having a good place to store them is essential. While drawers in the cabinets and the space under the sink provide some storage, medicine cabinets place more accessible and well-lit storage areas at eye level. There are many ready-to-install medicine cabinets that range from 15 to 24 inches (38 to 61 centimeters) in width and 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 centimeters) in height. You can either mount these on side walls adjacent to the sink or in the wall above the sink. You will want the top of the cabinet to stay under 80 inches (203 centimeters) but not below 48 inches (122 centimeters)
Towel bars: Towel bars are usually made in lengths of 18 inches (48 centimeters) and 24 inches (61 centimeters), and towel rings are 8 to 9 inches (20 to 23 centimeters) wide. Place these essential fixtures 30 to 48 inches (76 to 122 centimeters) above the floor. You will also want these to be located 12 to 36 inches (30 to 92 centimeters) horizontally from your sink, tub and shower for easy reach.
Showers that are 36 inches (92 centimeters) deep and 48 inches (122 centimeters) wide are very comfortable for most people, especially if they have a built-in seat. Beyond that there is certainly no limit, but going over 60 inches (152 centimeters) in width and depth will lose the sense of enclosure that defines a shower and make some people uncomfortable.
Vanities. A few people like pedestal or wall-mounted sinks; however, the majority want sinks built into countertops with drawers and cabinets that contain storage. The minimum space per person is 24 inches (61 centimeters) wide, while 30 to 36 inches (76 to 92 centimeters) per person are more common and comfortable dimensions. Moving up to 48 inches (122 centimeters) in width per person provides ample space in more luxurious settings. The depth of a vanity is usually 21 to 22 inches (53 to 56 centimeters). The height begins at 32 to 34 inches (81 to 86 centimeters) but is more frequently 36 inches (92 centimeters), which is the standard kitchen cabinet height.
In a Stairwell: Fixtures hung in a stairwell can add a sculptural element to the area, as well as provide needed lighting. The key is to hang the fixture high enough so that there is plenty of clearance while walking up and down the stairs. I recommend at least 18 to 24 inches of clearance between the bottom of a fixture and the height of a taller person. While less may do the job, visually it will cause most people to feel the need to duck when walking under the fixture.
In the Hallway: Fixtures hung in an entry or hallway can add a lot of drama and beauty, casting shadows while providing light. In spaces with tall ceilings it is important that the fixtures not be hung so high that they are outside of the line of sight while standing in the space. Use flush-mount lighting for lower ceilings
Over a Table The recommended height to hang a pendant above a table is 28 to 32 inches, but the fixture can be hung slightly higher or lower depending on personal preference, fixture size and ceiling height. Address whether or not the fixture is to provide task or ambient light (or both) and select a fixture which meets the lighting needs of the location to be hung. A large drum pendant hung over a table not only anchors the vignette, but if placed on a dimmer the fixture can provide brighter light for any tasks done at the table and softer light while dining.
Foyer Size and Shape Shapes and sizes of foyers should relate to the style and size of the house. A good rule of thumb is that the foyer is around 2 to 4 percent of the total square feet or meters of your house. Grand foyers can measure 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) in both directions and be just as high. Modestly scaled foyers may be about 5½ ft. (1½ m) wide; the length, which holds a central hall with a stairway (not seen here) is likely 15 to 20 ft. (4½ to 6 m). The width of a long foyer needs to be a minimum of 42 in. (107 centimeters) to feel right. Widths of 48 to 54 in. (122 to 137 cm) are better, while 60 to 72 in. (152 to 183 cm) will likely feel very generous. Here a niche in the brick wall, which was once an opening into the original house, provides a spot for a lamp and other accessories. Shown here is generously proportioned and acts as a central circulation route as well. The spacious room has an area for the entrance door, a landing for the stairs, places for tables on which to set things, and benches and chairs. A foyer of this type needs to be 15 to 20 ft. (4½ to 6 m) wide and ...
1. Start a Whole-House Ideabook Even if you’re not tackling the whole house at once, it’s important to have an overall picture of where you are going with regard to style. Think of this as your master plan: a single place to record all the pieces you put in your home, alongside all the things you hope to one day add. Unlike a purely inspirational ideabook, think of this one as a personalized style reference guide for your home — including everything from your current paint colors to a picture of your dream sofa. Putting it all in one place is an easy (and cost-free) way to see and edit your vision before making a purchase. Bonus: If you end up working with a pro, you will have a fantastic resource ready to share.
2. Tell a Story With Textiles This is where it starts to become clear why it’s so helpful to have a master plan. Instead of picking your rugs, pillows and throws as the mood strikes, take a more curated approach. Think about repeating variations of the same patterns or textile styles throughout your home for a more cohesive look. For example: • Neutral, earthy linens and Moroccan-style rugs • Indigo batik paired with coastal stripes • Ikat and block prints in rich hues • Modern geometric prints in black and white
3. Channel a Mood Instead of limiting yourself to a specific style, think in terms of the mood you want your home to create. This can be a more useful (and certainly more flexible) filter to use when choosing products for your home than naming a single “style.” For example, let’s say you want to create a relaxed, light mood. To channel this feeling, you might pull elements from beach, farmhouse and contemporary style — as long as the pieces you choose have the relaxed, easygoing vibe that you like, they will work together.
4. Make Some Across-the-Board Style Decisions Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with each room in your home, it’s good for your sanity and your home’s look to lay some groundwork that will remain the same throughout the space. Consider putting similar styles of one or more of these elements on repeat throughout your home to increase cohesion: • Lighting style • Switch plates and door handles • Metal finishes • Neutral paint or fabric color • Window coverings
5. Pay Attention to Sightlines It’s one thing to have a significant departure in style or mood from the living room to the master bedroom — but when spaces are within the same line of sight, it’s especially important to make sure everything flows. Walk through your home and notice how far your eye can see from each room: Which other rooms are visible? This open-plan space from Thomas and Spiers Architects is a good example of creating a cohesive flow, with flooring and crisp white paint uniting the space. The living room tables echo the style of the kitchen counter stools, and the verdant green wallpaper on the far wall is brought to the foreground with the addition of a few botanical-print pillows.
6. Take It Outside Life doesn’t stop at the door, and your style shouldn’t either. Choosing outdoor furniture and accessories in the same style as your indoor furnishings will give your whole space an intentionally designed look and feel. In this beachy cottage from Croma Design, sleek outdoor love seats with fresh white cushions outfit a comfy deck, echoing the clean and classic look inside the home.
7. Add Greenery Houseplants do more than clean the air — they offer another opportunity to unify your space with color (hello, green) and style. The key is to make sure the pots and planters you select are not merely an afterthought, but rather a purposeful part of your decorating plan. In this lofty space from Oh Beauty Interiors, plants on both levels nestle into modern white planters on wooden stands.
8. Enlist a Pro There’s a reason designers are paid for what they do — it’s challenging work! Whether you need to furnish a single room or an entire house, if you would like help creating a cohesive look that flows beautifully, consider contacting an interior designer to get your project started.
Hanging a series of identical fixtures down the length of a hall creates a classic look. Here it is important that there be approximately eight feet of clearance above the floor, and take note of any doors that will extend under the fixture when opened, ensuring there is enough clearance.
Floor Lamps: Don’t forget about floor lamps. One or two of them will illuminate a room evenly. They also come in a great variety of sizes, and you will want to find one that coordinates with the finishes of your room and that complements the scale of your design. Floor lamps take up relatively little floor space. Plan for a space that’s at least 10 to 12 in. (25 to 31 cm) in diameter and 54 to 84 in. (137 to 213 cm) in height. Artwork: Before committing to all of the furnishings that you wish to place in your living room, think about your artwork. Large paintings need generous wall space and ideally should be displayed farther from the entry points so that they can be seen by someone entering a room. A good tip is to hang them low enough so that the top is just above eye level, with the midpoint at around 57 to 60 in. (145 to 152 cm) off the floor. Sculptures as well need their own space and should be placed so that they can be viewed enjoyably. Allow floor space in proportion to the size of the sculpture. Pedestals should not be more than 16 in. (41 cm) in diameter, or should be square and have dimensions relative to the scale of the sculpture.
Tables: 1. Sofa Tables Larger spaces can accommodate a sofa table, or console table, as in this living room. Most sofa tables are 14 to 20 in. (36 to 51 cm) deep and 60 to 72 in. (152 to 183 cm) long. These are great for placing lamps upon and for giving balance to sofas that float in a room. Keep in mind that you will need to conceal electrical cords under rugs or have floor outlets for the lamps. 2. End Tables Square and rectangular tables commonly range from 20 to 30 in. (51 to 76 cm) in either direction. If they are to hold table lamps, be certain that they are large enough for the scale of lamp that you choose and that they allow other items to be set around them (for example, coasters for drinking glasses). 3. Cocktail and Coffee Tables Cocktail and coffee tables often are...
Stools and Benches When you want a decorative touch or when you will occasionally need an extra seat or ottoman, consider placing stools and benches in your layout. Stools may be 16 to 20 in. (41 to 51 cm) square; benches are around 14 to 18 in. (36 to 46 cm) deep and 36 to 60 in. (91 to 152 cm) long.
Chairs: 1. Lounge chairs usually swivel, rock and lean back, so they need extra space. When you combine it with an ottoman, you will want to allow for the ottoman’s footprint as well as room for someone to walk around both pieces comfortably. Lounge chair sizes vary considerably, but plan to allow at least 66 in. (168 cm) from the back of the chair to the front of the ottoman and 36 to 40 in. (91 to 102 cm) of width. 2. Accent Chairs For upholstered accent chairs allow about 36 to 40 in. (91 to 102 cm) of width and 40 to 44 in. (102 to 112 cm) of depth. One could easily move around the classic bent-plywood Eames chairs seen here, which are trim at 22 in. (56 cm) wide and 24 in. (61 cm) deep.
Whether you are laying out a living room for your first apartment or planning one for your new custom home, understanding the scale of furniture and its relationship to the room can help you create a comfortable and functional space. The first thing to keep in mind is that you want the proportions of the furniture to coordinate with the proportions of the room. The following layout suggestions and common furniture sizes will help you get the living room design you want. 1. Single Sofa Sofas are used frequently in most households. Buy a good-quality one so that it holds up, feels comfortable and maintains its looks. On average sofas are about 84 inches (213 centimeters) long and 38 in. (98 cm) deep. A 72-in. (183-cm) sofa could work well in a smaller living room, while one that is 96 in. (244-cm) long could fit in a larger space. 2. Love Seat When you need a couple of extra seats or you just don’t have room for a sofa, consider a love seat. Love seats are usually around 5 feet (152 cm) long. The depth varies depending ...
Table Shuffleboard This game is a variant on traditional deck shuffleboard that is played with paddles that you use to push the weights across the playing surface. The table version is played by hand. Various sizes and configurations are available; however, the 22-ft.-long table is most common and desirable for proper gaming. While you will need considerable length, the width is more manageable at about 36 in. You can place the board with the long side against a wall, since the positions the gamers take are at the ends of the table. Bright indirect light that washes the room in even intensity is best for shuffleboard.
Chess and Checkers Smaller tables are available for chess, checkers and backgammon, among a few other games. You will want the game board to be at least 24 in. sq., and tables usually measure 2 to 6 in. larger than that. Heights are typically 30 in. Chairs can be dining size and don’t need to have casters. Lighting need not be as bright as for pool or table tennis, but adequate illumination should be provided so that players can comfortably see the game pieces. An area that is about 4 ft. wide and 8 ft. long can be sufficient.
Other Game Tables Round, hexagonal or octagonal game tables can be found in 42, 48 or 54 in. diameters and others dimensions in between with a height of 30 in. Some are designed with gaming features built into their tops. A pedestal design is best suited for game tables, because it allows plenty of knee space and movement around the table. Game table chairs are similar in size to dining chairs at about 20 to 28 in. wide and 24 to 30 in. deep. Those fitted with casters help players shift in and out and reach across the table if necessary. An area that is at least 8 sq. ft. will host a modest-size game table set. More comfortable dimensions and larger-scale furnishings may need an area that is 10 to 12 sq. ft. Provide an overhead light fixture, bright indirect lighting, plenty of natural daylight or all three for game tables. You should be able to clearly read cards and see to write down scores and lists.
Getting your furniture right: 1. Think About How the Room Will Function - Consider how the room is used and how many people will use it. That will dictate the type of furnishings you’ll need and the amount of seating required.
2. Decide on a Focal Point - Identify the room’s focal point — a fireplace, view, television — and orient the furniture accordingly. If you plan to watch television in the room, the ideal distance between the set and the seating is three times the size of the screen (measured diagonally). Therefore, if you’ve got a 40-inch set, your chair should be 120 inches away.
3. Start With Priority Pieces - Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece should face the room’s focal point. Chairs should be no more than 8 feet apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls.
4. Consider Symmetry - Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual.
5. Create a Traffic Flow - Think about the flow of traffic through the room — generally the path between doorways. Don’t block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones. Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.
6. Aim for Variety - Vary the size of furniture pieces throughout the room, so your eyes move up and down as you scan the space. Balance a large or tall item by placing another piece of similar height across the room from it (or use art to replicate the scale). Avoid putting two tall pieces next to each other.
7. Build in Contrast - Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, and a solid chair with a leggy table.
8. Design for Ease of Use - Place a table within easy reach of every seat, being sure to combine pieces of similar scale, and make sure every reading chair has an accompanying lamp. Coffee tables should be located 14 to 18 inches from a sofa to provide sufficient legroom.
9. Allow for Circulation - In a dining room, make sure there’s at least 48 inches between each edge of the table and the nearest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn’t pass behind the chairs on one side of the table, 36 inches should suffice. In bedrooms, allow at least 24 inches between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 36 inches between the bed and a swinging door.
10. Do Your Planning - Give your back a break. Before you move any furniture, test your design on paper. Measure the room’s dimensions, noting the location of windows, doors, heat registers and electrical outlets, then draw up a floor plan on graph paper using cutouts to represent the furnishings. Or, better yet, use a digital room planner to draw the space and test various furniture configurations. It’s less work and a lot more fun.
Take another look around. Now that you’ve started to zero in on the look you want your interior to have, make a list of all your significant pieces and figure out which items should stay and which should go. Keep in mind that if you love a piece of upholstered furniture but hate its fabric, it can be reupholstered. Wood pieces can be painted or stained. Objects can be repurposed. And if there’s an inherited piece that has great sentimental value but you can’t stand to look at it … well, life’s too short to live with things you don’t love.
Let those photos you’ve collected convey that information for you. Look at the characteristics that pop up again and again: the style of furnishings, the color palettes, the patterns, the materials, the quantity of furniture in each room. Let those characteristics guide you. Most people have a basic comfort level, explains Homesley. They know what kinds of rooms they like to be in and what kinds they don’t like to be in. Although it’s good to venture outside your comfort zone every now and then, it’s unlikely that you’ll enjoy living in a minimalist contemporary space if your natural predilection is for French country. So trust your instincts.
Write your list for Santa. Create a wish list — your Santa Claus list. Write down everything you would like to do if money were no object. Then figure out which things you can do, which things you can’t do, which things have to be done now and which things can wait.
1. Pick a Flow-Through Paint One simple way to create a cohesive feel is to use a consistent paint color on the walls of connecting spaces. “Particularly in homes that have more of an open floor plan, it’s best to choose one color that is going to serve as your main color or your neutral,” says Kelly Porter, an interior designer based in Washington, D.C. “That doesn’t mean it has to be beige or white or gray. But the foyer, the hallways and that main connector room should all be the same color because you want to have that dominant color in your space.”
2. Pay Attention to Sightlines San Francisco interior designer and color expert Jennifer Ott frequently works with clients who want more variety in their wall colors. When that is the case, she suggests considering sightlines. When you’re standing in the living room, what other rooms will you see? If you have a view into the kitchen, the dining room and the foyer, then the colors for those spaces need to work well together. “It can start to look really wacky if you have a different color scheme in each room,” Ott says.
3. Choose Color Groups One way to increase the likelihood that a color scheme flows from room to room is to limit yourself to colors in the same temperature family.
Another option, Ott says, is to select one or two colors and then use variations of it. If the main color is blue, you might select a gray-blue, a pure blue and a navy paint as you move from room to room. The same concept can be used for decorative accessories. For wall paint, you can ask the paint store to create a “tint” of a particular color, perhaps knocking down the main color by 50 percent, which the mixer will do by adding white. “They can create a lighter or darker version of it,” Ott says. “That’s a good way to unite without putting the same color everywhere.” “I also tell people if they’re going to do their wall in this color, go two or three shades lighter for your ceiling so it doesn’t look like a sore thumb because you painted it white
Some people will stick to a warm color palette — reds and oranges and yellows
Or a cool scheme - grays, greens and blues
4. Restrict the Edgiest Colors to Enclosed Rooms Rooms out of the sightline of other rooms are good places for going wild. Master bedrooms, powder rooms, kids rooms and any other room encapsulated by four walls are great places to indulge, says Carl Mattison, an Atlanta-based designer. “If you turn the corner and go into a little powder bathroom, which you don’t go in all the time, who cares? Paint it black!” It works, Mattison says, “because it’s its own little box.”
5. For Bold Colors, Use Accessories Accessories are a less expensive way to introduce dramatic colors than purchasing a couch or rug in the same tone, and they’re also easier to swap out should you tire of a color. Limiting bold colors to accessories also helps you avoid the shocking effect that can happen when a dramatic shade is painted on all four walls. “The key is finding a way to inject the color that makes rooms interesting and exciting without feeling like you need to escape,” Ott says. Bright color is good when you want to highlight a piece worthy of notice.
6. Tie Rooms Together With Accents Accent colors can change from room to room, but continuing one consistent color throughout the home can help create a sense of continuity. “Let’s say you have green and blue in your living room,” Porter says. “Perhaps for the dining room, you use one of those two colors, maybe just the blue. Or you could do blue and yellow. So the blue is what will tie those rooms together.”
7. Use the 60-30-10 Formula Another way to create a cohesive flow from room to room is to think of the palette for your home as a math problem. “Use a base color that you really like as 60 to 70 percent of what you’re going to paint for your interior,” Wardlaw says. “Your next color needs to be 25 to 30 percent. Then you can do your accents of 5 to 10 percent.” In this photo, which shows one of Wardlaw’s designs, gray is the 60 percent color, blue the 25 percent, orange about 10 percent and brown maybe another 5 percent. “I really try to make people only go with about three colors, four at the max — at least on the interior,” Wardlaw says. “Otherwise it just feels chaotic.” To pull the colors throughout the home, you might use a variation on the scheme in an adjacent dining room. The walls might be painted blue, and perhaps gray could be used as an accent, with a few small orange accessories providing the 10 percent dose of color. “As long as you keep it cohesive throughout your entire home, it’s going to make more sense,” Wardlaw says.
8. Consider Using Color-Planning Tools Those who love delving deeper into design principles may want to read up a bit on color theory — or at least ask your interior designer about it. “One of the main things I explain to my client is the color wheel,” Wardlaw says. “To keep that cohesive feel throughout your home, one of the main things you can do is consult that.” A basic rule of thumb is that using analogous (or adjacent) colors on the wheel will create less contrast and a more calm feel, while choosing complementary colors (across from one another on the wheel) will create greater contrast and a higher-energy room. Understanding the relationships between colors will help you see why certain combinations have certain effects on you.
For a small round table (say, a 48-inch table in a breakfast nook) a light can be more on the petite side without looking off, so feel free to choose something smaller and keep the look a little lighter if you prefer.
Dining Rooms A chandelier over a dining table has some special considerations. First, it should be low enough to create an intimate atmosphere but still not in anyone’s way. Hanging it with the bottom 30 to 34 inches above the table is a good rule. And make sure it doesn’t extend wider than the table — at least not any portions that are low enough for someone to bump their head. Lengthwise, a chandelier will ideally be one-half to two-thirds of the length of your table to create a nice balance of proportions.
For spaces with very tall ceilings, hang the light at 8 feet above the floor (plus an additional foot if the room is taller than 12 feet). You can also look to lights that hang in tiers to fill the height well while also landing low enough to help make the space below feel more intimate.
As for the height you hang the chandelier above the floor, you’ll want to go at least 6 feet 6 inches so that nobody is likely to bump their head. A standard of 7 feet above the floor works for most spaces with a ceiling higher than 8 feet. If you do the math, however, with a standard 8-foot ceiling, you cannot fit a 20- to 24-inch light at this height to follow the previous rule. For this reason, and because so many modern chandeliers do not use the same sorts of shapes as traditional chandeliers, I would say you can safely throw the 2.5- to 3-times height rule out and focus primarily on the width if your situation demands it.
How to Pick the Vertical Dimensions of Your Chandelier Now that you have the width and diameter of the fixture, you’ll want to choose the vertical dimensions of the fixture (not the height above the ground just yet, but the actual top-to-bottom size of the unit itself). To choose the vertical dimension of a chandelier, the classic rule is to take the room height (in feet) and multiple it by 2.5 to 3 to get a good range (in inches) for the vertical proportions of the light. So if your room has an 8-foot ceiling, this would mean your chandelier should be roughly 20 to 24 inches top to bottom. (8 feet x 2.5 = 20 feet; 8 feet x 3 = 24 feet. Convert to inches to get 20 to 24 inches.) For a 10-foot ceiling, 25 to 30 inches will be a better proportional fit. (10 feet x 2.5 = 25 feet; 10 feet x 3 = 30 feet. Convert to inches to get a range of 25 to 30 inches). And the taller the room, the more you can err on the high side of that formula.
How to pick the diameter of a chandelier: Width of room (in feet) + length of room (in feet) = diameter/width of chandelier (in inches). So, for example, if your room is 14 feet long by 10 feet wide, a 24-inch diameter chandelier would look proportionate (14 feet + 10 feet = 24 feet, which you convert to inches).
Televisions Since televisions now come in a wide variety of sizes, arranging furniture for them depends on which TV is chosen and how it’s used. Depending on your TV type and screen size, you will want to keep your seating within 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal length of TV screen. Also, carefully consider the TV height. Having the middle of the screen at eye level for a seated adult is optimum (about 42 in. or 107 cm). Mounting it above a fireplace may raise that height. In cases like that, the screen may be 48 to 60 in. (122 to 152 cm) above the floor, and you may be looking upward from your seating area to view it.