For those of you who have ever attempted a design project and felt that you’d failed, this week’s column might just be for you. Clients sometimes say, "I could never do what you do, I would screw it all up!" But remember these tenets the next time you’re about to tackle a project, and hopefully you’ll feel more confident in your choices and design direction. I definitely don’t claim to know it all, but what I do know for sure is:
MEASURE TWICE AND MEASURE ONCE MORE
Three time’s a charm, no? Take the time to measure — more than once. Nothing’s worse than going to all the trouble of designing and fabricating a custom piece (be it millwork, drapery, or detailed tile design for example) and coming up short in the end. If you’re measuring for floor plans, a lot of detail and attention is required, and over time it becomes easy to get distracted. No matter what you’re measuring for, make it a habit to go back and double (even triple) check.
NOT ALL FURNITURE IS ALIKE
Who would have thought that new sofa was a few inches too wide to fit through the front door? Be sure to take the measurements of your entry ways with you when shopping for new furniture. In some cases a window can be taken out if the doorway won’t cut it — so have a plan just in case. The same can be said for purchasing new furniture without having your room dimensions; over-sized pieces will swallow up small spaces, and under-sized pieces will seem puny and out of place in large spaces. Be sure you know exactly what your rooms can and can’t handle before you swipe the credit card.
DON’T RELY ON STORE LIGHTING
This applies to almost everything: paint, fabric, flooring — you just can’t rely on the lighting of your favourite shop to give you the same result as the lighting in your home. And what that can mean is mismatching colours or undertones once you get something home and have it installed. A lot of heartache can be avoided by signing out a sample to test out at home first.
ON THAT NOTE
Picking paint is best during the middle of the day — your daylight will be bright and soft, exactly what you want when choosing paint finishes. But don’t stop there. Clients sometimes forget that evening light can drastically change a paint colour, and are shocked and even disappointed when the silvery gray they thought they were using, turns into a dull green at night. Tape your paint swatches up in a few spots within your room, and check on them during different times of the day, and with different lighting sources. And remember: don’t buy paint before fabrics and finishes are determined. Paint is usually the very last element to my designs — everything else comes first.
ART TOO HIGH
If I’m hanging a large piece over a sofa, I will measure up eight to 12 inches from the top of the back cushion to mark where the bottom of my piece should sit. Smaller items can sit higher, but typically this combination works for large and oversized art.
WORK IN THREE'S AND FIVE'S
I use this tip in almost every home I design, and it works like a charm. Groupings in odd numbers are visually more appealing than evens — stick to odds and watch how your spaces come together.
QUANTITY VS QUALITY
Don’t underestimate the disappointing aesthetic cheaply made products have when grouped all together in a room. I’m all for shopping smarter and finding ways to mix in inexpensive filler in my decor; however, every space needs to have a number of good quality pieces. Period. In the end you’ll actually need fewer items to make a room feel polished, refined, and tailor-made to your design personality.
WHAT’S THE HURRY?
Rushing the design process can be the absolute biggest mistake you can make — skipping over steps and decisions in haste will leave you with unfinished business or even worse, money wasted. It’s meticulous and time consuming, but the design process is exhilarating and so self rewarding when you see the final vision come to fruition.