When you walk into a room, it is important to be observant and to be present. Take in what is around you – feel the space, notice the lighting, breath in deeply through your nose and immerse yourself in the smells. Take note of the sensations and emotions that come to the surface as you simply exist in the room and become one with it. It is important that you truly understand a room, and feel it’s personality and purpose before you so much as lift a finger. Once you feel you are comfortable with the room in it’s current existence, only then can you begin to plan it’s future.
First and Foremost – Consider the room’s function
For your final design to be fluid, you have to start with purpose in mind. Think – what purpose would expensive and elegant furniture in a kitchen area serve if the family will not be eating there? You’d be better off directing that effort to the dining room. Similarly, if you are working on a living room where the family will spend much of their time, you want to make sure that the layout is open and spacious, while still cozy and inviting. Then you must dig deeper – what paths will people walk as they pass through the room? Where will they focus their attention while they are sitting and enjoying casual conversation. Will they be entertaining in this room, which would necessitate certain placements of side tables for beverages and hors d’oeuvres?
Next – Build the room around it’s function
With a clear image of the room’s function in mind, it’s time to make some decisions to come alive. Does the room have enough light? Make the most of the windows and the daily sunshine if necessary, or make a note of what kind of curtains will best control the light if it is overwhelming. Design the furniture arrangement in a manner that promotes the proper walkways, encourages the eyes to fall on points of attention, and leaves people with an impression of a balanced use of space.
Key Decisions – This is where most people start
Most people skip right ahead to this part of the process in interior design. The problem is that if you have not taken the time to clearly map out the preceding steps you will likely find it challenging to arrive at a cohesive design that really fits the room’s needs. Once you’ve successfully gone through the proceeding steps it’s time to decide on important characteristics, such as colors of the various pieces of the room, the style of the furniture, the use of carpeting and additional light sources – that is, all of the pieces of the room that are usually associated with interior design. Keep your original observations and visions in mind, and it is much harder to go wrong at this stage.
Wrapping Up – The details
Once you’ve made the big decisions, don’t forget to add in a few little details to really capture attention as people enter the room. Adding a soothing aroma can often do a world of wonders in bringing out a room’s hospitality. Placing some pinecones and candles as a centerpiece of a coffee table could give it just that little extra edge. There are really no set rules here, and you will have to use your judgement and experience. Just keep in mind that a little can go a very long way at this point.
These are the basics. Keep in mind that this is a process not to be rushed. Make sure to understand the room you are starting with and the purpose it will serve before diving in and changing everything. For some general tips, I’ve found this page to be quite helpful.