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How To Design Your Home and What is Design?!?

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

First things first. Did you read my last article “Interior Design: What’s In and What’s Out”?

If not, I would highly encourage you to go back and read it. You will find that in order to design your home you have to first discover your style voice! Your style voice is the combination of styles that best represents who you are in design form. In my last post, I talk about the style you most relate to - being the style that is “IN”. If you are not sure how to find your voice, here are 3 fun quizzes I linked in my previous article to help you. A design consultation with an Interior Designer is always a great place to start - which we offer as part of our services.

Click HERE to request a consultation today!

What is Interior Design?

Great question! Technically speaking, interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people who occupy it. An Interior Designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, curates and manages such projects.

Wait, there is science in interior design? Yes, and way more than you could ever imagine! I never thought I would be using so much math and measurements in my life!

Interior design is equal parts science/math + creativity/art. You must be incredibly precise and detailed in your planning to ensure accuracy in the outcome of your design. People tell me all the time that they thought interior design was just picking things out that you like and putting them together. Well friends, it is SO much more than that!

If E = mc2, then 1 + 3.89 x 17(2) – tile + 65.021 / sofa = Interior Design.

From measuring your room to scaling your furniture to adding your architectural details; interior design is nothing short of a very difficult and long math equation. Here are a few foundational “steps” to follow when designing your home. (See what I did there?!?) Get your calculator and tape measure ready!

STEP 1: Identify Your Style Voice

As I mentioned in my previous article, finding out exactly which styles you most relate to is one of the most important parts to designing your home. Design is not a one size fits all equation. There are so many amazing style combinations to choose from. Modern with antique, Spanish with modern. Coastal with traditional, coastal with Scandinavian and many, many more. Creating a space to uniquely define you is really something special.

Using the quizzes I provided or the help of an Interior Designer, you can discover your unique voice. Once you know which styles best satisfy your design appetite, you can make a list of characteristics within those styles that you want to incorporate into your home.

STEP 2: Create Your Lists

Once you have your results and have firmly grasped which styles you most identify with to use in your home, do some research into the details that make up those styles. Architecture, color schemes, materials, patterns, layouts, etc. and make a list of characteristics you most want to incorporate into each one of your spaces.

Take the flat above on the left for example. A perfect blend of industrial and mid-century modern. You may love the exposed pipes, raw metal wall panels and concrete floor that create the shell and backdrop for this home. It gives you the feeling of connecting with the past as if this space once belonged to a welding factory in the 1940’s. Which it very well may have! (Pictured on the right). The mid-century modern furniture is a perfect fit to its industrial companion. The minimalistic forms of the furniture scream mid-century, while many of the materials stay true to both styles: metal, wood, leather.

If a combination of industrial and mid-century modern was what you were going for in your own home; a list for these two styles might look something like this:

Materials: wood, leather, glass, acrylic, thick textiles

Architecture: exposed brick design on wood burning fireplace, wood support beams in living room and kitchen, steel framed doors and windows

Colors: dark walnut brown, evergreen, mossy green, white, beige, black, light gray

Patterns: distressed, burnt, wood knots

Layout: open and airy, large conjoined spaces, glass walls with steel frames separating living and working spaces

Once you have a list of traits from each style that you want to bring into your design, create another list of functional features that are necessary for your day to day lifestyle. In design, function is just as important as beauty! Here is a list of questions I always ask my clients when discussing their projects.

Who uses this space?

What is this space used for?

Are there things that need to be hidden away?

Where do we need open walkways to adjoining rooms?

What day to day items get brought into and taken out of this space?

Can we store things away for long periods in this space or do they need to be accessible daily?

And most importantly, where is the Christmas tree going to go? HeHeHe

All of these questions help us decide what kinds of functional pieces need to be brought into the design, how many pieces we need and where do they need to go.

Knowing what components you want to pull from each style and where you need to add functional elements; will save you time when you start your search. Be intentional and specific with both lists. This will help you with your layout and furniture selections when shopping.

STEP 3: Determine Your Budget

Now that you have listed what aspects of each style you want to include in your home, you need to create your budget.

I typically have three types of clients.

1) The client who has a strict budget that they cannot go over.

2) The client who knows their budget and has some wiggle room within their budget to get exactly what they want and need.

3) Then of course there is that client who has no clue until we start vision casting together and figuring out exactly what they need, to get what they want.

Determine which category you fit into and create a rough budget amount. In the end, it will probably not be what you originally had in mind, but it’s important to have an estimate before you begin your project.

When figuring out your budget, start by listing all of the rooms that are being designed. Then add individual items that will be included in each of those rooms. I love using Excel to ensure my budget sheets are organized and I know exactly what each item is going to cost. Fill out your spreadsheet as extensively as possible. You can always scale back once you are finished and realize you can use that lamp from your old living room in your new living room, etc. Create a section for each room with an “Estimated Amount” and an “Actual Amount” column. This will help you get an idea of what each room will cost, and how it plays into your overall budget. Don’t forget to add taxes, shipping or possible freight and storage fees where applicable.

Here is an example of an estimate I recently put together for a full home redesign. This was the estimate for the living room. You can see that some items were more than the estimated amount and some were less. Some happened to be on sale at the time of purchase and others were out of stock and we had to re-shop. Whatever the case may be; it is nice to have an estimated amount once you know your budget. Notice that my estimated and actual are pretty close to one another. This is solely because I put together estimates often and shop these products all the time. Your estimated and actual amounts may not be as close as this example.

Your budget sheet is really the place to dream! You can change the lighting design in your office or replace the hardware in your bathrooms. You can resurface your fireplace or add wainscoting in your dining room. You can wallpaper your entire foyer or hallway if you feel like it. Don’t hold back in this section – really let your imagination run wild!

STEP 4: Measure Your Space

This is where all of our handy-dandy math skills and the tape measure come into play. You will need to measure almost every square inch of your space to make sure that every furnishing, fits just right.

Scaling your furniture is a must if you want it to look right in your space. If your furniture is too big, the space will seem small and crowded. If your furniture is too small, the space will seem empty and cold. Here is a great guide to measuring your space and scaling your furniture. Calling on an Interior Designer call also be a HUGE time saver when it comes to figuring out what size furniture fits in your space.

Click HERE for help on designing the perfect space!


Now that you feel confident you have identified your style voice, your lists of style details are ready, you have created your budget worksheet and you have measured your space– you are ready to shop!!!!

There is a huge misconception that Interior Designers just shop all day! If that were the only moving piece to my profession – it would be MUCH easier. Spoiler alert! There are hundreds of moving parts and details that go into a design that have nothing to do with shopping, which I’m sure you have realized by this point.

But, if you have identified your style voice, created comprehensive lists, determined a budget and measured your space, then you are probably ready to begin!

When I shop, I do not always start with the same item. I start with the item(s) that have been identified as most important to the function and/or style of the design and I work in the remaining items from there.

If it is a living room being used to entertain often, then maximizing the space for seating is the first on my shopping list. Finding plenty of different seating options is my goal. The room would be laid out so that no matter where you are seated, you are part of the conversation and I’d make sure that every person has a place to set a drink if they have one. Rug, side and coffee tables would be the next selections and I would work my way out from there.

(Keep in mind everyone is different. You may discover a process that works best for you and makes the most sense in your mind. There’s no right or wrong way to begin shopping when you have a concrete plan in place.)

Once you know what order you are going to shop, you need to decide what is what. Using your materials, colors and patterns list, mix and match these lists to bring all the elements together in your room. Let’s take our Industrial Mid-Century Modern living room again.

We know that leather, wood and metal are overlapping materials in this design. We can use this to search for leather sofas and accent chairs with wood or steel legs. We can also search for wooden chairs with wood or metal frames.

If side and coffee tables are next on the list, we can start incorporating more of the two individual styles on these pieces. We can search glass top coffee tables with Mid-Century Modern wooden legs and gray concrete side or cocktail tables with a steel base. The combinations are endless!

STEP 6: Style Your Home!

After you have found your style voice, created your comprehensive lists, calculated your budget and shopped your products, you are ready to style your home!

If you are one of those people who decorates for every holiday, you need to keep that in mind when placing your furniture. If you do not want to rearrange your room to fit the Christmas tree come December, make room for it now before the holidays arrive.

Here are some key steps to follow when it comes to styling your home.

1) Choose a color scheme that best suits you and will flow through your entire home! Make sure the colors are cohesive from room to room.

2) Properly scale your furniture if you want it to look right in your space.

3) Make sure your space is well balanced.

4) Ensure all functional needs are met.

5) Create clear and open walkways from room to room and around furniture.

6) Do not block windows or doors.

7) Declutter and organize every space. Find a spot for everything. This helps maintain a clean design and home.

Thank you for stopping by! It was great connecting with you. I hope you walk away with a firm grasp on what it takes to design and style your home. Tell me your thoughts in the comments below! I want to get to know you! Don’t forget to subscribe and be the first to receive more articles just like this one.

And remember - You Are Amazing!

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