Design Lesson

Design lesson: Harmony at home

Style at Home
Design Lesson

Design lesson: Harmony at home

I recently worked with a Toronto couple who found themselves on opposite sides of the style fence. She prefers traditional design, while he's more a fan of contemporary aesthetics. Their living/dining area reflects some of the compromises we made during their renovation project. For example, the dining table was quite traditional, but we painted the chairs white to modernize the overall impression. If you and your partner are considering a renovation, here's some guidance to help you know where to start – and how to keep the peace.

1 To begin, each of you should take time to go through decorating magazines and tear out pictures of rooms you like. Come together with your inspirational tear sheets and talk about how the rooms in each picture make you feel. Consider the atmosphere each of you is hoping to achieve with your renovation. You may find that although each photograph represents a different style, there's a consistency in the mood or energy of the rooms each of you selected. Maybe they're all serene and peaceful or, conversely, full of colour and drama. That's a place to start.

2 If you've chosen rooms that represent a variety of moods, that's fine, too. Separate the inspiration photos by atmosphere. From there, determine which of your own rooms might benefit from the feeling represented in them. A bedroom may be an ideal space to recreate the quiet calm you imagine when looking at certain shots. The family room may be the place to aim for the cosy feel your spouse likes when reading or watching TV, or perhaps to introduce a bright, energetic vibe for busy toddlers. Or maybe you come to the conclusion that you want every room to invite relaxation. Remember to look for compromises: if he's the family chef, his design desires might come first in the kitchen; if her favourite room is the bathroom, let her wishes take precedence there.

3 Narrow down your selections to three or four per room that come closest to meeting each design vision. Once they're grouped by mood according to which of your rooms can work within those boundaries, you're ready to move forward.

4 Next, prepare a separate folder for each of your rooms. One by one, pull out the photos selected for that space and analyse the commonalities. Do you always gravitate toward dark woods or light woods? Are you always drawn to living rooms with elaborate draperies? Do you like elements on display or does a minimal, clutter-free room consistently appeal more? These clues allow you to capture the specific elements you and your partner love, so you can start planning dream rooms pleasing to both of you.

5 From there, it only requires discipline to stay on target. Before making purchases of any kind – either materials or furnishings – carefully consider whether the object in question really does contribute to the desired mood and look you want to achieve. If not, be prepared to pass it by, no matter how much you like it. And whatever you do, never aim for eclectic – too often that's used as an excuse for shopping without focus. Start with a clear vision and preserve your sanity by sticking with the plan.

6 Finally, try not to overthink your decisions. That's difficult to do, I know. But remind yourself that there's always more than one right answer in decorating, and be open to options. Sure, it's a wonderful idea to house the television discreetly inside an armoire, but perhaps it would also look fantastic in plain sight on modern shelving. Stay focused by continually referring back to your project folder and the list of common denominators you established. In that way, you'll be able to create the home of your dreams, one that looks like it belongs in a magazine.

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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Harmony at home