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How to Design a Room – 3 Keys to Successful Design

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You’re scrolling Instagram, and that familiar feeling creeps up on you. Your face gets hot and you sense something like jealousy or guilt prickling at your back. You know life’s a stage and social media is the biggest one of all, but what if you COULD learn how to design a room that re-creates the warm, inviting rooms you see on Instagram and Pinterest in your own home?

Both Sue and I have studied interior design and a common question I see people ask is how to design a room and choose furniture, accessories, and paint colors for a cohesive design that looks like a professional without the professional cost!

People naturally think that they lack the design esthetic needed to decorate a room in a certain style or period and have it look great!

Well, I am here to tell you that while I MAY not be able to turn you into an interior designer in one article, I CAN give you some key principles that I learned in Interior Design school that will help guide you in your decision-making when shopping for pieces for your room, looking at colors, etc.

So let’s get started!

an image of a living room with a blue couch and text that says How to Design a Room - 3 Key Principles to Successful Design

How to Design a Room: Key One – Function

One of the first keys in determining the design of your room is to determine its function. In other words, what will the room be used for? Who will use the room? Will it serve more than one purpose?

An example of this would be a dining room. What is its function?

Well, given that it is a dining room, its function clearly is dining.

If you have a family of 5, then that 4 seat dining table won’t work. If you rarely have more than 6 people for dinner, you probably don’t need a huge dining table that could seat Henry VIII and all his wives.

What else will the room be used for? Is it a formal dining room that will only be used for company or is it a less formal room that your kids might use to do homework or you might use for game night.

As another example, when designing a living room, the focus is usually conversation and maybe other activities like watching tv or reading.

You will want to make sure your seating is set up in a way that fits that function. For instance, you don’t want your TV to be behind your couch. That just wouldn’t fit the function of the space.

These are all things to take into account when determining a room’s function. Think about everything the room will be used for and that will help guide you in your design.

I am here to tell you that I CAN give you some key principles that I learned in Interior Design school that will help guide you in your decision-making when shopping for pieces for your room, looking at colors, etc. Click To Tweet

How to Design a Room: Key Two – Style and Mood

So once you have determined what the room will be used for and any additional uses you might have for it (for instance, is your living room going to have to double as an office?) you will want to think about style and mood.

Is your esthetic warm and rustic or cool and modern?

If you have a New York City high-rise that has a modern, sleek design, you probably don’t want early American farmhouse furniture. By contrast, if you have an old 1880’s farmhouse (like the home I just sold), you probably don’t want an ultra-sleek, modern design.

What you place in your space should fit the style and mood you are trying to convey while also keeping with the style of the home. So you wouldn’t want a modern sofa with shaker chairs. You wouldn’t want ultra-modern in an old farmhouse home.

How to Design a Room: Key Three – Harmonization

Then there is harmonization.

Like a symphony orchestra where you have different instruments that all play different sounds but all come together to create a beautiful melody, your space and the pieces in it will have different functions (a sofa is to sit on while a cocktail table is to place items on) but should come together to make beautiful music.

You can bring together some items from different periods and different styles but they should all fit the first two keys of function and style.

A French country piece might work very well with Early American Farmhouse. Contemporary pieces from different periods might go very well together as long as they convey the same style and work together to make a cohesive design concept.

Size and proportion is also important. You want to be sure your pieces harmonize with the room they are placed in and also with each other.

You don’t want a lamp that is extremely large for a small end table. It will look unbalanced (and may very well BE unbalanced too) and will throw off the look of the space.

While having an eclectic style is lots of fun and can totally represent your personality, you can STILL have that while embracing these three key principles of how to design a room.

You can bring together a room or rooms by harmonization with elements, style, texture or color palettes. See designer Kesha Frankin’s video about creativity and harmony.

Boho Style

Boho is a style that, according to Better Homes and Gardens, “incorporates an eclectic mix of colors, patterns, and textures. The relaxed, global-inspired aesthetic bends traditional design rules to create a layered, personalized look. Embrace the style’s laidback vibes with these bohemian decorating ideas.”

While Boho is fun and blends many colors and design elements, it should not “clash” and look confusing to the eye. You can be eclectic while still keeping to the rules of function, style and harmonization.

How to Design a Room With Confidence When You’re Not a Designer

We hope that this article will help you with the basic principles that are so important in any room design. Once you know these principles, the rest is all about you, your style, your overall esthetic, the design elements already in your space that you want to keep and so on.

We will be featuring more articles on how to design a room as well as how to make decisions on specific design elements like choosing colors, furniture and more!

And be sure to sign up for our 30 Day Clean Home Declutter Challenge below! Having a clean home is the first step after all!

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