How To Design A Room – The 8 Essential Questions
Are you trying to design your own home but struggling with how to design a room and bring it all together cohesively? Or maybe you feel your room is missing something and not feeling like you hoped it would?
Let me help with the eight fabulous questions to show you how to design a room in 8 easy steps.
Before I jump into this post, I’m just going to apologise for all the times I say layers and contrast. I’m truly sorry.
Here’s the truth: Layers are the interior design secret sauce. This is where the design magic happens. It is the detail of intentional thinking about each individual layer, by layer, by layer.
Press Play To Get The Essential Eight…
Thinking about these eight questions should help you take things up a notch when you’re designing a room. Take your time, and really think about each question as a layer. If you get the essential eight into your room, you’re onto a beautifully designed space that will have complexity and depth.
It’s all about the layers and intentional thought, so let’s jump right in and get started.
1 – Does your room have three (or more) colours?
You should aim for three (or more) colours to create variety and interest.
If you’re struggling for colour combo inspiration, try and find an inspiration piece to work around, such as a cushion or piece of art, or maybe a fabric you adore (bonus: the fabric designer has done the hard work for you and created a scheme that works).
Colour combinations you can think about are tonal, harmonious and contrasting. Click here to learn more about understanding colour when decorating.
If you’d like to create a unique scheme from scratch, follow this simple process:
- Pick A Pattern: You can start an entire scheme from a single pattern. Find an abstract pattern or print on Pinterest with the look and feel you might like creating in your home.
- Create An Initial Mood Board: Develop the pattern into a higher-level view mood board and the overall feeling you’d like to create in your home. Don’t get into specific items like a piece of furniture such as a bed, coffee table, sofa or chair. Look for the mood and feeling. Perhaps that’s the soothing colours of the beach scene at dusk, the rustic feel of a washed-up piece of driftwood, or a vibrant contemporary cityscape. It does not need to be a room to copy from Pinterest. You can easily create a unique design.
- Drill Down On The Design: Create a new mood board for each new space in your home: living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom etc, drilling down and getting more specific with items such as bedroom furniture, seating, lighting, fabrics and finishes. Keep referring back to your first mood board to keep each space in alignment with your overall vision… Hello, whole home flow and cohesion.
If you’d like to learn how to create mood boards and understand more about defining your vision, the Ultimate Home Design Toolkit shows you an easy to follow 8 step (by step) process.
2 – Does your room have a little bit of black?
Black is a colour that you will often find in many successful schemes, even if just a splash. In science, black is the absence of natural light. In reality, black is a pigment and a mix of all the spectrum’s hues, the darkest colour.
Having this even in small quantities, be that a picture frame, a chair leg, or a coffee table, will give your scheme depth and contrast. Using the colour black adds a focal point that anchors. It adds a sophisticated look to a space.
Your eye will try and settle on splashes of black because it creates contrast and will outline and sharpen a scheme.
3 – Does your room have a little texture?
Every room needs texture to add life and tactility. We all need a couple of things that are fluffy and make you want to stop, reach out and touch. Texture stops your space from feeling too flat and one-dimensional.
It’s easy to the of the obvious choices of texture as in fabrics, throws and cushions. Texture can also be found in surprising places like clashing patterns (think Jacquard + linen), feature walls, lighting designs, and even adding a little greenery. Consider contrasts such as materials, colours, patterns, shapes, and light + dark to create a multi-layered look.
The texture is all about the layers. Here are 7 ways to add texture to your home.
4 – Does your room contain at least two (ideally three) patterns?
Step number 4, Perfect your patterns!
Combining patterns in your space is what will give your room an edge and creates a confident feel if done correctly. You need the right combination of shape, colour, shade, and size to create a harmonic feel within your schemes and not end up too chaotic… Unless chaotic is the style vibe.
Having at least two patterns, ideally, three, possibly four, will help you create a designer-done feel.
Remember that you can find patterns on rugs, throws, wallpaper, and furniture in many places. Think of the veining in marble, the patina of a tile or the grain in wood. It’s not just fabrics and soft furnishings.
Below are some simple steps to combining patterns to make it super easy:
- Play with scale – Try to avoid patterns of the same size. Have a larger dominant pattern and mix them with medium and/or small-scale patterns. As with all things interiors, you’ll create contrast and interest by doing this.
- Location, Location, location – Think about the energy in a pattern. Patterns like herringbone can overwhelm a space in larger quantities, so they are better suited to a small space such as a cushion or throw. If you’re using a high-energy pattern, ensure you balance and contrast with something simpler.
- Tie in similarities – If you mix up your pattern type (floral, damask, chevron), try and find an element to unify, such as the colour. If the pattern is the same, mix up the color palette. Don’t stick to all the same saturation, though. That might feel a little flat. Add in-depth thinking about light and dark. It will help your individual patterns stand out and not blend together.
- Two, Three or Four – Sticking to just one pattern can feel a little lifeless, the magic lies in 2/3/4, any more than this, and it might feel like too much energy to feel cohesive unless that’s kinda the point!
- Buddies – There are some natural buddies in the pattern world. The truth is it’s about contrasting. Stripes, as an example, work well combined with busier florals or Ikat designs. Houndstooth would work well with something simpler like a pinstripe.
- Your Style – If your style favours a busier and more energetic feel, like eclectic, maximalism or bohemian, say. These styles are less about formal order and symmetry; you can have more energy. If your design style is modern and contemporary, this would be reflected in simpler styles, less energy and a more simplified feel. Would you like to create a more eclectic look, click here for eclectic interior design tips!
5 – Does your room have a little bit of bling?
We’re talking sheen and shine here! You’ll need something that adds more layer-able contrast and interest. That could be a mirror, a lacquered piece of furniture, some glass… Get something that sparkles to add more contrasting layers, textures and complexity to your room.
Adding something with reflective surfaces will also help you bounce a little light around your room, which can greatly help in darker areas.
6 – Does your room have something that’s living?
I’m not talking about unwelcome visitors here. Plants, flowers, greenery… No room is complete without something to feed. Indoor plants can be used as accent pieces, to soften areas or even to create a certain expression when designing a room.
Adding greenery to a space not only makes your space feel more appealing and alive, but it also plays a role in your overall health and well-being.
If you need any extra reasons: plants filter the air, help reduce stress and anxiety, they can increase productivity and even help you sleep better.
Who doesn’t want a little more of that?
7 – Does your room shine with light?
If you want to create show-stopping drama in your room, you need a show-stopping lighting design. Poorly or improperly lit rooms are the biggest room design killer!
Here’s what you need to think about, ask the same question you would ask to understand more about space planning.
The Who: The people who will be using the space.
The How: All the activities that will be undertaken. How will the space be used?
When you know the answer to these questions, you’ll understand the different lighting types and sources and where you need them. You’ll then be able to create a lovely layered-up lighting scheme.
Lighting doesn’t need to cost a fortune, here are 5 must visit shops for affordable lighting.
8 – Has your room got some good energy?
Time to get a little woo. Every room needs a little bit of good energy (chi), untouched and empty space to allow the energy (and people) to flow around.
Ensuring your space has a bit of emptiness will allow your design choices to pop. It gives a place for the eyes to rest and notice your lovely things. If you’d want to dig a little deeper into the energy in your home, take a look at the Feng Shui rules to consider for your home.
Even if you’re all out maximalism, too much stuff without a break overwhelms the eyes and senses. Make sure you have a couple of empty spaces or surfaces.
I hope you’ve found the questions helpful and that you use them to dig a little deeper and create layers of complexity in your design schemes.
Let me know in the comments if this checklist that you make sure you tick off and include this in your room. Want to grab the Essential 8 Checklist to have handy for every room that you design? Grab the essential 8 checklist here.