In this part of the process, Interior Architects & Designers would get technical and when you need to look at your basic floor plans, elevations etc. in order to get familiar with the space in its context, orientation, etc.
In our case, I am reducing the process and focusing on decorating only. So the next crucial step is to get familiar with the room you are tackling. Honestly even if we are just trying to decorate a room, we still need to do at least a basic sketch of a floor plan with dimensions - sorry, you cannot get away without it!
Why? Because you are going to be exploring different ways in which people can circulate in the space. So a good designer would not place any furniture as of yet. My favourite quote ever, that truely summarises the way I see design:
"The paradox of great interior design is that it is an art of the invisible, of choreographing the spaces between things to make them sing.” (and.... I cannot find the author!)
It’s not about filling up the space with stuff. It’s about making the free space count, and making sure that the spaces between the things we put are meaningful, and allow the decor to speak for itself.
In practical terms, think of the different functions that the space needs to serve in order to fulfil the brief. I am giving you a list of what I consider the key factors to help the space flow and fulfil its functions at it’s best:
Sometimes we take it for granted, but do not -ever- please do forget about the importance of natural light. It can basically determine how you may or may not drive the flow in the space.
To give you an example: in Dylan’s room I really really wanted to incorporate a canopy that I fell in love with. I was stuck with the idea of having it over a beautiful cane chair and creating a cozy reading nook around it.
Well, this is one idea that I simply had to let go. For many reasons, but the first of the reasons was, this canopy is made in a thick linen and in a darkish colour, so it was going to absorb a lot of light. And the area where I could set up the reading nook is just by the window and our beautiful sheer curtains.
So it was going to 1) partially block our beautiful curtains that let the light through 2) not maximise the amount of sunlight we get in the room
So this was enough to dump the idea even though that canopy was still in my wish-list because it’s use was perfect to create the colour palette that I had previously established when creating the concept.
Use of available resources
This would be more important in other types of rooms such as a kitchen where you may want the stove top to be in a particular spot so it gets cross ventilation, or a living room with a skylight that opens up and allow the hot air to circulate outside, etc.
In the case of the nursery, for example another factor I considered when planning the flow of the space were the power points. Lighting is very important to create a mood or to set up the perfect atmosphere for a task. So using the power points wisely will prevent us from having to use pesky extension cables or having to spend money in creating new ones.
Great design is the one that turns boundaries and limitations into opportunities. A problem solving approach to Interior Design comes up with unique solutions that have been crafted for a particular project. Use your ‘scope of works’ to refer back to how far you can go, determine your limitations, and use them rather than fight against them.
For example: my main limitations for this project are:
Main furniture needs to stay
These days I would have probably chosen a different desk, or another cot, but I have limited myself to use what I have got and style the room around it rather than doing a brand new room. I arrived at the compromise of allowing myself to purchase new accessories as long as I could sell or donate the used ones.
Belonging to a bigger picture
I absolutely love the on trend look of current nurseries, kids rooms and play rooms. I really really wanted, in the beginning, to create something featuring all the must have accessories that I love seeing in other rooms. However, I had an eye opening moment during the design process as I reminded myself of a constraint that I had been overlooking (besides my concept!): the room belongs into a bigger picture. As much as I loved the idea of painting half of a wall, I realised it wasn’t working in this room and with the rest of my apartment nor with my existing furniture. So I had to forget about the trends, stay true to my concept and focus on creating something that belongs in our context.
Satisfying the client
I love the on trend look of rooms full of cute knick knacks and heavily decorated with wallpapers, hanging mobiles, etc. But, again, I thought of what my client (aka Dylan) needs. He is a baby that gets stimulated very easily, and concentrates better when there are just enough stimulus around him. So that type of room was not right for him, a part from not belonging in my apartment. So this was a great exercise of letting go ideas that do NOT work in the space, that helped me find my true direction.
Budget is a scary word, every time I open that Excel file I freak out at how I am gonna fit everything I want to do and not blow up the total figure!! But guess what? It’s not that bad, if we didn’t have a budget, we would just have too much freedom and we would end up doing more than what we actually need. Revisiting your budget is key to keep you on track and help you make thoughtful decisions rather than sentimental ones.
Lat but not the least, in my process the ‘concept’ needs to have a say at how the people flow in the space. This is a very specific way of designing that I actually learnt at Design Centre Enmore and I know it’s not for everyone. But this is what will make the difference between a creative approach to decorating or a purely stylistic exercise. So letting the concept be present and drive every aspect of the decor, is what makes a design cohesive and meaningful.
Applying a concept into a room is a creative exercise and it also requires practise to be executed. I will explain how I did this once Dylan’s room is completed and revealed… to avoid spoilers!!
I hope this chapter brought you enough information to keep going, and stuff to think about… please do let me know in the comments or by Insta DM if you have any questions. I would love to hear what your major concerns are when decorating so that I can address them in the following posts!