Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decorating a Room from Scratch

So, a friend of a friend contacted me about a month ago about decorating her new row house in Washington, DC.  Their furniture consisted of hand-me-downs and there was nothing they really wanted to continue using, so they decided to sell their furniture before moving to DC.  So she needed some help decorating their common areas, from scratch.

She sent me pictures from the real estate listing of the house, along with a few measurements and I did my best to start planning out the space.

(Photo from previous owners)

I found this great website where I was able to draw out her floor plan and place her furniture.
Because the room is long and narrow, it was definitely hard to plan out the best way to arrange the furniture.  One zone needed to be dedicated to a dining area, because there is no separate dining room.

Here's what I came up with...

*Rugs define your spaces.  See how the rugs in this layout define the entryway, living area, and dining area.

And so the decorating process began...
When you're decorating a room from scratch, you should think about starting with your constants and then moving progressively into your most variable elements.

1.  Floor plan.  Unless you are planning on doing a renovation, the layout of your room, i.e. your stationary walls, are the most constant thing in your home.

We certainly weren't doing any renovations to this D.C. home, so we moved right along to step 2.

2.  Rugs.  Rugs are directly dependent on the size and shape of your room.  So when starting a room from scratch, start by selecting your rugs.  Rugs come in limited sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns.  If you try to bring in a rug later, you'll probably have to go with something solid or a sisal.  This is especially true if you are looking to introduce a hand-made oriental rug into your room...choose your rug first!

For my D.C. client, we selected this rug, by Dash and Albert:
She hopes to save up for a real oriental rug at a later date, and so we wanted something neutral that could easily transition into another room at a later date.  Dash and Albert has great patterns and materials.  (If you're in the Birmingham area, you can order them through Paige Albright Orientals).

If you choose a colorful rug, it can really be the springboard for your room.  You can start pulling out colors and patterns from your rug to inspire your fabrics and wall colors.  

This rug was easy to work with, because it's so neutral, but it didn't really inspire any particular color scheme.  The client wanted a colorful room, so we had to look to fabrics to bring in the colorfulness she wanted.  

3.  Fabrics & Upholstery.  After selecting a rug, the next "least variable" element is your fabrics.  This includes your upholstered furniture, drapes, etc.  Although there are tons of different fabrics out there, you can't just dream up any fabric you want in any color, any pattern, in your price range, in the right texture and weight.  A lot of different elements have to come together to find the right fabrics for your space.  

The client had already moved into her space and was very anxious to get the upholstered furniture quickly.  She and her husband had already been sitting on camping furniture for too long.  So they were really hoping to find a sofa and a pair of chairs that were on a showroom floor that they could bring home asap.  Most of the showroom furniture that I came across was in neutral colors.  

I was thrilled to find this couch by Wesley Hall in a designer showroom in Birmingham...
I loved it right away and hoped the client would too!  She was a little skeptical at first, because she didn't want the room to feel too contemporary.  But it was such great quality, a great price, and most importantly...available we decided to incorporate it into our space.  The ivory upholstery really picked up the ivory in the design of our rug.    

I then focused on my hunt for a pair of chairs, available now, affordable, great fabric, the right body style...etc...etc.  

I liked this chair, which was at a local store in Birmingham in a different fabric, but the shape was too similar to our sofa...

So, I came up empty handed in Birmingham, so I planned to chair shop in D.C.  I was very skeptical about finding something, and figured we would probably end up ordering something.  

I also did a little shopping in Birmingham for fabrics for drapes and pillows.  I knew this was going to be my shot to really introduce some color into the room.  But our fabric budget was tight.  I was having a hard time coming up with colorful patterned fabrics in our price range.  I found this at a showroom in Birmingham, and I thought it offered a nice bright pallet of colors to work with. 

Or for half the price, I looked at some patterns from Premier Prints...
I was focusing on florals, because I thought it would soften the space and keep it from getting too contemporary.  I wanted something that had warm tones in it, to tie in her warm hardwood floors and the warm brick color in her exposed brick walls.  
The premier prints fabric is certainly a little more "flat" and less tonal than the first fabric, but it is a lot more comfortable for the client's budget.  So I took samples of both to D.C., along with a few other, less colorful options.  

So I packed up a sample of our rug, sample of our sofa fabric, samples of drapery and pillow fabric options, my paint deck, a measuring tape, and a camera full of furniture and accessories that I had seen in Birmingham.  I had prepared all I could, but I realized...there was only so much I could do without getting a feel for the space in person.  

I had a head start on what I would consider to be the first 3 steps in the design process.  But I would have to approach the next steps during or after my trip to DC.

To be continued...

dum dum dum....

1 comment:

  1. love the couch! you definitely have me on pins and needles! i have not heard of the place that you referenced for fabric for half the price. that is a good place to know about!



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