Find Your Style
Decorating your home to enhance its appearance, improve its function, and reflect your personal tastes can be immensely satisfying, whether you re doing your home completely or simply sprucing up spaces here and there. But creating a personal decorating style and developing it into a workable design doesn’t happen overnight. It s an evolutionary process that centers as much on knowing yourself and your family living patterns as it does on decorating basics. One key to unlocking your own style is recognizing how to match personal tastes-what you like visually and aesthetically-with what will really serve the space and the people who use it on a daily basis. Another key to achieving results that will please you now, and later, is to plan carefully so that you know exactly what suits you and the space before you buy.
Recognizing your tastes, examining the makeup of your family, and seeing how you and those around you really live are key to the success of your decorating project. The following questions will help you evaluate your life-style: the checklist at the end of each section is intended to assist you in keeping track of your answers. Be sure to have all family members take part in the exercise.
How many family members are living at home? Number of adults? Children and their ages? Do you expect the numbers to change over the next few years? Are you planning to expand your family? Will some children be leaving for college or jobs? Do your parents or other relatives reside with your or visit frequently? Are they elderly or disabled or do they have other special needs? How about pets? Do they live indoors or out, or come and go at will? If they re mainly inside pets, what are their demands and requirements?
- Primary family and ages
- Other family members and ages
- Special needs of users
- Frequent visitors (family or not)
- Pets and their needs
Home and Space
Do you live in the city, the suburbs, or a rural environment? In an apartment, a house or condominium? An old or a new building? Does climate, location, or the age of your home influence how you live and use its spaces? What about its exposure to sun, and shade, noise, traffic, and neighbors? Will these factors influence your decorating plans? How long to you intend to live here? One year, five years, indefinitely? Does your home have enough space to grow with your family? Are you planning to decorate for your own pleasure, appearance sake, improved function or resale value? Are there any special structural problems that need correction before you can implement a decorating plan, or are the problems mainly cosmetic?
Make a list of your dissatisfactions, from the most problematic to the least: poor layout, not enough privacy, too little light, worn carpets, faded upholstery, tired color scheme. Make another list of what you like about your home and would probably not change.
Now, ask the same questions of the room (or rooms) you re thinking of redoing first, noting the good points and what needs improvement. Again make a list of likes and dislikes about the space. For instance, a particular room may get a lot of traffic noise, or feel dark and cold because of its northerly location, or simply not function well because of its furniture arrangements.
- Location of home and its influence on life-style
- Impact of climate or seasonal changes
- Orientation to view, neighbors, street, sun, shade, wind
- Length of occupancy
- Good points
- Problems or/and dissatisfactions
- Which room first and why
- Lists of decorating priorities for home and room
How does your family spend time together at home? Dining, reading, conversating, listening to music, watching TV and videos. Playing board games?
What about hobbies and sports? Where do you eat family meals? Participate in other activities? How do you feel about electronic equipment (especially the TV) being in plain sight? Would you conceal it if you could? Is family togetherness usually a happy event? Stressful? Boring? Is there enough space and privacy for individual members to carry out their won special interests without hindrance? Are there any hobbies, personal talents, athletic or artistic accomplishments to take into account in your decorating plans? Collections, mementos, photographs, artwork, trophies that are connected with family or individual activities?
- Shared family activities pursued at home
- Individual activities pursued at home
- Special considerations for special interests
- Which rooms are devoted to which activities
- How you feel about the placement of the TV
- Special needs for various activities
- Storage needs for equipment, games, toys, et cetera
How do you prefer to entertain? Formally, casually, semi formally?
Infrequently or all the time? In the dining room, living room, kitchen, outdoors? Large groups or small? Sit-down dinners or stand-up buffets? Do you serve foods on fine china, informal ware, or paper plates? Do you handle the cooking when you entertain, use a caterer, encourage potlucks, take your guests out to a restaurant? Do your children entertain their friends at home? How often? Birthdays, sleepovers, teen parties?
- Formal entertaining needs
- Casual entertaining needs
- Adequate space to seat and serve guests
- Adequate storage for linens, table settings and so on
- Children s special entertaining needs
- Special-occasion needs
How would describe yourself as a housekeeper? Compulsively neat? Moderately tidy? Disorganized? Resigned? What are the habits of the other family members? Do you tackle housecleaning on your own, enlist others, use hired help? Do you like everything hidden behind closed doors? Displayed on open shelves? Are easy-to-maintain materials important to you? What about laundry does your family have lots or little? Do you send out clothing to be laundered, or do you wash and iron the items yourself? Is the laundry are set up with enough storage, hanging, and work space?
How do you handle household disposables? Where do you store cans, glass,
plastics, paper, and other materials to be recycled? Do you need special areas
for this purpose? In the garage? In the kitchen? How about potentially
hazardous wastes, such as cleaning products, paint thinner, pesticides?
- General upkeep and chores
- Laundry space and storage
- Division of labor and housekeeping duties
- Storing household staples and supplies recycling program
Working at Home
What kind of a home office do you require? Do you simply need a place to pay bills, plan meals, and write letters, or do you need a center to accommodate both home and office- related work? Do you interests demand lots of horizontal work space, or will a tall, narrow area do just as well? If your professional work at home on a regal basis, do you have enough space to dedicate a specific area to deskwork, computers, fax and copy machines, and storage? Where can that space come from? If you bring professional work home on occasion, or require [personal home office, can you convert a portion of an existing room to satisfy your needs? What about a little-used closet, a part of a hall, or a balcony? Have you considered multipurpose furnishings that lend themselves to office and home use? Do your children need office like space to do their homework (with computer, typewriter, shelves, and so on)?
- Personal home office needs
- Professional home office requirements
- Finding space for an office
- Making room for the computer and related equipment
- Multiuse rooms with some office space
- Multiuse furnishings
What are your views on storage? Do you like to keep your rooms free of clutter and everything but the essentials tucked away? Do you prefer hall closets to coat racks? Books and magazines shelved rather than displayed? Children s toys in bins, not on the floor? Where for you store large bulky items basement, attic, or garage? What about out-of-season clothing, luggage, Christmas decorations, gardening supplies? What do you do with hard to handle items such as the table tennis platform, bicycles, sports and fitness equipment? Where do you store valuable documents? Some documents, such as investment portfolios and insurance policies, need to be kept current and therefore readily accessible; others, such as old tax returns, can be stored but should be relatively easy to retrieve if necessary. Where do you keep your documents- in boxes in the attic or basement? In a file cabinet, desk drawer, back corner of the closet? Could you find them in a pinch?
- Open shelving and its place in your home
- Closed storage
- Storage potential within living spaces
- Storing oversize, hard-to-hide items
- Storing outdoor equipment
- Storing documents
Choosing a Designer
If you’re thinking of contacting an interior designer to assist in your decorating project, it’s a good idea to begin the selection process with some facts on the individual professional qualifications and experience. Here are few questions you might ask during the initial phone conversation or introductory meeting.
How long have you been in the design field?
What are your credentials and affiliations?
How long have you been established in the area?
What types of interior projects do you handle? Residential only, commercial, or a mix of both?
What are your areas of special interests or expertise?
How do you usually get clients? By referral, through advertising, from show-house exposure?
What projects do you have currently in progress? Would it be possible to visit one or two of them to see your work and speak to the clients?
What projects have you completed in the past two years? Would it be possible to see them as well?
Can you provide a list of client references?
What is your current schedule and availability?
How are your fees structured? Do you charge by the hour or do you prefer a cost-plus arrangement? Are you willing to work on a short-term project? As a consultant?
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