This is the first blog in a series about lessons I’ve learned along my interior design journey. I did not go to school for interior design. I’m actually a marketing operations manager by profession. That means I did all of my learning through experience – read, I made a lot of mistakes!
What I’ve found to be interesting is that there seems to be a formula for this whole interior design thing. It doesn’t matter what your style is. Personally, I lean more toward rustic farmhouse and french country decor, with a little traditional style thrown in. But, you could love mid-century modern, boho chic, super glam, or super minimal and the process would remain the same.
This brings me to today’s lesson – furniture first. When taking on the challenge of designing a new room (notice I didn’t say whole house-that can get overwhelming-take it room-by-room), always start with the furniture.
The furniture you choose will become the foundation for your entire space. Space. That is an important word when talking through this lesson. Space is one of the most important elements of interior design. The space – size and shape of your room – and space – amount of physical space that your furniture takes up.
Both of these definitions of space are incredibly important – and here is my personal lesson learned – furniture stores are huge. Putting a bunch of furniture on display in a warehouse-type building is probably the best way to sell as much furniture as possible. However, it changes your perspective of the actual size of the furniture.
The very first couch that I purchased on my own was a pretty blue microfiber couch with a hide-a-bed. I needed the extra bed for my parents’ visits from Michigan, because I didn’t have a guest room, or really any extra space at all. That was a priority when I was shopping. The material was ideal for my very young, very sticky littles at that time. And, dude, let me tell you, that couch was the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sat on in my entire life! On top of all of that, it was on clearance, with free delivery! It was perfect!
Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t perfect. The delivery guys cursed me with every push and tug trying to get that thing through my patio door, because there was no way it was ever going to fit through the front door. When they finally got it stuffed into my living room, they bolted as fast as they could. I was left staring at this sofa that literally took up half of my living room.
I was defeated. I sat down on that super comfy sofa and cried. I was newly divorced, living in a tiny little townhouse with my two precious littles, and this amazing deal that I found, that I could afford, ended up being a major bust. And, there was nothing I could do about it. The deal was done. Money was paid. Delivery paperwork was signed. This was my couch.
And, you know what? I lived with it. For the 2 full years that I lived in that townhouse. I had no other choice. When I moved into an actual house, with my now wonderful husband, that couch worked great in our family room. But, I could have avoided a lot of stress and heartache if I had planned for the furniture in that space first.
Here are my tips to help you avoid a similar disaster:
- Measure the room that you are designing.
- Determine what pieces of furniture you would like to include in your design – make a list (I love lists!).
- Determine the space available for each of those furniture pieces – measure and write the measurements on your list so you don’t forget.
- Shop for these furniture pieces before buying anything else for your space.
- When you shop for furniture, take your list and your tape measure.
- When you find a piece of furniture that you love – measure it!
- If the measurements do not fit within those outline on your list, DO NOT BUY IT. You can’t “make it work” or “live with it.” Trust your plan and measurements.
I promise, if you follow these steps – and put furniture first – you will be saving your sanity and building the foundation for your space. Once you have your furniture in place, you can start layering in your other design elements to complete your beautiful design.