Over the years I have had many clients, business partners, and friends ask why I always start from the ground up when designing a space. So here are some of my reasons and secrets. When designing a space whether it is a whole house, office or just a room we always want there to be flow and balance. If we start from the ground then we can build up making sure that there is continuity. For instance if a client tells me that the want a mediterranean look I can easily determine which mediterranean style they like based on their likes in flooring. If they like clean white marble and dark wood floors then I know we are going toward Spain. If they like travertine and hand chiseled wood floors then we are looking toward Tuscany for influences. So how does this translate into designing a whole space. Well once we have our floors then that leads to the cabinet styles and trim style. It also tells me what kinds of furniture to look at and how to highlight with the proper lighting.
One of the reasons that a person hires an interior designer is so that they don’t have to look at all the millions of options available. If I can determine a client’s style then I can eliminate three-quarters of the choices. This allows the design to flow and the client to know that they are in good hands. If I were to show a contemporary client traditional options again and again they would become frustrated and probably not continue working with me. Just as it is never my place to push my style on a client I need to be listening and understanding my clients needs. As an interior designer it is my job to take my years of knowledge and taste to the job and create their dreams in the space. This requires I make sure that I have flow and balance. Starting from the bottom allows me to layer the clients style throughout the space.
If the space has already been built and we are looking at furnishing it I start with an area rug. A great area rug will give you everything that you need to center and ground the space. From that area rug we can determine what colors, textures and finishes we want to compliment the space. If we have chosen a contemporary rug in bold colors we may choose one or two colors from the rug to bring throughout the entire home. And based on those colors we will decide on how bold the lighting should be along with how heavy the furniture should be and what kind of window treatments are required. If you have a very heavy feeling rug then there has to be balance created by lightening up on either the upholstery or the casegoods. But there is also a very fine line in which one can lighten the furniture too much and create a dissonance between the ground and the furnishings. A room can feel out of balance very easily when the furnishings are not in harmony with the structure of the space. For instance if you have a country-style home with oak hardwood floors and brick accents you would not want to put in clean lines, low sitting, metal accented furniture. This would be way too modern and there would be a great dissonance.In this instance you would want to start with maybe a braided rug, warm rounded furniture and accents in oaks, pines and wrought iron. And of course a layering of many different fabrics that playoff each other.
By starting from the ground a good interior designer can determine the clients style, create flow and balance, and bring the client’s dreams to life. The floor is what everything starts and ends with and if the room is not in balance with it then you will not have a successful design. Design is like painting, you start with the base and finish with the highlights.