Whether you’ve decided to redecorate one room, re-design the whole house or you’ve just moved into a new place, figuring out where to start your interior design project can be overwhelming. Should you start with choosing the wall color or a piece of furniture and build from there, or should you find inspiration online and try to replicate it?
There is a secret formula to getting brilliant design ideas, and I’m about to share it with you… I discovered an exercise many years ago when I started my business and it has become the cornerstone of all my professional work. This two hour long style survey is how I begin working with each new client; it’s my secret trick to designing spaces that are radically different from project to project but completely reflect each client’s personal style. This is my secret to creating any client’s dream home.
You may think that you know exactly what your style is, but after completing this exercise, you might be surprised to find preferences you had no idea were lurking deep in your subconscious mind. This exercise stimulates both, the creative right and analytical left sides of your brain. It will give you all the ingredients -the design elements- you need to come up with your own interior design ideas.
First, gather as many magazines as you can find. Take a trip to a book store and stock up on as many thick publications as they have. The quality of your ideas depends on it. Get thick design magazines such as Florida Design, Architectural digest, Elle décor, Interiors, Interior design, House and Home, Dwell, etc, add some fashion issues and you’ve got a great start. Next, you will take a few deep breaths and get yourself into a creative state of mind. You can do this on your own or lure in your spouse or partner. Play your favorite music, set up some mood lighting, open a bottle of wine and flip open the first magazine. I promise you, this will be fun.
Begin paging through magazines one at the time and tearing out the pages that appeal to you, that make you feel good… Put out of your mind any thought of needing to find design ideas for any particular room. Do not analyze the pictures. If you are looking at the image for more than 2 seconds, you are analyzing… Try to do it very spontaneously. Remind yourself to just let go. If something- anything -feeling good catches your eye, tear the page out and move on. Take 30 minutes for this part of the exercise and collect at least fifty images. If you are doing this with a partner, each of you should have your own pile of fifty images at the end.
Now, collect all the images you pulled out and lay them out on the floor, side by side. If with a partner, lay out your images separately. Here is where we begin to look for patterns and analyze them.
When I do this exercise with my clients, we go through a systematic way to determine the patterns in their images. Below are a few examples of the questions I ask my clients. My questionnaire contains 25 questions and clarifies every design element for a client and will give us an unlimited amount of ideas on how to make the space personal and inspiring at the same time. Ask yourself these questions and come up with more of your own…
What are the predominant moods? Are they sunny and bright, dark and sophisticated, tidy and organized, formal and sedate, whimsical, romantic, masculine, feminine, playful, worldly, cute, country, pretty, sensuous, tailored, soft?
What materials show up most often? Wood, brick, stone, marble, stucco, tile, fabric, glass, wrought iron?
What do the fabrics look like? Are they highly tailored, detailed, abstract, soft, geometric, flowery, with small/large patterns?
What are the predominant colors? Do you see strong contrasts, pastels, lots of different colors?
Would you say from your pictures that you prefer symmetry, or asymmetry? Is everything identically balanced on each side of a center, or are things pushed off to one side and balanced with something different on the other side?
Did your findings surprise you? Compare with your partner if you did the exercise together. If you really took the time to do this, I know it got your excitement flowing. Summarize your findings in a written statement, outlining all the preferences you uncovered. You now have a working blueprint of the kind of space you want to create. Save your images and refer to them when you need more inspiration! You are now stocked with incredible, inspiring, unique personal ideas – what are you waiting for, go ahead and start your project!