It’s often said that our home is our castle; it’s the heart of family life, and for many it is also a status symbol. A fine home is representative of financial and personal accomplishment. Often, people hire a professional designer to create a beautifully decorated home that will impress others. But does this way of life really satisfy? As interior designers we work on a variety of projects, and some are elaborate and expensive. Most of our clients want colors that coordinate and better quality furnishings. All are looking for a sense of calm and order, and an attractive environment. A well-designed home not only looks great, however, it also functions well for its inhabitants.
Quality interior design always considers the needs of those who will use the space. When we first meet with a new client, we are full of questions. I like to ask the following questions first:
Who will use the space on a daily basis? What are their ages? What are their interests?
What activities will go on in the space – media use? Cocktail Parties? Homework? Reading?
How often does the client entertain? Who visits? How many people?
Are there pets? Small children? Elderly Guests? Disabilities?
Do the homeowners cook? Garden, hunt or ride horses? Are they on the waterfront?
What are the storage needs?
All of these questions give us a pretty accurate picture of what life in the home will be like. The more information we have, the more successful the design will be. Of course, asking about the family and their interests makes sense. Anyone planning a construction project or remodel has a unique opportunity to consider storage and organization in the home, and address any special needs. Organization is not about shelves full of plastic totes with labels, it’s about functionality and access – if you have sporting dogs or live on the water, a mud room for cleanup is ideal. A family into sports may want lockers in the mud room for gear; an avid gardener may want a wash-up sink and potting counter at the back door. If guests visit frequently, we’ll need to make sure there is enough sleeping and seating space and that setting up for guests is convenient and quick, even if the home is not large. That’s why it’s important to bring your interior designer into the construction process as early as possible.
When a home is truly organized, it allows the homeowner to function smoothly and handle all the things on her plate each day. When everything has a place, the home is easy to keep clean and everyone in the family can help keep things running. Use interior design to incorporate the items you use often into furnishings that are part of daily life. Store things near where they are used, and create stations throughout the living area for different family members and their interests – a small desk can be a scrapbooking area, a laptop desk, and a dinner table. An interior designer can help incorporate various activities into the room layouts in an attractive, practical way. The clients’ interests can be reflected in displays of personal collections and art.
The Well-Designed Home also includes quality furnishings – interior designers can help select the right fabrics for upholstery or slipcovers, based on a durability scale. It can be impossible to tell how a fabric will wear just by looking at it; thickness of the fabric is no guarantee. Some modern synthetics can be easily spot-cleaned with soap and water; cottons for slipcovers can go right in the wash. The right fabric choices mean interiors that will continue to look great for years, and can be easily cleaned without professional help. Our list of questions about family life helps uncover seating needs; with the right seating for everyone, there won’t be a daily fight over the best spot on the sofa.
While in years past women ran the household, today women’s lives take place mostly outside the home – we are busy, successful and always looking for solutions that make life easier. A Well-Designed Home allows you to create a high-functioning family life – when things run smoothly, there is more time for the family to relax and spend time together.