From the color scheme and lighting to accessories and flow, your home is a reflection of your lifestyle. And lately, maybe that could use a reboot. For expert advice and inspiration, we asked interior designer Sarah O’Dell, owner of Dwell Chic Interiors, to share a few tips to bring harmony back into the home.
Comfort Rules. While O’Dell’s team specializes in designing luxury vacation homes, she says the process for designing vacation and residential homes is very similar and in the end, comfort rules.
“In both places, you want to feel comfortable,” O’Dell says. “A vacation home is an extension of a primary residence, but it’s normally going to be less visited, so we may not add as many live plants and may include more performance fabrics.”
Do your homework. How do you want a space to feel? What is considered comfortable to once a person may be different for another.
“You have to get to know the person who you are designing for, how they live in their home—diving into what is comfortable for them,” she says. “If you come in to relax, then we need to create a place to relax. If you always have a glass of water handy, then we want more tables instead of ottomans. Defining what comfort is to you is the most important factor.”
Always start with space planning. “Space planning is the most important aspect of the design process, and we never skip it,” she says. “It’s the first step even before the budget is determined. With attention to walking paths, functionality, and proportionality, we lay out exactly what the room is going to hold.
“For example, furniture is heavy and expensive, and it’s an investment. Figuring out how it’s going to fit in your space beforehand is essential to a flawless design. Even if you choose not to work with a professional, it’s a good idea to at least lay out your space on graphing paper.”
Invest in a color consultation. “The number one determining factor for color is lighting and how the light reflects off of it,” says O’Dell. “You can look at Pinterest all day for inspiration, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the color will look the same in your space. A consultation is important because a designer is not just thinking about a paint color but how it works with the entire finished product.”
Incorporate a workspace. With so many people working remotely, a home office or workspace is an important part of a home.
“Everybody may like the light and bright look of an acrylic desk, but there has to be storage space even in a vacation home,” she says. “It is also important to know what the needs are for storage space. If we incorporate a workspace in a room with a view, then it’s hard to think you are in an office while you are responding to emails with the ocean in front of you.”
DIY areas to save money. “A simple DIY project for me would be a playroom, toy storage in the living room, or toy storage in the bedroom,” says O’Dell. “The IKEA Kallax System comes in different sizes and is perfect for storing toys. To incorporate color and patterns, you can find soft bins or boxes online at places like Target, IKEA, or Amazon. This creates a fun look while giving toys a much-needed home.”
Invest in key rooms. “Kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and the primary bedroom are the rooms where you spend the most time, and it’s important to make them a priority,” she says. “Often if you put your investment in a kitchen or bathroom, you will likely see a return, whereas if you invest in the primary bedroom or living room, that is more of an investment for yourself. These are rooms that bring you comfort and relaxation.”
Accessories: Keep. Toss. Splurge.
Splurge on local art and lamps. “Lamps are an accessory that is often overlooked,” she says. “Many times we see lamps that are too small, surprisingly. It can make a big, bold statement and provide much-needed light.”
Keep sentimental items. “Keep these items because you love the color and pattern, or it just genuinely brings you happiness.”
Toss or donate. “Get rid of any pieces that don’t hold meaning or serve a purpose,” says O’Dell. “And when in doubt, donate.”
DOS AND DON’TS
Do be realistic about timing. “I think what is often underestimated the most is the time it takes for a design to go from concept to completion,” she says.
Do try dark colors in small spaces. “People think that you can’t use dark colors in small spaces; I completely disagree. Sometimes dark colors can make a space feel bigger if it is continuous.”
Don’t overlook the foyer to make a statement. Tiny spaces have the potential to make a big impact. “The foyer is often the most overlooked,” she says. “But it’s the first impression when you walk through the door. While this space does not require a large investment like furniture, a fabulous light fixture, and a rug with some simple accessories can speak volumes.”
Don’t over-crowd or over-accessorize. Do utilize a lot of clean and simple lines.
Don’t commit without reviewing a sample. “I would never order a piece of upholstery, drapery, or furniture without seeing a sample first,” says O’Dell. “A photograph does not truly lend to what that piece will look like when it is in front of you.”
Don’t select colors remotely. “The right paint color will depend on your home, your aesthetic, and lighting provided,” she says. “You cannot do this remotely.”
Do trust your design professional. “If you’ve hired a professional, give them the lead to guide and advise,” O’Dell says. “Designers have already seen everything that could go wrong with a design, so trust their experience.”
You can find more expert tips and information at www.dwellchic.com.