As a Winnipeg Interior Decorator, one of the things I always stress with anyone building a new home or renovating is to get professional help planning the design of the space.
Lack of planning, prior to renovating or building a new home, often ends with spaces with in the home that do not function in the way they were intended to, rooms where furniture does not fit properly, lack of coordination in style and color, and a home where color and style does not flow.
Clients who decide to start their new home planning early will often come with blue prints, people who decide to renovate usually want me to covert existing spaces into new ones that will function better or in an entirely new way. One of the most popular services I offer, in addition to the two just mentioned, is basement planning. Basement planning usually occurs for a lot of clients a few years after the build of their new home. This is often a time for most home owners where costs of the initial build have been absorbed, and now there is extra money to finish the basement. With basement planning I often draw blue prints for room layouts, also usually requested is a furniture layout, and a lighting plan. Often I will be selecting all finishes as well, including anything from flooring, tiles, counter, cabinetry paint, and furnishings.
In any of the above cases one of the first things that is discussed when I meet with these clients is what they want to do in each room. For each client I am concerned about creating a personalized dream space, and in order to do this I will need to ask relevant questions such as:
- How many people will occupy each space.
- What do the clients plan on doing in each space. For example, if working on a family room, I will ask clients if they plan on watching tv, listening to music, entertaining, reading, etc.
- How often will the space be used. Frequency of use will greatly impact the quality of the finishes and furnishings needed.
- I need to know if they want the room to be casual and relaxing, or more formal. Most homeowners seem to gravitate to a look of casual elegance particularly in the case of a great room. Such a space is often used for multiple purposes such as watching tv, and entertaining, so this particular look is able to provide a beautiful relaxing environment suited for both purposes.
- I will need to know how frequently clients plan on entertaining and how many they will usually invite.
- I will want to know who will use the room, will it be young children, teenagers, or primarily adults.
- Are they going to be playing any games, and how big of a flat screen they would like to have.
These variables will all affect the design of the space. Everything from the location of entertainment walls, to the type of flooring, upholstery fabrics for the furniture, lighting, dimensions, etc will all need to be adjusted to lifestyle.
Once we discuss the purpose and function of each room we will start work on furniture layouts. For example, if we are doing the great room of a new home, or planning the basement layout of an existing home we will look at the positioning of furniture with in the space. Often there are feature walls containing a fireplace and a location for a flat screen, and in this situation we will need to create a furniture layout around this feature wall.
Pictured above and to the right are furniture layouts for a client who I assisted with building a new home. You will notice the small furniture templates that have been placed on the client’s blue prints. These templates are scaled 1/4″ = 1′-0″ which is ideal for most blueprints as most are drawn in this scale. These templates provide a quick and easy way to access which layout they prefer. These particular clients had multiple options, and pictured here are the two they liked the most.
Other areas of concern are the dining area of the great room. People always want to know the largest size of dining table they can fit into the room. For most people with a great room, the dining table becomes not only the table they sit around and have family meals at, but also a place to hold large gatherings of family and friends. For this reason they want to have a table that comes with leaves that can quickly be assembled to accommodate a large number of people.
The best thing about planning early is the fact that I have been able to remedy bad situations prior to them becoming expensive problems for clients. Two near disasters I recall that are typical in a lot of new home builds that were totally avoided through early planning were poor locations of entertainment feature walls, and rooms that were too small to accommodate the type of furnishings the clients wanted to have in their home.
For example, I had one couple approach me to work on their new home and once I began to work on the layout of the furniture I found that the fireplace was poorly situated in the room impacting the layout and function of the room greatly. Given its location, and the number of people that my clients wanted to either sit around and watch tv or entertain at any one time made this impossible, and the balance of the room was off significantly which would affect the look of the room. Because we were still in the very early stages of construction we were able to move the fireplace into a better location which provided more seating and a better flow of traffic through out the space, and a balanced more pleasing space visually.
In another client’s case, after reviewing their blue prints, I found that the living room space was far too narrow to accommodate a nice living room furniture layout. With the way it was, the couple would never be able to sit comfortably across from a large flat screen tv, or to even be able to have a coffee table, because it would interfere with traffic flow leading to the deck. In the bedroom, there was not enough room to accommodate a king bed, and this was essential for these clients as they had always had a king bed and did not want to go to a smaller queen size option. To resolve this issue we were able to add an additional 2′ to the width of both the living room and master bedroom of this home so it would better suite my clients lifestyle and vision. In this situation we were very lucky as this client started planning prior to ground even being broken for the basement, so we were able to make these adjustments on the blue prints easily for little cost.
During the planning stage, I will want to know what existing furniture clients are planning on bringing into their new home and what the colours and fabrics are. These pieces will be incorporated into the furniture layout. But often I find clients are wanting to start fresh in these new spaces with new furnishings, so they are anxious to find out if that dream sofa chaise, or sectional will fit into their new space.
Pictured to the right are the fabric selections for a client who was getting all new furniture and drapery custom made for her new home’s great room. Notice how all the fabrics coordinate together. You may not personally be a fan of green, but this client loved Christmas. In fact it was her favorite time of year, so it was only natural that she would want to incorporate some of the seasons colours in to her decor. This client’s great room is pictured above.
Once clients have determined their favorite furniture layouts and the spaces are designed to accommodate their lifestyle attention to color and style begins. In this stage we will want to ensure that there is a flow of color and style through out the home. I want to ensure that if clients have certain colors, or a style of furniture in mind for their new home that everything that is selected for the build like cabinetry, flooring, paint colors, tiles, counter tops, blinds, etc will coordinate and work with these variables. My clients whose living room is pictured above had more of a rustic traditional taste, but at the same time they wanted the space to be elegant, but relaxing and cozy. As mentioned the lady of the home loved Christmas, so it was important that greens be incorporated into the space. The inspiration for the space became the paisley fabric pictured amongst the fabrics featured above. The paisley fabric was selected for the chairs, a warm walnut floor, and trim were selected to coordinate, and beautiful green silk drapery provided elegance with a little bit of rustic flare given its rough texture. Because we had planned all pieces of the design prior to building everything with in this couples home worked well with their lifestyle, and the colors and style throughout the home coordinated and flowed beautifully.
If you think of the cost of a simple granite counter top, which can easily cost $5000., and any flooring that you are going to select to coordinate with it, which can easily cost the same amount. Can you imagine getting it wrong and having to replace one because it does not coordinate with the other. Now this is frequent problem I see in homes where there has been no professional planning. The pattern of granite is often busy, and for this reason flooring that is intended to go with it must be able to work with this pattern, and it takes skill to ensure that this happens. I have planned multiple new homes and renovations, and the average home owner may only do this 2 or 3 times in their life. My natural ability, education, and experience enable me to eliminate any of these costly errors and help to ensure that my clients have a beautifully coordinated home both color and style wise. This is why I always tell clients the amount that you will spend on my services is a fraction of what you are spending on your new home, and is also a small fraction of the cost that any mistakes that you can make, might be.
The clients in the above photo are not quite done furnishing their home at this point. As budget allows the dining area of the home will be furnished. New home builds are costly and it takes a while to often complete every aspect of the design. If you are considering a renovation project or perhaps building a new home, please be sure to give me a call. It would be my pleasure to assist you.
Sherri Cowlthorp, 204-918-4118
Inclusive Design Group, your Winnipeg interior decorator, offering professional interior decorating and design solutions!