Sourcing the right furnishings cannot be hurried, says Darren Palmer. Hit the shops with a measuring tape before opening your wallet.
Hands up who thinks money can buy style. I can tell you right now that money and style can be, and often are, mutually exclusive. The issue, at any price point, is knowing how to make good choices and work things into a scheme. Interestingly, money can often be as much of a hindrance as a help. Imagine having an infinite budget and being able to wander through shops and just buy things you absolutely love. The trap here, and I’ve seen it many times, is that with no boundaries, you end up with a house full of individually lovely things – but nothing complements anything else.The key to a beautiful room – or home, for that matter – comes from knowing what to buy, why to buy it, where to find it, how much to pay and what part it plays in the overall interior scheme. If you source pieces with a holistic view, you’ll end up with a very different result.
1. ESTABLISH A BRIEF
Consider your location and understand your home and its constraints, then write a list of all the things you need to build your room.
2. MEASURE UP
How big is your room? I want dimensions, people! That includes doorways, windows, nib walls, ceiling heights, floor space and anything else that will define the room you’re furnishing. A to-scale floor plan that notes all dimensions is the only way you’ll know how much room you have to work with, how big the pieces need to be and how much circulation space you have, physically and visually – it’s just as important to give your eyes space to roam around a room as it is to be able to walk through it. Plotting the dimensions of sofas and side tables will confirm there’s room for walkways and visual breathing space.
3. FINESSE YOUR FLOOR PLAN
How best will the furniture work in the room? Have an understanding of the size and number of the pieces (one sofa or two, armchairs, an ottoman) as well as the scale of coffee tables and occasional furniture. Then you’ll have a rough map to start your shopping journey. Check openings, entrances, stairwell and elevator dimensions, too, so that the things you buy actually make their way into the room. So now you know what pieces you want and their size. You have your brief plus mood, materials and colour references. Time to shop? Well, sort of. Leave your credit card at home for now – think of it as delayed gratification. Before you think about outlaying any cash, scour magazines and websites, browse shops, quiz salespeople and collect samples of fabrics and leathers, timbers and stains. Flesh out your road map so it becomes a better, illustrated version. Take pics of your finds, samples and colours and lay them out at home, side by side. You’ll start to see commonality, contrasts that work and what is incompatible. Pay attention to the lines of sofa arms, the plumpness of cushions, the shapes of table legs, and whether timbers work together. Examine colours and tones, shades and hues. Look at the whole set of elements as if you’re looking at a preview of your finished room.When you’ve removed all the elements that don’t work with your scheme, you should be left with clear answers about materials, type and scale, and the product names and styles that will all add up to one stellar room.Now you can go shopping. Buy what you can afford. Order the items you need to wait for and put things you desire, but can’t yet have, on a wish list for a later date. When all the pieces are finally in place, you will have a considered, bespoke and coherent outcome that suits your brief, your lifestyle and your home.
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