Common Interior Design Questions Answered

Posted by Meredith Willoughby on

What size rug do I need? Is a sectional better than a sofa? How do I choose the right size chandelier? We asked our interior designers to weigh-in on questions they are commonly asked and we are sharing their best design advice! 

Question: Where do I start to make my room what I want? There are too many choices and it's too overwhelming. 

Answer: I like to start with something that inspires me. Sometimes I find a fabric that catches my attention, or I just like something about a certain color – or the mood it portrays. That piece of inspiration will guide me through the next step, and then the next, always referring back to it for guidance. Starting with the largest pieces first, I like to layer the room with textures and color derived from that original inspiration. If you stay focused the decisions actually become easier and the room falls into place.

Question: I already have blinds on my windows. They work just fine. Why would I want to add additional drapery treatments?

Answer: In most cases, blinds and shades are a great solution for your windows. They offer light control and privacy. When you consider the window as an important element in the room, as being part of the whole picture, it can become as important as the upholstered sofa or chair. Top treatments or side panels can be used to balance the room, add height where needed, and redirect or create a focal point. Fabrics can bring that needed color and texture to complete that truly beautiful room.

Question: What size rug should I place in my foyer?

Answer: The first rug you see in a home sets the tone. You should be sure that the rug is in balance with the space – allowing two to three feet of wood or tile to show on at least two sides of the rug. Round shapes or octagon shapes can add interest and offer a dramatic effect; especially with a beautiful lighting fixture or chandelier. Most foyers will benefit from a rug that is strong in presence.

Question: How do I size a chandelier for my dining room?

Answer: Are you ready for some math? Add the length and width of your room (ex. 15’ x 15’ = 30’). Then convert to inches (ex. 30”) and there you have your diameter that will be proportionate to the room.

Extra tip: Make sure your dining table is at least 12” wider than the diameter of the light fixture. For example, in the above equation the table should be at least 42” wide so there is a 6” clearance from the edges. This way folks don’t hit their head when getting up and out of their chairs.

Question: We’re thinking about a sectional for our room. We’ve always had a sofa, loveseat, and chair and we want to try something different. Would a sectional be better?

Answer: There is usually no simple answer to this. Allow me to ask a few follow-up questions first. What shape is the room? I then start sketching and get the shape, placement of windows, doorways, surrounding areas, determine traffic flow, etc. Who uses this room? What takes place in this room? Watching TV? Entertaining? Playing games? When you are watching TV, do you prefer to lie down or sit up? How many of you watch TV at the same time? When you entertain, how many people would you like to be able to seat? Essentially, I gather information to help determine if a sectional would be better, or if the way they’ve always laid out the room is just fine. Maybe what they really crave is an update of the look of the room. It’s possible that some new fresh colors, a new rug/flooring, window treatments, accessories, etc. will satisfy their need for something different. Through sketching the floorplan, I can show them the advantages and disadvantages to a sectional versus other possible arrangements and uncover their real needs and desires.

Question: I just paid to put hardwood flooring down, why would I want to cover it up with an area rug?

Answer: A rug is very important in a room and often the first thing I choose when designing a new space.  I consider the hardwood floor to be the background.  Similar to when an artist would wash in the background on a blank canvas prior to filling in all the details of a painting.  The rug serves to connect the dots in a seating area, making everyone feel part of the conversation.  Under a table and chairs it will tend to warm up the area and separate the wood table and chairs from the wood floor.  The other great reality is that an area rug can be as simple as a bound sisal rug, which would be very casual or a silk oriental which could be very formal.

Question: What can I use under my flat screen other than an entertainment console?

Answer: The answer to this question depends on a number of things. First, we need to know what A/V components, if any, they have and the type of speaker system that they use. Second, what flexibility is there for the placement of the components. A small cable box or a speaker bar can be fairly unobtrusive and not necessarily limit the possibilities If there are more components, bookcases with cabinet bases on either side of a fireplace or a closet can be convenient places to place these excess components. If there isn’t another location we can find a great looking cabinet with solid doors. It all depends on the style of the room and the client’s taste in furniture. Height is an important issue here. Typically, I would shoot for between 36” to 42”; depending on the size of the flat screen, height of the wall, and viewing distance. The cabinetry should be wider than the flat screen by at least four inches on either side. The simpler the application, the more options we have. We can go to a simple console, preferably with shelves; a flip-top table, or a shallow bookcase. The larger the screen, the more weight the base should have.

 

Do you have design questions that remain unanswered? Feel free to post your question and we'll make sure one of our design experts answers it for you! 

Are you ready to work with one of our designers? They are here to help you! Learn about our design services and more about each one of our interior designers and their complimentary design services they offer here!

 


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