Where Do I Start?

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 4:55 PM

Almost without exception, the first question I get asked as an interior designer is: "Where do I start?"

Creating an extraordinary living space is something like cooking a gourmet meal; before you can add the last elements that are going to distinguish your creation from anyone else's, you've got to start with the basic foundations. Don't get caught up on the chocolate shavings that will top your cake before you cut the butter properly into the flour mixture.

What are the foundations for a beautiful home? I imagine that every designer has their own personal formula, but for me, the place to start is with COLOR. 

They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and I've come to take this phrase pretty literally. Have you ever noticed how no two people have the same identical eye color? This is pretty indicative of the diversity of the responses people have to color. I've wondered if there is literally something in their eye that influences the way they see it. 

Things can get pretty challenging when family members don't see "eye-to-eye" about what colors they would like to see in their home. He may love blue (which shade?), and she may love red, while they each abhor the other's choice. A color may drive one person out of the room, while it invites another in. 

The goal of a good designer is to find what works for each individual, and bring the elements together to create an environment where everyone thrives. I use a personality test when I first meet with clients; it surprises some of them at first, but in just a few minutes, they get the reason for the process. I need to know how each person wants to feel when they are in each room of the home: energized, relaxed, stimulated, meditative, etc., and then I need to knowwhat components contribute to that state for each of the people involved. Color is always at the top of my list when I'm measuring out those components. I'll share more about what goes into my list in another post.

I derive true pleasure out of creating an environment that reflects the individuals who live there, a space as unique as, well, their individual eye color. When there are four or more sets of eyes, the challenge becomes more exciting! I recently had the opportunity to work with 6 children and their parents, as we created individual spaces for them within their new home. I listened carefully to each person (or parent) as they explained about what really mattered to them; how they liked to spend their time, what excited them, and yes, what colors they liked. The result is pictured below. It is a work in progress, but this is the initial response to the fabrics and wall color (painted) I chose for two sisters who will be sharing the same room:


Sherwin Williams' Hearts of Palm green may not be your color, but these two girls feel like I read their minds. Their parents think that that is what matters: Rachel and Sarah will have a room as lively and magical as they are. 

Color: "it's all in the eye of the beholder," and it is the perfect place to start when designing a home.