Design-Challenged? Go From Blah to Hurrah on Your Terms

Design-Challenged? Go From Blah to Hurrah on Your Terms

A designer friend of mine lives by the motto, “White is not a colour, it is a canvas waiting to be explored,” if you saw her home you would agree without hesitation. It is a plethora of rich colours and styles integrating and working off one another to create a beautiful living space. Her rooms breathe panache thanks to imported furniture, tasteful accessories and a keen sense of who she is.

Sadly, not everyone can do what she does without turning their home into a visual assault on the eyes. Her look is successful due in part to her refusal to live by seasonal trends or dare I say, by what the “experts” say we should be doing. You know those words and phrases we kind of understand but still need to Google? Flow. Pop. Accent. Inspiration. Focal point. Statement. Room palette. The list is endless and quite frankly at the end of the day, utterly useless. Why? Because if you do not know your personal style, there is no way you will be able to give your home a personal look and feel.

So what to do about those of us who are somewhat design-challenged? Most would say, “hire an interior designer,” and some do, but that would only be living in someone’s version of what they think your home should look like. Rest assured there is a happy medium; it’s called listening to that little voice inside your head that goes off whenever you see something that catches your eye.

Define your style

There is no shortage of chic ideas. It seems just as we are settling down with one style, another is revisited causing design divas to put down their lattes and pick up the panache pace. You can try to keep up or maintain a balance — I would opt for the latter, your sanity and pocketbook will thank you in the long run.

The savviest way to loving your home is by figuring out what you would love to see in your home. Whether it is traditional, urban, contemporary, eco-design, eclectic or period design, you don’t have to pick one and run with it. But you can start from there by incorporating major pieces of furniture and working around them. There is no time limit to design. Some people take their time perfecting their rooms or finding the right pieces to pull a room together.

Get inspired

There is an abundance of ideas on the Internet and in magazines to get the creative juices flowing. If seeing is believing, consider visiting model homes at new home builds or open houses. Sometimes (and I say that cautiously because no one should pull their entire design scheme from one source), but sometimes garage sales, flea markets and second-hand stores can have that one-off item you have been looking for. With a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease, some of these items can be given a second chance with a fresh coat of paint, new fabric or simple accessories. Home shows are a wealth of information showcasing everything from design concepts to renovating ideas for both your home’s interior and exterior. These shows also provide visitors with a lot of hands-on specifics and professionals willing to give your their expertise in return for your time.

Colour blinding

It goes without saying some colours are not meant to be on every wall in a home. (Think green, pink, blue, gold, grey or any of those colours that make for excellent feature walls, but are otherwise too overwhelming.) And if you find the selection too overwhelming or the current trendy colours not your taste, there is always an easy and effective alternative; paint is basic beige and incorporate colour from there.

Do not listen to “style-experts” who try to tell you how much you need coloured to make a room “pop.” (Not everyone is looking for pop.) While there is some truth that colour is necessary, it’s not the Bible of Home Design 101. Beige, white or off-white have been and always will be classic home colours. The key to making them work in a room, on a wall or throughout your home is to pair them with complimentary colours and accents like curtains, rugs, throws and/or artwork. Personally, there is nothing classier than a beige wall with black-framed family pictures either hanging on the wall or equal amounts of identical frames placed in three or four rows on top of black shelves. If frames are not your thing, you can always opt for a beautiful tapestry or pieces of artwork.

Take a chance

You never know how something is going to look until you bring it through your front door. Sometimes your purchase is bang on and works well, while other times it’s a miss blamed on a poor or impulsive sale. Either way, it is always smart to find out what the return policy is on an item in case it does not suit your home.

Once you have established what happens if you have buyer’s remorse, do not be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. That one item you have been eyeing may be the key to establishing a room’s theme. As long as it is what you want, you can’t be wrong.

Second opinions

If you just can’t get inspired or are unsure of your choices, bring a friend for backup. Sometimes a second opinion can save you time, money and aggravation. You can also get an objective view on your potential purchase. A true friend will stop you from buying neon paint, a singing fish or life-size plastic animals.

After all is said and done, have fun. You are the keeper of your domain. Be proud but not prudent, timeless not tacky and comfortable not chaotic.