If you're hanging around this blog, we must share a love for beautiful and functional interiors loaded with unique personality. Ever wonder how those spaces come to be? We're breaking down our tried and true design process into 10 practical steps you can follow to pull your ideas together and create a home that brings you joy.
Great designs are built upon captivating inspiration, so if you haven't already, check out our tips for sourcing inspiration first to spark your creativity and jump start this design process!
1. FIND YOUR MUSE
Tap into the things that bring you joy. As designers, we design spaces for our clients (not us!) so it is essential that we get to know the homeowners and what brings them joy. We ask our clients (and you can ask yourself) questions like -- "What do you like to do?" "What are your interests?" "How do you entertain?" "Do you cook a lot?" "Do you have young kids and want surfaces that are bomber-proof?" "What is it that really brings you joy?" Those are the things that we continue going back to in our design process to stay true to who our clients are.
BONUS TIP: A space that works for what you want it to work for is sure to bring you more joy than one that isn't set up for its use. So while you're writing that list of things you love, be sure to include how you use the space or how you want to use the space. Homes can look beautiful in a photo, but it's the ease of function that brings the real sense of luxury to life.
2. DEFINE YOUR STYLE
What is the look and feel you want for your space? What styles are you drawn to? Some people know these answers before they look for inspiration and collect specific images true to that style. Others might not know (which is totally fine!) and it will take collecting images they love to determine a common theme throughout.
It's important to remember that you don't need to limit your style to one defined name! In fact, we encourage you not to. We are very eclectic designers meaning that we borrow trends from one style, mix them with elements of another and don't always follow all the rules. This keeps the overall design unique and timeless as some trends come and go. When there's a collection of styles in one space, the design isn't relying on one fad to keep it cool.
3. COLLECT YOUR VISION
We are visual people and most of our clients are too, so sharing and discussing imagery is an essential part of our communication. Whether you're working with a professional, your spouse or on your own, visioning helps move your thoughts along to what you want a space to look and feel like.
Collect images from anywhere you find inspiration (we find ours here!) to show styles and details you're drawn to. What you don't like can be just as important as what you do, so save photos you're not crazy about too to hone in on what you really love.
DIGITAL VISION BOARD
PHYSICAL PIN BOARD
Gather these photos in one place to begin comparing and organizing your ideas. Pinterest boards, desktop folders, three-ring binders and physical pin boards are all great places to see your images together.
With your favorite images, create vision boards to begin grasping a sense of what the space will be. In addition to photos of specific furnishings or materials you want to incorporate, include imagery of potential layouts for a sense of how the space will be used and lifestyle shots to bring you back to your muse. There's a reason "vision boards" are also known as "mood boards" -- what you see is equally important to how you feel!
These boards can be physical foam or cork boards with printed photos and magazine clippings or created digitally on softwares like Microsoft PowerPoint or Adobe Photoshop. In our studio, we bring out giant foam boards to move around all our pinned ideas, but in this season of working from home we've sharpened our computer skills to bring our clients a more tech-savvy approach.
BONUS TIP: Stay organized throughout the process by keeping your inspiration, visioning, floor plans, tearsheets, invoices and communication in one place. We use three-ring binders for each client and sort all of our paperwork by room. Digital slideshows and desktop folders are a great alternative and are often used in conjunction with the binder.
4. UNDERSTAND SPACE + SCALE
The size and scale of the furnishings and decor you bring in are just as important as the style. The most incredible ideas can turn out to be a total flop if they're too big or too small in relation to their surroundings. Choosing pieces that fill the space correctly will create a sense of balance instead of chaos, clutter or disconnect.
Start with well-thought-out floor plans to determine the dimensions that fit best in your furniture layout (think horizontal spacing). Pair these with elevations to determine the ideal size and spacing of wall details and light fixtures (think vertical spacing). Keep in mind adequate room for walk ways so you're not side stepping through a maze of furniture, and pay attention to appropriate heights for light fixtures so you don't bump your head on the chandelier when you stand up from the dinner table.
Thorough space planning is a crucial part to design and a huge perk for hiring a professional. Interior designers have the software and experience to create proper drawings and analyze them for adjustments on site. There are also apps and resources available for personal use if you're up for the geometric challenge!
5. PULL + CULL YOUR OPTIONS
Now that you've determined the styles and sizes that work for your space, it's time to narrow down to the actual products you will purchase. Start eliminating the styles, sizes, colors, price points and lead times that don't work for your project, and focus on selecting your favorite out of the ones that do. This step creates character in your design because you're actually choosing the materials and silhouettes that will be on display in your space.
6. VARY YOUR FABRICS
FABRIC MEMOS IN THE OFFICE
FABRIC SELECTIONS IN A DIGITAL PRESENTATION
If you're familiar with our projects you'll notice that our designs at Blackband are fabric-driven. Wendy is a self-proclaimed fabric junkie "ensconced in velvet" (a Seinfeld fan too!) and gathers a lot of her inspiration foraging through our collection of fabric memos. An entire wall of our studio is made up of baskets full of fabric samples sorted by color -- we're talking thousands of fabrics! Our team spends a great deal of time nurturing relationships with our fabric reps and fabric mills, big and small, all over the world to bring cool new finds to our clients that make their spaces unique.
The colors, patterns and textures of these fabrics add a vast amount of depth to our designs. From upholstered and slipcovered furnishings to pillows and window treatments, fabric takes up a lot of real estate in a home and can literally make a space feel right.
We're always looking for a mix of weaves and styles in our fabric selections to keep our designs interesting. In this pillow styling post, we've included many tips for mixing and matching fabrics in your home that ring true for more than just pillows.
7. CHOOSE YOUR FINAL SELECTIONS
Now that you have a pretty clear idea of what you want, arrange your number one picks on a board (physical or digital) to see how they all work with each other. This will help you to really pull the concept together and spot details that you didn't notice when looking at the pieces individually.
8. SHOP, EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT
Now it's time to shop! You can "add to cart" those pieces you've been eyeing knowing confidently that they'll work in your design and your space plan. Have fun with this step and look outside the general furniture store options. Adding pieces from flea markets, online vendors, Etsy shops and local carpenters can diversify your home to reflect your personality and elevate it from mainstream style.
BONUS TIP: Hiring a designer to shop with or for you has its perks. Designers have access to both wholesale and retail sellers multiplying the options available to you. As full-service interior designers, we handle all the sourcing, shopping, ordering, communicating, receiving and installing for our clients to streamline the process.
9. INSTALL IT ALL
Installation day is undoubtedly Wendy's favorite part of the process and most people involved in these projects would likely agree! We store all of the purchased goods in our warehouse until the home is move-in ready which makes for a grand reveal moment at the end for the homeowners (and us too).
Installation days are a cumulation of all the hard work that's gone into the project for months or even years. Getting to see everything come together is hugely satisfying, not only for us as designers, but also for our clients who have spent a lot of time, money and resources in making their home special. It's an emotional journey working on spaces that are so personal to our clients so these days involve a lot of smiles and laughs as well as some tears of joy and relief. Most install days end with a well-deserved cocktail to celebrate!
10. LEAN INTO NOSTALGIA
JUDITH'S HOME LIBRARY (WENDY'S MOM)
BLACKBAND FAMILY HOME
Coming around full circle in our process, we remind our clients and ourselves to keep it personal. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. When it comes to styling your space with the finishing touches, choose the items that make you and your home happy.
For Wendy, it's cookbooks, travel magazines and photo albums on her coffee table that remind her of the sweet memories she's made and spark inspiring conversations when entertaining. Pictured above is her dining nook that features beautiful fabrics and textures that Wendy loves and the color plum -- a personal favorite that she "couldn't sell into any projects so she did it herself."
Wendy's mother Judith has an incredible home library that is also a testament to what it means to "lean into nostalgia." Judith is an artist, world-traveler, professor of design and very well-read. Her home reflects who she is through the sculptures, maps, travel logs, photos and collections of books that she displays.
Homes are all about YOU and that's what we hope you will focus on. There are endless resources and an abundance of information at our fingertips to make the "right" home design decisions, but your unique perspective is the key to making the "perfect" home for you!
What other questions do you have about design? Let us know in the comments below and you just might spark our next blog topic!