When it comes to home design, I think a lot of people focus on the actual knocking down of walls or the installation of kitchen islands. Big, loud, bold construction changes. Those are the building blocks of a renovation, and everybody can picture themselves swinging a sledgehammer and banging on drywall. But what connection does that have with the way a finished room feels when you enter it? I’d argue that the way you furnish a room is more impactful at the end of the day. And, in my opinion, there are three necessary elements of finishing your home design. They are textiles, accessories, and furniture. How you use those three elements will tell a story about how you want to live and how you want your house to look.
Textiles – More Than Just Yarn and Fabric
When I say textiles, I’m talking about fabrics, wallpaper, linens, and towels. These are the little things that make your house feel like your own, instead of a page out of a magazine.
I love it when people visit my wife, Bobbi, and me, and we take our guests on a home design tour of our house. I can go on and on about why we chose a particular pillow for the couch or a specific carpet for the dining room. To me, it’s the use of textiles that makes a room come alive and feel lived in. One of my favorite textile tips is to use wallpaper. I think it’s an affordable alternative to expensive art. It really livens up drab walls and adds great texture and warmth.
Bonus tip: Design your own wallpaper for an added layer of personalization. Some websites allow you to upload your own art or pictures!
On my home tours, I usually show the bedroom last – because, to me, it’s the most important room. Rest is crucial and everyone should have a comfortable night’s sleep. I spent a lot of time picking out our mattress and bedding and I love them. You should love yours, too, even if it leads to too-long house tours while your wife rolls her eyes.
Accessories – They Make Everything Better
Accessories like throw pillows, plants, bowls, and door handles are like a really nice watch. Sure, your suit will still look great without it, but your outfit just looks more complete with it around your wrist. And just like your watch, accessories don’t have to be expensive to look distinctive and mean something to you. Accessories are your opportunity to be unexpected and exciting. I don’t know about you, but I like my house to be fun and interesting to look at and live in.
When we were decorating our home in Chicago, Bobbi and I chose kitchen door handles and knobs in several unique but complementary styles. They’re made from different types of metals and would probably not make sense if you saw them on their own. But now that they’re installed, everyone loves them and we’re glad we didn’t play it safe. We had fun with that element of our home design, and now it’s like an unexpected treat every time we walk into the kitchen and see them there.
Furniture – If Your House Is a Song, Furniture Is The Chorus
Furniture is the first thing you notice when you walk into a room. Why? I think it’s because it’s the most functional. Rooms have to look good, but they also have to be functional. Take a couch as an example. It has to fit the style of the room and the house. It has to hold up to lots of different people sitting on it. It has to fit your particular layout, or else the room is going to feel crowded. If your house is a song, furniture is the chorus. It’s the thing that hooks people, and it’s what people remember later on.
What works for you may not work for other people, and that’s a fantastic thing. I would advise anyone who is renovating to not just copy a page out of a magazine or something you saw on TV. Instead, try being inspired by things that interest you. I love traveling and taking pictures of great chairs, tables, bookshelves, and dressers. Then, I take bits and pieces of these elements and try to create my own version of the overall feel. I use furniture to tell a story. A bold piece such as a vibrantly colored chair or a vintage dining room table can transform a room instantly and really make a statement.
Quality isn’t always expensive. I want people to spend money on things that make them happy. As long as you have a clear home design goal, it doesn’t matter if your items are imported from Paris or purchased at the local big box store.
- A room should have a theme. I’m not talking about safari-themed living rooms, but if that’s your thing, go for it. Choose a design and intentionally seek out textiles, accessories, and furniture that fit. Design for yourself and your family.
- Use a mood board. And use it often! When I build mood boards, I put layer after layer of things on there. I’ll have cutouts of dozens of couches, lamp choices, throws, and every other thing to swap out, cross-compare, and visualize in my space.
- Make sure each room fits in the bigger picture. I call this transitional home design. Each room should have a theme, but they should work in harmony. You may be limited by your home’s structure, but sometimes limitations can make us more creative.
Design Is Your Chance To Tell a Story
Every story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Home design has three parts, too: textiles, accessories, and furniture. Through these elements, you have an opportunity to tell a story to every person you lead on a guided tour of your house. If you have a clear, cohesive vision for each room, and make conscious, deliberate choices, then you won’t even have to say anything. Your design will tell the story for you.