Do you have a room in your home that has you feeling “stuck?”
When a client calls me, it’s usually because they’re stuck and afraid to make big decisions. I like to take the following steps whenever confronted with a challenging room.
Step 1: Make a list of what bothers you the most
Take a moment to ask yourself if there are things in the room that you already know aren’t working for you. Then, put away most of your accessories. Paring a room down to its essentials encourages you to look at the space in a new light.
Step 2: Study rooms you love for ideas
Whenever I’m having trouble with a room, I start looking through interior design books and magazines or Instagram for inspiration. A piece of artwork, a fabric pattern, or something from nature can also sometimes give me an idea for a color scheme. In one project, the client asked me to use six fabric panels she inherited from her mother. The purple, green, and black colors on the panels made them challenging to work with, but they also helped define the colors for the rest of the room.
Step 3: Experiment with pieces you already own
Before you go out to shop for your home, try “shopping at home” first. Take items from other rooms and put them in the blank areas of your problem room. Also, don’t be afraid to rearrange furniture into new configurations. After moving furniture around, you should be able to figure out what you can work with and what will need to be replaced, repainted, or reupholstered.
Step 4: Identify your unique style
Sometimes when a room isn’t coming together, it’s because it is filled with heirlooms from different design eras. Now’s the time to decide on what to edit out and what style you want to aim for, then buy items that fit consistently into it. Generally, if you’re going to invest in a new anchor piece, it should be timeless — preferably in a neutral color.
If you’re still having trouble getting your room to look perfect, the next step is to bring in a fresh set of eyes. As a designer, I enjoy working with my clients’ most challenging rooms. Designing a room is like solving a three-dimensional puzzle, and challenging circumstances often result in the most memorable room in the house.
Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at chambersinteriors.com/blog.