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Technique >> Tips to assess a room

Screenshot 2015-01-27 12.58.18When I start working with a new client it's often because they cannot decide where to start on a project. They know what they like and do not. They may have seen a few design elements or furnishings they love, but the process of deciding what to do next gets overwhelming.

Inspiration definitely figures in when deciding how to approach the design of a space, but there are also things that I do every. time. I go to a consultation appointment.

Great spaces are as much about a disciplined approach to design as they are about big ideas. Here are the tips to assess a room and the five things I am looking at when I advise clients how to proceed.

1/ Lifestyle

I ask a lot of questions about who lives there and what they like and need to do on any given day. What does their home need to support? What do they wish could happen, but are not set up to do?

I am also very specific. If a client likes to host parties, I want to know the average number of guests and whether it’s sit down or buffet. Those details change everything about what is suitable for that client.

They also make it possible to set an objective for the design so that everyone is working to the same goal.

2/ Layout

The shape and configuration of the rooms or room we are considering is also very important.

I am looking for traffic flow, scale, storage opportunities and view corridors. The layout also tells me important things about how sound flows through the home and the way the spaces currently — or could — flow together.

3/ Features

Most homes have existing architectural features and finishes that can lead the design, unless we are starting from plans.

I always note the details of these features such as window style, trims, flooring, railings and any existing millwork. The scale of these features is also important.

When I have a good understanding of what currently exists, I can make recommendations that will let any new design elements flow together to give a cohesive look, or what needs to change if a client wants a new direction.

4/ Materials

This is an important factor, but probably the least important because usually it’s easiest to change.

If a client has specific pieces of furniture, art or decor that they love, it’s important for me to know so we can make a plan for them.

I note the fabric, colour, size, metals, woods or stone that is in the space so that it can be repeated, amplified or downplayed as required.

5/ Lighting

One thing many clients overlook is the type and direction of their lighting. I am watching for access to natural light and direction (i.e. north, south, east, west), ambient lighting and task lighting. This is so important because it sets the tone and mood in a room.

Once all of these elements have been considered I can make recommendations on what to do in a space so that it flows together, makes a client feel at home and looks amazing.