Start with an Inspiration

If you are looking to embark on a remodeling or redecorating project and lack direction, here is a step-by-step process to get underway.

1.) First, start with what inspires you

What inspires you is probably in your home. Perhaps even in the room you want to transform. Do you have a piece of artwork, an area rug, a treasured accessory, or a hard surface (like a countertop or backsplash) that speaks to you?

Sometimes your inspiration item isn’t in your room. That is okay too. I recently worked with a client in North Portland. Her condo overlooks the St. John’s Bridge and the Willamette River. She wanted a completely new look to her dining room and living room. We found colors that spoke to her on her 2009_04053_20090041balcony. She had lovely handcrafted pottery with blues, aquas, creams and lavenders. She loved the waterscape color palette and the free flow water patterns on the pottery. We noticed the same color palette was on a framed print she displayed above her fireplace. This made it easy to move to step 2.

2.) Select from your inspiration three main colors and at least two neutrals


Going back to an interior design basic, use the thirds rule. In your room select a dominant color, a secondary color and an accent color. You can play with the ratio, but I do find a 60%, 30%, 10% ratio is always pleasing. The neutrals you add will help ground the space and give your eye somewhere to rest when the room is completed. Keep in mind you may already have neutrals in your room to select from in your flooring, surfaces, woodwork and furniture.

3.) Determine your style

What is the style of the inspiration piece you have selected? What is the overall style of the architecture of your room? What is the style of your furnishings? Please keep in mind eclectic isn’t a style. It refers to mixing styles. Is your home traditional, and some of your pieces are contemporary and some have French flair? If so, you have three main styles. I also find that using the thirds rule is also an easy way to make eclectic work. Divide up your styles in a pleasing ratio. To learn more about styles, see this previous blog post.

4.) Select Upholstery and Wall Treatments and Colors

I find clients start with this step first without the direction and help of a professional. If you already have furnishings, window treatments, or a wall color you are interesting in keeping that is okay. My recommendation would be not to start with this step. There are thousands and thousands of wall colors, fabrics and furniture pieces. Why select them first and limit yourself to just items that coordinate with them?

Did you follow step 1-3 and you are ready to move forward to step 4? Great. Your upholstery and wall treatments should support the colors and styles you determined.

A note about selecting wall and upholstery colors. You may find it is more pleasing to coordinate with the colors of your inspiration item and color palette than to exactly match. Try using tints, tones and shades of the colors in your palette. This is a often overlooked design trick. If you aren’t sure what I mean:

Tint = add white

Tone = add gray

Shade = add black

5.) Layout your floor plan

You can visit Bassett Furniture online and use their free layout software courtesy of Icovia. Measure your existing pieces and add any new piece you need to complete the room. Your colors and styles should be divided throughout the room. You also want to pay attention to balancing the furniture in the room.

As always, if you need help with all or any of these steps I know an interior designer in Portland, Oregon who is happy to help you achieve your perfect room.

Curious what we created for my client in North Portland with the above inspiration? I enclosed her personalized design concept of surfaces and colors. Her project is underway following the 1-5 plan above. (Click the image below for a larger view.)surfacesinspiration

Angela Todd Studios For Custom Furnishings

Angela Todd

Owner & Principal Designer

Angela is the principal designer at her boutique interior design firm in Portland, Oregon. She is known for creating memorable backdrops that tell the story of fascinating and intricate lives.

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