Successful Spaces2: Choosing Furniture

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We are continuing our series, Successful Spaces, this week with a look at choosing furniture.  Once you have drawn your floor plan and selected your color scheme it is time for you to start thinking furnishings.

Before you can begin choosing furniture you must take a few things into account.  For example:

Scale- Be aware of the scale of the room with which you are working and the scale of the furniture you would like to have.  An oversized sofa may have caught your eye, but if you are working with a smaller space you will regret your choice every time you stub your toe.  Likewise, very low-slung pieces may be inappropriate for rooms with very high ceilings.  Some of this is math and science; some of it is personal choice.

Proportion- Consider the dimensions of the other pieces in the overall room.  This includes built-ins and windows.  Pay particular attention to the relationship of the pieces to each other.  Short modern furniture may not be proportionately appropriate with taller storage pieces.

Mood- You will need to decide if the pieces speak to each other in a harmonious way.  Do not confuse this with having things that match.  In fact, I strongly discourage matching.  The key to a stylish home is creating a space that is filled with things that look as though they could tell the story of your life over the years.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you keep everything over the years.  It merely means that when you purchase everything from the current “home store du jour” your home doesn’t look like your home… it looks like Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel, etc.  Instead, fill your home with pieces from a variety of places and include personal treasures.  Include something homemade or handmade, something given to you by a child, or an interesting find from nature.

Now, if you have existing pieces that must be included in the overall scheme, be sure to place photos of them in your design notebook or storyboard.  Remember to consider the mood of the room and decide if that piece of furniture is consistent with your overall goal.  You might have inherited a lovely grandfather clock from your grandfather, but if it looks out of place with the rest of your room, it will always look out of place with the rest of your room.  You may have to make some tough decisions.  Be prepared.

When you are ready to go shopping be prepared to invest some time.  These can be some of the biggest purchases in your home.  Don’t take it lightly.  You may wish to do some homework ahead of time by searching the Web for styles/stores you know you will shop.  I cannot stress enough… choose quality.  And to that end, let me be clear that price tag does not always equal quality.  I have seen some very expensive furniture that is no better constructed than some very inexpensive furniture.  Choose the best quality you can comfortablly afford that still meets the overall strategy of the room.

It is important to note that in today’s modern home mixing styles is perfectly acceptable.  Beyond scale and proportion what is more important is that you love the things that surround you.  If you love a Barcelona chair, but want to have it in a room with a Victorian settee, I might do it provided the mood of the overall room can handle it.  This will largely depend, again, on personal preference.

Speaking of living with things you love, I must mention my sincere aversion to “showroom spaces” in your home.  By this, I mean the room where nobody is allowed unless it is a holiday and everything is perfectly placed and priceless.  My aunt had one of these rooms and the only time anyone was allowed in it was when they were cleaning it… just to not be used.  Homes are too expensive to not enjoy the whole thing.  Create spaces where everyone who lives there can truly feel “at home”.

Successful spaces rely on sound furniture choices.  While that may not be the same for everyone, some simple rules apply to all.  There is much to consider when making these important design decisions.  The process can be tiring.  Take your time and choose wisely.  And by all means, pick at least one sofa that is good for napping.

savour... curling up in a comfy chair