We are always fascinated by the design process of furnishing experts. Not surprisingly, many of them have very defined steps that they take whenever they start a new project.
Today we share interior design secrets with California-based designer Chris Barrett, who tells us how she transforms a client’s blank canvas into an elegant yet accessible space.
“When designing a home, you may want to create an elegant space without knowing how to achieve that goal,” says Chris. “The days when a room was filled with beautiful antiques and artwork are being replaced with a more curated view that combines comfort and style. An eclectic combination of traditional and modern concepts can be a difficult balance to strike.
“Achieving elegance with an accessible look has long been an important mantra when working with my Southern California design team. Whether a project is in New York, Florida or the Pacific Palisades, clients come to me for my ability to create beautiful, sophisticated interiors. In order to achieve this goal in my design process, I pay attention to the following points.’
1. Decide how you want the space to feel
“At the beginning of the design process, first imagine an empty space. Then think about how you want the space to feel. Imagine a room shared with your friends and family – perhaps enjoying martinis in elegant seating or preferring to settle on the sofa and put your feet up? Sophistication and elegance can exist in both spaces – you decide how you want to live.’
2. Knowing which finishes to prioritize
“By changing the existing surfaces in a room, you start creating your palette. This will be the base that you will use as a guide for the upcoming layers of furnishings and decor items.
“Think about what really needs updating. Does a wooden floor have to be treated afterwards? Is there a fireplace surround from the eighties that calls for an update? Now it’s time to strip the plaster and bring your home back from the tired trends of the past.’
3. Find the center of the room
Create a focal point
It’s not an uncommon concept that creating a focal point in a room can be important. A fireplace or a special piece of art are often the ideal candidates. Sometimes the subject may not be in the room at all. A nice view of the garden might be a better choice. If you’re trying to highlight a view, consider how you’ll frame the window. A floor to ceiling curtain can not only draw your attention to the view but add height to your space.
4. Know what to keep – and what not
“It’s not an uncommon notion that creating a focal point in a space can be important. A fireplace or a special piece of art are often the ideal candidates.
“Sometimes the subject may not even be in the room. A nice view of the garden might be a better choice.
“If you’re trying to emphasize a view, think about how you frame the window. A floor to ceiling curtain can not only draw your attention to the view but add height to your space.’
5. Begin applying color and texture
“Once I’ve settled on the basics, my next step is often to start with a rug. In a calm monochromatic room, this can invite a coarsely textured sisal or wool. For a fun, livelier interior, a rug with color accents is an excellent place to start.
“Remember to mix your wood finishes, they should complement each other but not all go together.
“When choosing fabrics, a mix of texture and pattern is key. Consider forgoing the matching throw pillows and layering cushions in a variety of sizes and fabrics, this will elevate a simple, neatly lined sofa to an elegant display.
6. Introduce lighting
“The last and often underestimated element in an elegant space is the lighting. To flood the room with nothing but a ceiling light and a table lamp, you may be missing the boat. Ambient lighting of a work of art can make it sing. Think of dimmers on each device.
“Think about how you would need the space to function. Creating a work, play or party room atmosphere is a function of lighting. The general lighting can be good for solving a puzzle or reading, but remember that same space provides an intimate area to share a glass of wine with a loved one.”