Have you ever purchased furnishings or decor that you loved in the store, and when you brought it home it just didn’t quite achieve what you had in mind? Or you attempt to replicate the design styles in your favorite inspirational photos and it doesn’t quite work? It might not actually be the decor. Instead it could be that the decor doesn’t fit the space’s overall style.
Here’s where I can’t stress enough the importance of a space’s shell when designing or redecorating a room. What does the shell consist of? To me it’s the floors, walls, and lighting. Walls include the ceiling. Lighting includes windows, natural light, and fixed lighting (i.e. recessed lights and not lamps), or lack thereof. It’s like having a good foundation or having good bones. Just like styles of clothes flatter people differently because of different body types, furnishings and decor will look different in different styles of spaces.
We may sometimes underestimate the importance of a room’s shell because we focus on the fun stuff like the furniture, the decor, and the accessories. But the floors, walls, and ceiling are the biggest surfaces in the room, and they proportionally take up the most visual space. So it’s really important we give them some thought when we are designing a room and budget for them.
Here are a few tips to consider before making any decor purchases:
- Completely empty the room out of all furnishings and then take an assessment of the space. Though not the easiest to do, it will help you see the room without the distractions of what’s in it or the furniture you dislike and want to replace. This will enable you to see more possibilities or also see what investments you may need to make to the room’s shell to achieve your vision.
- Study the inspiration photos you gravitate towards. Take notice of the similarities in the room’s shell. Then take a look at your space. Does it have similar characteristics? If not, what would you have to do to the room to get it there? Change out the flooring? Paint the walls a different color (don’t forget the ceiling!)? Add more hard-wired lighting? Open a wall or add a window? Build this into your design plan and budget.
- Embrace the elements of the room that you can’t change or don’t have the budget to change. Some examples:
If you have a room with soaring ceilings, big windows, or a lot of natural light (may we all be so lucky), why cover them up with curtains? Don’t try to turn that room into a cozy, dark TV den. Instead, go bare. I’m really digging bare windows right now. If you have privacy concerns think of it this way: your neighbors do to. The more you have your windows open the more they will cover up theirs.
The opposite is true as well. If you have a room with one teeny window and it’s dark all the time, don’t try to emulate loft living or white on white scandinavian design. It will only emphasize how dark the room is. Instead, try painting the walls dark and turning it into a romantic and mysterious space.
Do you have an open floor plan but love a distinct, formal dining room? If you can’t add walls or doors try separating spaces with rugs and your furniture layout.
(Image source: HGTV)
Do you have a brick wall? Don’t try to hide it. Make it your accent wall or focal point!
(Image source: The Everygirl)
Do you have less than desirable wall-to-wall carpet you can’t replace? Layer a rug over it. Just remember to treat it the same way you would putting a rug over hard floors. Get the appropriate size and use the appropriate rug pad.
(Image source: Oh Joy!)
All those beautiful photos and pins you see of perfectly put together rooms? They definitely thought about every detail, every finish, and every surface from the ground up. Giving your room’s shell some attention will definitely help you design a more cohesive space and achieve your vision.