Your home says a lot about who you are. The things you cherish, collect, and love to display all deserve the best possible setting. Most people with whom I’ve worked have the same goal. They want to have the loveliest and most comfortable home possible, no matter where they live, or what kind of home they inhabit. But before any errors can be fixed, rooms transformed, or new purchases made, I always ask my clients to tell me what their needs and requirements are to help them determine their own priorities.
The Two Most Important Questions
1) Do You Own or Rent?
This is a simple yet vital question when it comes to establishing your priorities. In my capacity as a consultant, it immediately determines the app roach I will take with a client, and it should help you in setting your own parameters as well.
If you are like most people who rent, you are not interested in investing in, and making substantial changes to, someone else’s property. You are looking for simple and inexpensive ways to make your living space as pleasant and functional as your budget allows. The Use-What-You-Have approach is ideal, because it allows you to maximize what you already own without making major expenditures.
If you own your home, whether it be a co-op. condo, or private house, you may very well want to invest more time and money in it. But, almost everyone has to work within a budget and wants to spend their money wisely. Use-What-You-Have decorating not only shows you how to do more for less, but how to get the best value for your money.
Or, you may be at the point of wanting or needing to sell your property. You are looking for a quick redo that will make a big impression on potential buyers. In just an hour or so, you can transform your home with the Use- What-You-Have principles.
2) Who Lives Here?
If you are a single person embarking on a new career, your needs will differ from those of a couple with a new baby. If your family consists of two adults and three children, your requirements will not be the same as those of a retired couple who have sold their big family home and moved into a much smaller condo.
If you love to entertain, your home needs to accommodate your lifestyle. Rooms may need to do double duty; furniture has to serve multiple purposes. If you travel a lot, either for business or pleasure, you want to come back to a tranquil, restful, and low-maintenance home.
Your Priority Questionnaire:
Whatever your situation may be, nothing should be done randomly. Starting with this simple questionnaire will help you determine what’s most important to you and how to achieve your goals.
1. Do you rent or own your home?
2. How many people inhabit the space?
3. Do you have children? How old are they? Where do they do their homework?
4. How long do you expect to live there?
5. What kind of work do you do?
6. What kind 01 work does your partner or spouse do?
7. Do you or anyone else in your household work at home?
8. Do you have pets? What kind?
9. Do you entertain often? For how many?
10. How large are the main rooms?
11. What are the exposures?
12. How are the rooms used, i.e., do they have multiple functions?
13. How many people use the rooms?
14. What is the condition of the walls and floors?
15. What do you like about your rooms?
16. What are your favorite pieces?
17. What do you dislike about your rooms?
18. What would you like to get rid of?
19. Is there enough storage space?
20. Where are the television, audio equipment, and computer located?
21. How many places are there in your home where you can curl up and read?
22. Are you comfortable?
As you go forward, keep your answers to these questions in mind. They will help you budget and stay focused on your goals.
Whether you own or rent and how long you plan to live in your present home will affect the amount of time and money you should spend. If you rent and plan to move within the next year, don’t spend any money. Be content with moving your furniture around. If you own, however, every change you make can add to the resale value of your home. Remember, the needs of everyone in your household will also impact on the time and money you should spend on your living space. Your kids need a place to roughhouse; your widowed mother needs a place to rest…
Now that you have a clearer picture of what your needs are, let’s go into your living room and take the first step to creating your new home.
Creating a Comfortable Conversation Area
For many of us, the living room is the most important room in the house because it is highly trafficked and multipurpose.
Your living room should be seductive and comfortable. Rather than a showcase to be admired but never used, it should be accessible and cozy, a place of refuge.
For most people, the living room has always been defined by how it looked, instead of how comfortable and functional it was. How many houses do you remember (your own included) that reserved the living room as a museum for the “company” furniture. Or, worse, was it full of furniture covered with plastic to “protect” it? It’s little wonder that so many people approach the task of doing the Living room with such anxiety.
For others, family patterns are in evidence everywhere. For instance, was your father’s favorite chair set off in a corner by itself (where he escaped into his newspaper every night), and does your own living room re-create the same setting? It’s an important observation because it demonstrates one of the key principles in this book: the position of that chair set off in the corner put a screaming distance” between your father and the rest of the family. But equally important, it leads you to ask the question: “Am I doing things in my own home because that’s how they were done when I was growing up?” A family pattern, like history, has a habit of repeating itself, regardless of how uncomfortable, or impractical, it may be.
Today, you get to make your own choices. The dictates of fashion have been overthrown. Of course, there will always be the look” of the moment – retro modern, country cluttered, shabby chic – but the principles of good design are timeless. And the desire for comfort and practicality is paramount.