One of the most important things to bear in mind when designing any room is to aim to get a balance of aesthetics and practicality. It’s all well and good having a beautifully styled living room but if you don’t have enough storage, or somewhere to put your feet up and a place to rest your cuppa, it’s just not going to work as a home.
I’ve been aware of this more than ever while planning the nursery. Of course I want the room to look beautiful, but I also really want to make sure that I create a fun space for my little boy that gives us everything we need too.
Learning to Compromise
Whilst I make the majority of the design decisions in our house, Chris will always be the one to question whether my plans are sensible and practical and sometimes I feel like I need him to keep me in check! He’s had to do this a few times with our latest project – the nursery. Firstly, I had originally planned a scheme that was very neutral, with just cool greys and whites, but after a bit more thought (and some input from him!) I’ve decided it should have some colour at least. Although I still can’t get enough of this gorgeous, paired back neutral nursery.
The second time he poked his nose in (I mean gave me his opinion!) was when it came to choosing the furniture. I had my heart set on a beautiful mid-century style chest of drawers, which I would style with plants and cute little accessories (inspired by the pic above from @jaginspirerasavdig). However, the ones I found were either the entire budget for the whole room or so small that it would seem we already have too many clothes for him! So not very practical at all. Instead we have opted for a roomy and reasonable but plain style from Mothercare which also doubles up as a changing table. See, I can do sensible sometimes :)
So what are the important things to consider when designing a room? I would say the most obvious and the place I alwasy start is to consider comfort. Obviously the level of comfort depends on the type of room you are designing. In my opinion, sofas and beds should always be chosen for comfort rather than how they look (you can always add an abundance of cushions and throws which tick both style and comfort boxes!). Where as perhaps a bench in a hallway, or extra armchair in a dining room for example can be chosen more for style, as they will be used for their practical purpose far less frequently.
Getting the Best of Both
Secondly, I think we will all agree that storage is incredibly important, in most rooms in the house! If you follow me on Instagram you won’t fail to have missed that we are in the process of re-doing our bathroom (it’s sort of taken over my life at the moment!) One of my concerns is the amount of storage that we have lost. Previously we had a rather ugly but very useful storage cabinet which ran the whole length of one wall, with an equally large wall cabinet to match! The furniture was far too over-powering for the size of the room and frankly just darn ugly so we both agreed it had to go, but I do wonder what we are going to do with all the stuff it hid away nicely? Currently it has been replaced with a much, much smaller, but far more beautiful antique cupboard. How this actually works in every day life is yet to be seen, but I am hoping it will just mean I have to be a little more minimalist with my bathroom products!
Here are some of the mistakes I have made in my house over the last couple of years, and some of the items which purely by luck have turned out to be super practical!
- White Floors in my Kitchen Diner (which is also the room that opens out to the garden where the dog runs in and out every half an hour)! Everyone tried to talk me out of this… “It will show up all the food spills” they said, “you’ll forever be mopping up paw prints”. As it turns out, they were right. Not helped by the fact that there is so much natural light in this room too, the floor just never looks clean. In hindsight, a darker wood would have been much more forgiving!
- The Rustic / Industrial Dining Table. Chris wasn’t sure when I first showed him the dining table. “Won’t the plates all wobble and it be difficult to clean”? Valid questions. But it was far too pretty to let little things like that worry me. In actual fact I find it incredibly practical! Yes it does require a hoover every now and then to remove the crumbs from the grooves, which can feel a little odd, but it feels so nice to not worry about people putting glasses down without a coaster, or the odd spillage here and there. Any marks or stains just add to the charm!
- The Hanging Clothes Rail. When I bought this I had visions of me planning my daily outfits the night before and hanging them on the rail, saving me precious minutes in the morning. In reality, all the clothes that are in-between being clean and needing a wash just get chucked over the rail. The pretty set of pastel hangers I bought for it are well and truly burried and it’s cluttered with plastic hangers from M&S and Topshop – which let’s be honest aren’t as Insta-worthy!
- The Black & Cream Striped Carpet. Again, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the hoo-ha about my hallway carpet. I totally messed up and ordered the wrong colour. However (as these things often have a way of doing) I now feel like it completely worked out for the best! The black and cream stripes hide a multitude of sins! Rather stupidly we had the new carpet fitted a couple of weeks before work on the bathroom began, so you can imagine I was a little concerned about it getting wrecked. But so far it’s holding up ok!
What do you consider first when planning a new project? Is there anything I’ve missed out?