Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What is the value of interior decorating?

Have you ever purchased new furniture for your home, and wondered why, after spending thousands of dollars, does your space still look bland and lifeless?  The reason is that furniture is just one component within a properly decorated space.  In this article, we will identify the actual difference between finished and unfinished spaces, and in turn, the purpose and value of interior decorating.

There are two fundamental aspects to successful design:  Form and Function.  
When you select furniture, Function is typically the first thing on your mind.  Is the sofa comfortable?  Is it the right size for my space?  Will it hold up against dogs and kids?  These details are very important.  For many though, even with the perfect furniture, their room will still have an awkward and unfinished appearance.  This is where "Form" is important.  Interior decorating is the integration of "Form" into the functional space, to create a beautiful and complete look.  Unfortunately, it does require additional costs.  There is the cost of the actual decorative components, and possibly professional design services.

To many, it sounds ridiculous to spend $10,000+ on furniture, and another $6,000+ on decorative accessories.  It seems like a frivolous expense.  The "value" of interior decorating, I have come to find, is not something that can be explained verbally.  It is only after presenting a visual aid that my function-friendly clients can respect the many details involved, and the substantial costs that can be accrued.

To explain, we will first assess photos of "unfinished" rooms (summarizing each), followed by "finished" rooms.
Unfinished Exhibit A
This room is a perfect example of "unfinished".  A couple of couches, a coffee table, a lamp, and a small cabinet.  That's about it.  Does it look welcoming?  Not really.  Does it look beautiful?  Definitely not, at least by designer standards.  There is a low level of contrast between the furniture, wall color, and carpet, which makes it appear dull and washed out.  The pieces are sparse and highly generic in style.  It is functional.  And while it does appear clean and uncluttered, it simply doesn't have that welcoming energy people tend to desire.

Unfinished Exhibit B
This room is a little better.  There is a mirror above the fireplace and a couple knick-knacks.  But it still feels bland and empty.  There is no warmth and the space feels broken up.  An improvement on Exhibit A to be sure, but still not a successfully decorated space.  

Finished Exhibit A
This is a simple and elegant design.  Many argue that they don't need to spend a lot of money on decor because their style is "simple".  But budget is not based on your style.  As you can see in Finished Exhibit A, the "style" is very casual and relaxing, and yet there are several decorative elements that are non-functional.  Such as sheer curtains, wall art, floral arrangements, a sisal rug, accent pillows, a throw blanket, and other decorative accents.  Notice the harmony between these different elements.  The pillows and throw are teal and green, tying in directly with the painting above the fireplace.  The white of the curtains ties in with the white fireplace mantel.  The colors tie together, unifying the space, and making it appear "finished".  There is also contrast that indicates careful designer techniques, such as the warm gray cocktail ottoman.  It doesn't particularly match anything, but it creates a nice contrast in the room, without being too loud.  And the ceiling fixture--while it doesn't directly match anything, adds eclectic charm in a very subtle manner.  This finished room is very "simple", and yet, there were indeed accessory costs to complete it, and most likely costs for a professional designer to compose it.

Finished Exhibit B
This is a different look, with the same principle.  Cool and relaxing, but also modern with a touch of glitz.  Notice the floor to ceiling curtains, contrasting accent pillows, candles, SEVEN individual botanical pieces, sunburst mirror, accent table lamps, and modern area rug.  There are more non-functional pieces than functional ones.  And it looks fabulous!  This beautiful room would not exist without those non-functional characteristics.  So in a sense, those pieces that are purely decorative are in fact serving a function---to create a beautiful, relaxing, WELCOMING atmosphere.

Now that we have examined the specific details of what consists of a properly decorated space, it is up to the homeowner to decide the actual "value" of decorating.  Like so many things, it is relative.  Professional decorating is not a priority to everyone.  But for those who want a finished look that is inviting and "feels like home", it is something to consider.  To achieve this sort of look, you need a well composed design.  A professional decorator/designer can help you achieve this.  So, if you DO have the budget for it, find a professional designer you trust.  They can help deliver beautiful finished results that you, your family, and your guests can enjoy for many years.
For help developing your budget and weighing the pros and cons, see my articles:

If you reside in the bay area, you may email me to get more information on design services, or see my website.