All great things must be built upon a solid foundation to be lasting, so why should your home decor be any different? The answer, is that it shouldn’t.
Your interior foundation should be given just as much consideration as your structural foundation. If you would avoid living in a home that was built on shaky ground, it follows that you will likely feel less than stellar about your interior if there isn’t a solid, connecting thread that runs the gamut. Naturally, it stands to reason that the best way to begin any interior design plan is to begin at the beginning and work from the ground up.
Now this isn’t to say that your home won’t be amazing unless you tear everything out and begin again… rather that you should always begin designing a space by creating what I like to call, a foundation plan, first. By taking a very good look at all of your home’s finishes and fixtures, before you do anything else, you can lay out your foundation plan and set the tone for each of your spaces. If you unify and connect all of your spaces to each other and your home as a whole, both inside and out, every other decision will fall into place much more easily. If you build it – from the ground up – the rest will come naturally
So how precisely do you go about this and what if modifying your finishes and fixtures is not in your immediate future, you ask? It makes absolutely no difference, whatsoever, if you have already done these updates to your home, if you will make these updates over time, or if you won’t be addressing these things anytime soon or ever, for that matter. This is purely a foundational step and helps set the stage for your future decisions. The existing finishes and fixtures in your home, whether they will stay or go, will greatly affect all of your furnishings and decor. It will be helpful to be aware of how everything will commingle, prior to pulling the trigger on any of those purchases, big or small.
So how does one go about creating a foundational plan for their interior? Another great question… I will walk you through the process that works well for me and makes quick work of this process. We begin and end with something of a two-step, so put on your dancing shoes and let’s get down to business.
You will essentially evaluate and inventory, then pull samples and begin creating a 3-d moodboard. The specifics aren’t entirely necessary in this stage unless you want them to be, and it will work just as well, if you simply pull samples that give a general idea of the color, texture or tone you have or are looking for. You can finalize and specify exact products later, once you have a working plan in place.
You should always start with the big ticket items that have the most impact in your spaces and are the most costly, like the flooring and cabinetry. Will it stay or will it go? Take inventory throughout your house, are you surprised at how many different surface materials you see? These things tend to spiral out of control over time, especially if your home has had many owners in the past. If these items will stay, try your best to round up samples that are as close as possible to every one of these surfaces in your home and set them to the side, while you work through the other items below.
If any will go, round up several options for replacements that you like. If you want to keep it loose, pull approximate color and style, and if you prefer to dig in deep, round up a large number of options that will work for your lifestyle and are within your budget. If you are planning on having tile flooring in any rooms of your home, we will address this specifically in just a bit. Otherwise, you can pull samples from your local big box stores, flooring or cabinetry specific stores and online retailers. If something strikes your fancy, pull a sample, don’t be shy and give yourself a wide variety to choose from. This will help when you start to narrow down your plan later.
Things to consider for this category of finishes… Do you have children, pets or a high probability for mess and spills? Do you love to clean or prefer to procrastinate as much as possible? If you answered yes to any of these, consider low maintenance options like vinyl planks and medium tones. Your goal should be to have the smallest number of flooring materials possible and cabinetry should be pretty close to the same throughout as well. If you want to have a feature piece like an island or a different color for the lower cabinets, that is perfectly fine, just keep your basic cabinetry similar in your other spaces.
The next relatively big ticket item will be the fixtures… Not because these are pricey, but rather because there are so many different fixtures in your home. This includes lighting, door and cabinetry hardware and the like. Will it stay or will it go? Take an inventory of every single fixture – do you love them, are they mismatched, would you like them better if they were different? If you are smitten, find something in your home that is a fairly close finish and set it with your flooring and cabinetry samples.
If this area needs some work and you don’t know where to start, you can easily find your perfect soul mate finish for the fixtures in your home by taking a close look at the metallics you lean toward when you purchase accessories. At this point, the specific fixtures aren’t important, you only need to narrow down your preferred colorway.
Are you consistently choosing similar things? Perhaps you are a warm copper lover, cool and chromed out or maybe gold and brass are more your thing? Choose fixtures in this particular metallic and it will be hard to go wrong. If you keep it simple and keep nearly everything the same finish for these more permanent seeming choices, you will probably be happiest with your outcome. Grab something in your home or at a store in a similar finish and set it aside with your flooring and cabinetry materials.
Last but not least, of the more permanent finishes and fixtures… tile and counter-top materials.
Inventory these items throughout and evaluate whether they will stay or go. By now you know the drill… if they will stay, find yourself a sample of something similar and add it to the stash. If they will go, consider the styles you love or if you plan to get more specific, consider your lifestyle and budget, then find yourself a decent number of options (and the corresponding samples) that represent them. The more the merrier at this stage so get grabby.
Things to consider… Is grout your nemesis, where will this material live – will it be an environment that gets wet and may be prone to accidents, injuries and messes? The larger the specimen, the less grout there is to deal with and the lesser the shine, the greater the grip so you won’t slip. These materials may not ultimately live side by side with one another, but every surface in your home will benefit from having something in common with every other surface. If you like marble, choose various sizes and sheens for your various applications. Maybe you like natural stone and a crisp white subway tile as well. Great, choose several possible natural stone options and a ton of white subway tiles with various undertones. You never know which will play nicely with the other kids on the playground Again, at this stage you simply want options, so get yourself a bunch and add them to the pile.
While this next category of picks is not technically a finish or a fixture for your home, it is a big ticket series of items and are best considered along with many of these other selections. This step is optional, but if you plan to have any fabric selections in your home, now is a helpful time to pull these into the mix. Roman shades, drapes, sofas, and anything else upholstered will have no less than one million options so get yourself a nice roundup of some of your fabric and leather favorites and it will help you pull things together in a snap when you actually go to pull the trigger on these purchases. If leather is your jam, and you prefer a soft window covering, finding your favorite colorway and tone at this stage is far more ideal than carting around a fabric swatch and comparing it to every finish and fixture that has already been installed. Buying things only to have to return them once you see them in your space is a major pain and can be costly. Trust me on this…
This also doesn’t need to be precise at this point, if you aren’t ready to thumb through an insane number of choices here. Simply choose solids in a weave or color that you enjoy and add them to the mix.
You may notice I haven’t mentioned paint. Since we are talking about foundation choices, it is wise to choose a fabulous base color of sorts, that you can use everywhere. Your ceiling, walls and trim can absolutely be the same color with different levels of sheen for their application, and if you don’t know where to start, I have quite the narrative on a great choice for this finish in my previous article.
Once you have a few paint chips that work for your whole home (not the specific color you want for a particular space), you can get down to business and narrow down your selections. This is where you will see who can play in the big leagues and who won’t make the cut. If you are planning on a wood tone for flooring and cabinetry, please make these match – please. There is absolutely no reason to mix things up where wood flooring and wood cabinetry are concerned and trust me when I say a future buyer is going to wonder if you had a stroke or only partially updated your home. Regardless, they will dislike feeling like they are being torn in two different directions in the same space. It is not a good look.
As you play around with all of your different selections and begin to weed some of them out, you will find that often times that amazing flooring choice or tile you adore is gorgeous right up until you see it alongside the cabinetry materials. You love stainless hardware, but how does look alongside the cabinetry and paint options? Once you have an arrangement of materials that all play nicely with each other – you have essentially built the best possible future foundation for your interior and the rest will come naturally!
If you kept things general throughout this process, you simply need to revisit the specific options for each item and find a real life version of one that is similar to the one in your moodboard. Remember this is a working foundation plan and things can change. Don’t be cemented to your selections, simply use them to guide you and you will always know where your ‘design north’ is and that you are building on a solid foundation.