For many homeowners, moving from a starter house to a larger family home is part of the natural progression of life. After the hubbub of the move is over and it is time to decorate the new space, they may find that their old furniture and accessories are not quite right anymore. The problem is that those items were purchased for the scale of their previous home which means they are too small for the new space. We see this dilemma particularly in newer homes, which are built with taller ceilings, larger floor space and grand architectural details. Furniture show rooms have kept up with this design trend, but in their quest to fit the scale of a home, the scale of the human has been left behind. Finding balance between scale and comfort is the key to making the new larger home both beautiful and comfortable.
Tips for Decorating a Large Home
Create Intimate Spaces: In smaller homes, furniture arrangements tend to be oriented along the walls due to lack of open space. In a larger home, this design leaves much to be desired. There is now enough room to create floating furniture vignettes, which are actually more functional in that they allow traffic to move around rather than through the seating area. Once you begin to pull your furniture off the walls, you may find there is enough square footage to create multiple conversation vignettes in one space. You can read more about this design idea in our Designing a Living Room or Great Room article.
Embrace the Height: Larger homes need taller furniture to balance the ceiling heights and the grand architectural details. Clients of ours who moved from a nice-sized home to a grand lake house provide the perfect example of the need for this new scale. Their living room featured very tall windows overlooking the lake and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. The new scale of this home dwarfed their old furniture. To balance the proportions of the new home, we brought in taller furniture pieces, including high-backed chairs to be placed in front of the windows. At first our clients were worried that the tall chairs would block the lovely view. However, our eyes can only see so much in these large expanses and naturally move beyond the furniture to the true show stopper—the view. Once the pieces were in place, our clients were convinced that they only enhanced the lovely lake outside the windows.
Don’t Skimp on Drapery: In smaller homes with appropriately scaled windows, we work very hard to cover the least amount of window space with drapery. However, in a large home with large windows, covering the glass is not as much of a concern. Our brains can only take in so much information at once, so designing appropriately scaled drapery that covers up a bit of the expansive view does not hinder the impact of the large window. In fact, well-designed drapery will add to the drama.
Buy Custom Furniture: Working with an interior designer to create custom furniture pieces is particularly helpful when designing for a large home. The large pieces found in furniture showrooms are scaled for the space, but not the person. Many homeowners complain that off-the-floor furniture is uncomfortable, swallowing them up when they try to sit down! Choosing custom furniture allows you to move beyond fabric and style choices to crafting pieces with seat heights and depths, as well as cushion fill and detailing, that perfectly suits you and your space. At Hoskins Interior Design our furniture arrangements are individually created to suit the larger scale of the home, while including pieces that also fit the smaller-scaled person.
Don’t Forget About Lighting, Accessories and Rugs: One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make in designing for their larger-scaled home is decorating with too many little things. It is important to consider the volume of space you are trying to fill with these items. A bigger impact is made with fewer larger pieces that are in scale with their surroundings. This idea applies to lamps as well. A stout lamp may be needed to fill a corner of a room, while tall and thin candlestick lamps may be needed to compliment a large buffet. When choosing over-a-table lighting, make sure to consider its relationship to the table, the room or both. Note that appropriately sized lamps can be difficult to find in lighting showrooms and usually have to be custom ordered. For rugs, take into account the surface area of the room in which it will be placed, as well as the scale of the furniture that will sit on top of it.
When a homeowner has moved to a larger home and calls us saying their space is not quite right, it is usually a sign that scale is out of balance. Downsizing homeowners also have the same issue, and it can be difficult to find smaller-scaled furniture in the showrooms. Our designers would love to help you create a comfortable and beautiful look for your new space. Send us an email or give us call to schedule an appointment.
From a functional and stylistic view, lighting is one of the most important aspects of an interior design scheme. Appropriate illumination is needed for different tasks and different times of the day. Also, decorative lighting is like artwork or sculpture for your home. It is usually placed within your line of sight and tends to be the first thing visitors notice, making the quality of your fixtures central to the look of your home.
Since it plays such a large role in the success of our designs, we work with the contractor on a new build or remodeling project to manage the whole house lighting design. Many times we end up making many changes to the original design to reflect the planned functional and stylistic needs of the space. We also prepare our clients for the real cost of lighting; when you are building or remodeling a home, you should plan to spend a minimum of 2.5% of the total value of the home on lighting. Since these elements are illuminated, and therefore immediately draw the eye, it is quite apparent when your lighting scheme is not done well. Why diminish a gorgeous design you are already investing in by holding back on this vital piece? Admittedly, we sometimes have to convince our clients to increase or rearrange their budget to accommodate quality lighting, but in the end they always thank us. When the project is complete and every visitor comments first on the lighting, its central role in the overall design becomes crystal clear.
Here are some ideas to consider when creating a whole house lighting design:
Develop a Plan: The key to success in whole house lighting is balance. Mixing the general illumination of recessed canned lighting with task and decorative lighting is what creates the ambiance of your home. Consider how you will live in each space and develop a lighting plan that suits your needs. Take into account the overall look of your home as well. Is there a special piece of art you want illuminated? Have you created a design feature you want to highlight? If you are not consulting with an experienced interior designer, work with a qualified lighting specialist to ensure your lighting plan is going to achieve what you need. Functionality, safety, and aesthetics are all a part of that process.
Create a Cohesive Look: Just like other design elements, it is important to keep the look of your lighting fixtures cohesive throughout your house. Classic lighting styles are your best investment if you plan to keep your home, as there will be less need to change it over time. However, if you want to try trendy, go for it! Just understand that you will be changing it out as styles evolve. Cohesive does not mean the same -mix different types of fixtures! Chandeliers, sconces, pendants, flush mount, semi flush, track lighting, canned lighting, art lights – have some fun with your options.
Scale Can Make or Brake the Success of Your Design: We talk about scale in almost every blog post we write, because it is usually the reason why something seems “wrong” with a room. Because quality lighting can be expensive, some homeowners will purchase pieces that are too small for the space. We draw all fixtures into our design schemes, ensuring they will complement rather than underwhelm. When you are weighing your options, also consider how scale will relate to functionality and space: does the fixture have enough wattage for your needs? Does it give off light where you need it to go? Unfortunately, the prettiest ones may not be the best choice when weighing all of your needs.
Add Dimmers to All of Your Switches: Adding dimmers to each piece of lighting allows you to control the mood of your space. Have you ever realized that you need more light during the day than at night? Daytime tends to be the most active time in a home. But once dinner and early evening busyness is over, we dim or turn off the lights to create a relaxing atmosphere. Note: There are special considerations with adding dimmers so make sure they are reflected in your lighting plan.
At Hoskins Interior Design, we firmly believe in “no more boring lighting”! There is no need for your lighting to look like everyone else’s when you are working with an experienced designer with access to trade-only resources. Lighting warehouses and websites are overwhelming, and we find that many homeowners end up choosing fixtures they really do not like. Because we understand the many details behind what makes a fixture the right choice, we are able to lead you through your options toward those that fit your design. Your lighting needs to match the style of the home you are creating. If you are investing in quality design, architecture, materials, and furniture, your lighting should follow suit.
Questions on how to create a beautiful and functional whole house lighting plan? Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986.
The challenge behind creating a design scheme for a whole house, or even just one floor, is making sure it reflects the spirit of the family and their design style with continuity but not redundancy. For example, knowing that you want to include a particular color does not mean that color has to dominate each space. Taking the approach of referencing that design element in every room keeps you from making each space look the same. The subtlety of the common theme allows it to become more interesting, make sense and follow a design direction in each space.
Our clients provided us with the perfect opportunity to implement this design practice when they decided to build a new custom home. Their previous home was lovely, but had been finished in a rainbow of colors with little continuity. For their new home, they wanted a new look—light colors with blue and white accents. They also wanted to include their love of antiques and Europe, particularly the French style. Finally, they chose Leonard Watson from Artisan Homes to build their home, a craftsman who specialized in stunning architectural elements. Below we explain how we brought their desired elements into different rooms without begin redundant.
The tone of the home is set once you enter the front door and are welcomed by this exquisite red-lacquered Asian secretary, a piece our client had always wanted. We found this one and it served as the basis for the rest of the elements in the room. Our clients found the perfect rug to pull in the rich, bright red with lots of blue and we added two huge, lidded blue temple jars. Our clients also found the Chinese children’s pajamas in San Francisco and had them framed as the perfect compliment to the space. The secretary provided us with a design scheme—eclectic style, Asian accents, blue and white, and a sophisticated European look against a neutral background. We then moved this sophisticated look into the rest of the house.
Living Room Design:
Once in the foyer, the first room within a visitor’s site line is the living room. Therefore we brought in an inviting look with lovely details and silhouettes in a comfortable atmosphere. The furniture referenced the European style in both new and antiques pieces, and was crafted in light colors for a welcoming look. Along a large blank wall we placed an antique breakfront and turned it into a bibliotheque—a large bookcase—and filled it with books and bits of their collections. This piece balances the custom fireplace and niches on the other side of the room. The accessories feature the blue and white through pieces like the turquoise Buddha, antique Imari sake bottles, and Tang horses.
Dining Room Design:
Adjacent to the foyer is the dining room. An antique pedestal table and Chippendale chairs set upon an oriental rug is the basis for the room. We created a rhythm through the room, combining sparkly silver and crystal, rich woods, and blue and white pieces, all coming together to create a visual symphony. The shelving was placed to highlight the blue, white and silver accessories set above the pieces adorning the sideboard. We filled the large room with a mix of new and antique furniture, art and accessories, giving the visitor a lot of beautiful items to look at. The antique chandelier brings in even more romance with its graceful, flowing lines and incredible sparkle. During the day the room receives a lot of light, allowing the crystal and reflective surfaces to shine. We placed small spotlights angled toward the chandelier to allow it to sparkle in the evening hours as well.
Gallery Hall Design:
The main thoroughfare through the home is a gallery hallway. It is here, along with the staircase, where Leonard’s commitment to quality architectural elements is most apparent. The lovely arched doorways wrapped with detailed moldings draw your eye along the space and invite you into the adjacent rooms. We added a simple vignette at the end to help pull your eye, provide perspective and encourage you to walk down the hallway and explore. Our goal was to compliment Leonard’s craftsmanship, not detract from it.
Home Library Design:
At one end of the gallery hallway is a wood-paneled library. The gorgeous woodwork continued the architectural theme set in the hallway and the rest of the home. While blue and white did not fit with the room’s style, the European look was perfect. Comfortable custom furniture for seating, a working desk and a wall of bookshelves create a relaxing, masculine feel.
The key to a successful whole house remodel is understanding the design elements you would like to include, and then figuring out how they fit into each space. While you want continuity, it is better to include bits of those elements in different ways rather than matching each room. A talented interior designer understands the subtleties of bringing a theme to a whole home, avoiding redundancy yet allowing the theme to make sense in each space. If you are planning a large whole house remodeling project, send us an email or give us a call at 317-253-8986. We’d love to help!