What everyone should know about interior design

Elizabeth, one of the Bravo’s “Top Design” contestants, believes that living in a well designed space will create abundance in your life–you are free to be.

In interior design, there aren’t many strict rules. But there are a couple of secrets to creating a space that will work for you:

1. Educate yourself about what you really like and how it makes you feel.

When I design for families or companies, I ask them what their identity is, a central idea that defines who they are. That way, we can work toward figuring out their preferences.

2. Figure out how the elements you like work with one another.

Anything you choose for a room is going to have an association with everything else in the room, if for no other reason than they are close in proximity. So, you have to ask yourself, how do these things dialogue with each other? How do they encompass the space? How do they respond to the architecture of the space? How do they respond to the outdoor of the space, the windows of the space? How do they correspond to the colors in the space?

3. Try to fully understand what the purpose of a room will be.

Think about who is going to spend time in that room, and the feeling that needs to be created there. If it’s a front office, you want it to be comfortable, neat and well-lit, because there will be people waiting there. If it’s a family room, you want it to be cozy, you want to give it a feeling of togetherness.

4. Invest in elements that will make you feel something when you enter the room.

Before embarking on a design, determine the two things you need the most—like necessity and comfort. To me, the broad strokes, the things you notice first, are very important. I almost would say that it’s more important to paint your room beautifully than it is to sit on something really nice because that color contributes to how you feel whenever you’re in that room. You can feel good in that space while sitting on floor pillows until you’re financially ready to buy a couch.

“Nowadays, we’re so bombarded with everything that we don’t give ourselves a chance to think.”

Most of us don’t have the luxury to consider our interiors, although we wish we did. “Nobody needs what I do to survive. But it’s good for you, it makes you a better, more harmonious and more abundant person—and to some degree, I think that’s a necessity.”

Get a glimpse of Elizabeth in action through her website, Froote.com or browse these other resources for more ideas.

Wearable Art
Not only is Elizabeth a star interior designer, she’s also responsible for making some of the most stunning jewelry we’ve seen in a long time – including the pieces she wore in her interview.

Do it Thrifty
A journalist/suburban mom dishes on cheap and easy ways to brighten up that place you call home.

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.

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How to give old furniture a new look

Alegre grew up in a multicultural household with parents who represented a mix of different cultures. They were always combining different flavors and styles in everything they did – in food, in traditions, and in the way they decorated the home.

“In our house, it was totally normal for us to have tacos and chow mein in the exact same meal,” she said.

Alegre’s father had a lot of big, solid Mexican furniture pieces that would last forever and that he refused to get rid of. There was one couch in particular that spanned the length of two entire walls, and over the course of 20 years, Alegre saw it go through at least five different fabrics.

“My mom’s famous saying was, ‘If it still works, why replace it?'” she said. “The funniest thing is, it’s been decades, and now I have that same couch in my home. It’s as old as I am!”

Like the couch, other pieces of furniture made their way into Alegre’s decor when her parents downsized into a smaller home. She was in her own space, and since she was a designer, she wanted it to reflect her style, not necessarily that of her parents. She didn’t want to waste perfectly good furniture, so she had to find a way to look at old things with new eyes.

“My challenge was to take old furniture that I was familiar with and make it fit into my new setting, to make it exciting and make it my own,” she said. “For example, I’d put a chair against a brightly painted wall, or put a piece of vintage fabric over an old table. Even though I had an apartment full of my parents’ old stuff, I had designed it to really reflect me.”

The appreciation Alegre learned to have for her parents’ old things started to shift her consciousness about design in its entirety. She started thinking about how she could curb consumption while creating inspiring spaces and ultimately packaged all of her ideas in an eco-friendly boutique and design studio, Green and Greener. Alegre hopes to share her philosophy and help shift our concept of Green design.

For 6 tips to make your place more of your own without relying on all things untouched, take a look at this article Alegre did for Apartment Therapy.

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Eco Bites
Bite-sized, affordable and convenient ways to make small changes to affect big change.

Simple Green
At Green Living Tips, you can learn easy lifestyle changes that reduce your impact on the environment.

Do it Thrifty
A journalist/suburban mom dishes on cheap and easy ways to brighten up that place you call home.

Crafty—But Clean
At Family Fun, you can find tons of family craft projects that double as storage and organizing pieces, like a pocket wall organizer made from plain curtains!

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.

Making your own design rules

When she was seven years old, Andrea visited an uncle in Washington, D.C, and was overcome with interior design and architecture.

Granted, at the time, she didn’t know what either of those things were, but she was captivated by them all the same.

“There was a staircase I remember that had really long treads and a really shallow rise,” she remembers. “As I walked up through it, I felt it change the whole rhythm of how I walked, and I felt myself gliding up through the space that was moving all around me.

“The idea that you could change how people walk, their rhythm, movement and perception just gripped me. It was so clear.”

After that experience, she felt compelled to start working with her hands. Her mother taught her how to sew and her father showed her how to use tools. She appreciated the craftsmanship that went into making everything from clothing to the most elegant building in the world.

While pursuing her master’s in architecture at UCLA, one of her professors challenged her to expand her architectural notions into interior spaces. To  Andrea, that was an invitation to break all the rules.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you can be irreverent, and it can have really successful results,” she says. “Nowadays, I encourage my clients to do their own thing in terms of design, even if it’s weird. It can be a challenge to truly express yourself without going overboard, but that’s where I come in. I help people figure out their personal style and what elements are important to them. I show them how to restrain themselves but give them a little outlet for expression.”

Andrea’s irreverence has inspired her clients to be true to themselves and create an enviroment that speaks to them. It also landed her a spot on Bravo TV’s inaugural season of Top Design, an interior design reality competition.

Just goes to show that breaking the rules will take you places way better than jail. To add an artful edge to your quarters, check out Etsy, an online shop featuring handmade crafts from people all over the world. Talk about a personal touch.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Andrea’s Magic Touch
Feeling inspired, but don’t know where to start? Contact Andrea’s design firm to help you tap into to your design personality.

Oh, So Cute
An eclectic collection of modern daily finds for your home or office, including kitchenware, home accents and the most interesting stationary around.

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.

The Gift Closet
Looking for crafty gift ideas? The Gift Closet is a great place to find ideas for clever gifts you can make.