Tricks of the Trade… the Design Trade!

Many of you out there may be small business owners installing and finishing floors. Some of you may be a retail location helping homeowners find their dream floor for their space. Maybe you are a homeowner that wants a DIY challenge or just shopping around for the best look and investment for your home. What you all have in common is the need at times to take on the role of designer. The decisions involved in picking a floor crosses into the realm of aesthetics, so here are a few tricks from a graphic designer, tricks that translate in many areas of design.

1. Layers

If you think about it, life is filled with layers – from the structure of everyday things like trees, to the wearing of clothes. When working on design, think in terms of layers. Start with a foundation, which will be your walls, trim, and floors. Your second layer are rugs and draperies. The third layer is furniture and the forth are accessories, and so on. Find a good balance of layers to add visual interest and to plan out your use of color and texture.

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2. Texture

As a newbie designer, one piece of advice given to me was to add texture. The great thing about wood is that it has a natural texture from the grain, knots, and mineral streaks. With handscraped and wire brushed techniques, you can add more texture as well. Also remember that wood planks don’t have to just stay on the floor. Walls and ceilings are great places to add the natural texture from wood.

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3. Balance

I am a bit OCD when it comes to symmetry and one of the keys to balance is symmetry. When putting together a room, make sure wall hangings are centered or balanced. That doesn’t mean you need the exact same things on both sides of a fireplace, but match the space they are taking up.

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4. Simplicity

Something I teach in design is to count your design elements and limit them to three. So with a room, don’t have too many attention grabbing things going on, but try limiting your space to just three main areas of focus. Go with a bright accent color, a textile with a pattern on it, and keep the wood similar throughout the space. Or mix up wood trim and floor with painted cabinetry and an accent color. Just remember that you maximize the aesthetics if you use bold design elements sparingly and fill the rest of the space in neutrals.

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5. Go Big

They say to go big or go home and that often applies to design. I know I was just advocating simplicity, but it’s not a bad idea to take one thing and go big with it. One big chunky piece of furniture, one large piece of art, or go bold with wood and use an intricate flooring pattern. It is all about figuring out where you want people’s eyes to go when they walk in a room and making it count.

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