I have a little confession to make... I spend quite a significant amount of my time walking around show homes on a Sunday afternoon, just so that I can check out the interior design. Anyone else 'fess up to that one too? I know it's naughty because I have zero intention of buying the house, and so essentially I'm wasting the agent's time, but I just can't help myself. Surely I can't be alone in that?
As I wander around show homes, I'm always impressed by how cohesive the homes look. Every room seems to have something about it, which makes it feel as though it makes sense as part of the rest of the home. It feels... cohesive.
Many of our own homes just don't feel like this: they feel unfinished or we have a mish-mash of items and rooms that don't really go together. Each room feels disjointed, and we wonder what these show homes have that our own homes lack.
Well, as you will know by now, I'm an analytical kind of gal, which is how I work out which elements of design work and why, and that's how I'm able to share this knowledge with you.
So in all of my moochings around show homes, what have I learned? What is it about show homes that look so great? Why do they always look so finished, so perfect and so cohesive? And (most importantly) what are you doing wrong in your home, and how can you get this cohesive look too?
If you're anything like most people, you'll be making the following mistakes:
The Mistakes You Make
Mistake #1: You tackle one room one at a time. One month you'll decorate the living room, the next you'll turn your attention to the bedroom.
Mistake #2: You buy decor that takes your fancy when you're out shopping. (Wait a minute, this is a mistake? Oh yes, read on...)
Mistake #3: You choose a new colour for each room because you are worried about being boring.
How to Fix It!
So now we know where we're going wrong, what is the right way to go about it? How do you bring cohesion to your home?
1. Start with a whole home plan
No show home (or properly designed home) has ever been created by decorating one room at a time, and seeing how it goes. Professional show-home designers create a whole-home plan, which shows the colours, fabrics and finishes which will be used in each room within the whole home.
There are many advantages to this approach: it means that when you are selecting your colours, your furniture, your soft furnishings and accessories, you are limited to what you can include. This might not sound like a good idea, but in fact, it actually makes it easier to shop once you restrict the options. Rather than just buying whatever takes your fancy, your purchases in the future must fit in with your whole home plan.
So does this mean that you have to decorate your whole home at once? No! (Unless of course you want to). It means that you come up with a plan for your whole home, and every time you come to decorate a room, or even buy a cushion or an ornament, you check your whole home plan first to make sure that the look is cohesive with the rest of your décor.
It's a bit like creating a master plan for your home; your own personal home branding. Create a master mood board for your home before decorating another thing in your home!
2. Consider Sight Lines
To make sure that your rooms flow from one into the other, consider how much of each room you can see from adjoining rooms, and make sure that the flooring, colour scheme and fabrics flow well between them. This is especially true of entrance halls. If you can see several rooms from your entrance hall, you need to make sure that the rooms are cohesive with the décor of the entrance, as well as with each other.
3. Hit on a Consistent Design Style
If you want your home to look cohesive, avoid experimenting with different styles in different rooms. It's no good going Scandi in the bedroom, Country in the kitchen and Glam in the living room. That's the fast route to having a home which looks like jumbled mess with a mish-mash of items that just don't go together, even if you quite like the individual rooms. Research your style tastes for your home and stick to them!
4. Choose a Whole House Colour Palette
Say wha...?! Yes, that's right. Professional interior designers know that having a consistent colour scheme throughout your house creates cohesion and unity. Now this doesn't mean that you have to paint every wall the same colour in your home; it means that you use colour consistently throughout your home. Look at how the colours grey, aqua, yellow and pink are used in this David Wilson show home below:
The images are from one show home. Each room is decorated in the same palette of mostly grey, white and aqua, with accents of yellow and pink. In some rooms (such as the child's bedroom) all of the colours are used, whereas in other rooms (such as the top left bedroom) just two of the colours have been used along with the neutrals, black and white. Notice also that the aqua colour is a stronger shade in some rooms than others (the curtains in the living room and blinds in the upper bedroom are almost teal, for example, contrasted with the light aqua in the bathroom).
The colours don't have to be identical; but by using similar colours in different ways, each room looks as though it belongs in the same home. A cohesive "home brand" has been created. Never let it be said again that a whole-home colour palette is boring!
5. Unite Fabrics and Patterns Across your Home
In the same way that you need to unify colours across a home, make sure that you consider the fabrics and patterns that you use too. Collect swatches of all the fabrics you will use in your home, and lay them side by side to see how they work together. For tips on matching fabric patterns, check out this post here.
6. Have Consistent Flooring
If you have a mix of tiles, wood and carpet across your rooms, this will give a disjointed look. Having dark mahogany floorboards in one room, leading into terracotta tiles in the next and carpet in another room is going to create chaos to the eye. This doesn't mean that you have to have exactly the same flooring throughout your home (although this helps) but you should consider the colour and the lightness/darkness of the flooring. So choose a pale wood with a pale carpet and pale tiles, or all darks. Mixing and matching just leads to a dizzy impression, especially if the sight lines mean that the different finishes can be seen from other rooms.
So let's get going. What do you need to fix in your home? How cohesive are the different rooms?
Images courtesy of David Wilson Homes, with permission