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Floor Tile and More: How to Think Like a Designer

In the interior design world, materials, such as floor tile and cabinetry, and other factors, such as wall color and a general theme, are just the basics. The truth is that there's much more to the process. With some inspirational tips, tricks, secrets, and ideas, however, anyone can start thinking like a designer. Learn how you can create a home that's rich in form and function, from its attractive floor tile to its stylish ceiling. Here's how it's done.

Choose Flooring Materials First

Flooring is one of the most important features in a home. It covers a lot of surface area, and it grounds or anchors each room, providing a stage for attractive furniture and fixtures. Because of this, you need to choose flooring materials early in the design process. So how do you choose the right flooring? Start by considering whether you want a minimalist, modern, or monochromatic design. If you'd like to keep your design simple, you may want to develop pale, neutral layers, with white or off-white Carrara marble, light gray granite, or tan porcelain floor tile, and then off-white seating, a classic white subway tile backsplash, and a light gray wall paint or wallpaper. If you prefer a darker base, start your design with slate or rich ceramic tile flooring, and then add pine cabinetry for a country touch or white cabinets for a stylish high-contrast look. For something classic but bold, consider a black-and-white checkerboard floor, and then keep your furniture simple and submissive, such as going with a black or white streamlined midcentury modern furnishings. Not only is neutral, quality flooring a worthwhile investment if you ever decide to sell in the future, it's a great starting point for mapping out your design plan.

Season Wood

Keep Themes Simple

Just because you enjoy the beach, doesn't mean you have to fill your home with seashell-shaped cushions and seascape artwork. The best way to introduce the idea of a theme, such as the beach, is with color and pattern. To achieve a beach theme, for instance, opt for beachlike colors—sand, aqua, sky blue, and watery green—throughout your design. You can also introduce printed fabrics, such as stripes inspired by beach chairs or towels, or tropical floral prints that hint at your favorite travel destination. Even if you're designing a child's room or bathroom, keep in mind that kids grow up quickly. Design a nursery or kids' room with longevity in mind, using multipurpose furniture pieces, subtle patterns, quality upholstery, and neutral colors. You can always swap out accessories as your child outgrows them, trading items such as a pastel teddy bear lamp for one with vivid color and an interesting geometric shape.

Work Depth into Your Design through Texture

A home without varied textures risks appearing flat, monotone, and uninspiring. Bring depth, warmth, and visual melody to every nook and cranny with nubby tweed upholstery, cotton drapes, rugged wood tables, silky bedding, smooth glass backsplashes, textured wood-look floor tile, and plush cushions. Don't forget to look up, too, because the ceiling consumes a lot of surface area, making it a prime spot to place fabric, a hand-troweled textural finish, lightweight faux wood beams, or a stand-out tongue-and-groove feature. A useful design tip in regard to texture is to use an unexpected mix of materials, such as gleaming marble for the main countertops and rugged butcher block on the island.

Choose the Right Shapes and Patterns

If you can successfully mix patterns and shapes, you'll be able to enjoy designer-grade results. In masculine design, for example, you often see an abundance of straight lines, with angular or square furniture, and a mix of checks, stripes, and geometric-patterned upholstery. Feminine design tends to use more rounded details, such as a table with curved legs or swirl-printed upholstery, including paisley, polka dot, and posy patterns. For a balanced design, incorporate a mix of masculine and feminine form, such as a floral-printed statement chair atop a striped rug. As long as mixed patterns stem from the same color family and vary in size, they will bring interest to a design.


Carefully Pick a Color Palette

Consider color almost as food for your home. You should incorporate enough, but be cautious not to overdo it. Before you design a space, decide on a color theme by considering how certain colors make you feel. For instance, blues and greens are restful tones that work well in a bedroom, while warm reds and golds have the ability to lift your mood, appetite, and energy, making them perfect for a kitchen or office.

If you're drawn to lively tones, such as citrus hues like yellow, orange, or lime, balance is key. To achieve color balance, designers often turn to the 60-30-10 percentage rule, which says that the wall color should make up about 60 percent of a home's palette, the upholstery, such as the drapes, couch fabric, and rugs, should make up about 30 percent of the design, and accessories account for the remaining 10 percent. Aim to make the wall color neutral, go with a small amount of color for the upholstery, and include any pops of color through the accessories.

Consider Lighting

When designing a space, it's important to be mindful of the lighting. Every home needs ambient or general lighting, such as track lights over the sink and island, or a chandelier over a table or entryway. Additional task lighting, such as lamps or under-cabinet lighting, may be necessary for rooms in which you read or do paperwork. Use directional lighting, such as wall-mounted picture lights to highlight your art and other prized possessions. A handy tip for optimal natural light is to hang curtains far apart so that they don't block any of the glass. When hung from the floor to ceiling, they also make a room appear taller than it is.

Add a Focal Point

A room without a focal point often lacks a place for the eye to start when entering. Focal points can be as simple as a colorful area rug, a tall, curvy sculpture, or a vivid piece of artwork. On the other hand, they can be an element as elaborate as a medallion within a tile floor or an accent wall that features floor-to-ceiling trendy mosaic tiles. If you plan to go with a feature wall, it should be the one facing you as you enter the room.

Keep It Functional

When planning a design, remember that function trumps just about everything else. So before opting for a material or purchasing a decorative element, ask yourself how it will be used and if it works with the other components of your design. If you have children or pets, for example, opt for upholstery and tile flooring that is easy to wipe clean. And if your home has limited space, choose multipurpose pieces, such as a futon that becomes a bed or an entryway bench with shoe storage.

Whether you're doing a small face-lift or a complete renovation, there are quite a few tips and tricks that will help you think more like a designer. Take this advice, get into the mindset of an interior designer, and start planning your project today.

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