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  • Wei Shen

You are missing the big picture

Some may think that the most important advantages of interior designers are their resources. However, I would like to say, the real difference between an interior space designed by a professional and one designed by an amateur is about the procedure.


Operating a holistic design approach all the way to the end is key. Easier said than done.


I have summarized three major confusions occurring to non-designers regarding this subject and how to improve on those aspects.


Concepts vs Styles


When planning a home renovation, many would start by choosing a style.


The drawback of selecting a style upfront is that people tend to fall into the trap of conforming to certain formulas related to that recognizable style consciously and unconsciously, which would potentially sacrifice your creativity and perhaps inconvenience your own lifestyle.


I have always believed that the best style is no style. A named style that can be distinguished at the first glance is often bland and flavorless. Here is my previous post about understanding styles.


The world we are living in is comprehensive and diverse. When you furnish your entire home following a checklist of a style you choose, you are missing the opportunity of being yourself. Your home should be a place to showcase your own taste developed by years of life experience, as well as accommodate your refind lifestyle over time. It's almost impossible that someone can find everything that suits their preference within one interior style.


The human civilization is always evolving, yes, we also evolve based on others' achievements, but why should we define ourselves or our work by predecessors?


personalized interior design-living room decor

Actress Ellen Pompeo’s House in Los Angeles shows a high level of personalized style where you cannot name the style with any recognized ones. Image from architecturaldigest.com


What we really need to consider in the first place, instead of an interior style, is a design concept.


A concept can be any abstract descriptions you can think of.


It can simply be a color scheme that you extract from a painting; it can be that you have inherited quite a few furniture and that you want to arrange them in a way that suits your current lifestyle and well-trained taste; it can also be how to integrate the gorgeous patina of some old architectural features and intensify their impact by clever design choices, and so on.


Concepts are flexible and boundless. You will not find yourself restrained to any style code; instead, you have your indulgence to paint on a blank canvas in an unprecedented way.


Design Goals vs Design Tools


In spite of being significantly different, design tools are often mistaken as design goals.


Let me explain with examples.


It's not rare that clients tell me at the very beginning of a project that they want to use wallpapers or patterned curtains without specific requirements on their features.


There is nothing wrong with those requests except that they don't necessarily contribute to the interior goals they describe to me, whereas doing so just puts more restrains for those goals to be fulfilled without sacrificing the integrity of a design concept.


From the two examples above, we can feel the balance and synergy among all design elements while the wallpapers are dominating the general aesthetic. Images from pinterest.com


Unlike area rugs, the primary intent of using wallpapers is for their visual function.


As we know there are tens of thousands of patterns to choose from when you opt for wallpapers, from classic damask to strong patterns with vibrant color, from subtle plain color to a mural of avant-garde design. Appling each of them would lead to a totally different visual effec