Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not an interior designer. But design is design. And the best design is something that looks great, and works well. It's a lofty goal that designers are are always striving for. Most people, unfortunately, believe that you have to choose between beauty and utility. Designers believe that you can do both. And the best ones actually do it.
The best place to start with any design is function. If you're going to design a web page, or choose furniture for your room, you need to think about how people will be using it. If it's beautiful, and colorful, but people can't use it, you have failed as a designer. So always start with function, and add beauty as you go.
I always like to start with dining room tables, which is what most people get wrong. And the number one mistake I see that people make is that don't allow room for people. There should be a space around the table. When I first bought my house, I got a book on interior design that gave exact measurements, but really, all you have to do is to stand next to a chair, and pull it out. If it collides with the credenza, or hits a wall, or a potted plant, you have designed poorly. And, like all design, you have to deal with limitations. You really can't move the walls of your house to allow for a dining room table that doesn't fit.
So, start with getting a table that fits the space. Only then is it time to start adding the aesthetic flourishes, which are the important balance between function and beauty. And that's where a lot of people go wrong, but in the other direction. They give up on beauty and insist that in order for something to be functional, it has to be ugly. I strongly disagree. It's just about design.
By the way, set aside the *house beautiful* magazines if you're interested in interior design. Interior design has to be approached three-dimensionally, and in use. Go look at good design, walk there, see how it gives you a special feeling, and that feeling isn't frustration with trying to sit at a dining room table!
Posted by Brad Hall