Once in a while, designers emerge to challenge the ideas about how we live and how we could live. They are ready to experiment with an idea, some that are quite beautiful and some that can even take your breath away. The greatest fault of some designers and homeowners is the follow through. Many times, it is just not there. Some interior designers have earned the profession of designers a reputation of being lackadaisical or unreliable. Some of this can be excused because designers can be so busy that things fall through the cracks, but other designers don’t think that way. They just can’t.
For all you DIYers and homemakers, I’m going to give you the ultimate design tip. Invest in a notebook. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spiral-bound or book-bound type. For your purposes, it can be a three-ring binder with loose-leaf paper. The best design tool is a notebook. While a large part of any project involves creativity and ideas, a much larger part is the sourcing, pricing and tracking of all the hundreds of details that go into the making of an interior design.
It doesn’t matter whether you consider this notebook a design journal or a project management tool or a running budget. It is all three. Your book could have torn pages from magazines, paint swatches, furniture specifications, a floor plan — house goals, however attainable or unattainable they may be. Notes can help identify areas to be redesigned or serve as a laundry list of wants or design issues. You can refer back to these notes prior to ordering materials or furniture to see if you have resolved the issue at hand.
Other sections of your notebook can be sorted by rooms, which can hold pictures of furniture and corresponding swatches of fabric, paint samples, flooring ideas, lamps and even art. This will help you visualize your room and foresee any adjustments in colors or patterns. It will also help you determine if you need more goods for the room or project.
In terms of measurements, the more the better. You’ve all heard the construction adage, “Measure twice; cut once.” The same holds true for any aspect of the design project. You may have measured the size of the window, but did you measure how far the sill is from the floor, the space above the edge of the window to the ceiling or crown molding, or the space on either side of the window? While you may think these dimensions are excessive, they are not. They’ll be timesavers when you need to know what type and size hardware you need for a pair of drapes or how much wall space you have for art.
Every little bit of information adds up to inform the designer or yourself about your home. Many think of the interior design profession as easy or frivolous, but nothing can be further from the truth. Every decision made by a designer or homeowner costs money, and when mistakes are made, it increases the cost of even the smallest renovation. Take my advice, and before buying the first box of nails, get a notebook … and use the darn thing!
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.