If you’re new to the industry and it’s taking a little while to gain momentum, or if you feel that you’ve plato’d in your work, please do not feel discouraged. It takes a LONG time to build an interior design brand.
A very long time.
I’ve had my interior design firm, House of Bohn, for a little over 7 years. (Some of you will know the company formally as Moeski Design Agency.) Prior to launching this company in 2009, I actually started my first design business in 2007 and back then, without realizing just how many moving parts there are to interior design, I burnt myself out extremely quickly. This forced me to get a corporate job in design before launching 2 years later again as Moeski Design Agency. (One day I may share where that name came from but that a separate blog post entirely.)
The reason I’m relaying this timeline is to illustrate that I’ve been working on my own in the industry for about 10 years and it’s only just now that I feel like I’ve started to really get a groove with my work and build a brand through interior design.
This past year, I’ve had a few projects complete (see them here, here, and here) that I am especially proud of and these projects are some that have really reinforced and helped to establish the brand that I’ve wanted to create. That got me thinking about interior design and inspired me to write a post about stepping up your design game – and how to do it!
If you’re interested in learning some of my personal trade secrets and ways to elevate your design game, then keep reading:
RULE #1: GO CUSTOM
Going custom is single-handedly the most important factor in creating a really solid interior design aesthetic. Any designer, and any person for that matter, can walk into a store and pick out a fabulous “designer” chandelier or sofa. And, if you’ve been at the game for a while like I have been , with a trained eye you can also walk into any space a spot the items that are off-the-shelf “designer.”
In my opinion, a space that’s completed with custom-designed and made-for-that-space pieces, is far more exciting and far more impressive than a space full of store-bought items.
As a designer, I consider it my job to come up with and create these items. It’s all part of the fun! The more opportunities that you can create for yourself to do it within one project, the more that space will be reflective of your own style.
RULE #2: CONSIDER BUDGET
I recently spoke on a panel in Seattle at a “Conversation Stage” with Gray Magazine. I had so much fun talking with other designers about interior design and hospitality spaces, a topic that I’m now well versed in. At one point the discussion turned to budget and a fellow panelist claimed that “budget means nothing.” I grabbed the mike and immediately jumped in:
“Budget means everything!”
I really couldn’t help myself.
Over the last 10 years I have certainly taken on and extraordinary number of projects that haven’t had an enormous budget. Creating an exciting and interesting space on a limited budget is a huge part of being a great designer. I still have a handful of those projects on the go, and I’ll definitely continue to take on those kinds of projects in the future. Even when I have a small project budget, I still make a point to service the hell out of that client. It wouldn’t be in anyones best interest not too.
But that said, there’s just is not a lot that you can do without some kind of a budget to work with. Custom work? Forget it – it’s way too expensive. Designer or statement pieces? Probably not – still too expensive. So that doesn’t leave you with a lot of options as a designer except pulling together the best you can with the resources that you have.
It’s pretty hard to do something magical and amazing if the budget just isn’t there. I don’t shy away from that conversation when I meet with a potential new client. In fact, I really embrace that discussion because it’s good for both of us to be on the same page and to have a common understanding. I’m not in the business of over promising and under delivering, so lets get real here from the get go and talk budget. Let’s try to do something amazing together.
RULE #3: LAYERING
This is my new favourite word in the office. Well, I’m not sure if it’s new in the office, but we’ve definitely been using it a lot more.
I really love a “layered” space. What I mean by that is that there’s a lot of elements going on and the design itself is complex. If there’s pattern, I like there to be multiple patterns in one room that overlap each other. When I’m considering lighting I’m thinking about chandeliers, recessed lighting, ambient lighting, floor lighting and decorative lighting, all in one space. When I’m using color, I like to use many shades of that color and I like to see it repeated in different textures, materials and patterns through one single space.
I’m not a fan of a simple painted wall or one single style of furniture throughout a space. I don’t want a space to feel simple and sparse, I want it to be full and exciting!
RULE #4: WHITE AND SO MUCH MORE BLACK:
I love white. White, paint, white texture, white marble – I love it all. White has been a dominant trend over the last few years it’s a very timeless approach to design. It’s classic, clean and certainly airy and appealing to a wide demographic.
Black on the other hand is dark, edgy, sophisticated and sexy. While black may not appeal to everyone on the onset, when applied correctly it can be beautiful, dramatic, and evoke a sense of emotion that white cannot.
I love white. But I LOVE black. And depending on the space of course, I think every space should have healthy mix of both (or at least high contrast light and dark shades) but you’ll want to use each shade in varying proportions.
Even small amount of black, whether just a picture frame, or a window casing, can add a little drama and ground the eye in a very white room. While a hint of white in a very space can suddenly transform a room making it feel clean and fresh.
And a little tip for you – mark my words here… black is going to be the hottest design trend to come!
I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that it inspires you to step up your own design game.
Feel free to let me know if you liked this post and let me know if you have any questions about anything that I’ve highlighted here.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
Space: ANH + CHI Restaurant by HOUSE OF BOHN
Dress: Aritzia (old)
Shoes: Kurt Geiger (Australia)
Bangles and Earrings: House of Harlow 1960 via Holt Renfrew
Watch: Micheal Kors (old)
Gold Ring: Banana Republic
Photography: Kristin Sarna