A blank canvas can sometimes be an artist’s worst nightmare—the endless possibilities presented by a clean white canvas can sometimes be overwhelming—especially to the amateur.


An empty room can be a similar nightmare for homeowners contemplating a room design/redesign. It can be a bit daunting when you have to think about a three-dimensional space and how to make it work for your home and your family.


We asked some of the interior designers we work with to lay out some basic principles to help guide you through your first interior design project. They responded with a good deal of information and we narrowed their suggestions down to three basic foundations of interior design that you should take into consideration when getting started on your first project.


Today we’ll look at the first of these three principles—function. Making a room truly functional is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face, so think about these function guidelines when creating your room:

  • Think about the room’s main focal point. This may already exist (perhaps it’s a large picture window in the center of the room) or you may have to create one. Everyone room should have a single area or object that your eye is immediately drawn to. This helps “pull things together” so to speak.
  • Furniture selection. Does the furniture you want to use suit the room’s purpose? For example, you don’t want to put finely upholstered furniture in a room where the kids will be playing. Does the furniture you are choosing reflect your personality? Does it mesh well with the other rooms in your home? These are all questions you should consider.
  • Lighting: If you’re designing a living room for television viewing, is the lighting your considering optimal for TV viewing? If you’re room is for gathering friends and relatives for conversation, will the lighting you’ll be using set a warm and comfortable atmosphere? Think about the use of direct, indirect and accent lighting to create the atmosphere that properly reflects the room’s primary function.
  • Furniture arrangement: Make sure the furniture in your room works with both your primary focal point and also make sure it does not inhibit traffic flow throughout the room. You may want to go to your computer and actually draw the room out and experiment with different furniture placement until your satisfied with your arrangement.
  • Flooring choice: the one area of your room that will receive the most use is your floor. There are many flooring options to choose from, so be sure your choice is both functional and correct for the type of room you are designing.

Next week we’ll look at principle number two — mood.