Whether you are Starting Out or Starting Over…

Over the past while I have been talking about what to do when you have an empty room and don’t know where to start. I have three great options to get started on the right path – for YOU!

I covered the first two on design trends to find your style and selecting an area rug which will each get you started on a great design path and help simplify all your other choices.  But, saving the best for last, here is one of my favourite approaches. As an artist, I love to start a room using artwork as the inspiration.

Artwork: When You Don’t Know Where to Start

To recap, there are several ways we approach an empty room.

Three options:

  1. Be inspired (use an inspiration image). We often start this way with our clients but diverge from the image once we get a strong feel for what look we are going for. The inspiration image just gives us clues to what the homeowner’s style and taste is. It gives direction about style and colour and can really help launch the process.
  2. Start with an area rug. If you have absolutely nothing to go on, picking a rug will set the whole thing in motion. The rug will dictate style, and introduce a colour palette and from there you can select everything else to work with that.
  3. Start with artwork. A piece of art or a gallery wall can tell us everything we need to know about the homeowner’s preferred style and colour palette. A wall of sparse gestural line drawings, for example, would set us off on a design journey very different than an oversized piece of modern art.

So let’s dig in to the third option…

Start with artwork

A while back, I started working with a new client, a newly divorced man setting up home for the first time on his own. Accustomed to having his former wife making the aesthetic choices, he was unclear of his taste or defining style. We wandered through showrooms and magazines and he seemed to like everything (mostly) but didn’t seem to get excited about anything in particular. I told him right then I wasn’t comfortable starting until we found something he truly loved. So to get things started, we went art shopping. It turns out he has an eye for original artwork and that really got the ball rolling.

Photos to come showing the full condo in a later shoot but here’s a sneak peek. In this image below, the contrast red welting underlines the chair as a metaphorical nod to the women in the painting putting on lipstick. You don’t need to get this detailed, but we were doing custom – so why not? Nonetheless,  the artwork lead the story.

black furniture, colorful wall art

So here’s a lovely painting below that could have taken the room in a number of directions but a strategic choice was made to keep the artwork as the dominant focal point, and the furniture contemporary.  In contrast, the colours in the artwork are played up to add a vibrancy and high energy feel to this space. Mood is also a consideration. We ask our clients how they want to feel in the space. Colour can play a vital role in the mood of a room.

modern white living space, colorful wall art

Aimee Stylist, Art: Michael Bond Art

If a client were to fall in love with artwork like this below, it might lead us to select simple geometric forms for the furniture pieces and a palette of vibrant colours all drawn from the artwork.

colorful wall art, living room


The style and colour palette in this room below, are all about the artwork as a focal point. The furniture all sits in as support cast while the artwork is the start of the show.

modern living room, grayscale wall art


Soft and dreamy …

cozy bedroom, pink wall art

Aimee Stylist, Art: Michael Bond Art

…or maybe you have a collection of photos or drawings. Notice how the ground colour of that one animal print accent pillow balances the wood frames in the gallery wall, the blush in the pillows repeats on the lampshade. Details like this make the result more cohesive.

gray couch, decorative pillows, wall art


So if you haven’t been convinced that your sofa isn’t the first thing you pick, well I’m not going to insist there is only one way to do things but this is how I work.

Lastly, wallpaper is a trend that is going strong and we love it. Here is a great example of letting pattern on the wall drive the choices. Don’t you just love it! (below)

black chair, floral patterned wallpaper, wall art


Picking a sofa, or sectional for example can box you into a corner unless you have considered all the other items that will be in the room. The colour should be determined together with a rug and/or the artwork. There are millions of textiles to upholster your sofa in but likely only a few rugs that will set your heart aflutter or works of art you just can’t take your eyes off of. The sofa will play along with what you fall in love with.

Far too often I see people wanting to purchase a major piece of furniture without a plan. It is like setting out on a trip without a map. What is the likelihood of you reaching your destination? Well, in this case a well-defined destination is key to success.

Need a little help with your roadmap?


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