By: Denise O’Connor 
 
The design of a house can have a profound effect on how we feel, but we often attribute this to aesthetics. In fact, it’s about so much more. Good design should enhance our experience of a space, and the way a room looks is almost the icing on the cake. Here are 10 key tips for achieving a comfortable, well-thought-out home.
 
1. Get the layout right. The starting point for any kind of change in your home should be the layout and the way the space functions. Spend time looking at how you use and move around your home. Try to establish what is and isn’t working to get a clear picture of what you need to alter. If the space doesn’t work well and you’re finding it difficult to move around or be comfortable, the interior decoration isn’t going to make much of an improvement. Rather, you may need to knock down a wall between a kitchen and a dining room, for example, or steal space from one bedroom to create an en suite.
 

 
2. Be practical. A well-designed home is one that makes things easy for you, so it pays to make room for those everyday tasks like laundry. Not all of us have space for a separate utility area, but clever design may enable you to maximize the space you do have.
 
Here, the washer and dryer are stacked and concealed behind a bifold door, making them easy to access when required.
 
3. Use the dead space. Do you have an awkward area you don’t know what to do with? Challenging spaces are often left bare, and bare spaces tend to attract clutter. If an unused corner in your home has become messy, it may take away from the enjoyment of the room.
 
Think about how you can transform the space, as there are clever ways of putting these awkward areas to good use. In this home, a nook by a door became a gorgeous window seat that’s both functional and cozy.
 

 
4. Future-proof it. Make sure that your design addresses more than just your immediate needs. It’s very easy to focus your attention on how you want to live right now, especially if you have young children. However, your needs will change over time, so it’s vital that you build in some flexibility.
 
For instance, the opportunity to create a separate living space in an open-plan home may be a good idea for when the children get older, since family members may eventually desire a calm room away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the home.

 
5. Designate storage. “A place for everything and everything in its place” really is the mantra for a well-functioning home. When it comes to choosing the right kind of storage, you should let what you need to store dictate the kind of storage that you select.
 
Designated storage is far more efficient and useful than general storage. By having a specific place for each item, you’ll avoid the possibility of everything being thrown in haphazardly. Here, the designers created a study space with high-level storage in the alcove, plus a recessed unit for the TV with more concealed storage below.
 

 
6. Plan the lighting. One of the most important design aspects of a home, lighting is something many people struggle with. It has such a powerful effect on the ambience of a room that it is worth taking the time to get it absolutely right.
 
The trick is to get the proper balance of artificial and natural light. Too much artificial light results in a space that feels clinical, but if a room is underlit, everything appears gloomy and uninviting.
 
Here, there are a number of light sources: perimeter lighting in the ceiling for an ambient glow, a mix of floor lamps and table lamps (out of view) for general lighting, and spotlights for stronger illumination.
 

 
7. Make rooms work hard. When you’re designing a room, try to see where you can utilize spaces more effectively. Can you give a design feature multiple functions, for example?
 
In this bathroom, the toilet and sink are installed against a wall that conceals the pipes. The designers created recessed storage in the wall with an open shelf and cabinetry. And the undercabinet lighting provides a second source of ambient light. The result is a sleek and clutter-free bathroom with lots of atmosphere.
 

 
8. Pick finishes wisely. Choose finishes that are appropriate for the room. Tiles in a kitchen are a practical, durable choice for flooring.
 
Spend time researching the finishes for your home, and ask about upkeep and suitability for the space where you plan to use them. Even if you love the look of an item, such as a velvet sofa, it’s important to think about whether it’s a practical choice for your room.
 

 
9. Layer with color. Your choice of color isn’t important only for how it looks; it also will have a big impact on how you feel in the space. Get it wrong, and the color will shout at you every time you enter the room. Get it right, and you won’t even notice the color — you’ll just love spending time in the space.
 
A good tip is to layer your color palette: Start with a neutral backdrop and build on color carefully by adding bolder shades through accessories and art. However, neutral doesn’t mean painting your walls a bland shade. You can create a neutral version of practically any color by going either very light or very dark. Think grays, caramels and sandy tones, all of which work in any version from light to dark as a neutral backdrop that you can combine with any other accent color. Here, sandy grays spring to life through yellow accents.
 

 
10. Let your personality shine. Most important, your home should reflect the personality of those who live in it. Choose design elements that you love and that help you feel healthy and happy.
 
Here, color and wallpaper join forces to create a fun space in a child’s room.
 
Related Links:
Laundry Room Designs for Small Spaces
Media Storage Cabinets to Fit All of Your Needs
Undercabinet Lighting to Create the Perfect Ambience

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