Answer: Your recognition of the problem is leading you in the right direction. The first thing you need to do is stand in the center of the room. Look all around you and note items such as proportions of the room and how they relate to the windows, furnishings and the remaining available space.
Next, look at the walls. Do they appear cluttered or bare in proportion to their size and the other elements in the room, i.e. windows, furnishings, etc.? Also note whether the ceilings are vaulted. Study the traffic pattern of a room. This also will tell you something about the focus of the room and its uses.
Even though a specific focus does not seem apparent in your room design, step out of the room and walk back in. What do you see first? Does a main object or element of the room draw your eye? What do you think attracted you to this potential focal point, i.e. the color in contrast to its surroundings, proportion, unusual shape?
Take visual inventory of accessories. Do they seem balanced or cluttered? Do the floor coverings tie in with the room's overall design scheme or do they compete with a particular fabric used within the room? Do the same comparison with the wall treatments.
As far as the general layout of the room, does it flow or is it choppy and unsettling? Furniture placement in front of a busy wallpaper or on a busy floor covering may compete for attention, especially if the furniture is too large or small for the room's size and architectural features. The color palette of the design also may need some changes, such as an accent wall of paint that may add definition to a focal point.
Finally, to further define the problem, ask yourself:
Do I feel comfortable with the focus of the room? Is the color scheme what I intended or is it too stated or subdued? Are the furnishings properly placed throughout the room? Is there enough pattern and texture to my selection of textiles?
Usually an unsettling room can be rescued by answering these basic questions, or even some simple adjustments to the space, adding accent pillows or using the accent wall as suggested above. Once you have come to some conclusions, you will feel more at ease when you present your suggestions to the client.
Be sure to ask enough questions before you start a design project. This will eliminate much of the problem from the beginning. Also, take the time to get to know the client. Some are easier than others, but when you have an understanding of the client's likenesses and lifestyle patterns, it will make the design process more efficient, effective and fun for you and your customer.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson which will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings, as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to: DesignSolutions@DWCdesigNET.com
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.