Furniture for oddly-shaped rooms
Every room, especially an odd shaped one, needs a space plan with a furniture layout prior to purchasing furniture. Anyone who wants to do it without the help of a professional, needs to measure the room and use graph paper to draw the room to scale. Then “to-scale” paper cutouts of standard-size furniture should be made and moved around on the plan to see what fits in the space.
Some furniture stores offer space-planning services provided the furniture is purchased through them. However, this may limit the person to what is available in that particular store.
Another option is to use the services of an interior designer to help with the space plan and furniture layout. He/she can also give you some suggestions on the style of furniture. You can then use this information as a guide when you go to the stores to look for product.
Flooring Choices for high-traffic or heavily-used areas
There are many flooring choices and the best way to make a decision is to weigh the pros and cons of each to decide what fits one’s lifestyle or the function of the space the best. There isn’t any “one,” perfect material that would require no care, but here are some choices to consider:
- Wood will provide warmth and character. Engineered, pre-finished woods with a polyurethane finish wear well and can be refinished at least once after some years of use. It is not cold to the touch and is not as hard on the feet as tile and stone. Woods with a distressed look will show fewer scratches than those that are smooth.
- Laminate floors have become very popular lately. They are not as expensive as wood and come with good warranties. However, they are prone to scratching, but unlike wood cannot be refinished. Walking on laminate floors creates a “hollow” sound that bothers some people.
- Stones such as limestone and travertine are used a lot for flooring. This floor is hard and cold to walk on, and it also needs to be sealed periodically to keep from staining. Grout lines for stone can be very thin and this appeals to most people.
- Ceramic and Porcelain tile can be cheaper than stone and there are many tiles that mimic the look of stone. Tile, like stone, is cold and hard, and the grout tends to discolor over time. Tile does not need to be sealed and can take a lot of wear and tear.
- Luxury vinyls are fairly new to the flooring family and can simulate wood, stone, and other materials. This resilient flooring is easy to care for and wears beautifully.
Whose services to use, Interior Designer or Architect?
Architects and interior designers often approach things differently. In general, the architect works from the outside in and the interior designer works from the inside out.
Always ask an architect if he/she likes to work on interior details. Some do, and others don’t. Most projects require an immense amount of interior detail, both in layout and finishes.
The best scenario is a design team that includes both an interior designer and an architect working together on the project from conception to completion.
Add skylights to brighten dark rooms
Besides brightening a dark space skylights add drama and ambience when light streams in from above.
A good skylight installer can determine where the structural members supporting the roof are located. It is possible to place skylights between roof trusses or rafters without disturbing the structure at all. There may be some limitations as to the placement of the skylight. If it cannot be centered in the space, using two skylights sometimes works better.
Solatubes are an option too, but these are not as dramatic or architecturally interesting as skylights. However, they do provide a natural light source.
Choosing a furniture piece to tone down a formal room
A grouping of two sofas facing each other is considered a formal look and a coffee table between them would be a good addition to this room and would complete the grouping. However, in order to tone down the formality, the style of the table is important. One that is less formal but still blends into the existing furniture would work.
A fabric or leather-covered ottoman instead of a coffee table could also be used. This is shown a lot in magazines and when using this option one needs to place a tray on the ottoman when serving drinks.
Stone countertop maintenance
Natural stone is very popular right now and everyone wants to use granite for their counters. Like everything else there are pros and cons to all materials and one should use the material one really loves and that works for the application even if it isn’t the most popular.
There are counters made of quartz such as Caesarstone and Silestone. These are harder than granite, virtually maintenance free, and they don’t need to be sealed. These materials come in many colors but are very granular in appearance so those who like the movement in natural stone such as granite sometimes don’t like this look. Some of my clients have commented that they look like “plastic”.
Granite counters need to be sealed when the slabs are fabricated and installed. Depending on the granite and the use, they will need to be re- sealed periodically. There are companies that specialize in stone maintenance and this would be a good option if one doesn’t want to do it oneself.
Choosing staircase flooring material
In a traditional setting using a patterned carpet for the stairs works very well. There are many beautiful patterns and some mimic oriental rugs in their design. When the color and design compliments the décor it also helps bring all the finishes together and can look very dramatic. Also the patterned carpet will not show the usual wear and tear that a staircase is subjected to. The carpet elsewhere in the building need not match this but can pick up one of the tones and hence look coordinated.
Free-standing or custom built-in furniture for an office
Some times a combination of free standing and built-in furniture is a good solution. Inexpensive free standing filing drawers and storage units can be purchased in any finish preferred and the desk or work surface can be custom designed and built. This way the desk surface is maximized, it looks designed for the space and the storage units can even have casters on it and can roll in and out as needed. The finish on the desk surface can either match or complement the finish on the free standing units.
Planning a renovation project with an Architect and Designer
There is more than one way to approach a remodel/renovation project depending on the needs and budget constraints.
In a residential situation and if the project is a relatively simple one a draftsperson could draw the plans for permits in conjunction with a structural engineer if needed. However, if spaces such as kitchens and baths are involved the design capabilities of the draftsperson would be very important since the design of such spaces is a specialty. It would be wise to work with an interior designer or a kitchen and bath designer for the planning of the kitchen and bath and then use the draftsperson for the architectural construction drawings, permits, etc.
If the remodel is more ambitious it would be necessary to work with a licensed architect and then work with an interior designer or a kitchen and bath designer for detailed design of the spaces that are being remodeled.
In a commercial renovation an Architect and Interior Designer team would be the right approach.