4 Practical Design Challenges that Plague Us All, and How to Conquer Them
The art of balancing form and function
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always the most practical when it comes to designing my own home. I have an accent chair that only my purse sits on and an upholstered bench for a coffee table, which is manageable with a tray but a still little awkward when laying out food and drinks, nonetheless. You see, I'm of the mindset that everything should serve a purpose, but sometimes that purpose is just to make you happy.
Still, a beautiful room that doesn't suit your basic needs won't keep you satisfied for long. Here are the most common struggles my design clients have come across when it came to choosing form or function, and how you can find the sweet spot between each.
The Great Throw Pillow Debate
Source: Caitlin Timson
I'm a huge textile addict, and truth be told I would have a million throw pillows stowed away in my closet if my bank account would agree to it. But for most of us, layers of throw pillows just aren't practical. If you have children or pets the pillows will mostly end up strewn across the floor, rather than perfectly coifed and styled on your sofa. But to not have ANY? Inconceivable.
The best way to end the throw pillow debate is to opt for a throw blanket for the sofa, which will provide an extra layer of texture, color, and pattern, while also adding function for colder nights. Another option is to stick with a single lumbar pillow, which provides as much impact as a collection of smaller pillows layered together. Now that's a compromise I can get behind.
Open Storage: Friend or Foe?
Source: Earnest Home Co.
Source: The Everygirl
Do you ever feel like all that is standing between you and your BEST SELF is some open shelving and organizational accessories? Because I do. But then I purchase said shelving and accessories and quickly realize how flawed that theory is. Most of us can't keep open shelving perfectly organized and styled on a daily basis, especially when we're doing things in a hurry. If you're rushing to get dressed before leaving the house, you'll very likely leave makeup and lotions strewn about on the bathroom sink or haphazardly tossed on your beloved open shelving—rather than perfectly tucked away in that cute little basket you bought for the very purpose of housing beauty products.
But then company comes over for dinner and so you take the time to perfectly style every last accessory and think to yourself how GENIUS this open shelving is, and just like that you're torn again. So here's the deal: Don't solely rely on open shelving to keep yourself organized. A combination of closed and open storage is the most functional option, as it allows you to tuck away items that are harder to keep streamlined, and keep the other pieces out for easy, daily access.
Do I really need accessories?
Source: The Everygirl
Source: Style Me Pretty Living
Here's the thing: If you're going to invest in quality furniture for your home, you want to make the most of that investment. A room without accessories is like baking a cake but stopping short of adding the icing. Tragedy! The truth is you can have an IKEA couch and make it look like a million bucks with some thoughtful styling. Sure, coffee table trinkets and vases aren't the most "practical" thing to spend your money on, but then again, neither is spending a $1,000+ on a sofa, only to still wish your room looked closer to the inspiration on your Pinterest board.
Now, this doesn't mean you need to purchase every accessory West Elm or Target has to offer. Instead, select a handful of pieces you really love to add that extra layer of personality that will make your home truly feel like yours. Start slow, and add in pieces over time. Not only will this keep you from spending a bunch of money at once, but it will ensure that you don't end up with buyer's remorse. If you truly love every piece in your home, none of it will ever feel excessive or unnecessary.
Can I live with pets/children/humans and still have nice things?
Source: The Everygirl
Source: Lauren Liess
The fact that design decisions become more challenging when you have sticky fingers and muddy paws involved is a cold, hard fact of life. But it certainly doesn't have to mean that you can't put plenty of care and effort into creating a beautiful home. Opt for rugs that add interest and texture but are virtually spill-proof (hello, jute and sisal!), slipcovered furniture that you can easily toss in the wash after an ice cream debacle, and movable accent pieces that can quickly and easily be pushed to the side to create more space for playtime.
Sure, a crisp white sofa that can't be washed or a hand-woven Persian rug may not be in the cards for a while, but that doesn't mean all bets are off on a well-designed home. Jute, leather, linen, and microfiber are all hardwearing materials that will add visual interest and keep you from having a panic attack anytime red wine is involved.