How to Make Sure Your Home's Not "Basic"

Custom elements in a master bathroom. By Ella Design Group.

Custom elements in a master bathroom. By Ella Design Group.

If you're in the millennial crowd (or you're just up on the latest lingo), you know the term "basic" gets thrown around a lot as a way to describe people who are really into mainstream products, trends and pretty much anything 'cookie cutter'. While we don't think browsing Pinterest, going to brunch or drinking pumpkin spice lattes should ever be frowned upon, when it comes to interiors, "basic" just won't cut it. Having a space that looks like it swallowed a showroom floor or the home section of a department store ensures that it doesn't reflect your personality and it will be, frankly, a little boring. So how do you avoid the off-the-rack, generic feel to achieve something that has a high-end, designer look? Is it super expensive furniture? Trendy pieces? Nope. It's actually all about the quality and details.

As interior designers, we're trained to seamlessly blend different elements and we have the vision to see the big picture and how these elements will work together. When you don't consider the details, you're doing a disservice to yourself and your space. A designer-quality room takes into account things like how the knobs of an armoire contrast perfectly with the stain of the wood or how the trim on the drapes ties the color scheme together. Attention to detail elevates a space and takes it from pretty but bland and ordinary to stunning and personalized. A thoughtful design should embody the essence of the people who live there and that's always our goal going into a project. 

Here are six things we've learned over the years about designing a one-of-a-kind space that's anything but #basic:

1. Form Meets Function: 

This piece from  Caracole's Modern Artisan Collection  is gorgeous, great quality and offers ample storage!

This piece from Caracole's Modern Artisan Collection is gorgeous, great quality and offers ample storage!

We love these unique outdoor throw pillows from  Elaine Smith . They're made with water-, stain- and fade-resistant fabric. Functional definitely doesn't equal boring! We even use them inside when designing kid or pet-friendly homes.

We love these unique outdoor throw pillows from Elaine Smith. They're made with water-, stain- and fade-resistant fabric. Functional definitely doesn't equal boring! We even use them inside when designing kid or pet-friendly homes.

Sure, you want a room to be beautiful but if it doesn't work for your lifestyle, it will be useless and will seem more like a museum gallery than an actual lived-in, well-loved space. It's important to think about the types of activities you'll be doing in the room, how you want to use it and what your daily life is like. Do you entertain a lot? Do you have kids and pets? Is it a high-traffic area? Your answers to questions like these will determine the layout, the type of fabrics you choose, the storage capacity and what pieces are necessary or unnecessary. Beauty and function will make a space special and livable. 

2. The Power of Custom Pieces: 

Furniture from  Ambella Home

Furniture from Ambella Home

Outfitting a room entirely with ready-made pieces from a big box store and expecting it to have personality is a mistake. There are limitations to mass market products. They're designed to appeal to pretty much everyone so they don't usually have much of a "wow" factor and you and thousands of other people will have the same piece. Plus, they're generally made on an assembly line resulting in low quality. Custom pieces are unique and there's likely only one exactly like it in the world. The workmanship far surpasses that of ready-made versions, the color and pattern options are endless and they create a luxury feel. Obviously, going entirely custom can be cost prohibitive. Mixing high and low pieces is an excellent option. It can save money while still achieving a stunning space. It's always a good idea to invest in quality, custom pieces for bigger ticket items because they'll last forever and won't need to be replaced every few years and they'll also have the most impact. We work with different vendors, artisans and trades to help our clients find that perfect piece that's the best quality for the money. 

3. Some Rules are Made to be Broken: 

Custom hand-crafted upholstery by  Huntington House . We're huge fans of mixing patterns!

Custom hand-crafted upholstery by Huntington House. We're huge fans of mixing patterns!

Following decorating rules too rigidly or staying too on-trend isn't conducive to an interesting space. It's okay to break a few rules so that a space feels less forced and not matchy-matchy. We love getting creative and thinking up new ideas to give clients their dream home and sometimes these ideas defy conventional design wisdom.

4. Window Treatments Can Make a Room: 

We created these custom window treatments for our client's dramatic, yet enormous windows. They definitely couldn't get away with curtains in a standard size.

We created these custom window treatments for our client's dramatic, yet enormous windows. They definitely couldn't get away with curtains in a standard size.

One of the places to consider going custom is with your window treatments. Window treatments are a powerful way to tie a room together and give it a polished feel. Store bought curtains tend to come in standard sizes and they very rarely fit real-life windows perfectly while custom window treatments are measured, crafted and installed to suit your space and each specific window. Stunning banding, trims and fabrics add those essential little details. Techniques like layering window treatments can make them more functional and change the whole vibe of a room.

5. Everyone Needs a Few Antiques: 

By Ella Design Group...The vintage chandelier we found adds some serious drama.

By Ella Design Group...The vintage chandelier we found adds some serious drama.

Incorporating vintage and antique pieces, especially family heirlooms, makes a space so much more personal. Antiques have a story, they're interesting and they can be really unique. It's also eco-friendly to use antiques and vintage pieces as opposed to buying new because no energy is required to produce them and items get a new life.

6. Color is a Must: 

Vibrant fabric in tons of colors and patterns from  Caracole .

Vibrant fabric in tons of colors and patterns from Caracole.

This is a huge, huge factor and a lot of people are so afraid of color. It's actually the easiest thing to incorporate into a space once you understand it, which comes with the training we have. It also happens to be the easiest thing to fix or update as your style and preferences change. For example, throw pillows are such a simple way to bring in color and new trends and you can just swap them out whenever you want to refresh your space or try something new.

Our mission is to create one-of-a-kind spaces that truly reflect the homeowners' personalities and the things they love. Our unique process involves a serious attention to detail. Whether it's through custom pieces, mixing in sentimental items or antiques or coming up with fresh approaches to ensure a space is beautiful and functional, the end result should take your breath away and make you happy every time you enter the room.