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Tips of the Trade

Hello hello, Fabulistas,

Wow, more than 30 years as a designer! I’m constantly amazed at how time flies. It’s quite humbling to consider the many spaces I’ve created over the years, and my successes (as well as a few challenges) have given me an expert’s perspective. Perhaps you’ve heard about the 10,000 hour rule—that it takes over 10,000 hours to master something. I’ve definitely clocked in well over 10,000 hours as a designer! And now, when I tackle a new project, the design feels as natural as breathing. Design has become a reflex. 

I think the best part of being an expert is that I get to share my knowledge with all of you. For me, cultivating an atmosphere is intuitive, so this week I’m offering some of my favorite insider Tips of the Trade that will help you reimagine your spaces. These pro tips are both simple and highly effective at making the most of any space! From emphasizing your unique style to maximizing a space’s potential, I’m here to impart some expert advice that will inspire confidence and harmony in your home. 

Let the Space Speak to You

The very first thing I do when entering a space for the first time is ask, what is this space for? Who uses the space? What’s the primary reason for being in this room, and what will I get accomplished here? Understanding the purpose of a space gives a sense of intentionality to the entire design process, so I always start by asking the fundamental questions: who, what, why? When your space has a sense of purpose, you have the tools to cultivate an ambiance that fits your lifestyle and inspires joy. Let your space speak to you!

Furniture that Fits Just Right

Once I’ve established the vibe and purpose of a space, I look for pieces that are both beautiful and functional. Say I’m working with a studio or 1-bedroom apartment—a space that’s meant for work, rest, relaxation and entertainment- I’ll generally gravitate towards pieces that have several functions. I might look for a stylish credenza that has plenty of hidden storage, or a table that can entertain a small crowd and double as a workspace. I love to emphasize versatility and mobility in the design process. If you work from home, as so many of us do nowadays, think about giving yourself options about where you work. Add a stylish accent chair for conference calls, or offer yourself mobility when it comes to seating. It just might freshen up the creative process. If you have space for a dedicated Zoom Room, reach my tips on how to create the perfect atmosphere for virtual conferencing here

Of course, furniture placement can be just as important as the furniture itself. I love adding a console table to give meaning and function to a foyer or entryway. A simple touch like a carefully curated entry table adds a lasting first impression to your home, and also has the added bonus of providing a bit of storage (every set of keys needs a home!).

My main rule of thumb when it comes to selecting furniture is to choose pieces that accentuate a space, and a space that highlights the furniture. Do you have a pair of pants that just make your legs look amazing? I know I do! I try to look at the pieces in my home the same way—a coffee table or a sofa that simply makes a room sing and emphasizes its best features. Let your furniture be in conversation with the space.

Cultivate a Style as Unique as You 

Discovering your style is one of the best ways to select furniture that works for your home and your lifestyle. Every one of us is unique, and curating our homes to reflect our personalities is a tried-and-true way to feel confident every day. Whether you’re a bit mid-century modern or learn towards bohemian chic, being in touch with your own aesthetic helps guide you in the direction of which pieces work for your space, the mood you want to cultivate, and the home you want to live in! Always trust your gut and be fearlessly you. I recently wrote about some of today’s most popular design styles, so if you’re looking for inspiration, check out the full post here.

Let there be light!

Ah, lighting! This is hands down one of the most important tools to successful design. I always try to emphasize natural light if it’s available—it makes spaces seem open and welcoming, while maintaining a generous ambiance. Lighter wall colors often enhance the effects of natural light by reflecting the sun and keeping spaces uplifted. You may even want to dress your windows in curtains or drapes that show off their best feature—the view! 

Mirrors are a wonderful and practical accent to any wall, and they have the incredible power to maximize space and light. Mirrors add so much dimension—their visual impact can make a space seem twice the size—and because there’s so much variety when it comes to reflective accents, every style of home can seamlessly incorporate mirrors. 

Brilliant Mirror, front view Tux Square Mirror, front view 

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Robin Says, “A Mirror is decorative and highly functional! Add dimension and design to your space with any number of fabulous reflective accents.”

When it comes to overhead lighting, a dynamic chandelier can have quite the impact. Add a bit of glam and bright flare with a crystal-packed chandelier, or keep a space more subdued and traditional with a more subtle fixture. Recessed lighting can set the general mood, but additional ceiling fixtures, like multiple hanging pieces, can really add a wow factor. Sconces, table lamps and larger floor models make a similarly dramatic addition to spaces in terms of style and placement. A dramatic and bright floor lamp creates a different atmosphere than a set of softer table lamps. Of course, dimmers are fabulous! I try to use them whenever possible, to give me optimal control over the mood of a room. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to lighting

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Robin Says “Lighting is one of the fastest ways to establish a mood. With so many styles of lighting available, the mood is never fixed.”

Small Touches, Big Impact

After living and breathing interior design for so many years, I’ve come to learn that no detail is too small when it comes to design. Accents are one of the most powerful tools when creating a well-rounded space that’s unique and filled with personality. Hardware is a spectacular way to liven up any space and to give a bit of custom charm throughout your home. Even if you’re looking to spruce up some existing pieces (a fabulous way to stay sustainable, I might add), a bit of hardware might just do the trick. I could go on about hardware for days, and luckily I’ve written an entire post about it! Feel free to check it out for some more hardware inspiration

Robin Says, “Hardware is so fabulously dynamic--and it’s one of the easiest ways to transform the mood of a space!”

Accent pieces, antiques, photographs and artwork are all fabulous ways to make your space especially personal and vibrant. A bold throw or accent pillow can add some excitement to a room with a neutral palette. A one-of-a-kind vintage find can make a space feel especially yours. And some fabulous artwork or a glamorous decorative artifact can add a personal impact. My resident experts Elizabth Sadoff and Toma Clark Haines can offer some spot-on advice about art and antiques. Color, whether on your wall or in your fabric choices, is another simple touch that can massively impact a space. A pop of color is a surefire way to catch the eye, so consider going bold and making a splash! If you’re looking for some color inspo, be sure to check out my exclusive Color Ways, an exclusive collection of curated color palettes to wet your design appetite! 

These are some of my favorite and essential insider Tips of the Trade that help me begin every design adventure I embark upon. I’m certain they’ll help you find the inspiration you’re looking for. Of course, if you’d like to get a bit more personal, you can book a complimentary consultation with me. Feel free to ask me anything design-related on a 15-minute video chat. I’m so grateful to be able to share my expertise with all of you. Comment below and share your tips for keeping things fresh, fabulous and confidently you!

Xoxo,

Robin

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