Sometimes when we think about decor we tend to think it’s all about beauty, aesthetics, making a space feel inviting. But what about function? Do you have to choose between beauty and function? The answer is “NO”! That’s where good design comes in. A well-designed room harnesses both form and function. The best rooms have both elements working in sync. This post is all about how to design a room to make decor work for you, keeping form and function balanced in equal measure. We’ll start with the floor plan and take the design process all the way through to the final details. I’ll show you the process I use to create or recreate a room. You can easily apply these same steps and principles to any space in your home.
Jodie and I are SUPER excited and honored to be part of the BHG Live Better Influencer Network for 2018. We are compensated when sharing our favorite finds from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. As always our opinions are our own. Affiliate links for product sources are included for your shopping convenience.
Make Decor Work in “The Big Room”
Our 14-year-old son Julian inherited “the big room” this fall when his 18-year-old brother Frederick went to college. Frederick inherited it 2 years prior when his older sister left for college. We decided even before we moved into our home 5 years ago that to make things “fair” each kid would have their time in “the big room”. This room was built by the previous owners as their home gym. It is 21′ x 20′ with a wall of glass leading out to a private 2nd story balcony overlooking the golf course. It has high vaulted ceilings, dormer windows, soundproof walls and floors and a rockin’ stereo…the perfect teen hangout room! All that being said it still had a slew of challenges to work through.
The 3 Main Challenges to Make Decor Work
All spaces have their unique challenges. Small spaces require particular planning, sometimes down to the inch. A big space requires extra thought to properly define and use the space. Another challenge was that since we were converting a home gym to a bedroom it was lacking one essential: a closet. The final major challenge with this room was that its cavernous feel was not ideal for a bedroom. How to make the room feel inviting and cozy was probably my biggest obstacle.
I set to work to conquer my 3 main challenges:
- defining unique, smaller spaces within the one large room
- creating the function of a closet without remodeling
- creating a cozy, inviting feeling in such a voluminous space
No matter the size of your room a well-designed room has defined areas within itself. A kitchen might have a prep area, a coffee area, a baking area, an eating area, etc. A living room might have 2-3 separate conversation areas, maybe a reading nook, or a bar area. My former gym turned bedroom definitely required management of space.
Step 1: Determine the function(s) of the space
- Ask yourself how you want to use the space.
- What types of activities will be happening?
- What are the requirements for these activities?
For our teen bedroom the answers are:
- board games
- video games
The Floor Plan
Believe it or not I am not a computer girl. Haha. At least I wasn’t before blogging. Turns out, you have to become a computer girl in order to be a blogger (I must have missed the memo). So here I am, plunked down right in the middle of this computer world. Insert EEK emoji face here! When I work with clients I actually still use graph paper and colored pens and pencils! Well, my attempt at creating a computer-generated floor plan for y’all kind of went belly up! So I printed out what I had started and went back to my pens. I’m just laughing and hope you don’t mind a little “real life” mixed in 🙂
Let’s Walk Through The Floor Plan
The door is on the left wall. To the left of the door is the designated study area. Two computer screens, a keyboard and his school laptop occupy the desk (I know, right? what a world!!). I bought him a large, comfy, “executive” arm chair because he spends so many hours here! Next to the desk, within arm’s reach is his leaning book shelves where, among other things, he can keep all his homework-related materials and his text books.
TV, Social & Game Area
Next, is the key social area of the room. It’s his main gathering spot. The large, 58″ flat screen TV is the focal point. Underneath is my brand new furniture piece from the Better Homes & Gardens furniture line at Walmart that lives up to its center stage role! It is the Modern Farmhouse TV Stand, but it is very versatile and could work in any room that could use a console and awesome storage. (So equally fabulous in any family room, den, hallway or dining room.)
To make this space work I needed plenty of storage, seating, and a center table so game boards could happen. My family was raised on games like Apples to Apples and dozens of others so my furniture choices had to hold these gems and also supply a great surface to gather around. These requirements were met by my second new addition to the room, the Modern Farmhouse Lift Top Coffee Table, from the same fabulous collection from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart.
Now is a good time to check out the amazing Modern Farmhouse Furniture Collection by Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart (see some of my favorite items below). In addition to these you’ll be able to browse a large (and exciting) selection of well-priced, quality furnishings: from decor items to rugs to furniture and everything in between.
If you’re in love with this affordable Modern Farmhouse TV console even half as much as I am check it out here to purchase. It’s even better in person!
To the right of the door is the dressing area. Here you’ll find a rolling rack for hanging clothes, a five-drawer dresser and his laundry bin (hidden nicely between the two). More about this space later.
Using Rugs to Visually Define Spaces
This entire room is carpeted so I don’t actually need rugs and yet I need rugs. Luckily the wall to wall carpet is a very tight Berber rug. Rugs lie very nicely on a tight carpet. If your carpet is long skip layering (unless you are going for a unique look).
- define a space
- ground furniture
- create a real visual frame
- protect the floor underneath
- provide style, comfort, & coziness
Luckily you can find great inexpensive rugs these days that are practical and stylish as well.
Form & Function to Make Decor Work
Remember that a well-designed room puts function on the same level as beauty. Every choice has to be made with both elements in mind if you really want your decor to work for you. One is not sacrificed for the other. Begin with function, then consider aesthetics. Don’t forget comfort, ease of use, etc.
For this room restyle my goals were both aesthetically based and functionally based. I wanted to create more of a cohesive style in the room. When the we first moved into this house we had a lot of furniture, but it was coming from different houses, different styles and different purposes. I did my best to arrange the furniture, but it was understandably a bit of a hodge-podge.
Functionally I wanted more storage. Board games, controllers, homework supplies all needed a place to be stored and organized preferably out of sight.
Choosing New Furniture
I was introduced to a line of furniture made by Better Homes & Gardens available at Walmart and Walmart.com. I was originally attracted by the look of the Modern Farmhouse Collection of furniture. Right up my alley. Since I added an accent wall of rustic wood I have been wanting to evolve the room to more of a modern farmhouse style. It also makes sense because as most of you know, that is the direction of most of my house.
Originally I thought I would just replace the video wall console with their cool Modern Farmhouse TV Stand with sliding barn-style doors! But then I saw how amazing the prices were and I easily had it in budget to also purchase the matching Modern Farmhouse Lift Top Coffee Table. Done and done! Shop this awesome piece below via our affiliate link.
These pieces are affordable, check! Stylish, check! And they provide tons of storage, check! Can you say “Happy Girl”? For the price, these pieces are great quality. I built both of them myself. It took some time, but the instructions are great. Everything lined up. Everything was so well designed and engineered. These epitomize my motto,” to make decor work” for my spaces, my needs, my style! I would buy every item in the Better Homes & Gardens Modern Farmhouse Furniture collection if I had the need. Part of me wants to in order to add more cohesion to the room. We’ll see….wink wink.
Solving the Closet Issue
Imagining the room sort of like a loft apartment I decided to use a steel garment rack for hanging clothes. Underneath the hanging rack I placed shelves for miscellaneous items and shoes. Among the aforementioned plethora of inherited furniture we had no lack of dressers. A 5-drawer dresser next to the clothing rack provides extra storage. Across the room is another double-wide dresser. These provide plenty of clothing storage. The problem was they were different colors of wood and didn’t really go with the style I was hoping to achieve.
To solve this problem Jodie and I chalk painted both sets of drawers gray last summer. We love how they turned out. You can read all about the project, and read our step by step guide to Chalk Painting.
The Final Piece(s) to Make Decor Work for You!
After you fully address form and function, it’s time for the final phase: Adding warmth and ambiance with the finishing details. Don’t stop before you add the details. If you do your room won’t look finished, and it won’t feel inviting. Here are some of my favorite ideas for finishing touches:
Nothing warms up a space quite like nature. This room is a perfect example. It literally came to life (pun intended) when I added plants. Real or faux, we like to use them both! They add a pop of color that is at once neutral and won’t clash no matter your palette.
Don’t skip the pillows. You don’t have to go overboard (like we sometimes do–haha!) But don’t leave a bed or a couch naked! The large expanse of an unadorned bed or couch screams boring and unfinished. Pillows are an inexpensive way to add style and pattern and can be changed out with your mood, the seasons, and evolving decor needs. Another fun place for pillows these days are the floor. Floor pillows are making a big statement these days. It’s no wonder. They provide inexpensive extra seating, can easily be moved from room to room, and add charm & character all at once! Another great example of making decor WORK!
On a chair, a bed, or a couch…the addition of a soft, comfy throw warms up a space (literally and figuratively). It is useful as well!
Baskets & Containers
These have become a beloved decorative item. Again, form meets function. So many cute, inexpensive options available plus you get to store things (read: hide things!)
The list is endless but these are a great start. Your small decor items are your chance to add character, charm, whimsy and delight to your spaces. Don’t miss the opportunity to express yourself in these small details.
Make Decor Work For You: You’ve Got This!
Marrying beauty and practicality isn’t as hard as it may seem. Doing your homework ahead of time, giving proper thought to each aspect, and having a somewhat systematic approach as you make your room choices will all pay off in the end. The make decor work in the big picture ends up being in the details!
Jodie and I would like to say a special thank you to our friends at Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart for partnering with us for 2018! We will be bringing you a new challenge every month as part of the Better Homes & Gardens Live Better Influencer Network. You can find the Better Homes & Gardens brand line carried exclusively by Walmart. Follow BHG on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
We sure hope these ideas help you in your room designs. Let us hear how you make decor work for you, your challenges and successes! We always love to hear from you 🙂
Looking for more decor advice & ideas? Read Fresh Spring Decorating
Other reader favorites are: 6 Budget Spring Decor Ideas
With love & gratitude,
Julie & Jodie
The Design Twins