Design 101: Don’t hamstring your design dream (or dream designer!)

These days, we’re inundated with inspiration images. We collect them from magazines, or more likely Pinterest and Houzz. Designers routinely ask new clients for their inspiration images so we can get an idea of what they like and even don’t like. So often, we’re treated to lovely inspiration images of light, bright and beautiful rooms with high ceilings.

And, too often, we’re starting with this:

black sofa vignette

Recently, I read about someone who had moved to a new house and had guests coming and needed something for them to sleep on so they rushed out and bought the first sleeper sofa they came across. A big dark gray sofa that was too big for the room and did not at all fit with her desire for a bright, light, feminine space. But because it was a newish purchase, she felt she needed to work with what she had. I’m here to say – nope, nope you don’t need to work with what you have. While I understand money doesn’t grow on trees, let me make some recommendations:

• Don’t buy anything in a rush that costs more than $100.00. The sofa in question was about $700.00. While this is a cheap sofa and will never be really good quality, $700.00 is too much money to throw away. If you have overnight guests coming, spend $100.00 on a good quality tall air mattress and pretty bedding. Especially if you’ve just moved in, your guests will understand that you’re not fully decorated.

• If you really believe you need to rush into buying such a big anchor piece in a room – take a few minutes and think about what you eventually want the space to look like. Look at your inspiration images again, and make sure that what you’re selecting “fits” with the picture in your minds eye.

And buy the item that most fits your vision.

white sofa vignette

• If you have made the wrong purchase and it’s relatively new and in good shape – try re-selling it and fund a new purchase.

If my client’s below had rushed out and bought a big honking dark sofa for their guest room/home office – we’d have never gotten such a light breezy space no matter how hard we tried.


No matter what your budget – no matter whether you’re working with a designer or you work as your own designer – you will never get the result you want by forcing the wrong item into it. We all have to make concessions to budget, to thrift, to the husband’s comfy leather barcalounger or grandma’s antique desk. I get it. But don’t make your job harder by making impulse purchases. There’s always a better way to go!

xoxo Linda

5 thoughts on “Design 101: Don’t hamstring your design dream (or dream designer!)”

  1. love this !!! My most go to item for budget is the Ikea slipcovered sofa for 390? it used to be 350 but it went up and that’s for the white slip. color clips are more. there is a co. that makes wonderful slips for all the ikea sofa in case you want to update them. a white slipped sofa fits in amlost any room.

  2. Hey Linda, do you just compare the image of your ideal space to the furniture available or actually draft some sort of plan or can picture pieces of furniture working together into the perfect space. Kinda of like with cooking you can imagine the taste. If so, you really have talent. On the other hand, if you’re using a tool please share! 🙂


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