Welcome to the Designdeck.
Similar to the Star Trek Holodeck but-for-interior-design. Where dreams come true.
You’ve got a confused look on your face. I want to know why so I ask you.
“What’s confusing you?”
It’s the women, you begin.
A voice in my head interupts you without you realizing.
It’s rarely the women, it’s almost always you.
Alas, you continue.
You explain how your dates go really well. The conversation is flowing, you’re laughing, drinks are being drunk.
It’s time to take things to the next level.
You both agree to go back to your place. The love nest, as you like to call it.
That’s where things go pear-shaped. All it takes is for your date to take one step over the threshold and they look like they’re about to vomit.
As soon as they got there, they’ve left again.
You believe it’s your interior design skills. Somewhere along the way you’ve neglected to nuture them and now it’s coming back to haunt you.
You need help, so here you are.
I need to know one thing.
“Let me see.”
You reach to your jacket’s inside pocket and pull out a picture of your living room.
It’s worse than I thought.
I can picture the takeaways and candy packets strewn across the floor without a care in the world. The worry is creeping back now though.
I ask you what you want from your living room and you tell me you want to be proud. You want the girls you bring back to never want to leave. You want your home to reflect the true you.
You ask me if that’s a worthy cause and I agree, it’s what we all want in life.
Let’s start with the basics.
Lighting is going to relax the both of you
Lighting is the most important element in interior design.
You’re surprised, your eyebrows are raised and eyes are huge. Not like you’ve just seen someone get punched, more like I’ve just given you a birthday present.
And in a way, I have.
Lighting is essential for creating whatever atmosphere you desire. Especially if you’re creating intimacy with your date.
Here’s what you don’t want to do:
- Produce too much light.
I turn the overhead light up to full. You hold your hand up to shield your eyes and demand I turn it down.
- Produce too little light
I turn the lights off, silently glide behind you and brush your left shoulder. You let out a small squeal – “are you creeped out yet?”
The lights are back on and my point made.
There are three types of lighting.
Ambient lighting is the general overhead lighting that illumiates an entire room at once.
It’s the kind of lighting you need when you’re going on holiday tomorrow. The wake up’s at 4am, but somehow it’s already 11.30pm the night before and you haven’t found your passport yet. Where is it!?
The monobrightness leaks everywhere and keeps your brain in the game just long enough to find it before you start to get really worried.
Top Dating Tip: when you first get back to yours, let your date see the lay of the land and make sure you don’t live like a slob (easier said than done with some?).
Task lighting is used in specific areas of the room that need a temporary nucleus of light. Especially necessary when it’s getting dark outside, you need to change the TV channel from whatever-the-hell-you-just-watched for 45 minutes without realizing, but secretly enjoyed.
You grab the remote control and, even though you’ve changed the channel so many times before, you still can’t quite work out where the Guide button is.
Thank God for that lamp to your right.
Top Dating Tip: get the task lighting on as soon as it’s appropriate and you’re both relaxed.
Accent lighting highlights features of a room.
Ideal for when you invite friends over and they bring someone you’ve never met before. At some point your friend needs to go to the toilet, but unfortunately you realized ten minutes ago that you don’t have anything in common with the new guy.
Pop the accent light on, glow up the ancient artifacts you collected on your recent trip abroad and watch that conversation flow like honey.
Top Dating Tip: if you don’t feel like you’ve expressed how interesting you are but feel there’s more to give, subtley flick the switch and let the good times roll.
I ask you why you should move onto task light quickly and you stand there wondering for a while.
“I know this… it’s to do with creating a layering of light!”
I reach into my back pocket, pull out an invisible baseball bat and ball, throw the ball up in the air and hit yet another home run. I get one every time.
Congrats, you smashed it out the park.
Layering light makes the room more visually pleasing. It’s very similar to the way a chord in music is preferred to a single note – dynamic and always feels like it’s changing.
I tell you my theory – that layered light feels closer to firelight. It makes us feel safer.
I also tell you it’s what my PhD research is on.
You believe me.
I promise I’m laughing with you, not at you.
Task lighting is the easiest way to achieve layering by turning on multiple, smaller light sources that overlap one another.
Remember, shadows are equally as important as the light itself.
Buy a sofa that floats and sinks
Now that you appreciate the importance of lighting, I can show you some sofas.
This is harder than it may initially seem. Why? Because everyone has their own tastes and you shouldn’t buy an expensive pieces of furniture based on whether a date may like it.
We can make some assumptions that will help you on your journey.
I tell the Designdeck to bring up the first sofa and the whole living room setup changes accordingly.
I have The Power
There are two things that your sofa can help with when it comes to dating.
Let’s begin with the legs.
Sofas take up a lot of space and, when they do, it means the rest of the room loses out. Chunky sofas look stuffy, and are often oppressive on the atmosphere of the room.
Sofas with legs open up the space – allowing light underneath and the air in the room circulate freely.
It’s all about making the living room as inviting as possible.
You get on your knees and gaze under the sofa.
“Ohh, chips!” – it’s all about the details and the Designdeck’s nailed it this time.
You’re obviously hungry because now your torso’s under it, digging the bag out.
I leave you to it.
Top Dating Tip: choose a sofa with legs to make the room feel more relaxed
The next item on the agenda and the more important of the two is how comfortable the sofa is.
It’s a Saturday and I’m pretty sure I can smell yesterday’s alcohol on your breath. I assume you’ve slept and brushed your teeth but still feeling like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.
This is good.
The next sofa is the ultimate hangover cure when you’re feeling ropey.
You jump up onto the sofa and manage to land on it perfectly horizontal.
I reach down and rip your shoes from your feet.
Where are the manners these days?
You remind me that this is a virtual world.
I remind you this is my virtual world.
Top Dating Tip: buy a sofa you find comfortable. If your date doesn’t agree, it was never meant to be. Plenty more fish in the sea.
No one buys accent chairs unless they know what they’re doing
Next up is the all important accent chair.
You need to strike a balance between your date being impressed with how the chair looks and being so overcome with its beauty that they’re sitting in it.
If they’re sitting in it, they’re not sitting with you.
The date’s gone badly.
An accent chair’s function is to stand out from the crowd and the crowd in this case is all of the other furniture in the living room.
What’ll make it stand out:
The accent chairs that the Designdeck decides to show you next have all of the above.
You’re dazed and go into something of a frenzy. It reminds me of a dog that’s gotten too excited and runs laps around the house for twenty minutes.
I cut my losses and drape our coats over the chairs to shield them from your vision.
That’s enough fun for now.
Top Dating Tip: accent chairs make you look like you know what you’re doing, even if they don’t serve an immediate purpose. Extend this feeling of reassurance for your date’s sake as long as possible.
Break up the room with area rugs
In each of the living rooms I’ve shown you, rugs have been a constant throughout. Sometimes they blend into the background, but it stands out when they’re absent.
Time to show you one without.
There are more rug designs and combinations of different patterns and materials than there are sand grains in the Sahara Desert.
Briefly the scenery outside morphs into sand dunes, the peaks whisping as the wind picks up speed.
I stretch out my hands and list the common materials that rugs are made from, each one gets it’s own designated finger and thumb:
Pattern is a personal preference.
The rule of thumb is to balance your rug against the sofa and the rest of the living room. If everything else has a dynamic pattern to it, the room will suit a rug with one color.
Alternatively, if you’ve chosen a monochromatic sofa, you don’t need to be shy with your rug’s pattern.
Its size is either going to be enough to cover:
- Just the coffee table
- The sofa, accent chairs and the coffee table
“I’d like to see some examples of those, please. I get confused about just how large the rugs need to be.” – I like your enthusiasm. I can see my younger self in you.
I don’t even need to say anything to the computer system this time, it already knows what needs to be done and our surroundings freshen up once more.
I catch you looking at the mirror as you realize you can control the very atoms in the Designdeck. They’ll bend to your will if you ask them to.
You will be a benevelont God today.
Time to look at the larger rug.
It’s a big room and what a view. You find some binoculars and take more interest in staring into other peoples windows than the rugs you’ve just asked to see.
A bit weird.
Top Dating Tip: area rugs help to define a space so your brain doesn’t have to do as much work and it relaxes. You get to show off your amazing personality too.
Who said you need a normal coffee table?
Coffee tables are self-explanatory. They hold things.
Although there are many different styles it’s best to treat coffee tables in a similar way to the sofa, legs help to open the space of the living room.
I ask you to picture a coffee table and you confirm it’s retangular with straight edges.
This is a viable design if you like them but popular, modern coffee tables include curves or are even natural pieces of wood.
“Does my coffee table need to be a coffee table?”
A great question.
No one said it needs to look like a traditional coffee table.
- Chests or trunks
- Multiple smaller side tables
- Storage benches
There’s a lot you can choose from.
Top Dating Tip: add charm to the room with unusually shaped coffee tables.
Throws and art add the finishing touches
I pull a throw blanket from a cupboard and put it round your shoulders.
You look like Superman but you’ll be known as Blanketman.
Throws are used for decoration. They’re great because they look awesome without even trying – especially when ruffled across a chair or sofa.
Even if it’s warm outside, utilize them to include additional color to the room – make sure your throw blanket compliments both your accent chair, sofa and rug.
This consideration means neutral colors work well for throw blankets.
Art is a difficult for me to advise on.
It’s extremely personal – that’s the point though.
You need to use it as an expression of what you love and not what you think someone you’re dating is going to prefer.
Under the pillow is a hammer.
I ask you to pick it up.
A strange situation just got stranger but I urge you to go with the flow.
I present you with a nail, I need you to hammer it home above the sofa.
“Where about?” you say.
“Here’s a ruler. Measure 6-8 inches above the couch, the picture has to be at least that height above it. Next, the middle of the piece needs to be at about eye level, you don’t want to be straining your neck to see it. Lastly, buy art that’s around 2/3 the size of the sofa. If you’ve put up a gallery wall then treat all of the pictures as one”
Here are the stores where you can purchase art:
The final act
To round this saga off, the most important thing is to create a living room that you’re happy in.
Dating is all about being comfortable with one another, but it starts with you.
When you’re comfortable with yourself and your surroundings you allow other people to be too.
Keep that in mind when you’re designing and I promise you – you’re going to have so much success you won’t know why you didn’t make the change sooner.