Tips to Create a Cohesive Design

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Planning –  Before you jump into a new remodel or redesign project you’ve got to spend some time researching your aesthetic. Sometimes this can be a bit tricky. Where should you start if you have no idea what to call your style? What if you feel like you really have no style? My number one suggestion to anyone embarking on a design project is to take the time to search for inspiration images. These can be found the old-fashioned way by looking in magazines, or go digital and search Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV, Instagram, or Facebook to refine your vision. 

When you spend the time ‘pinning’ and honing your likes, your design aesthetic will present itself to you. Step away for a day or two and then go back through your pins. Weed out any images that don’t excite you and you will be left with images that are surprisingly similar and follow a design style. This is how you discover your aesthetic. 


Color –  Once you’ve narrowed down your aesthetic, the next step is to select a color palette. Your inspiration images will be a good starting point. Keep to the 60-30-10 rule, with your main color being 60%. Ideally, a neutral color should be the dominate color and serves as a backdrop to the design. Creating a space with a neutral base allows you to play with the accent colors. It’s much easier to swap out a pillow when looking to change your color mood than it is to repaint your walls. 

The color you select as your 30% is one you can have a little more fun with. Think of a colorful couch set, or bedding, or add wood tones through your furniture. The last 10% should be the little pop of color you always hear about. Incorporating a fun seasonal color is an easy way to keep your space feeling fresh and on trend, while being super easy to swap out. If color intimidates you, consider checking out the options here. A pre-selected color palette is easy to purchase and are designed to work well with each other, and hopefully make your heart sing!


Lighting – Lighting can stump a lot of people. My best tip to creating a cohesive lighting design is to create a separate light fixture board to pin all the fixtures that spark your interest. Once you have gathered quite a few images, step away for a few days. When you revisit your inspiration images, cull the ones you just don’t love as much. Now focus on the style of fixture that seems to be most prevalent. Start with these. 

A quick search will bring up many different coordinating fixtures in the same style. If you love black metal, keep your fixtures in each space cohesive with a black metal design. If you love gold and glass, consider keeping your fixtures cohesive with the ratio of gold to glass in each selection. Shapes of fixtures don’t matter nearly as much as keeping the materials and style similar. Keep in mind that one-size does not fit all spaces. Consider looking into proper sizing and hanging heights for your fixtures(This may be a great spot to link to a blog post of your own if you have one on this subject.)


Furnishings – The importance of measuring each space for your large furnishings cannot be stressed enough! I’ve been in many homes where the sectional sofa blocks the natural flow of traffic or is completely out of scale to the space. Or the dining table and chairs are crammed into a too small formal dining area and creates a claustrophobic feeling. 

When space planning, imagine the room broken into four equal parts. Each quadrant should have the same weight of furnishings, this can be physical or visual, or both. Don’t load one side of the room and leave the other side empty. If you are working with a small space, consider balancing the room with an interesting painted accent wall, or large art in place of another piece of furniture. Visual balance is incredibly important when designing a room to feel good and a tip to creating a cohesive design not to be overlooked. 

The accessories you place in a space are also important to consider, and a way to tell your story. Collections from travels, books you love, framed photos, and knick-knacks all help bring your personality into the design. It’s not unusual to design a space around a textile you fell in love with, or a piece of art you couldn’t live without. We find inspiration in the most interesting places and these things are what make our house feel like our home. 

Art – Don’t neglect selecting art for your space. Art is like jewelry that finishes an outfit. If you haven’t dabbled in choosing art before, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Does it make you feel better knowing that art is subjective, and you don’t have to explain your tastes? A neutral abstract piece is always a safe place to start. Or go a bit bolder and introduce a print or canvas with color, keeping in mind the 60-30-10 rule. Art doesn’t have to match subjects, but the colors in each piece should tell a color story and coordinate.  

Check out what artists in your area have to offer. Adding art to your room design from a local artist is a great way to show community support and it will always be a great piece to talk about with friends and carries the added benefit of making you look like a sophisticated patron of the arts. 



Be true to you – It’s always nice to have a sounding board and run your ideas by family and friends. Getting different perspectives is always a great way to gather information to make the best decision for you and your design. However, don’t let anyone talk you into something that just doesn’t jive with your gut or your vision. If it feels good to you, do it. If it feels a little off, ignore the idea and don’t feel obligated to go along with it. At the end of the day, it is your space, and you should love where you live! 

If this feels a bit beyond your scope of talents and comfort zone, don’t be afraid to hire out! There are many designers in your area with different specialties and price points. Or try E-design. An E-designer will curate a design and provide you with the links to do the shopping. This is a fabulous way to phase your project as your budget allows. You can check out more great ideas on how to plan and begin a successful remodel from


Guest post contributed by Livi Folk, Principal Designer & Founder of Honey Bee Staging and Design.