Are you ready to create an inviting environment that reflects your style – – your personality? So, here you are in an empty room, faced with a blank canvas; where do you begin? First decide – – what is your style? Do you prefer a more casual surrounding? Or are you more of a formal type, demanding balance? A casual space calls for an a-symmetrical look, with horizontal lines that lend themselves to peace and tranquility. Formality is expressed symmetrically in a mirror-image design, with vertical lines that are steadfast and classic. After you determine which style best depicts your personality, you are ready to choose your theme.

Themes are vast and varied. Think about what surroundings make you feel most comfortable. There are many websites that can introduce you to various ones. HGTV.com is one that can take you on a virtual tour of spaces, where you can explore an array of rooms. Themes span from Modern, Contemporary, Classic, Traditional, Art Deco, Asian, Coastal, Country-Cottage, Arts and Crafts, Tropical – – British Colonial, Victorian to Eclectic. The possibilities are endless.

All right, you have determined your style and theme. Now, it’s time to put together a color palette. Where to begin? Pick a painting, poster, pillow, tapestry, or area rug that best reflects your theme. Now, look at the hues within this piece. These pigments will help form the pallet that will color your space. Should you choose warm or cool hues? Know that color sets the mood. Warms colors (reds, oranges, yellows) are stimulating and promote a feeling of energy and excitement. Cool colors (blues, greens, purples) lend a response of calmness and composure. Understanding the psychology of color is important, for it will help you to create the atmosphere that makes you feel most comfortable. There are many online sites that offer an education on the use of color. Several of the popular paint companies such as Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Valspar, and Benjamin Moore, are just a few that are too happy to offer you this service.

Now that you have established the background, it is time to fill the space with furnishings. Try not to get too cutesy with your choices. You don’t want your room to take on a feel of a theme ride at some amusement park. Remember that less is usually best. It is better to have the essence of a theme rather than filling in every minute detail. Also, you don’t want to crowd your area with too many pieces. Always take in consideration the size of your room. Scale is very important. Again, there are many websites that can assist you in your choice of furnishings and will actual show you how to draw up a floor plan for your particular space. Keep in mind that there must be room left open in order to circulate about the area. Correct placement of the furnishings will allow for the proper flow of movement about the space. When thinking about placement, try “floating” some of the pieces. Try to not stack all the furniture against the wall. This will make your room look like a furniture showroom. Often, when buying certain pieces, you will have a selection of fabrics. Again, refer back to your color palette. Pattern mixing is okay, as long as your color selection remains true to your original scheme. When choosing fabrics keep in mind your theme and lifestyle. You wouldn’t want red leather in a traditional setting and you wouldn’t want white linen if you have a small child. Generally, salespeople are extremely helpful in furniture showrooms and can assist you with your needs.

Accessorizing can be fun and is the frosting on your cake. Again, don’t be heavy handed. A few accessories can go a long way. You do not need to load your space up with dust catchers. When picking the right accessories (pillows, vases, artwork, etc.) again refer back to your theme and color palette. Sometimes, it is best to use the bright colors of your palette in these pieces. This way, the accessorized items will pop and will allow your eyes to bounce around the room. For instance, imagine a painting above the mantle that consists of warm hues. In that piece are some vibrant orange tones. The placement of some pillows on your sofa, in the same orange hues, and then in a vase on the table, in the same tone, will cause your guests’ eyes to travel about the room and, therefore, it will create a sense of balance. As far as accessorizing with wall hangings, remember to hang pictures and mirrors close to the furniture it sets above. These hangings should appear as if they are a part of an overall unit. There is nothing worse than walking into a space and seeing wall hangings floating several feet above a piece. I can’t tell you how many public spaces I have walked into to witness such a thing. Just that design faux pas alone can make the difference from a visually pleasing room to an absolute disaster.

Lighting serves two purposes: it illuminates a working, usable space and it helps create ambience. Keep both of these purposes in mind when choosing. Websites like LampsPlus.com can open up a world of endless possibilities to you. A good solution that covers both of these needs: install rheostats. This allows you to bring the lighting up to full illumination when working and down when you desire to set a mood. And, of course, rheostats help to conserve energy – – another added benefit.

You are fortunate to have so many websites that offer endless Interior Design advice. There was a time, in the not so distant past, that one would have to pay a designer a hefty sum for their expert opinion. That said, the opinion that truly counts is your very own. Your space should reflect you. After all, you are the one that will be spending most of your time in these surroundings, so ultimately, you should be the party to please. So, do your homework and then go for it! Fill up that empty canvas with all that says and celebrates – – YOU!