Trends come and go, but a well designed home stands the test of time. Designing a house that feels like home is all about what feels good to you and matches your lifestyle. Combine that with some basic design rules to tie it all together, and you can make design choices that inspire you every day. 

Essential design rules

These four design rules can apply to design for any room in your house, including your outdoor spaces. 

Be intentional with your lighting

Good lighting can transform a room or backyard. Your face looks entirely different in fluorescent lighting, under a bright camera flash, or under low romantic lighting. Use light to your advantage; highlight a painting you want to emphasize, make it practical for reading, and add dimmable potlights to set the scene for a cozy evening in. 

 

Many homes come equipped with generic “boob lights.” Upgrading these with affordable hanging light fixtures or a vintage hanging lamp from the flea market can transform the feeling of any room.

 

Use the light that already exists in your space to your benefit. Don’t block windows with furniture, use statement curtains to draw the eye upward, and maximize light with mirrors or thinner curtains in rooms where you need less privacy.

Let your space breathe

The way you position furniture impacts how you move around a room, what your focus is on, and how functional a space is. Get rid of clutter or furniture that doesn’t serve a purpose. To clear up space in smaller houses, use multitasking furniture like bench storage or mirrored closets to maximize storage and flow.

Make it personal

Incorporate personal elements into your home design––even if you’re excited about a home trend like minimalism, or a neutral colour palette. Place a special chair your grandfather made in the living room, hang art the kids made in the living room, or put photos of your friends on the fridge. It also might be meaningful to buy new furniture pieces that have significance for you; choose a design scheme that’s built around a colour scheme you love. Maybe you grew up near  a forest, and rich green walls make you feel at home. Perhaps your seashell collection will find a home on a shelf amidst calming blue tones that reference the ocean.

Tie it all together

Each room has its own function and energy, but get intentional about design that ties the home together. A consistent thread of colour is a great way to do this. Develop a colour palette that you’ll draw from for your home and pick one or two colours that consistently show up around the house in furniture, throw pillows, or paintings to tell a story. Choose keywords for your design; shabby chique, vintage modern, contemporary, or rustic craftsman all set a tone for the mood of your home’s design.

Designing an inspiring kitchen

A well-designed kitchen can inspire connection and creativity –– whether you’re using your kitchen to flambée, sautée, or eat takeaway.

Kitchen design tips

Marry aesthetics and functionality in your kitchen for a space that you’ll love to use.

 

  • Install your fridge near a bench, table, or countertop for easy grocery unloading.
  • Make sure sinks are near windows to help filter out any funky smells from dirty dishes.
  • Use vertical space and open shelving to your benefit. The top of your cabinets could be a beautiful place to install a shelf to highlight your pottery collection or stoneware. 

Kitchen design mistakes to avoid

Marry aesthetics and functionality in your kitchen for a space that you’ll love to use.

 

  • Install your fridge near a bench, table, or countertop for easy grocery unloading.
  • Make sure sinks are near windows to help filter out any funky smells from dirty dishes.
  • Use vertical space and open shelving to your benefit. The top of your cabinets could be a beautiful place to install a shelf to highlight your pottery collection or stoneware. 

Add value to your kitchen with stone countertops

The best design choices combine durability, style, and functionality. A stone countertop is a great example of a kitchen design element that adds value to your kitchen and your home. The downside? Stone countertops can be expensive. If you’re cringing at the price, remember that continually replacing cheaper countertops may cost even more. Stone is great with hot temperatures, durable, and low maintenance when it’s properly sealed. If you’re shopping for a new home, you can use OJO’s search features to find homes with upgraded countertop materials like granite, marble, and quartz.

Tips for installing a stone countertop

  • Skilled installation is key. Slabs of stone can crack if they’re installed carelessly, so get the job done right so you can feel secure. 
  • Expect imperfections or asymmetries in the pattern of the stone. This is part of the beauty of a stone countertop. If you don’t like this element, you might prefer a synthetic material that’s uniform.
  • Stone countertops are incredibly porous and should be properly sealed. Modern sealants have the ability to make most stone materials resistant to heat and staining.

Types of stone finishes

Countertops and stone finishes for the kitchen come in a variety of shades and materials. 

Granite

Granite comes in a myriad of colours and types, so you can get creative with a shade that matches your vibe. This is an easy stone to take care of if it’s well sealed.                                      Cost: High end

Soapstone:

Soapstone naturally darkens over time into an antique-looking countertop with a weathered but elegant aesthetic. This material might take on more scratches, but this only adds to the charm. You’ll have to treat this stone with mineral oil.

Cost: Mid-to-high end

Marble:

Each marble slab has a unique pattern. If you have kids or are prone to spilling your red wine, you’ll want to seriously consider if marble is the right choice for you. Marble is hard to repair when scratched and stains more easily than other stones.

Cost: Mid-to-high end

Quartz:

Quartz is shaped into slabs to produce an easily maintained and customized countertop. It’s an especially heavy material. Quartz is more smooth and uniform, so it doesn’t have the variegated, patterned surface that other stone countertops do.

Cost: Mid to Very High depending on the type of quartz

Outdoor home design matters too

Don’t overlook your outdoor space in your design plans. A well designed backyard or porch can increase the value of your home and offer year-round enjoyment. Maximize your outdoor space year round by installing an outdoor fire pit, stone pizza oven, or space heaters. Consider planting a vegetable garden, wildflowers, or fresh herbs for cooking.

Whirlpool tubs vs. pools

Is installing a pool really the best fit for your lifestyle?
If you live in a province with long winters, an outdoor pool is a big investment. So make sure that it’s something your family is going to use and love. If you love swimming laps, have kids who will delight in a waterslide, or know you’ll be out in the pool all summer long, it might be a worthy investment. A whirlpool or hot tub takes up less space and can be a romantic, fun way to enjoy the outdoors year round. The water is also hot enough to enjoy while the snow falls. Want to cool off in the summer months? Just turn the heaters off.

If you’re looking for a getaway or vacation home, use OJO’s search capabilities to find a property that’s staycation ready –– with features like hot tubs, steam showers, or ample backyard space.

House or condo? Choosing the outdoor space you’ll need

If you live in an apartment or a condo, you might have limited outdoor space. This means it’s even more important to use it intentionally. Here are some tips for smaller outdoor spaces:

  • Try multi-use furniture like an outdoor coffee table that doubles as a storage unit.
  • Use porch furniture that lets you seat bigger groups of people, like a small L-shaped outdoor couch or benches. 
  • Try bringing the outside in! If you have a smaller porch, experiment with lush green plants that don’t need direct light to make your apartment or condo feel fresh and earthy.

Want more tips for new home ownership?

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