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As an Orlando interior designer, I am often asked “where do I start” when starting a project.  Because I do it so often and have so many “starting” places it is not an easy question to clarify.  So here are a few of my starting places.

1. Permanent installation materials, i.e. flooring, countertops, bath tile, etc.: Recently a client and I started working on her kitchen/family room remodel.  Because she had already selected granite and was getting ready to change the whole feel of her combined kitchen/family room area this was a great place to start.  We are using the colors in the granite to help us select a backsplash material and from there we will move on to paint, new furniture, rugs, window treatments etc all starting from her selection of the granite.

2. Paint – can start here or end here:  I often have clients ask if you should pick paint first or last in a project.  The answer can be either.  If you are open to the idea, paint can be picked based on your existing furnishings, your clothing choices or just based on where you want the room to go.  This can start the whole direction of the room.   If you are not comfortable with that then wait and pick some of the furnishings and then select your paint colors.

Painted Room

3. Artwork or rug:  A whole room can be based on a clients’ current art collection.  Whether you have contemporary art pieces and want to contrast it with a more traditional setting or if you want have it more in tune with the artwork this can give you a direction to go with.  A rug is often just another form of artwork so don’t be afraid to spring board off of it.

 Martha Jo Mahohey
Compliments of Martha Jo Mahoney

4.  Touchy – feely:  I have to admit this is one of my favorite ways to start a project.  I ask clients how they want to feel in a space, how they want the space to work, etc.  For example if a client wants her home to feel like a retreat away from the stresses of work then I would select colors that are  rich but not loud and fabrics that are soft to the touch and comfortable, cozy seating with places to put your feet up and a convenient table for her coffee or a glass of wine.

5. Major piece of furniture:  Sometimes you have a piece that you just fall in love with and this can start out your whole project.  I have a beautiful art deco, black and white buffet and a 70’s era coffee table.  Both of those pieces are unique enough to build a whole room around.  It is a lot of fun to find that piece that can get you excited and start your whole project off.

Metropolis Modern Cart
Metropolis Modern bar cart from

6. Style direction:  If you love mid-century modern or the industrial look then this can be an easy way to get you started.  This can be true if you want to do a full-on style look or if you want to use as an influence, either way it is a great way to get you going.

Design Style

Regardless of how you start don’t be afraid to let your project develop organically and take unexpected turns.  Someone told me recently that a contemporary room needs tension to be interesting and I will expand that to any well designed space does.  You need something that doesn’t completely match or is unexpected to be a great space.

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