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The Most Important Design Ingredient of Any Space

Convinced that stunning interior design begins on the walls or with gorgeous furniture? Think again.



You adore your home and you want to give it—or a particular room—the design makeover it truly deserves. You have several inspiration images from magazines and social media, ready to guide your design choices. But where exactly do you start? It would serve you to have the entire space mapped out before you purchase a single item—but what is the first thing to choose?

There is a particular element that should be the absolute first thing you decide on, no matter the space—and no, it’s not your paint color or large-scale furniture. In fact, most people treat this element like an afterthought, when, in fact, it’s the most important design ingredient of any room or space. What is it, you ask?

Start with the rug.

Why start there? Area rugs serve multiple purposes. They identify conversation spaces, especially in a large great room that has multiple conversation areas. They protect the floor, and they add warmth and texture to the space. But what makes them the integral first step in a room’s interior design is that they set the stage and allow you to feel more comfortable making choices based on color.

While other elements of a space are often chosen more meticulously, a rug is something you decide on intuitively. Rugs are like artwork: Once you see it, you know whether you love it or not. This choice does not need to be psychoanalyzed or pored over—and, if you haven’t already chosen other design pieces for the space, you have the added bonus of making this gut decision without any added constraints.

Already have carpet in the space? Don’t let that pigeonhole you. Just because you have carpet doesn’t mean you don’t need an area rug, which will help define the space, style, and color scheme.

Once you’ve found a rug you love, you can more easily pull the room’s other elements together. More often than not, when people try to create a space the other way around, they run out of choices by the time they get to the rug, resulting in a boring, neutral choice and a lack of color in the room altogether.

Think about it: There are endless choices when it comes to paint colors and fabric swatches. If you choose one shade of gray for your walls, now you’re stuck trying to find a rug to match. But if you start by choosing a rug first—one that you truly adore—not only will you easily be able to match the rest of your color palette to it, but it will also prevent you from wimping out on color. You will notice much more confidence in incorporating various hues overall, which will translate to a space that represents your personal style and where you feel excited to spend the majority of your time.

Remember, this is your home. You’re not designing it to impress someone else (or if you are, you shouldn’t be). Your home is where you spend the majority of your time—so who cares if your neighbor thinks green is the worst color in the world? If you feel confident infusing your spaces with colors you love, then your home will look like it belongs to you—and not your interior designer.

Gina D’Amore Bauerle is partner and interior designer at D’Amore Interiors, an interior design firm and showroom based in Denver, Colorado. Contact them at 303.422.8704.

Content for this article provided by D’Amore Interiors.

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