The first step in any good interior design process? Establishing a space plan, says Vern. “It’s not the sexiest part of the design but it’s the most important part,” he says. “It gives you function in the space, and function is so important.” The designer suggests that once a homeowner determines how many furnishings and decorative items a room will comfortably accommodate, he or she should go shopping — with measuring tape in hand. Before making purchases, dimensions should be inserted into the space plan to assure that items will fit.
What’s Old Is New
Although the picture-perfect spaces presented within the pages of Pottery Barn catalogs are worthy of admiration, they should serve only as a springboard for ideas. Good design and, further, real-life, lived-in and loved rooms, incorporates old and new finds, says Vern. The designer shops thrift stores and flea markets for items that add big bang for the buck. “You want things that have character and soul,” he adds.
Seek Out the Unique
“Buy things that have meaning, that you love and that are tied to your environment,” says Vern, who encourages homeowners to shop at thrift stores, antiques markets, community fairs and museum stores and to incorporate purposeful decor created by local artists. “You can support the artisan community and at the same time acquire things that no one else will own,” he adds.
Find Nooks for Good Books
Books add soul to a room’s design scheme, says Vern, who admits that stacking books in unexpected places is one of his favorite decorating strategies. “I love books that are related to where I am,” he adds. “I can learn something new every time I pick a book up.”
Oddball Not Out
One or two eye-popping or unusual items snuggled in the right spots can make a room, says Vern, who opts for a curated selection of larger statement pieces, rather than a large collection of smaller pieces. “I love bigger-scale pieces that have strength,” he adds.