Design Chick  

Crispin's top design tips

For those of you that have ever attempted a design project and felt that you'd failed, this week's column is especially for you.

Clients sometimes say 'I could never do what designers do, I would screw it all up!' But remember these tenets the next time you're about to tackle a project, and hopefully you'll feel more confident in your choices and design direction.

I definitely don't claim to know it all, but what I do know for sure is this:


Take the time to measure — more than once. Nothing's worse than going to the all the trouble of designing and fabricating a custom piece (be it millwork, drapery, or a detailed tile design) and coming up short in the end.

If you're measuring for floor plans, a lot of detail and attention is required, and over time it becomes easy to get distracted. No matter what you're measuring for, make it a habit to go back and double (even triple) check.


Who would have thought that new sofa was a few inches too wide to fit through the front door?  Be sure to take the measurements of your entry ways with you when shopping for new furniture. In some cases a window can be taken out if the doorway won't cut it,so have a plan just in case. 

The same can be said for purchasing new furniture without having your room dimensions; over sized pieces will swallow up small spaces, and under sized pieces will seem puny and out of place in large spaces. Be sure you know exactly what your rooms can and can't handle before you go ahead and swipe the credit card.


This applies to almost everything: paint, fabric, flooring… you just can't rely on the lighting of your favorite shop to give you the same result as the lighting in your home. And what that can mean is mismatching colours or undertones once you get something home and have it installed. A lot of heartache can be avoided by signing out a sample to test out at home first.


Picking paint is best during the middle of the day - your daylight will be bright and soft, exactly what you want when choosing paint finishes. But don't stop there.

Clients sometimes forget that evening light can drastically change a paint colour, and are shocked and even disappointed when the silvery gray they thought they were using turns a dull green at night.

Tape your paint swatches up in a few spots within your room, and check on them during different times of the day, and with different lighting sources.

Better yet, buy a small test pot and paint a large swatch for review. And remember: don't buy paint before fabrics and finishes are determined. Paint is usually the very last element to all my designs. Everything else comes first.


If I'm hanging a large piece over a sofa, I will measure up 8"-12" from the top of the back cushion to mark where the bottom of my piece should sit. Smaller items can sit higher, but typically this combination works for large and oversized art.


Don't underestimate the disappointing esthetic cheaply made products have when grouped all together in a room. I'm all for shopping smarter and finding ways to mix inexpensive filler in my designs, however, every space needs to have a number of good quality pieces. Period.

In the end you'll actually need less items to make a room feel polished, refined, and tailor-made to your design personality.


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About the Author

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory; a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field.

She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and proficiency required to grow incredible long-standing client relationships. 

Crispin embraces a life full of ingenuity and imagination, fueled by raw ambition and a desire to leave her mark on the world. Her impeccable design style, expertise, and a rock-solid business acumen is the foundation which allows Urban Theory Interior Design to provide full scale services with authenticity, innovation, and ample amounts of personality.

Featured in Style At Home Magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and The National Post – www.urbantheoryinteriordesign.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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