Session # 4 Having a Conversation

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With your room that is !

Now that we have covered (3) of the basic guidelines we need to have a conversation, a conversation with your room that is, and as crazy as that sound’s it really works !

So get out a pad and pencil and write down your answers to the questions below

The first set of questions you need to ask:

  1. What is the mood I want to project?
  2. What style I am looking for?
  3. What is the main function of this room?

If you can answer these questions right off the bat, fantastic !

However, if you are still unsure what direction you want to go, or still pondering what mood and style you want No Worries!

There is still a lot to cover, and by the end of  session #6 Harmony, I have no doubt that everyone will be able to answer these questions with ease and confidence

Professional tip:

The main living areas in any home (no matter what the style) should maintain cohesiveness through-out

Rooms to include:

  • Living rooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Family rooms
  • Foyers
  • Kitchens
  • Master bedrooms
  • Master bathrooms

BUT!  where you can let your creative juices go wild and explore different styles and color palettes are in the following rooms

Rooms to include:

  • Guest bedrooms
  • Guest powder rooms
  • Kids rooms
  • Play rooms
  • Game rooms

*Designing kids rooms & game rooms will be covered in a later session

So let’s say you have a very traditional styled home, but you also love a casual coastal style, a guest room is the perfect place to showcase this design

The second set of questions you need to ask:

  1. What do I like about this room?
  2. What do I dislike about this room?

Like examples:

  • High ceilings
  • Trim and moldings
  • All the natural light
  • Interesting architecture
  • The size and shape

*These would be the assets you want to emphasize in your design

Dislike examples:

  • Paint color
  • Wall and flooring materials
  • Room to dark –needs more lighting
  • Plain and boxy
  • Outdated fixtures & finishes

*These would be the items you want to remove, replace or camouflage in your design

Now let’s move on to Room Condition

The next set of questions pertain to room condition

Every successful design starts with a good foundation, you do not want to waste your time and money creating a beautiful design, to have it installed in a not so perfect room

Here is a list of questions you need to ask:

  1. (Flooring) do they need replacing, cleaning, or repair?
  2. (Walls) do they have cracks, stains, outdated color or texture?
  3. (Ceilings) do they have cracks, stains, popcorn or wrong color? 
  4. (Windows) do they have chips or cracks, do they need replacing?
  5. (Trim) are the base & crown moldings missing pieces, incorrect size or needs updating?

*Reminder..  as I mentioned in session #1, take photos of the existing room from all (4) corners, even if its empty of furniture, and be sure to take photos of any and all items that need cleaning, replacing or repair so they can be addressed before installation begins

*Remember..  foundation !  foundation ! foundation ! 

Mini workshop

Lets take what we have learned so far and put it to the test shall we !

I want to re-design or (re-fresh) my family room, so after having my conversation with the room, noting the mood, style and function I want to achieve, also noting my likes & dislikes I have come up with an overall design scheme

My list:

  1. Mood: (casual)
  2. Style: (modern farmhouse)
  3. Function: (family of 5 to gather for entertaining and media watching)
  4. Dislikes: existing paint color (want a light neutral color) need more lighting
  5. Likes: Built-ins, all the natural light

Here is my re-designed family room

So let’s see how I did

  • Casual mood
  • Modern farmhouse design
  • Plenty of seating for a family of 5 plus guests
  • Room painted a neutral color
  • Coffee table with drawers for extra storage
  • Installed recessed & ambient lighting (wall sconces)
  • Utilized built-ins for family photos, collectibles and personal treasures
  • Installed roman shades, so when drawn they will allow maximum light into the room

 I love this room !  not only does it fulfill all my needs, it represents me and my personal style

So would we call this a successful design?


So now it’s your turn to have that all so important conversation with your room

Start with:

  • Mood, Style and function? 
  • Likes and dislikes?
  • Room condition?

*Remember.. this is where you start to develop your personal style, a style that represents you and your personal tastes

You don’t need to use the moods & styles listed in sessions # 1 & 2, use your imagination and come up with ones of your own

Here are some alternative examples:


  • Cozy                                     
  • Earthy
  • Playful
  • Romantic
  • Rugged
  • Tranquil


  • Retro
  • Cottage
  • Eclectic
  • Southwestern
  • French Provincial
  • Tropical

Next ask what it is you like and dislike about the room?

And then last but not least, room condition. Really take a good look and make a list of the items you feel need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced

You want your room to sparkle and shine like a brand new penny before installing your masterpiece

As we end this session I would recommend starting a design board with photos of rooms you like, select rooms that invoke a strong response, spark a feeling, or a particular design you identify with. Don’t forget the accessories, include photos of lighting fixtures, area rugs, wall art and accent pillows

I would recommend building a design board in Pinterest


This exercise is a fantastic way to develop your personal design style and you may start to notice a pattern emerging in the rooms you choose

Are you?

Chic & glamorous
Soft & feminine
Eclectic & bohemian

Join me next Saturday for session #5 where we will explore the wonderful world of color

If you missed any of the sessions – please use the category button on the right

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About the Author

Terri Ortega

Terri Ortega

Terri Ortega is a professional interior designer. She started Back to Basics Interior Design in 2019 with a mission to teach the basic guidelines of good design. Instead of just showing photos of beautifully designed rooms, she wanted to share with everyone the skills and tools to achieve the same professional results in their own homes.

ready to transform your room?


2 Responses

  1. I had a conversation with my master bedroom when my husband was not around, since he already thinks I’m a little crazy, LOL. But, it really did help me to define what I’ve already leaned in the previous sessions. I’ve decided on the folloiwng: mood is casual and cozy, function is sleep and only a retreat for two, and style is farmhouse. I’m excited to keep going on planning my design. Thank you Terri!

    1. Hi Jayme, I am so glad you enjoyed this session. Having that conversation with your room is very important. Thank you for your wonderful comment. Love to hear how your design works out ?

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