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Get some inspiration for your next room design

As one of the first designers of the hit television series “Trading Spaces,” Laurie Smith has used her talent and modern classic style to help couples transform rooms and redefine spaces in homes across America. Now in her first design book, "Discovering Home," Smith shows us how a single item that you love can inspire the décor of an amazing room. She was invited on the “Today” show to discuss how to go about it.

Find an item of inspiration
The inspiration object provided by the “Today” show’s Alexis Glick was a photo of her family at the beach. While this was not a decorative inspiration, like a vase or a lamp, it was a fun reference point for building a room's décor. So, first of all, family is her inspiration for design. We needed a room that is cozy, comfortable and playful, yet sophisticated enough so this wonderful young family has room to grow.  The setting in the photo was then acknowledged … the beach, with its soothing tranquil palette and elements of fun and surprise.

Determine the layout
Determine the layout of the furniture, paying attention to scale and proportion. We went to Artistic Frame here in New York City and picked a cream tufted sofa for its generous scale and comfort. Its design is classic and sophisticated, yet a mother and child could cuddle up for hours! The neutral fabric is a good foundation for a room scheme … it's easy to work with and color can be introduced through pillows and throw blankets.

The chair, like the sofa, has beautiful lines and great comfort. It's of substantial proportion next to the sofa and helps anchor the seating arrangement. Two additional pull-up chairs are introduced to the grouping — one can be used at the writing desk and end table that brings multifunction to a living room space.  Instead of choosing a traditional rectangular coffee table, we found two small tables to sit staggered with one another in the arrangement.  First reason, we loved their artistic quality and uniqueness.  Second, we loved bringing in a warm wood top to complement the darker walnut desk in the room.  Third, mobility — they could be moved anywhere in the space, whether housing a drinking glass or serving as a game table.   

Choose your fabrics and flooring 
This drapery fabric is fun with a nice edge that walks the line between traditional and modern. While green is not a "beach" color, it does exude a calming quality and harmonizes well with almost anything. The chair pillow was found at the Anachini collection at ABC Home in New York, as was the cashmere throw on the chair's arm.  A cream throw was chosen to link the chair with the cream of the sofa and the lamp of the writing desk. The rug was a great discovery! It really seemed to take the décor to the next level of completion. Bold, colorful stripes contain the green of the drapery yet introduce a new host of colors. Stripes on the floor are a nice complement to solid fabric on the upholstery. The colors introduced feel beach-like to me, without being overt. 

Accessorize the room  
A lamp, desk-top goodies and pretty porcelains all found a spot to reside and were lovingly chosen, as all accessories should be. The trick … just when you think you're finished, edit 10 percent to avoid a cluttered look. One porcelain bowl evenly reflected the qualities of a sand-dollar with its shape and delicacy. An antique sunburst mirror resides over the sofa and can help one reflect fondly on the sunny coast.  Not to mention it is a classic and sophisticated accessory for any space.

Select wall color
Last, but not least, the wall color, the icing on the cake. The biggest mistake most people make is that they choose the wall color first. The color should be chosen only after the fabrics and flooring has been determined. It is a simple process to take a swatch of fabric to the paint store to color match, but much more difficult to coordinate fabrics with an existing wall color. The wall color for this room was a deep turquoise blue pulled from a stripe in the rug, and once transposed to the walls, the drama begins to happen. 

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