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Designer Tips for Urban Living in the O.C.

Closing on a new home feels like crossing a financial and emotional finish line. But after signing on the dotted line, comes your next big challenge: how will you make the house your home?

Or course, you have fabulous taste. But if you’ve ever bought an area rug that ended up being too small for your space or spent days agonizing over shades of white paint, you’ll know that it takes more than good taste to design a home. Contemporary, urban homes also come with their unique design challenges such as maximizing space, arranging furniture in open floor plans and striking the right energetic balance between the vibrant city life outside and the relaxing haven you want to create inside.

Short of hiring an interior designer, we collected some of top advice for designing and decorating an urban home. Read on for expert advice on how to live stylishly and comfortably in urban O.C. and beyond.

1. Scale appropriately.

Space is usually at a premium in an urban home, which is why selecting furniture that not only fits the room but is also sized proportionately to the rest of the space is important. Instead of bulky, overstuffed pieces, select furniture with tailored lines, exposed legs to maximize the openness of a room and long, narrow silhouettes that mirror the shape of your home.

“Oversized furniture not only overwhelms but they have become an inefficient use of space.” – Designer Warren Sheets

2. Take storage to the top.

What many urban homes lack in width, they often make up for in height. Look for stackable storage solutions that make use of vertical wall space. Smart, exposed shelving can also help add style and space to bathrooms and kitchens.

“Use your height! Install shelves as high as you can to maximize storage. This will make your walls seem taller, too.” – Designer Samuel Masters

3. Create “zones” in an open floor plan.

Typical of contemporary urban homes, open floorplans are wonderful for maximizing natural light, entertaining and keeping an eye on the kids. But they’re not without their design challenges such as how to arrange furniture in a manner conducive to certain activities or how to keep the entire space from being visually chaotic. To bring order to the openness, experts suggest creating zones within the floor plan.

“Use a large carpet to anchor the living room. Place your sofa between the living and dining areas. Then, put a credenza behind it and add table lamps on top to help vertically divide the space. Hang a chandelier over the dining table. Finish the look with colorful or patterned chairs to draw the eye in.” – Designer Sarah Richardson

4. Pick some showstoppers.

Though you want most of your home’s furnishings and decor to be in proportion (see point 1), you may also want to pick a few showstoppers to bring more interest and style to a room. Perhaps it’s a statement fabric covering a traditional sofa, eclectic lighting or bold wallpaper. Whatever you choose, make it an authentic expression of your personal style and balance it out by keeping the surrounding design elements more subdued.

“After years of making necessary home improvements, clients are putting more emphasis on luxury — including a bit of fun, whimsy, and functional art in spaces like powder baths.” – Designer Neil Kelly

5. Mix and match.

Gone are the days of going to Ethan Allen and buying a matching furniture set (you know the ones) that makes your home look like a lifeless catalogue photo. Instead, bring the cosmopolitan nature of urban life into your home by mixing and matching your genres and styles of furniture and decor. Moroccan meets mid-century? Sure, why not!

“Instead of buying the whole set, people are now mixing and matching for a one-of-a-kind look.” – Designer Annie Selke

6 Layer textures.

To give an urban home warmth and depth of character, consider layering it with textiles and accessories that contrast the clean lines and smooth surfaces.

“Objects and furnishings with varying textures, origins and shapes give interest to the space and keep the eye stimulated.” – Designer Callie Jenschke

7. Embrace Wabi-sabi.

Predicted to be one of “the” design trends for 2018, the Japanese aesthetic concept of Wabi-sabi is the ancient art of embracing the beauty of innate imperfection. Think hand-thrown pottery, wrinkled linen napkins and mismatched woods or grains.

“No matter your personal style, there is one key factor to nailing this trend for your home design: find the beauty in the not-so-perfect.” – Etsy Trend Expert Isom Johnson

8. Create a natural, urban oasis.

Finally, let your urban home “breathe” by styling rooms with indoor plants. Their organic forms and colors will soften the clean lines of your contemporary home keeping it from feeling cold or stark. They also deliver wonderful environmental benefits.

“Indoor plants thrive in the bathroom and help to keep the air clean and oxygenated. Greenery by the windows also helps to filter out dust and dirt that drifts up from the city streets, which is good because this home gets a lot of air.” – Homeowners Karin and Cord as featured in Kinder Homes.