What Working at Domino Taught Us About Design
Lessons learned from working at an interiors magazine.
Published Jun 18, 2019 2:57 PM
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Between compiling ideas for making your small space more interesting and discovering cool new color palettes for the new season, we here at Domino are privy to a steady onslaught of design inspiration. Some trends we can’t get enough of, while others are more polarizing—looking at you, greige—but the point is, we’ve seen our fair share of innovative styling ideas and cool spaces. And as a result, we’ve learned a lot. Here are some of the highlights.
Find your aesthetic and believe in it.
When I started working at Domino almost three years ago (!!!), I had a strong sense of what I liked and didn’t like, but didn’t really have the vocabulary or understanding to define my style. My time here has taught me that you can find inspiration in many, many places—from travels, colors, and even photos of interiors that aren’t really your style. Once you’re inspired, it’s really all about sticking to what you like, what makes you happy. If your home—the wallpaper or white walls, cluttered or clean shelves—makes you happy, that’s what’s most important. Taking the time to discover what you like should be a priority, because once you know and can really define your aesthetic (even if that’s as simple as just “organized” or “maximalist”) then you’re good to go. –Alyssa Clough, Social Media Editor
It’s more interesting to break the rules.
There can be the existential panic of “am I doing this right” when it comes to interior design if you aren’t a professional. Working at a design magazine has shown me that sometimes the most interesting design ideas are actually going against rules that are commonly accepted. For example, leaning your artwork against the wall (or on the floor no less) instead of hanging it at eye level or mixing different decor styles that, on paper, sound terrible but in reality create something exciting to look at. It’s all about finding what speaks to you and making things your own. -Lahaina Alcantara, Digital Photo Editor
Not everything has to match; mixing styles is good.
Before I worked at a design magazine, I thought the best way to go about tackling a room’s interior was similar to the way I had been dressed as a child: everything had to be matchy-matchy. I was under the impression that every room had a distinct color palette, and everything in that space had to fit within those colors and exact patterns to be considered stylish and complete.
However, I quickly learned that mixing styles is good. It creates more visual depth and keeps a space from looking tired. Yes, monochromatic design is definitely a thing, but people are embracing bolder color and pattern pairings (a la Justina Blakeney) and adding personal flair through creative uses of varying textures and materials. If you approach a space thinking everything has to match (including getting all your goods from the same retailer) it’s likely that it will come out looking cookie-cutter, instead of cozy. -Mackenzie Dunn, Contributing Writer
Interior designers are rock stars.
Why is it that putting an outfit together is so much easier than putting together a room? Logic always told me that if you had the “fashion gene” then the “decorating gene” would also come naturally. But, as I’ve learned here at Domino (and about myself!), this is definitely not the case—which makes the eye, taste level, and project management skills of a good interior designer a godsend. And seriously, who has time to see a decorating project through from start to finish these days?
Bottom line: consult an expert! Decorating is HARD and mistakes are super costly. Reality shows make it look easy and nothing is further from the truth. There are designer services available at every budget level today, and great designers are accustomed to creating spaces that fit your personal style. Designers see things that you don’t see; they understand scale and proportion, and they have workrooms and resources you don’t have. Trust them. –Beth Brenner, CRO
Fewer items, more styles.
Going into Domino magazine, I had a lot of ideas of things I liked, but never understood how to combine them into one space. After shooting multiple homes, staying inspired, and seeing how other people mixed in a lot of styles into one, I began to understand the idea of having fewer items but more meaningful pieces. By doing that I’ve been able to incorporate multiple styles into one cohesive space. -Cody Guilfoyle, In-house Photographer
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
After shooting so many apartments in NYC, I’ve learned you can never assume what an interior will look like based off the exterior of the building. I’ve walked into the most ordinary looking buildings and been transported to such amazing spaces that renters have created for themselves. I use this as an inspiration for my own home, reminding myself that even if I can’t live in the perfect brownstone or brand new building, I can still make my apartment the home I aspire to live in. –Aaron Bengochea, Associate Photo Editor
Collect over time.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from talking to people about their homes and how they arrived at their aesthetic, it’s that they take their time. Well-designed spaces don’t just fall out of the sky. The spark that you feel when you walk into someone’s home that you love doesn’t come from Target or West Elm or any other big-box retailer. It comes from traveling and collecting and thinking and experimenting—all of that takes time. When you rush into designing a space, it will look rushed and contrived. When you go somewhere new and see something you absolutely love, go for it! Even if you’re not sure if it fits into your space right now, if it speaks to who you are, it eventually will. –Lydia Geisel, Contributing Writer
The way you design influences more than just your home.
I’ve learned so much! But if I can pinpoint my biggest revelation, it would probably be how your home can have such an impact on the rest of your life. Domino’s tagline is “bring your style home,” which I first translated to be the fashionable choices one would make in their space. Over time though, I’ve interpreted it a bit differently and understand now how your home can (and should) be a representation of how you live your life. From the way you organize and prepare to the vibe you set, your home really is a representation of you, not just the aesthetic you settle on at a certain time. When I realized this, outfitting my space became much easier, as I began to make mindful–not just trendy– choices.
I also learned there is a whole underground community of Ikea hack-lovers and I. am. here. for. it. –Amanda Johnson, Digital Content Strategy Manager
Don’t attempt to embrace every trend.
The abundance of trends and micro-trends we come across here on a near-daily basis can be overwhelming at times—more often than not, in the best possible way. I’m a die-hard minimalist, which makes things exponentially more difficult. I’ll get wrapped up in the idea of blanketing my tiny studio in an exclusively maximalist scheme chock full of color and pattern (think: Ettore Sottsass) or swapping my signature whitewashed aesthetic for a dark and moody palette. Short of having to give up my decorative identity, I have instead learned to embrace small doses of each trend. Patterned throw pillows, a color blocked rug I can easily swap out each season, or vibrant wall art the encapsulates the hues I’m craving at the moment all fall right in line with said approach. –Anna Kocharian, Digital Editor
Small spaces can sometimes be the most interesting.
Aside from getting a crash course in the design lexicon (turns out, “Wabi Sabi” refers to a Japanese design ethos that finds perfection in the imperfect and is not, as I had previously assumed, a typo for “Wasabi”), the main thing I’ve learned from working here is that creativity isn’t limited by square footage. In fact, I’ve found the direct opposite: Operating under very real physical parameters frequently necessitates the employment of genius tricks and smart styling solutions. Some of my all-time favorite homes featured on Domino are small spaces. The tips I’ve bookmarked from those spaces are of particular personal interest to me; because, let’s face it, living in New York City in your 20s means that you are generally confined to a less-than-palatial living situation. And seeing how real people make the most of their tiny homes is not only inspirational from a design perspective but also super serviceable.
This tiny 500-square-foot railroad style apartment, for example, teaches how sectioning off your tiny apartment using furniture can create a sense of boundaries and separate rooms where there are none. Love color? Peek inside this 900-square-foot Brooklyn home, which puts color at the forefront and proves you don’t have to sacrifice bold style for minimal space. And if a family of four can make a tiny 600-square-foot home feel calm and spacious, there’s hope for all small space dwellers. –Elly Leavitt, Associate Digital Editor
See more of our favorite design tricks: The Easiest Way to Decorate With 2019’s Hardest Trend The Simple Dining Room Trick That’ll Save You a Ton of Space Genius Ways You Never Thought to Display Ugly Kitchen Tools
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