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How to Create a Room That Tells a Story

Updated: Apr 28

There is no question about the power good design has on our mood, mental health and productivity. You know when you are in a well designed space as you never want to leave. You feel good, inspired, maybe it gives you mental clarity, or maybe it just supports your flow of activities and your lifestyle.

Sometimes well designed spaces feel so effortless that you might not even notice that the design is actually good. But you absolutely notice if the design is not good: you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, and you look forward to your exit.

When it comes to creating a well designed space, coming up with a cohesive story is key. A space without a story is just that, a space. A space with a story is someone’s home, it is a brand, it is an experience, it is emotional and evocative and memorable. It makes guests ask questions and get involved, it makes someone get close, observe, touch and feel. A space with a story makes you feel a certain way. Our job as a designers is to uncover the user’s story and tell the story through the design of the space. So how can you do this on your own?

In this article you will get the only roadmap you will need to help your compose the story of your space by identifying 4 key elements: the theme, the vibe, the color story and the aesthetic.

So let's dive in!


To discover the theme of your story, think BIG. What big message are you are trying to convey about the world in which you like to live in or the ambiance that you are trying to create? Here are a few idea starters:

Cast Away

An extension of the beach with seafoam colors, palm motifs, live edge woods, driftwood and sandy tones...

Castaway by AHD

Nature Inspired

An enchanted forest where all the elements are natural, holistic and raw...

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD

Mad Men Modern

A space that exudes the confidence of an accomplished professional life, featuring some timeless Modernist pieces blended with contemporary designs.

Don Draper's Penthouse designed by award-winning set decorator for the show, Claudette Didul

Escapist Bohemian

Or is it an environment reminiscent of your favorite far-away travels?

Design by Reverse Orientalism

Collector's Studio

Featuring your contemporary as well as antique or vintage treasure collections...

Adler on the Park Showhouse by AHD


Showcasing artisanal furniture, rugs, art from other cultures.

Mediterranean Flair by AHD


A space with a natural and organic feel, rich in earthy colors, natural materials, and botanical elements, such as plants and herbs. This aesthetic is whimsical, earthy, and vintage-inspired.

Apothecary in Outlander

Biophilic Oasis

Biophilic Oasis by AHD

Once Upon a Pasture

A space with pastoral style elements, primitive rustic wood furniture, chunky wool and botanical motifs...

Adler On The Park Showhouse by AHD

Off The Beaten Path

Modern Pied-a-Terre by AHD

These are just a few theme ideas, we typically create a custom theme for each client and potentially for each room rooms, depending on insight we gather about our clients during our initial Visioning and Discovery session.


First of all, what are vibes? And why do we all feel them?

Let’s unpack things a bit.

Vibes are a person's emotional state sensed as a response to the atmosphere of a place. It is the mood that someone experiences when immersed in a space.

The vibe of the space should go hand in hand with the theme and it should help you hone in on the emotive side of your space. Think about your favorite places where you felt your best, where is that place and what is its vibe? And exactly how does it make you feel? Here rare a few idea starters:

Relaxed and Familiar

Imagine a comfortable place, surrounded by things that remind you of your grandparents, parents or childhood.

Soho House Chicago

Restored and Blissful

Imagine a spa-like environment, with soothing colors, shapes and scents.

Modern Minimalism with Kids by AHD

Energized and motivated

Think of a walking into a think-tank, an innovation hub, a coffee shop where people are studying or a co-working environment.

CBRE Oakbrook by Gensler

Grounded and Stable

Maybe you want to feel a connection to nature as on a mountain trail or along a riverbed.

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD

Professional and Focused

A space where you are not distracted by your environment and there is limited visual noise.

Modern Pied-a-Terre by AHD

Inspired and Creative

A space where you are surrounded with things that you love that you have collected over time.

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD

Motivated and Energized

An environment that motivates you to start new projects. We usually turn to Feng Shui for strategies to create this type of energy. Refer to the bagua map and find your New Beginnings Wall, you can activate this wall by using grounding wood elements, green colors and botanical inspired prints.

Adler on the Park Showhouse by AHD


A space that reminds you of the way you grew up, with nostalgic one of a kind elements...maybe you have been handed down your grandma's favorite armoire, or her collection of paintings or her china and the presence of these objects make you feel like you belong.

Mediterranean Flair by AHD

Proud and Accomplished

Standing on the shoulders of giants, surrounded by old world things that have value and meaning to you.

Harvard Library

Social and Connected

A space that allows you to always be ready to welcome guests and host, could be inspired by the lounge of your favorite chic hotel.

Ca’ di Dio | Patricia Urquiola

Romantic and Intimate

Imagine a dim lit dining hall of a restaurant or a speak-easy cocktail bar...

Ciccio Mio Restaurant

Establishing a solid theme for your space will help you make decisions that are cohesive and help you stay true to the nature and ethos of your space. As you start sourcing, keep checking back with your theme vision board and, as you select items, ask yourself: would I see these items in this type of space?


This is where is is helpful to look through several color-rich imagery to identify which colors you are drawn to and which ones do you want to stay away from. How do these colors make you feel?

You can start by finding out what the color of the year is, does it speak to you?

Viva Magenta, Color of the Year 2023

And what about the colors of past years?

Very Peri, Color of the Year 2022

Aegean Teal, Color of the Year 2021

Also, think about the colors that remind you of your favorite places: are you drawn to the sea, or the beach, mountains, forests, bustling cities, or rustic villages?

Image credit: Future / Getty

Or are you drawn to specific urban-inspired colors like vivid New York graffiti colors, or Italian crimson and brown or Parisian pink and white, or Greek blue and white or Spanish green and burnt orange, or Bali white, wood and green etc...These are my personal color associations, you might have others. It is helpful to find out where your color inspiration comes from and identify what colors you are drawn to.

Paris Fashion-Week 202o

Understanding how colors affect you personally is also helpful in creating a design that makes you be and feel your best. Lean into the psychology of colors and understand how colors affect human behavior, emotions, and perception and see if these general statements are also true for yourself. Different colors can evoke different feelings and emotions in people, and designers use this knowledge to create certain moods in various settings. Here are some common associations with certain colors:


Often associated with passion, excitement, and energy. It can also evoke feelings of danger or anger. In Feng Shui, red is the color that supersedes all others. It’s the most powerful color and it is considered very auspicious. It has high energy (can be overwhelming for some) and it is a great color to have on the Fame & Reputation wall of your office. This is also a perfect color for a dining space as it is known to stir people's appetite. Restaurants often use this color in their dining halls for this exact reason.

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD


Often associated with creativity, enthusiasm, and warmth. It can also be seen as playful or casual as well as optimistic and uplifting, rejuvenating our spirit. This is a great color for environments where you want to encourage social activities or physical activity.

Castaway by AHD


Associated with happiness, optimism, and cheerfulness. It can also evoke feelings of caution or warning.

Modern Pied-a-Terre by AHD


Usually associated with growth, balance, and nature. It can also evoke feelings of jealousy or envy. Per Feng Shui the green color brings growth and it is a great color for the New Beginnings Wall of home office according to the bagua map as it inspires one to start new projects. When working with green color, it is important to have at least several different shades in order to maximize the feng shui energy effects.

Urban Haven Dream Home by AHD


Often associated with calmness, trust, and stability. Blue is also connected to the Family and Knowledge areas of the feng shui bagua map. This is a good color for a bedroom where you want to instill tranquility or a bathroom where you want to inspire cleanliness.

Castaway by AHD


The color of royalty, luxury, creativity, and spirituality. It can also evoke feelings of mystery or sophistication. This is a great color for a living room or a home library.

A Zen Lake House Retreat by AHD


The color of femininity, sweetness, and romance. It makes one feel loved and accepted, like a warm hug. Pink is having a huge moment, I personally love having pink sheets as they make me feel so comforted when I snuggle in. I also love soft shades of pink in rugs, upholstered seating and even hard surface countertops such as marble and quartzite. I feel like the soft color counteracts the cold hardness of the surface.

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD


Associated with simplicity, reliability, and stability. Per Feng Shui, this is a great earthy grounding color that gives a feeling of steadfastness and stability.

Enchanted Forest Maisonette by AHD


Associated with sophistication, elegance, and mystery.

Black & White Coziness by AHD


This color symbolizes purity, innocence, and simplicity.

Modern Contemporary Lakehouse designed by AHD

These associations with colors can vary based on cultural and personal preferences, but they are generally widely recognized. Understanding the psychology of colors can be helpful in various settings, such as marketing and advertising, interior design, and fashion, as it can help create the desired emotional response in people.


I am not a proponent of implementing one style into any space and I am not going to delve into style analysis, however it is helpful to understand styles and how they play together. The vibe and the aesthetic go hand in hand as the vibe will give you guidance on the aesthetic choices you will make for your space.

We like to blend styles from past to present in order to accomplish an aesthetic that is layered, and gives the space the impression of being carefully curated and collected over time, which has much more interest and allure than a space that looks like it came from one store. As soon as our first consultation when we visit the space, we try to find out which items are the "treasures" and which items are the "trash", and carefully repurpose the "treasures" by giving them new life (a new coat of paint, a new upholstery) and gracefully discard the "trash". As they say, "one person's trash is another person's treasure" so we let items rejoin the circle of life by donating them or reselling them. We love to use items collected by the owner from their travels or items that have been handed down through generations, or source antique or vintage items that are related to their their passions and interests.


European bespoke classic environment using timeless authentic pieces...

Design by Chrissy Teigen

Traditional English

This style is characterized by find vintage furniture, sophisticated lines, timeless pieces and various prints.

Design by Sarah Lederman

Grand and Luxurious

Sophisticated elegance with a high end feel

Design by Stephanie Coutas

Relaxed and Unpretentious

A space that welcomes you in and invites you to feel at home. It has a feeling of being lived in and collected over time with finishes that are durable and pieces that are a testament to the passing of time and frequent usage.

Mediterranean Flair by AHD

Artisanal and Handmade

This space is rich in furniture and décor made by craftspeople, there is an intrinsic attention to handmade details and the working technique stands out.

Castaway by AHD


This style has experienced a huge popularity however our recommendation is to use it when appropriate. If your home is on the beach then maybe you do want it to feel like an extension of the beach like our Modern Organic Oceanfront Getaway. But if you are in the middle of a bustling city, find ways to wave this aesthetic with an aesthetic that is relevant to your context as well.

This last step of styling a space is so important in making a house feel like home and gracefully giving it life and character.

Castaway by AHD

Modern Farmhouse

This style as well has been a huge trend in the last couple of years, so our advice is that unless you actually have a house on a farm, try to find inspiration in new corners of the design world or find out what elements of this style appeal to you and are appropriate to incorporate in your space without overdoing it.

Design by Lauren Liess

For more thoughts on this topic, make sure you tune into our Podcast on Wannabe Clutter Free:

An Award-Winning Designer’s Secret for Clutter Free Cohesion with Adina Hall


A Bagua map is a Feng Shui tool used to divide your space into nine separate areas—each one relating to a certain theme. The center square of the Bagua is considered the heart of the home, where the energy is distributed to all the different sectors. Once you organize your space into a Bagua map, you can tackle the sections that relate to your goals outside of the home.

To use the map, align the entry to your home with the bottom of the map. Your entryway will align with the Travel & Helpful People, Career/Life Journey, or Knowledge & Self-Cultivation area.

If you’re interested in working with us to bring your dream home to life please reach out! We would love to learn more about you and your space and help you create a design that makes you shine every day.

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