Seven Ways to Design a Home with Intention

Far Studio’s Brittany Hakimfar on composing beautifully considered spaces.

After honing her design skills on the West Coast for a decade, Brittany Hakimfar felt the pull of home – specifically, the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, where she grew up and longed to raise her own family. The challenge? How to convey her firm’s signature brand of modernism (pure yet warm, poetic yet impactful) in an old-school setting. Happily, nothing was lost in translation. “When I moved back to the East Coast, it seemed like people felt you had to furnish traditional homes in a traditional way, and I don’t think that’s true. If you get the composition right, any piece can feel like it fits.” Drawing inspiration from iconic designers like Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, Hakimfar has crafted an approach that’s equal parts refined and purpose-built. Just don’t ask her to do things piecemeal. “If a client says, ‘oh I just want to order this light fixture now and then we’ll figure out the rest later,’ I’m a hard no on that,” she says. “The best work happens when I’m able to look ahead to the whole picture and place things together in a way that feels fully finished." Here, the designer shares a page from her playbook.

The Intention: BALANCE

Equalize the visual weight of objects.

A variety of shapes in a room (a round coffee table, square side table, organic ceiling light) helps to create interest and opportunities for contrast. There’s a nice tension between organic shapes and, say, modern pin lights. I like when your eye can land on individual pieces – an amazing marble fireplace, a really cool piece of artwork over the fireplace, a fun playful light fixture, furniture with interesting shapes, maybe a burlwood coffee table – and still the room works together in a really great way.

The Intention: SCALE

Establish the proportions between two sets of dimensions.

The main thing I hear from people who try to design a space on their own is that pieces come in and the scale is off. A designer’s eye automatically understands the size something should be, and a normal person’s eye doesn’t do that. Being able to visualize how a light fixture will look in a space, how a chair will look in a space, what those elements should be and how they’ll complement each other, is really a designer’s work. I do this day in and day out – it’s all I’m thinking about, and that’s a good thing.

The Intention: CONTRAST

Create juxtaposition and degrees of difference.

I come at every project with a unique sense of what I want to create, but there’s always a mix of vintage pieces, artifacts and newer pieces. The combination of classic elements with something new, polished edges with something super rustic – it creates something interesting and special. Lighting is a really cool way to bring in a metal finish that doesn’t appear elsewhere in the room.

The Intention: RHYTHM

Aim for a natural flow of related or recurrent elements.

You never want any element to feel like it doesn’t work with the other pieces of the home. Even a hallway or a mudroom should have the same level of detail applied to it as the living room, the dining room and the kitchen so that the design flows throughout the house. Decorative lights are a great way to do that – if I add cool flush mounts to a hallway that otherwise would have had recessed lights, it makes the hallway stand out. Adding sconces on either side of a mirror over a console in an entryway will make it feel a bit more thoughtful. Bringing lighting into a secondary space gives that space oomph and purpose. When you’re doing it tastefully, the lighting ties it all together.

The Intention: COLOR

Deepen perception with hue, saturation, lightness and brightness.

I love a base of neutral and earthy tones, and then I love to bring in bolder color in unexpected ways, like art and lighting. Just because you’re painting the walls dark, it doesn’t have to feel dark, and a white room doesn’t have to feel bright. Think about light diffused through a white glass fixture, it doesn’t read as white. I prefer a warm, yellow, filtered light to bring tone and mood to a space.

The Intention: TEXTURE

Add depth and interest by playing up visual or tactile characteristics.

I love working with things that are imperfect and unique. Organic materials in lighting fixtures (alabaster, wovens, linens) contribute to a dynamic quality of light in a room, because it’s always changing. Part of making spaces livable is making sure they’re not static. I never want to make a room that someone feels like they can’t go in, can’t sit on the sofa – we’ll just make sure the sofas are slipcovered so they can be washed if a spill happens!

The Intention: HARMONY

Arrange elements in a pleasing way to promote equanimity and calm.

You could have the best furniture in a room, but if the lighting is off, it’s never going to feel right. That said, I’m not one for statement fixtures. If there’s one element that’s the star, I haven’t been doing my job. The photos you’re seeing on our Instagram and in our portfolio – that’s how the space looks almost every time I go back. It’s such a great feeling because then I know I’ve created something my clients are able to maintain. They get to live in it and enjoy it, but they also get the whole look.

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About the Designer

Brittany Wurzak Hakimfar is a Philadelphia-based interior designer and founder of Far Studio. After graduating from George Washington University with a major in interior design, Brittany began her career in New York City working for Mark Cunningham.

In 2012, she moved to Los Angeles to work with renowned AD100 designer Waldo Fernandez where she honed her skills in high-end residential and commercial design.

After working with Waldo for five years as a lead designer on projects across the country, she returned to her hometown of Philadelphia to begin her own design firm and start a family. She currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband and two young children, working on projects that inspire her.