DECORATE LIKE A
Table of Contents
Do’s and Don’ts
Elements of Design
Organizing Your Ideas
Decorating on a Budget
Shabby Chic Style
Paris Apartment Style
French Country Style
Tropical Chic Style
Using What You’ve Got
Decorating in a Day
Courtney Cox loves to buy homes, refurbish and redecorate
them and then re-sell. Countless other celebrities do the same thing.
In fact, celebrities spend thousands of dollars just to have professional
decorators come into their homes and re-decorate them.
Still other famous people choose to get dirty themselves so they
can realize their dreams of a home that is decorated the way they
envisioned it to be. In fact, the television show “Trading Spaces” has
actually taken interior decorating to a whole other level.
People have visions of how they want their lives to be and how
they want their living space to be. Celebrities and regular Joes alike
possess these thoughts and dreams and want to see them come to
What’s the difference? Obviously, it’s because most celebrities
have an unlimited budget when it comes to their interior decorating
views. We “regular people” generally don’t have that same luxury.
If ‘Trading Spaces’ and segments about celebrity-inspired home
decorating appeal to your creative senses, take a stand and create the
home of your dreams! Interior decorating has taken new heights with
the cost-effective styles and today’s trends available at most local
chains and department stores.
Luxury living is a combination of eclectic, traditional, and unique
styles with a contemporary but inspirational look. Even antiques can
be transformed into vital accessories for today’s modern home, and
add an air of distinction and originality to any corner.
Who needs a Hollywood designer when you can create great
spaces on your own? Construct and build some versatile and chic
domains on a variety of budgets and themes. Whether it’s the
bedroom, living room, or elegant dining area that needs some
updating, think like a celebrity to create some dynamic and unique
Now, I should take a moment to let you know that interior
decorating is definitely a matter of personal preference and style.
What appeals to one person may be disgusting to another. But there
are many, many decorating styles out there, and what we’re going to
do in this book is present a lot of those styles and ways to recreate
Let’s start with some basic premises about interior design and
what it takes to make a great space.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF
The rules of interior decorating can be as solid as a rock or as
open to interpretation as the sky. But many experts agree that
learning the rules can be the first step toward freely breaking those
rules when necessary. Here are some of the decorating dos.
Do sketch your floor plan and record the room dimensions,
window sizes and placement, and the location of special
features, electrical outlets, and so on.
Take your floor plan with you when you shop.
Do take the time to discover your personal style by reading
shelter magazines, attending show houses, and browsing online
and in stores to learn what styles and colors really appeal to
Do identify the focal point of the room (a fireplace, a view, a
bed, an armoire).
Do define a room's style in writing , being specific. (Not just
"country French", but "French Country with a rooster motif,
chicken wire cupboard fronts, and a color scheme that includes
black and gold.")
Do pick a signature piece to focus your decorating decisions.
It could be a beautiful fabric, an area rug, a picture, a piece of
pottery, dishes, or a postcard. The item should embody both the
color scheme of the room as well as the style and mood you
hope to create.
Do coordinate fabric and flooring choices before making any
major purchases, and before choosing exact paint colors.
Do purchase large elements first (rugs, draperies,
upholstered furniture) whenever possible, and use the exact
colors and style of those major pieces to coordinate all other
Do use a mix of patterns -- large-scale, small-scale, checks,
stripes, geometrics, plain -- when coordinating a room.
Do allow for natural pathways in a room (such as from the
door to the closet) and try to arrange furniture with those
walkways in mind.
Do consider the uses and function of a room before deciding
on furnishings and arrangements. For example, if your dining
room will also be your study, then you'll need room for a desk,
books, lighting, and files as well as the dining room table and
Do consider using unifying elements such as trim color,
wood tone, flooring, motifs, fabrics, or materials.
Do use the principle of repetition when planning shapes,
colors, fabrics, and patterns. One red accent in a room may look
like an afterthought whereas several red accents here and there
will contribute to the color scheme.
Do plan ahead for appropriate task, general, and dramatic
lighting by using a mix of light fixtures on dimmers for
Do purchase the best quality furniture you can afford.
Learn more about quality construction and materials that can
prolong the life of furniture and make it a better buy in the long
Do use contrast to add interest to a space. Placing furniture
and accessories against a contrasting background will highlight
Do crosslink your rooms by repeating colors, fabrics, and
themes in varying combinations. |
Do balance a room's furnishings by paying attention to scale
and visual weight.
Balance a large stone fireplace with a large sofa or armoire
Do arrange conversational areas to be within an 8 to 14 feet
Do anchor spaces in open floor plans with area rugs and
furniture groupings to define each space.
Do pair seating in conversation areas with side tables and
lamps so that there is a place to set drinks, books, etc. as well
as adequate light for reading.
Do choose accessories that reinforce the color and style
theme of a room.
Do use scale and pattern to create interesting focal points.
Do use pairs of items to underscore symmetry and balance
Do use odd numbers of items (3, 5, 7) when grouping
accents for table-scapes. Do place items (high, medium, and
low) within an imaginary triangle to add interest.
Do use symmetrical arrangements in formal rooms. In more
casual rooms go for asymmetrical arrangements of furniture
Do emphasize the important elements of the room and play
down the unattractive or unimportant elements.
Do use a variety of textures (smooth, rough, shiny, dull)
when you want to add interest to a room.
Do use line to underscore a room's style. Horizontal lines
emphasize length and underscore a calm mood. Vertical lines will
emphasize height, and diagonal lines emphasize space and
provide a dynamic and exciting feel.
Do reinforce the style and theme of a room with appropriate
details and accessories.
Do install more details in a plain boxy room. Consider crown
molding, wainscoting, and other applications to add interest and
Do consider the location of your home and the architectural
style when planning interiors.
Decorating "rules" are made to be broken. Not every project will
lend itself to every so-called rule.
However, following the rules can help give your project a focus
that a more haphazard approach may not. Here are some of the
Don't paint your walls then go out looking for fabrics to
Paint can be mixed in any of a thousand colors, so select the
final shades after upholstery, carpeting, and curtain fabrics are
Don't paint a room without trying a sample of the color in
the room. Tiny paint chips can be deceiving as to tone and
depth of color, so always paint a test board to confirm your
Don't line up the furniture around the walls except in the
smallest of rooms. Pulling furniture into attractive groupings in
the center of the room will add warmth and be inviting to guests
Don't turn your back on the focal point of the room by
arranging furniture away from this important feature.
Don't place furniture where it will interfere with
doorways, cabinet doors, natural traffic patterns, or other
Don't clutter up a room with a million little collectibles
unless you're in love with that look. Most of us will feel it is too
Don't try to construct a color scheme from wildly
disparate objects. First find a print fabric or rug with all of the
colors you want to use, then edit out, repaint, or recover items
that don't fit with the plan.
Don't keep something you hate. Do you have a hideous
orange sofa from Aunt Zelda? Either slipcover it, recover, or
remove it. You'll be happier.
Don't decorate around an item that just isn't "you". If your
new home came with gold shag carpeting when you love roses
and lace, believe me, you'll never love that carpet. Get rid of it.
Don't forget the details. If your theme is Mediterranean, look
for iron lamp bases, weathered iron drawer pulls, and tile tables.
If you love Cottage then use painted white accessories, floral
accents, and lace.
Don't fall in love with cheap furniture just because it has an
appealing color or exciting fabric. Look for good lines, quality
construction, and elegant details first. Then have those pieces
covered in a fabric or finish that you love.
Don't choose colors standing in a store.
Try to take samples (of paint, fabrics, and floor coverings) back
to your home and look at them in daylight and at night.
Don't spend a lot of money on expensive items that are
"trendy". Try out trends that truly appeal to you by
experimenting first with inexpensive accessories.
Don't live with a lot of mismatched furniture orphans.
Unite pieces with color -- either by painting everything one color
(white, pale gold, or black for example) or by recovering
everything using identical or a mix of coordinating fabrics.
Don't always choose backgrounds in your favorite color.
Sometimes providing a softer background will make your favorite
color stand out as the brightest accent color in the room.
Don't choose everything beige if you really love color.
Remember, color doesn't cost more than white. Wouldn't a
pretty mango, soft coral, or lovely green wall make a terrific
backdrop for your white sofa?
Don't ignore the mood effects of color -- red is exciting, pale
blue soothing, green calming, and yellow is happy -- so choose
color schemes that underscore the feeling you want to create in
Don't disregard the undertones of a color. Every color can
be either light or dark, cool or warm, clear or muddy. Look for
these color cues when choosing color.
Don't blow your entire budget on something that isn't
functional, classic, or long-lasting, unless you're completely
smitten and can't live without it. In general it's best to start with
the basics and build from there.
Some people feel clueless when they begin a decorating project.
They know they want to re-design a room, but they have no clue
where to start.
The easiest way to find your style is to start collecting ideas. Flip
through decorating magazines or home improvement websites and
collect pictures of things that catch your eye like a particular sofa
style, a really cool lamp, a wall color, window treatments, a fabric, or
maybe just the feeling that the whole room gives you. Make notes
right on the pages so you remember why you saved it.
Also, start collecting samples of existing fabrics or colors that
are going to stay in the room. For instance, say you’re not changing
the carpeting and you want to keep your grandmother’s side chair.
See if you can clip a little bit of extra fabric off the chair where you
won’t see it. Clip a small square of the carpeting out of a closet. If it’s
a painted piece, you can use paint chips from your local paint store to
match it as closely as possible and have those with you.
You will also want to take measurements of the room and any
furniture that is staying. If you can, make a simple floor plan to scale
for reference. And finally, take photos of the room and any of the
pieces you will be keeping.
Now as you collect all these samples and notes you will need to
organize them in a way that makes sense for you; either by room, or
by idea such as furniture ideas, lighting, colors, fabrics, or window
treatments. Then keep them in your car so when you are out shopping
you won’t have to make another trip back home to see if it's the right
color, size, or if it will "go". Decorators always have samples with them
when they shop.
As you start to collect a fair amount of items you will start to
see a pattern or similarity in what you like. And a style, that you didn’t
think you had, will soon emerge.
Maybe you want to look through a magazine and find a style
that appeals to you. That’s fine if you want to copy that style, just be
sure that it will work in your house.
There are some elements of design that should be taken into
ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
There are 6 basic elements used in all aspects of interior design
and decorating. If you correctly incorporate all or most of these
elements you will have created a beautiful and functional room.
There are two types of balance – symmetrical and
asymmetrical. Perfect symmetry is like the human body – two eyes,
two arms etc. Symmetrical balance is typically very formal.
Asymmetry, on the other hand, refers to an imbalance, perhaps two
candlesticks of slightly different sizes placed next to each other.
Asymmetry is used to add visual motion and excitement to a space,
and therefore it is considered a more informal way of decorating.
Balance also refers to the weight of different objects in a room.
This can be the actual weight and size of furniture – such as a large
entertainment centre; or it can be visual weight – a patterned or very
bold color upholstered piece appears to take up more space than a
solid or neutral colored one. If there is too much weight on one side of
a room, the arrangement will feel awkward and uninviting.
The human eye can see more than 16 million colors. To simplify
your paint choices look at your favorite piece of art, a rug or the
upholstery fabric. Choose your colors based on that item using the
For example – your favorite painting contains blue, yellow and
cream. You might then choose yellow walls (60%), a blue sofa (30%)
and a cream accent cushion (10%).
A focal point is the centre of interest – usually the part of the
room that our eye is naturally drawn to when we first enter. If you
don’t have an existing architectural detail – such as a fireplace or large
bay window – you can create a focal point by strategically hanging
your art or by creatively displaying some accessories on a bookshelf.
Once you have determined or created a focal point in your room,
simply arrange your conversation area around it.
This does NOT mean that everything should match. It simply
means that the furniture, art and accessories compliment each other in
Scale and Proportion
The size of pieces relative to one another and the size of the
space is their SCALE. Large, ornate pieces will not look right in a very
small room, just as small contemporary pieces will be lost in an
oversized space with vaulted ceilings. And more importantly, the size
variance of different pieces within a room should be somewhat
Texture is the one element that can instantly add interest to a
monochromatic color scheme. Should you choose to decorate an
entire room in one color – mocha perhaps – it will be easy to add some
visually interesting texture. Linen window shades and leather pillows
can be found in the same color range but each has a very different
look and feel.
You may have never put a lot of thought into these elements,
but when they are put together in a room, they will enhance the room
ad make it beautiful!
Taking on an interior design project can be a huge undertaking.
Don’t let your vision become compromised. Start by getting
ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS
When you're getting ready to begin a decorating or remodeling
project it's a great idea to get everything together. And keep it
together! Any building, remodeling, or decorating project will be easier
if you get organized before you start with a decorating file.
Your decorating file will hold everything you'll need to coordinate
the project. Include carpet samples, fabric cuttings, paint samples,
floor plans, wallpaper cuttings, photos, and pictures of inspiration
rooms. Having everything in one place will help the job go more
smoothly from conception to completion.
You can choose any style of file you want. The choice is yours. A
small canvas tote bag, briefcase, notebook with file pockets,
expanding envelope, or file box works well. Be sure you select a
container that will be easy to carry from store to home and large
enough for all your items.
Probably the most convenient way to keep everything together,
and your hands free, is in a tote bag with shoulder handles. Interior
pockets are helpful, too. Be sure to have a container for pens, your cell
phone, tape measure, scissors, and tape.
Place an expanding folder with pockets and divider tabs into the
tote. These pockets will keep projects and items separated and
organized. You can keep several projects separate by labeling the
folders for each.
You'll save time by having everything together wherever you go.
Instead of wondering whether a paint chip coordinates with a fabric
swatch, you'll know right away. If you're shopping for a lamp, you'll
know if the lamp shade is the right color. If you happen on a wonderful
flea market, you won't have to pass up a great bargain on an antique
bureau because you don't know if it will fit in your space. With
everything together: colors, fabrics, measurements, and ideas,-you'll always be ready!
As you work on a project, you'll think of things that would be
helpful to have in your own decorating file. The things on the following
list are just a start. The most important thing to remember about a
decorating file is that you should have it with you at all times.
Pens and Paper
There's nothing more frustrating than finding a perfect paint or
carpet and not being able to write down the particulars for
ordering them. Have several pens and pencils tucked in your file
and a pad of paper or spiral notebook for taking notes. You may
want to make notes of a furniture arrangement, trim detail, or
window treatment that you see.
Try to find a lightweight measuring tape if you can, as a builder's
tape measure can get heavy if you're carrying it around all day.
A 10-foot tape is usually fine for shopping trips, but you'll want a
25-foot measuring tape to measure rooms, windows, and ceiling
If you're doing a room decorating project or a whole-house
remodel, you'll need a drawing of the rooms with measurements.
A scaled drawing on graph paper is most useful, but you can
have a simple sketch for a smaller project.
Be sure that you take accurate measurements of walls, window
dimensions, and distances between doors and windows. You'll
find that the more information you put down on this floor plan,
the more helpful it will be as you're working.
A drawing of each wall will come in handy as you select fabrics
for windows and wallpaper. This sketch should show the
placement of windows, doors, and architectural details with
accurate measurements. To get the proper drawing, look at the
wall from across the room and draw in the details.
If you're not up to drawing your floor plan by hand, you might
want to check out some online help from Smart Draw or
Arrange-A-Room from Better Homes and Gardens.
Once you get a decorating file organized, you'll wonder how you
ever got along without it. This file will hold all the information you
collect to get a decorating project put together.
Photos of Your Room
Even if you can't stand how your room looks now, take some
"before" pictures. Get all the angles and details. These will be
helpful when you're working on your plan or when you need to
talk to a salesperson about your project. They'll help remind you
of details as you're working.
As you proceed with your project, you'll undoubtedly have
schedules to keep. Note when the floors will be measured for
carpet, when the plumber is coming, or when you have a date
with the painter. You can use your personal daily planner if you
have one or keep one separate just for your decorating projects.
Just be sure to have it with you!
Magazines are a great source of decorating inspiration. If you
see a color you like, a fabric print that is just what you love, or
an arrangement of accessories that would work in your space,
tear the page out and keep it in your decorating file.
Find pictures with ideas you can incorporate into your own
decorating project. You can also get great ideas from decorating
books, but don't tear the pages out!
Samples of Fabrics, Colors, and Flooring
As you shop; you'll want to collect samples of carpet, tiles,
flooring, fabrics, and paint chips. The more you have in your
Decorating File, the easier it will be to put your project together
when you get home. Add more samples with every shopping trip.
You may not be replacing everything in the room you're
decorating. Be sure to take a sample of anything that is staying
in your room, including carpeting, upholstery fabric, paint
samples, tile, or wood.
For an upholstered piece, it's ideal if you have a piece of the
fabric. If not, take an arm cover or cover of a pillow. If you just
don't have a suitable piece of fabric to include in your Decorating
File, try to get a good color picture of the pieces you'll be saving.
An 8" square of carpet will fit in your tote. If there's just no extra
carpet, trim off some tufts of carpet fiber from an inconspicuous
place and tape it to a piece of cardboard for your decorating file.
As you decide on your decorating scheme, you'll put together all
the elements, first in your mind, then in your Decorating File.
Coordinate fabrics with paint and paint with flooring by testing
combinations of samples you've collected. Or use the resources
of professionals who have put together collections of fabrics,
colors, and wall coverings for companies such as Waverly.
Whether your "decorating file" is a notebook, a canvas tote,
briefcase, or large purse, be sure it is comfortable enough to carry
with you. Here are several additional items that are useful to include in
your decorating file.
Add these final items to your decorating file and you'll be ready
to go at a moment's notice.
Have a handy list of phone numbers for your carpet man,
plumber, painter, upholsterer, or contractor. Keep the list in your
Decorating File for easy reference.
Scissors and Tape
When you find the perfect paint chips, you might want to tape
them together with fabrics you've chosen. Also put together
fabric samples and carpet tufts.
Envelopes or Zip-Lock Bags
You never know when you might find some small piece of
information, color, or pattern that could get lost if put in the
bottom of a tote.
Have a few plain #10 envelopes or zip-lock plastic bags in your
Simple post-it notes are great for marking pages that you don't
want to lose in a book or magazine. Or use them to mark
possible choices in a wallpaper book. If you're looking at paint
chips, block off shades that you don't want, using a post-it note.
Once you've made all your choices, put together a color board.
Use a piece of mat board, foam core, or cardboard, cut to fit into
your decorating file. Paint the board in the color of your chosen
wall paint or just leave it white.
Attach all fabrics, trims, inspiration photos, and drawings to the
board. You can have the mat board cut to fit into a standard or
legal size file folder. When you've completed your project, put
the color board away in a filing cabinet for reference.
You'll find that it's fun to put together a Decorating File for your
decorating projects. It's a useful tool to keep you organized.
Now that you at least have some idea of where you want to be
with your new decorating project, you may be worried about how you
will afford what you need. Don’t worry! You can still have a celebrity
room with an everyday budget.
DECORATING ON A BUDGET
Just because you don’t have a celebrity checkbook doesn’t mean
that you can’t have celebrity style! Anyone can re-decorate their
home or apartment – even with limited funds! Consider the following:
1. Decide ahead of time on a budget or payment plan, pace your
decorating. Include money for accessories.
2. Decide on one room at a time and designate a priority within
your room. That's where you should begin.
3. Have a plan, color scheme, style, & atmosphere. Have a target
date for completion.
4. Your confidence level in tackling your decorating project makes a
big difference. If you are the least bit unsure, contact a
professional designer. He or she will save you time, energy,
money, and frustration. Select a designer that you are
comfortable with and trust. He/she should know your likes and
dislikes. Whatever is done needs to suit you and your family.
5. Measure your room to scale. Show windows and doors. Decide
on a focal point. Measure furniture, rugs, etc. before purchase.
Draw your furniture to scale and cut out the drawings. Place
these on your floor plan, moving them around until you get an
arrangement that you like. This is very easy on your back. This
procedure will also help you decide if the items are
proportionately correct for your room. Think too about ceiling
height and traffic flow.
6. Repeat each color in your scheme at eye level, mid level, and
floor level to achieve good visual balance. Repeat any pattern
and/or textures at least twice in the room.
7. Paint and wallpaper/borders go a long way in updating and
freshening a room and usually cost very little.
8. View colors and patterns in your home during daylight hours
before making a purchase.
9. If you do not plan to be in your home for a long time, invest in
accessories (artwork, area rugs, decorator pillows) that could
easily be used in another home.
What about furniture when you’re on a budget? No problem!
Most of us have lived in a time when we needed to decorate an
apartment or home on a budget. We probably "borrowed" items from
our parents, inherited castoffs from friends, and purchased cheap
furnishings that we eventually threw away.
Sooner or later, however, our taste began to mature and the
eclectic uncoordinated furniture we once thought was "cool" might now
look like just a mish-mash of old stuff.
Let's face it, we'd probably be happy to get rid of all of it and
Unfortunately, few of us have the budget or the opportunity to
begin furnishing a home from scratch whenever we want.
Nevertheless, there are ways to stretch your decorating budget
and find bargains on quality furnishings that will bring years of beauty
and style to your home.
Where are these great deals on furniture?
Try some of these resources the next time you need furniture
but want to save money too.
These are popping up everywhere and are a great place to sell
your old things and find new ones. Items are one-of-a-kind so
shop often and be ready to buy when you see just the right
piece. Get to know the owner or manager and explain what you
need and they might just call when an appropriate piece comes
Model Home Sales
Builder model homes are another source of beautiful furnishings.
Keep an eye out by visiting models in your area. If you see
something you like, ask the sales office how and when the
furniture might be available for sale. This is a terrific way to get
coordinated and custom items at a fraction of the cost of new.
Beware that some pieces may have fading, spots, or dents due
to the heavy traffic and cleaning schedules at the models.
Clearance Outlets and Sales
Many major department and furniture stores have outlet center
with ongoing or periodic furniture sales. Often the tags are
marked with dates and prices are reduced every 30 or 60 days.
Furniture in these outlets may be either scratched, a second, and
overrun, repossessed, or otherwise imperfect. However, prices
will generally reflect any imperfections and may also be
You might have a sofa that's just too big for your new living
room. Your best friend might have a loveseat that's too small for
her family room. Why not negotiate a trade? It can be on a
permanent or a temporary basis, as you choose.
Scratch and Dent Rooms
Furniture stores may have a corner or back room where they
keep scratched and dented items available for sale at big
discounts. Inquire at your favorite stores and visit often to watch
for furnishing that might fit into your home.
Here are more bargain shopping resources.
Design Centers (in most large cities) often have periodic "sample
sales" for discontinued furnishings that have been used as
Call a design center near you, or watch your local newspaper for
Trash to Treasure
Some people call it "dumpster diving" and others call it "found
items" but this can become almost a hobby with some people.
Discarded furnishings found in trash bins, on the street, or
marked "free" at a garage sale, can be rehabbed into something
beautiful if you have the time and creativity.
Junk and Thrift Stores
Yes, you probably do have to visit 15 junk and thrift stores to
find even one great item. But if you have the time and the
patience, this can be an inexpensive source of some wonderful
one-of-a-kind pieces. And if you have a friend who frequents
these kinds of stores, let her know what you're looking for so she
can call you with possibilities.
Garage Sales and Flea Markets
This is an obviously cheap source for lots of furniture and
accessories. Items will generally be inexpensive and may exhibit
a great deal of wear. Negotiation is practically expected, so bring
cash and bargain away for the best prices.
Auction houses are another source of quality one-of-a-kind
furnishings. Read up on auctions before you go and be sure to
take advantage of the preview days to examine any pieces you
might bid on. Better to find out about that wobbly leg or the
cracked drawer before the auction begins. Many pieces that are
not classified as "antiques" are extremely reasonable at auction.
Buy with an Eye to Refinish
Sometimes you won't be able to find just what you want and
you'll need to get creative. Begin to look at furniture with an eye
for its line, scale, and details. Perhaps a dark wood desk can be
repainted and updated with new hardware. Maybe a beat up
coffee table can be sanded and stained, or an old chair seat
recovered with pretty fabric. The only caution -- be realistic as to
what you can actually accomplish. A chest with a missing drawer
and a cracked top may be too much to fix if you don't have the
time, tools, or space to repair it.
For those of us with more taste than money, attempts to
decorate our homes on a budget can often be a frustrating exercise in
making-do and doing without. We flip through the glossy pages of
home decorating magazines and despair of ever living in anything with
more charm than a shoe box.
But the truth is, the principles of home decorating have always
had more to do with expressing your personality through your own
sense of style than with spending large amounts of money to make
your home look like a picture in a magazine.
Yet paradoxically, these very same magazines, featuring "little"
3000 square foot homes and "mere" $20,000 renovation budgets are
the ideal place to start. As you study the photographs look, not at the
big picture, but at the details.
First, study how the owners have used color. Whether strong or
muted, a well thought- out color scheme lends a touch of
sophistication to the plainest walls, carpet and furniture. Not to
mention saving you a bundle on trial and error paint! Note that a color
scheme does not mean using only one or two colors that "match". It
means using often up to five different colours in various intensities and
proportions from room to room. Paint experts can usually tell you how
to use a color wheel to determine which colors work successfully
Look next for decorating themes. A theme will again unify the
look of your home and prevent you making expensive mistakes. An
item will either fit or it won't and you'll know which before you bring it
Popular themes include the South Western look; the spare,
clean, Ultra Modern look; or even the tried and true Eclectic look,
which basically means a little bit of everything, on purpose! You could
even use color itself as your theme.
Continue browsing through your magazine and you'll soon see
that the best looking homes are those that are filled, not with
expensive art and antiques, (though if you've got 'em, by all means
flaunt 'em!) but with frequent touches of the owners' personalities.
You can also frame postcards, greeting cards and calendar
pictures. Look in museum and gallery gift shops for the more "arty"
ones. Look also in craft-supply stores. These can be a treasure trove of
inexpensive, fashionable accessories. Birdhouses and miniature chairs
are currently very popular and can be bought for only a few dollars
Never be afraid to express your personality and don't be shy
about looking in unusual places for decorating ideas. One of my
favorite items is a repainted wooden sleigh, bought at a garage sale
and now a container, in my den, for many of my paperbacks: less
predictable than a bookcase but just as efficient.
And why spend a small fortune on a silk plant for your coffee
table when a bowl of bright green apples can be just as decorative?
Edible and replaceable too!
One final, but important guideline for the frugal decorator:
unless you have the money to follow along as they change, avoid
expensive trends. Purchasing a few four dollar birdhouses is one thing.
Painting your entire house in various shades of purple because the
magazines are filled with pictures of purple houses is quite another.
What happens next year when everyone moves to yellow? Or limegreen?
Instead, try and identify your personal style. What colors soothe
you? What colors invigorate you? In general, would you rather be
soothed or invigorated? Do you prefer formal, informal or positively
laid-back? What type of furnishings invites you to sit on them? Is your
eye drawn to wood, vibrant color, or chrome? Once you've made these
decisions you can decorate with the sense of security that comes from
knowing your choices will be comfortable, stylish and long-lasting!
Genuine satisfaction in decorating comes not from writing checks
but from devising affordable solutions to vexing problems. Resolve
from the outset to be resourceful and you can achieve high style on a
Let's face it; few of us have the luxury of a sky's-the-limit
budget for home decorating. As appealing as it sounds, "money is no
object" is just a phrase we fantasize about using right after the lottery
pays off or the Prize Patrol comes calling.
Even for top interior designers, an unlimited budget is a rarity.
Many confess they actually do their best work when they have to rely
on creativity instead of cash. So whether you're frugal by nature or
necessity, consider these four guiding principles for getting the most
out of your decorating dollars
Use inexpensive materials lavishly and expensive
materials judiciously. Rely on cotton sailcloth for slipcovers,
table skirts, and draperies, and save the pricey textiles for throw
pillows and trims.
If you have to decide between costly materials and costly
labor, choose the labor. An artisan can make your dollar-ayard fabric look like a million bucks. Elegance is found in details,
whether it's sewing trims, borders, and appliqués or painting
color washes and stripes (thin lines or bands) -- touches of
finery many of us can't craft for ourselves.
Remember that the objective is not just to see how
inexpensively you can get by but to make every moneysaving method count. If you do your own painting and
paperhanging, you'll have more funds left for furnishings, frills,
Make the most of what you have, and then fill in the
blanks. Some of the best design ideas are free. Simply rearranging
the furniture -- floating it away from the walls, or turning it on the
diagonal -- can transform a tired room. Moving a piece of furniture
from one room to another can improve the look of both. Experiment
with what's on hand before you go shopping for replacements.
In a featureless room, architectural details can make a big
difference for a little price. Wood moldings from the lumberyard or
home center are the equivalents of architectural appliqué. They come
in a wide range of sizes and styles, and they can be painted or stained.
Use them to frame windows, doors, or panels of wallpaper, or to
create a chair or plate rail.
Similarly, a wallpaper border is architecture by the roll. It can
add ornamental detail to plain rooms and alter the perceived shape
and dimension of spaces.
Even if you can't afford a masterpiece, you don't have to settle
for bare walls. Cut out, mat, and frame 20 pages of a book
featuring botanical illustrations or architectural sketches. Mount
them on a single wall to achieve the collective impact of one
large work of art.
Turn an ordinary print or poster into an extraordinary piece of
art by splurging on professional matting and framing. Elaborate
mats and frames can make an inexpensive print look far more
With just a hammer and nail, you're on your way to turning
framed treasures into dramatic groupings. But before getting too
hammer-happy, make templates of your artwork by tracing the
perimeters on Kraft paper. Cut out the shapes and tape them to your
wall, rearranging until you're happy with the look. Nail through the
paper, adjusting nail position according to the frame hangers. Remove
paper and hang artwork.
Because they come in coordinated solids and patterns, sheets
take the guesswork out of mixing and matching. Plus, they tend to be
less expensive than the same yardage of fabric. Use them to make
curtains, craft table skirts, or upholster a salvaged headboard. Turn
sheets into a shower curtain or a skirt for a wall-mount sink. Or
appliqué strips of sheet fabric to inexpensive towels for a high-end
Fabric, like paint, covers a multitude of sins and can make a
dramatic difference in an entire room. It also allows you to change the
character of your decor seasonally. Use a floral-chintz print for wickerchair cushions in the summer, and switch to a red-and-black tartan
plaid in the winter. Because cushions take so little fabric, you may find
what you need on sale in remnant quantities. If you don't sew, have
an upholsterer make the covers for you at a reasonable cost.
For old chairs, consider new slipcovers: they can give a
brand-new look at a fraction of the price.
You don't need expensive fabrics to create a luxe look. The
trick to using inexpensive fabric effectively is using lots of it.
Instead of just one skirt on a round table, use three: a maxi, a
mid, and a mini. Layering conveys luxury.
For a monochromatic look, use a solid-color fabric that
matches the walls -- perhaps sea-foam green, dove gray,
ivory, camel, or creamy yellow -- for slipcovers, table skirts, and
window treatments. In lieu of pattern, choose fabrics with
texture to increase visual appeal and tactile qualities.
Mixing fabric patterns and colors is trickier, of course, but
you can improve the odds of doing it successfully by starting
with a paisley or floral, adding a stripe or plaid, then introducing
a solid color.
Study rooms in decorating magazines and books, and
you'll find most have three fabric colors in diminishing
proportions -- for example, lots of blue, a little less white, and
just a smidgen of yellow as an accent. It's a reliable formula that
works for any color scheme.
Repetition creates continuity. Sew pillows from the curtain
fabric; trim curtains and pillows with the same fringe.
Looking for abundance? You can stuff a room with furniture and
accessories -- an expensive proposition -- or you can buy fewer but
Splurge on one worthy focal-point element and you won't have
to spend so much on the elements around it. Try an oversize mirror
instead of several small ones, for instance. Consider a large armoire
you can appreciate every day instead of four tiny tables that never get
noticed. Six small throw pillows won't do as much for an ordinary sofa
as two 24 x 24-inch ones, which can change the sofa's profile and
Often, the smartest buy is knowledge. Buying a few hours of an
interior designer's time could help you decide where best to spend
your limited resources and might keep you from making costly
mistakes you'll have to live with for a long time.
Look for ideas that are low-cost or even no-cost. Study furniture
vignettes in furniture stores and design centers. Go on house tours,
and visit model homes and designer show houses. Pay attention to the
colors and materials you encounter in restaurants, banks, and clothing
In the end, it's not how much money you spend on decorating
that matters but how wisely you spend it. Imagination is your most
potent ally. To make the most of finite resources, be willing to take an
unconventional -- even eccentric -- approach. Make the process of
feathering your nest affordably an exercise in creativity, not an
exercise in making do. Explore, experiment, and dare to be different,
and your home will almost automatically reflect the good sense, good
taste, good humor, and good will you put into it.
For as little as $25, you can create a brand-new complexion with
But don't automatically resort to play-it-safe white, even if
you're hesitant about stronger hues. White walls produce a gallery
effect that almost demands beautiful objects and furnishings. And
white intensifies the perception that something is missing if a room is
sparsely furnished. Pastels and darker hues have a way of filling up a
room's blank spaces.
You don't have to stick with solid colors, either. Bookstores offer
volumes on decorative-painting techniques: combing, glazing, ragging,
and stenciling. With a little patience and practice, anyone who can hold
a brush can turn an ordinary wall into a work of art for pennies a
Paint has just as much potential on floors and furnishings as it
does on walls. Two coats of deck or latex paint topped with three coats
of polyurethane will produce a beautiful finish on tile, linoleum, or even
old wood floors that are beyond salvage.
There are many different “styles” that can be incorporated in
different rooms of your house. We’ll try to touch on the most popular
ones and help you give your home a new look.
This style is best suited for small spaces because when you
decorate with the minimalist look in mind, the focus is on less rather
than more. It is a very simplistic style that offers just a few pieces of
accents and not a lot of color.
Minimalist decorating is often confused to be an approach
adequately dealt with within the concepts of modern decorating and
design. It is much more. Minimalism can be quite modern or it can be
retro. What it is is one manifestation of a total way of thinking. It is a
way of viewing our world in general and then, our inner space in
If you are like most people, you probably find yourself puzzling
for a way to understand the values of Minimalist decorating. To acquire
an appreciation of it’s point. Without living the lifestyle or possessing a
pre-disposition for prescribing to the theories, it is a difficult thing to
do. Where other decorating forms work to create a state of mind,
Minimalism is a state of mind.
Born out of a post World War II Minimalist movement in other
art forms where a distillation to the essentials resulted in a “worksthat-were because they existed” philosophy. The new approach to
Minimalism maintains order but, is more relaxed. This has resulted in a
broadening of the appeal. This decorating form will always have a
place among those who view their home as an oasis of order in a world
of chaos and clutter.
Minimalist decorating doesn’t necessarily mean everything is
stripped down. It means everything serves a specific function.
Aesthetically, you will notice emphasis placed on a building’s envelope
by reducing dividing walls to create open floor plans. Not always are
structural changes your option or desire but, if you have a space
whose openness lends itself to Minimalist decorating you have a head
start. If not, you will want to work toward creating a Minimalist illusion
and feel by applying the main elements to what you have – an open
feel, clean lines, order and wasting not on needless adornments.
Minimalist detractors might like to say you are creating a
decorating wasteland but your goal is to create a space appropriate to
the way you want to live. The result can be very rewarding personally
and widely appealing; even to those detractors. It is a long known fact
simple living leads to a more relaxed and tranquil life. After all, isn’t
that a worthwhile accomplishment?
Get rid of some of the standard notions usually applied to the
use of color in decorating. In Minimalist decorating, there isn’t an
attempt to create drama through the power of color. Wall colors are
white based cool teals, greens and coral for example and a
predominance of use of the purist of white. This highly reflective,
neutral palette allows light to do it’s work. There is a space making
effect when light plays upon smooth white walls. Architectural features
are more visible and center stage is given over to better emphasize
objects you’ll use in decoration.
Consider this. One survey of condo buyers shows that those
persons who chose texture to be their favorite decorating element,
The absence of textured relief was their favorite aspect of
Texture is something that can block the way of Minimalist
sophistication. Most fabrics are sleek and smooth yet soft to the touch.
Fabric window treatments are non-existent, neither are windows
trimmed out; favored are 90 degree plastered corner beads. Wood
flooring is butt joined plank, flawlessly smooth and shiny. Base
moldings are linear, used for the function of covering the wall to floor
gap, not for the purpose of being noticed for it’s profile design. Kitchen
cabinetry is lacquered to a super high shine and topped with polished
Where texture does appear it is because function requires.
Rectangular patterned area rugs and grainy leather upholstery come to
Let the flow of space and light create much of your decoration
without the confusion of ornamentation.
Pure simplicity is your conscience keeping the focus on an
absence of clutter. Collections of hung artwork are not needed where
one or two impressively perfect pieces will help not detract from the
architecture of a particular room. Look for strong geometric shapes
and asymmetry. Chrome used in furniture construction can be
enhanced by the addition of a single, heavy, chrome ball form.
Electronic equipment components selected for their quality and leading
edge design can be set up to be artistic accessory pieces which
exemplify the dual use or functional criteria.
Be selective and show a respect of space. The lines of your
favorite piece of furniture when given enough space in which to value
it, will multiply in decorating worth. Stay disciplined and those things
you value won’t be lost in an over crowded home.
You see! The space doesn’t have to be architect designed to
achieve the desirable minimalist look.
I’m a big fan of the casual look because the casual decorating
style focuses on comfort and being an inviting environment.
Do you long for a casual style room that is homey, warm,
comfortable, and inviting? Who doesn't want to be comfortable in their
own home? If you want to put together a casual style room, learn the
basic elements that combine to create a truly casual room.
For starters, casual rooms have simple details, textured
elements in fabrics and accessories, restful horizontal lines, soft
upholstery, low-luster surfaces, and arrangements that avoid perfect
Details are simple, and elements are rectangular or softly
A room decorated in a casual style is the perfect place to have a
touch of whimsy. Use an old or reconstructed birdhouse or wooden
candlestick for a lamp base. Stack pieces of old luggage for a side
table, or use a low vintage ironing board for a coffee table.
Casual decorating is easily incorporated into rustic, French
Country, cottage, Shabby Chic, or American Country decorating styles.
With people enjoying more relaxed lifestyles, many homes today
are totally decorated using the elements of casual decorating. But any
home can incorporate the elements into a guest room, country
kitchen, guest room, or bath. The elements of a casual style of
decorating can sneak into most any room and make it feel
The elements of a casual style of decorating are discussed
below. Use any or all of these tips to bring the casual decorating style
to your rooms.
Furniture in a casual interior is soft and comfortable. Upholstered
pieces are usually oversized and slip covered.
Many pieces of upholstered furniture are covered in neutral
colors, such as tan, gray, beige, or off-white. But other colors
are used, too. Soft pastels give a peaceful feeling. Or try darker
tones such as navy, rust, olive or forest green, wine, and
cranberry for punch.
Fabrics on furniture and pillows are usually textured, rather than
shiny. Interesting weaves of natural fibers like cotton, linen, and
wool are typical. New synthetic weaves give a natural look and
For special accents on upholstered pieces, add ruffles, pleats,
buttons, ribbon, or cording. Contrasting colored details
incorporate the full range of colors in the room.
To achieve a casual look, pieces are often long, large, and
horizontal, rather than vertical and tall and petite. Tables are
chunky and of a large scale, which gives a comfortable feeling,
while providing space for storage and spreading out. This helps
to create a restful look.
A room decorated in a casual style is the perfect place for found
items of wicker, iron, and rattan, or flea market finds. Old
antiques fit in well.
A room decorated in a causal style often has furniture arranged
on the diagonal, cutting off sharp corners. Matched pieces are
not required, as the focus is on easy.
An ottoman is essential for comfort. Add a large wooden or
rattan tray to convert it to a coffee table.
Light woods are often used for furniture pieces and wood
flooring. Oak and pine are the most popular, either painted or
finished with a flat, low luster varnish to protect the grain.
Hammered iron, antiqued brass, wrought iron, porcelain, or
carved wood are used for the hardware on doors and drawers.
Collections of treasured or found items are often arranged to add
the casual look. The shelf of a bookcase or corner tabletop is the
perfect place for an arrangement of treasures.
Bedrooms in a casual home would not be without a mountain of
pillows and a comfortable quilt.
Window coverings in a casual room usually start with shutters,
blinds or shades for privacy and light control.
Keep in mind that a room decorated in a causal style should be:
Comfortable, homey, welcoming, and sturdy.
Fabrics should be soft and textured.
Furniture is long, overstuffed, and low.
Surfaces worn and rugged.
Accessories are old and rustic.
A touch of whimsy is in order.
Use a casual style wherever you want to create a warm, inviting
Some people are just drawn towards the formal, elegant look
when it comes to decorating. Yes, it’s true that some rooms that are
designed with elegant elements are striking to look at. Here’s some
good ways to achieve that formal look.
If you love the look of elegant Ritz-Carlton hotels or public
buildings such as the White House, you're probably drawn to their
formal style of decorating.
While homes today are not usually constructed with 18" deep
baseboard moldings, hand-laid herringbone-patterned hardwood
floors, or elaborate carved plaster ceiling and wall decorations, there
are elements of the formal style of decorating that can be added to
more modern homes.
One of the most distinguishing features of interior spaces and homes
decorated in a formal style is the symmetry of windows, furniture,
artwork, and flooring. These elements are most often arranged in
exact pairs on a straight axis around the room.
In a formal style interior, a central focal point draws the eye.
It might be a beautiful picture window looking out to a perfectly
manicured lawn. The focal point might be a fireplace in the center of
the longest wall. Or the focal point might be an exquisite piece of
A formal style of decorating fits best in a home with high
ceilings, large and tall windows, and architectural features such as a
large fireplace mantle or beautifully paneled walls.
Since formal style interiors are decorated to attract the attention
and possible envy of others, highly polished woods, glistening mirrors,
luxurious and sensual fabrics, sparkling crystal chandeliers and wall
sconces, highly polished brass window and door hardware, and unique
and interesting pieces of furniture are important.
Furniture and accessories in formal interiors are often antique or
fine reproductions. Woods used are generally dark and rich looking,
but lighter woods are often used for decoration.
Imported Oriental rugs cover polished hardwood floors. The
original artwork is often elaborately framed in hand-carved gilt frames.
Crystal light fixtures sparkle on the walls and hang from the center of
The details of formal style decorating are:
Pairs of furniture and accessories
Shiny wood, fabric, and metals
Tall windows with elaborate coverings
Antique furniture and accessories
Original oil paintings and lithographs
Persian carpets and Oriental rugs
Chandeliers and light fixtures of crystal or brass
Decorative trims of tassels and fringe
Carved details on wood furniture
Of course, just because you love the look of a formal interior
doesn't mean that it will suit your home or lifestyle. But you can use
some of the elements to create a formal home for today's living.
Soften tightly upholstered furniture pieces with decorative,
Choose lush-looking durable fabrics in place of silks and velvets.
Feature one or two uncomfortable formal pieces, but place more
practical pieces of furniture around the room for everyday use.
Incorporate formal trim and fringe on sensible upholstered
furniture, comfortable pillows, draperies, and valances.
Add ruffles and tassels on accessories such as tablecloths and
table runners, but make them out of easily-cleaned fabrics.
Instead of searching for perfectly matched pieces to create a
perfectly symmetrical room, find pieces that are similar in size,
density, and style.
Or arrange the furniture for a formal look by having pairs of
chairs, pairs of tables, and pairs of lamps. Arrange them on
either side of a sofa, picture window, armoire, or dominant work
Decorative painting techniques can imitate the look of
upholstered silk walls and are much more practical.
Wooden furniture (case goods) is usually of a dark tone.
Mahogany, walnut, and oak, as well as exotic hardwoods are
used for their fine grain and elegant look. Wooden furniture
pieces are polished to a high shine. For an active home, use
several layers of lacquer or polyurethane to create a durable
Wooden inlay and parquetry, gold-leafed ornamentation, and
polished brass hardware are hallmarks of formal pieces. Achieve
the look of hand-carving by applying die-cut decorative pieces on
furniture. Period or reproduction pieces might have leather trim
or a marble top.
When you're ready to add formal decorating to your home, don't
forget the accessories and special touches.
Many formal interiors have carved mirrors hanging in matched
pairs. They help to define a space and enlarge the visual feeling
of the space. Instead of gold-leafing, highlight details with shiny
Furniture and accessories should look as though they're adorned
with hand-carved accents and gold- or silver-leafing.
Soft goods such as upholstery, pillows, and window treatments
made of sensible fabrics can be adorned with trims. Tassels
accent pillow corners and drapery swags, fringe is often used on
the bottoms of upholstered pieces, and many patterned fabrics
of different textures and weaves are used together. By simply
adding a row of 6" fringe to the bottom of a plain colored sofa,
you'll have a more formal look. |
In place of silk, velvet, or satin, choose synthetic, washable
fabrics for window treatments.
Formally dressed windows usually have draperies to the floor
with contrasting trim topped by a valance or cornice box of
Lighting fixtures of crystal or brass with delicate silk shades
create a formal look. An inexpensive chandelier can be spraypainted to get the metallic look that's desired. Chandeliers look
elegant and formal in a large living room, formal dining room,
bedroom, or small powder room.
Decorative accessories are used to add a formal look to a room.
Choose shiny metals, plates and vases of china or porcelain, or
leather-bound books. Pairs of accessories carry through the
symmetry of the decor.
Real or artificial plants and flowers, placed in interesting and
elegant containers, add texture and color to a formal interior.
A dining room is the perfect place to introduce a formal look.
Choose from a wide range of elegant and beautiful china, crystal,
and silver. A simple gold-banded dinner plate set atop elegant
linens with sparkling silver flatware and beautiful cut crystal
stemware creates a perfect formal setting for dining.
If you like the precise, ordered formal style, find ways to
incorporate some of it into your home. However, if you're less fond of
the formal look, you may prefer a casual style.
Shabby Chic is another beautiful way to enhance your home
décor. It brings in elements of old style antiques and design to make
the environment both comfortable and familiar
SHABBY CHIC STYLE
Shabby Chic is a comfortable, casual look using vintage
accessories, pastels, and comfortable furniture. While people have
been living with old lace tablecloths, dreamy soft floral fabrics, light
painted furniture, wrought iron curtain rods with filmy sheer curtains,
and colorful fresh flowers for a long time, Shabby Chic decorating style
was brought to popularity by Rachel Ashwell.
Think of visiting with your grandmother, snuggled in comfortable
soft furniture. Fresh flowers look beautiful and the soft scent of
candles fills the room. A home decorated in the Shabby Chic style can
provide the same sensation for your own home.
Shabby Chic is no particular style, but rather balances elegant
things with old and worn, shiny silver accessories with painted wooden
tables, soft throw rugs with rough old lace.
Here are some of the ways you can use a Shabby Chic decorating
style in your home:
Soft Delicate Colors
If you love bold primary colors, Shabby Chic is not for you. Soft
white, muted grey, pale pink, and faded green all have a place in
a Shabby Chic interior.
Tea Stained Fabrics
Collect fabrics from around the house or buy vintage-looking
fabrics even if they're new. To give the illusion of age, fabric can
be made to look old, worn, faded, and soft by staining them with
a brew of tea. Be sure to test a piece of fabric first to get just
the right shade. You can change something that's stark white to
a soft creamy white-- just right for the look.
Combine Patterns and Colors
Combine stripes, checks, and floral fabrics to achieve a warm
and inviting look. Gather yardage or fabrics from yard sales and
flea markets. You don't have to follow traditional rules of
combining prints, but for easiest mixing keep the background
color the same (white or ivory, etc.). Then choose one color to
repeat in almost every fabric, such as a soft green or pale pink.
White painted furniture
Almost any piece of wooden furniture will fit into a Shabby Chic
interior if it's painted white. Collect pieces from flea markets,
garage sales, and the attic. Spray with white paint, sand off the
corners and rough it up a little, and voila - you have Shabby Chic
furniture. You'd be surprised how a coat of paint transforms a
dark dingy chair or table.
Think Outside the Box
Not every chair has to be sat on. How about using a sturdy,
painted straight chair as a table at the side of a bed or sofa or in
a corner to hold a vase of flowers? An old picnic bench or trunk
can serve as a coffee table. Stack wooden boxes at the side of a
chair for books and flowers. Be creative and use what you have.
Here are some other ways to bring the wonderful, warm look of
Shabby Chic into your home.
You can camouflage old, drab furniture and cover up
mismatched pieces with soft slipcovers. Whether you have a
slipcover custom made, make your own, or buy a throw at a
store, you can get just the look you want without investing in a
new piece of furniture. Most pieces are covered in white, but soft
faded prints will work too. Since you'll probably want to wash the
slipcovers occasionally, be sure the fabric is easy care! How
about a cool white look for summer and a warm stripe or floral
for cooler seasons?
For a welcoming and inviting look, upholstered furniture in a
Shabby Chic interior is comfortable, oversized, wrinkled, with a
Sofas are long and chairs are almost big enough to seat two.
Delicate prints cover soft throw pillows.
No Iron Needed
A rumpled, wrinkled, but neat look is perfect for the Shabby Chic
style. Upholstered or slip-covered furniture should look well-used
and very loved!
Anything old and beautiful will have a place in this style of
decorating. Glass door knobs, pillars, an old mantle, and rusted
old iron shelf brackets or hooks can add texture to any room.
The More Rust, the Better
Decorative accessories and wrought iron furniture are perfect
compliments to a Shabby Chic interior. If the rust is peeling or
flaking off, sand it lightly and seal with two coats of a flat, clear
Delight All the Senses With Flowers and Candles
Add a wonderful glow and delicious fragrance with scented
candles. Be sure to have bunches of fresh flowers scattered
around, whether in a glass jar or beautiful painted vase. Include
pretty books on flowers to add color. Floral prints look
comfortable and add texture on soft throw pillows.
Everything Old is New Again
Even the most broken-down or dingy of elegant formal furniture
pieces can be adapted to a Shabby Chic decor. If it's broken, fix
it, clean it up, and paint it white. If it's rusted, clean it up (but
only a little) and find it a new home. If the paint is chipped,
you're lucky. If it's broken, find a new use for it. If the mirror is
scratched, scratch it some more.
Because Shabby Chic style is so adaptable, it's a perfect way to
decorate a guest room or family room. With the focus on warmth and
comfort, everyone will be comfortable. Have fun putting together your
Shabby Chic room.
Paris is the epitome of fashion and design. It seems that the French
have the most envied sense of style in the world. You can make your
living space into a Parisian paradise too.
PARIS APARTMENT STYLE
The image of a Paris apartment brings the thought of intrigue,
romance, and European beauty to mind. Rooms have high ceilings with
grand architectural details. A small balcony with a wrought iron railing
overlooks a quaint street or the River Seine. Windows are tall.
Pedestrians bustle on the streets below.
Paris apartment decorating style ranges through many
decorating periods, including baroque, rococo, and neoclassical.
Contemporary Parisian apartments incorporate art deco,
Mediterranean, old world, and cabaret influences.
Rich jewel colors like emerald green, crimson, and royal blues
are accented with black, white, and gold. Burnished gilt touches
accent architectural details and carving on furniture. Furniture and
accessories have time-worn elegance and a vintage look.
Chairs, tables, and armoires painted in black or cream bear
golden accents. They blend beautifully with dark, carved wood. Rich,
shimmering silks and luxurious brocades and velvets enhance upscale
To finish out a Paris style interior, accessories and motifs include
vintage posters of French nightspots, French signs, large train station
clocks, black wrought iron tables and shelving, and any scenes of
France, Paris, or the Eiffel Tower.
If you're trying to bring the Paris apartment decorating style to
your home, try to incorporate some of these elements in your space:
Black is the accent color and a unifying element in Paris rooms.
Bring black into your home without making things look dark.
Find painted wood furniture, picture frames, fabrics, lampshades
and accessories in black or with black trim.
To really bring Paris to your room, use large posters of French
landmarks, nightspots, and Parisian buildings. If you can find
paintings, etchings, old black and white postcards, or sepiatoned photos of anything French, all the better.
Large clocks are often a focal point in a Paris room. Find a
reproduction clock with lettering in French or that shows a
French scene. The older it looks the better! It doesn't have to
work. It just has to look great!
Toile, roosters, fleur de lis, chateaux, pastoral scenes, views of
the Eiffel Tower, Monet impressionist paintings, and pictures of
riverboats on the Seine are popular decorating motifs that are
easy to find.
Don't try to match the elements in your room. Furniture and
accessories should look old and used, but not shabby.
For light fixtures, select wall sconces with black silk shades,
crystal chandeliers, and fringed lampshades on table lamps. A
gold foil lining on a black lampshade will help to reflect a
romantic glow. Add your own beads, fringe, and cording to
simple lampshades if you can't find any already embellished.
Round tables should have layers of skirts. Add a plush cushion to
an intricately twisted iron bench. Nothing says Paris more than a
little bistro table and chairs. Use a large ottoman covered in rich
fabric in place of a coffee table.
Velvet, damask, brocade, lustrous silks, and traditional toiles are
found in Paris style rooms. Toile is often paired with coordinating
color checked fabrics in both large and small scales. Add a
luxurious old-world look with tassels, cording, fringes, and other
details. Textured linen, weathered leather, paisley designs, and
bold stripes can be used.
Furniture should be upholstered with beautiful fabrics,
dressmaker details, and have carved legs. Cushions of down
provide the slightly rumpled look of comfort and elegance.
Wood furniture pieces of carved, dark tones or stains are often
tinged with touches of gilt. Black and ivory paint, distressed and
crackled, give wood pieces an aged look. There's no such thing
as matching furniture. Pieces should look as though they were
found through a lifetime.
Every Paris style bedroom has a decadent vanity table. Add a
luxurious look to a simple table by dressing it with silk, mirrors,
and voluminous ruffles. Dress it with vintage accessories,
frames, and perfume bottles.
Use large vintage mirrors, architectural elements (columns,
corbels), garden statuary, black wire ware, clocks, hat boxes,
luxurious silk pillows, soft throws, vintage candelabra, flowers,
plants, china, and delicate porcelain figurines to accessorize a
Paris style room. Find dramatic hats or vintage linens at swap
meets and antique shops.
Depending on the style of the room and its use, windows can
have elaborate, flowing drapery panels topped with swagged
valances, ruffles, tassels, silk cording, or bouillon fringes. A
simpler room could use linen or toile panels over shutters or
Hardwood flooring is stained dark and covered with old Oriental
carpets. They add a grounding pattern, color, and age.
Paris apartment interiors appeal to our sense of glamour and
European style. By using some of the elements here, you can bring the
look to your own home.
Let’s move from the city of Paris to the countryside of France
and see how you can decorate in French Country Style.
FRENCH COUNTRY STYLE
When you think of Provence and the French countryside, you're
sure to see lavender fields and bright sunshine. While there are many
elements that contribute to the French Country style of decorating, the
resulting look is always rustic, old-world, and welcoming. The look fits
well into both country houses and elegant, old chateaux. The French
Country style of decorating, with its warm and casual feel will fit
beautifully into your home as well.
Colors used to decorate in the French Country style come from
the full spectrum of the color wheel. Sunny yellow and soft gold, firey
red and burnt rust, bright grass green and dark hunter green, cobalt
blue and soft ocean tones -- all these are found in this wonderful
Bright black and dull grays punctuate the bright colors and
define accessory pieces.
Rusted metal furniture, lighting fixtures, and furniture give warm
color and wonderful lines.
An important element in pieces used in French Country style
decorating is the use of natural materials. Rough stained or painted
plaster walls, hefty beamed ceilings and walls, delicate carved wood
details, and chair seats woven of rush give texture and simplicity to
the look. Natural stone floors are covered with wool or cotton rugs.
No real French Country home is complete without a stone
fireplace. A heavy beam at the top of the opening serves as a mantle.
Tiles, either stone or ceramic, form the border. The hearth is clay or
brick, and herbs, copper pots, and iron accessory pieces hang on the
Read on for more ideas on how to create the look of the French
Country style of decorating in your home. Use some or all of the
elements to feel comfortable with this style.
Architectural features like stone walls and floors, raw wood
distressed ceiling beams and timbers and irregular plaster walls form
the frame of a home decorated in the French Country style.
New or reproduction rustic furniture has the ambiance of curved
panels, hand-carved decorations, and raw wood. No room decorated in
the French Country style would be without an armoire to store pots
and pans, clothing, bed or bath linens, or tableware.
A large dining table, rectangle or round, must have a dull waxed
or low-sheen finish. Curved and carved details grace dining and
occasional chairs. Chairs are either ladder-back style or have vertical
slats, often with rush seating.
Rustic flooring is of stone, clay, or brick.
Old wooden boards work well, too. The focus here is on old and
Typical of French Country interiors are pieces with contrasting
texture and color. Pale plaster walls and ceilings are punctuated with
dark rough wood beams. Colorful Provencal printed fabrics are set off
against light-toned natural seating.
Deeply cut window sills hold tall, narrow windows. Shutters close
to keep the hot sun out in the summer. Windows and doorways are
encircled with wildly growing vines.
The beautiful colors of the French countryside decorate fabrics
used in French Country decorating. The traditional fabrics combine well
with basic plaids, checks, and stripes in modern homes. Provencal
prints combine shades of primary colors with greens, lavenders, and
Traditional French country products and motifs include roosters,
olives, sunflowers, grapes, lavender, and beetles. The designs are
often arranged in regular intervals, bordered by a wide panel of the
motifs in different scale. This is typical for textile products such as
tablecloths and curtain panels.
Toile is a traditional design for French Country fabrics. A white,
cream, or yellow ground has large motifs in a single contrasting color,
such as black, blue, red, or green. Toile themes include farm animals,
monkeys and Chinese patterns, bucolic country scenes, or courting
scenes of the 18th century. Most toile patterns are printed on linen or
Generous baskets woven or wire baskets, colorful ceramics and
tiles, carved wood pieces, and Chinoiserie pottery, and natural grasses
are used for accessories in a room decorated in the French Country
style. Old, dark or colorful paintings adorn the walls.
Lush natural flowers are everywhere! Baskets, an old pitcher or
copper pot, or clear glass vases hold flowers inside and out. The aim is
to bring the wonderful colors and textures of nature into the home.
Window boxes outside shout with the colors of whatever will grow.
Geraniums and lavender are especially popular.
Both colorful and muted pottery adorns a French Country table.
(No fine china here!) The same themes of roosters, olives, and vivid
flowers are found on tableware. Don't forget iron candle holders, wire
baskets, heavy pottery water pitchers, and colorful tablecloths.
By incorporating some or all of the elements mentioned here,
you're bound to have a wonderful French Country interior in your
home. C'est bon!
Just as Paris is an amazing city and France is beautiful country,
the country of Italy brings to mind certain images when it comes to
style and decorating.
Homes decorated in the Tuscan style are inspired by the
elements of nature. Crumbling stone walls, intricate wrought iron
accessories, sun-washed hillsides, rustic stone farmhouses, marble
flooring and sturdy hardwood furniture are just some of the wonderful
elements of this decorating style.
Because almost anyone can visualize himself in such a peaceful
setting, it's no wonder that Tuscan style decorating is so popular for
The appeal lies in its simplicity. By combining comfortable, worn,
loved pieces, a room becomes warm and inviting. There's no attempt
at pretense here.
From ancient Roman times, people moved to the beautiful hills
of central Italy to remove themselves from city life, escape the intrigue
of politics, and embrace the idealized culture of the country.
They enjoyed the beauty of nature and incorporated the
elements into their villas. These same elements are what make Tuscan
style decorating so appealing for our homes today.
Using sturdy materials that stand the test of time, the look of
Tuscan style decorating is rustic, warm, and inviting. Nothing should
look shiny and new.
Using the natural materials found in this area of Italy, the
Tuscan home is built of sandstone or limestone, available in a wide
range of hues. Marble is found in abundance and is used for decorative
details, flooring, arches, and pillars.
Homes have an enduring quality about them and look solid and
substantial. Terracotta roof tiles can be seen everywhere in Tuscany,
and should be incorporated into any home being designed in the
Deep-set windows framed by sandstone are often protected with
rustic wooden shutters.
Outdoor spaces are critically important, and a home
incorporating Tuscan style decorating must include a patio, loggia, or
portico. Walls built of sandstone bricks frame today's home, where in
ancient times they served as a defense.
Water is a critical element in Tuscan style decorating, and many
homes have a water fountain in the central courtyard surrounded by
beautiful, wildly growing greenery. Marble statues grace outdoor
spaces. Tall, graceful cypress trees sway in the breeze.
Walkways, driveways, and garden paths are set with stone or
brick. Nature takes its course and grass grows up between the stones.
The outdoors is brought into a home decorated in the Tuscan
style. Woods, stone, and color are important elements.
Natural stone walls are left natural. Stuccoed walls are colored
with Venetian plaster, color washing or faux painting techniques to
give a worn, well-loved look.
True old Tuscan style rooms can have low ceilings and can be
small and dark. But today's Tuscan rooms use wooden beams,
plastered ceilings, and can have an open, airy feeling. Windows are left
uncovered to take advantage of natural light.
Wooden surfaces such as cupboards, door and window frames,
shutters or ceiling beams are often left with a natural patina.
Colors in Tuscan style decorating come from the earth.
Terracotta, brick, ochre, greens, and golden yellow are seen
everywhere. Blue and green are added to contribute a visual cooling
effect in areas with hot weather.
Surfaces that have been painted add a dash of color even when
the finish wears off.
Often walls are painted with a soft white or gray, while accent
colors and natural woods and stone provide the interest. Ceilings have
dark open timbers. Venetian plaster is a technique for adding texture
and color to new walls.
Homes incorporating a Tuscan style decor often use flooring of
wide wood planks, timber boards, rough stone, unevenly-colored
terracotta bricks, or clay tiles. Antique rugs add warmth and color.
The furniture in a Tuscan style home is usually of straight,
simple lines made from rough-sawn local woods. Accents of tile,
wrought iron, and marble are common. To achieve the worn look, new
pieces of dark woods or pine are often "distressed" at the factory.
Open cupboards and armoires are found in almost any room and
are used for dishes, linens, and clothes. Door fronts are often left open
with chicken wire.
No Tuscan style kitchen is complete without a long, family-style
Open shelves and free-standing cupboards provide storage in a
Tuscan style kitchen and a place to display ceramics and pottery. A
kitchen sink is made of natural stone or porcelain. Cabinet and sink
hardware are often of dark wrought iron. Install a copper range hood
surrounded by tumbled marble tiles at the stove area.
Display copper pots from a wrought iron rack, use terracotta
containers as accents and storage, and add color with majolica
Incorporate Tuscan themes in accent touches in your kitchen
with displays of pasta in glass jars, a braid of onions or garlic, jars of
olives, and flowers.
The natural elements of stone, wood, water and color are
essential in any Tuscan style home. By using all of the elements,
you're sure to achieve this look that feels warm and welcoming.
Think about the home you grew up in, or maybe the home of a
friend or other family member. You’re likely to have several different
thoughts about how that home was decorated. That is the traditional
Traditional style interiors are comforting and classic. You may
have grown up in a home that was decorated with traditional style
There is nothing wild or chaotic in a traditional room. It is calm,
orderly, and can be somewhat predictable.
Furnishings might look a bit outdated to some, while others will
enjoy an interior that embraces the benefits of classic styling.
Traditional and formal styles can be similar in some respects. In
both, symmetry is extremely important. Furniture in both formal and
traditional interiors is often arranged on a straight axis and centered
within the room. In addition, furnishings and accessories are often
seen in pairs and straight lines are contrasted with curved details.
The point where formal and traditional part ways is in the degree
of interpretation. Formal can be somewhat rigid, symmetrical, and
almost too shiny and perfect, often using expensive period furnishings
and fine antiques. Traditional rooms are less grand and a bit more
casual, often using less expensive reproductions and accessories and
fewer fussy details.
This homey style is easy to spot in magazines and furniture
stores. While often eclipsed by popular casual and flashier
contemporary styles, it is still a well-loved and enduring look for a
Here are some of the elements of a traditional room:
Upholstered furniture in a traditional room exhibits classic lines
and understated details. It is functional, unfussy, and restful
looking. Edges are soft, smooth, and blend into the whole.
In general a traditional room will use a mix of vertical lines with
more restful, horizontal lines. Gentle curves are seen in
furniture, pillows, and accessories.
Fabrics in a traditional room are generally neither too shiny nor
too textured. Florals, plain colors, muted plaids, understated
stripes, geometrics, tone-on-tone and small all-over patterns are
Color in a traditional room is often in a mid-range of tones,
though very dark and very light colors can also be used. Pretty
multi-color florals are often the basis of a traditional color
scheme that uses the lightest color on the walls and deeper hues
for upholstery and flooring. Avoid neon brights and jarring
The overall ambience of traditional decor is homey, understated,
As in formal settings, furniture in a traditional room is often
arranged on straight axis within the room. The sofa will directly
face or sit perpendicular to the fireplace and a bed will back up
to the center of the longest bedroom wall.
Wood furniture will usually have a mix of straight and curved
lines. There may be light carving details as well. While wood
pieces will often be finished with darker stains, a traditional
room might also use lighter woods as long as the lines of each
piece are classic.
Interiors in a traditional home will often feature trim and molding
that is painted glossy white. Crown molding is common and adds
to the formal look. Walls might have a chair rail and simple
molding details, with wall surfaces done in a flat painted finish or
wallpaper. Ceilings are often white and may have simple beams.
The dining room in a traditional home is generally a separate
room, often with some built-in corner cabinets for china storage.
A large area rug sits on top of a hardwood floor. The table is
rectangular with a set of matched chairs placed evenly around
the perimeter. A matching sideboard, buffet, or china cabinet is
centered on one wall.
Dressmaker details are not particularly important in a traditional
room. Trims, tassels, and fringes are used sparingly if at all, in
favor of a simpler, calmer look.
Window coverings in traditional rooms show traditional style.
Look for narrow shutters, traverse draperies, and under
treatments of pinch pleated sheers. Cornices and valances may
also be featured.
Accessories include pairs of lamps, urns, plants, mirrors, framed
prints, china, vases, and collections of books. Pairs of objects are
usually arranged in balanced symmetry.
Light fixtures exhibit classic styling. Lamps with silk shades, wall
sconces, and floor lamps might all be used. Shades should be
fairly plain and in ivory or white.
Traditional dining rooms can show off a variety of china,
glassware, and silver. Plates might be a classic gold-rimmed
style or a simple floral design. Use either beautiful tablecloths or
pretty fabric placemats and napkins.
Who doesn’t love the tropics – the thought of laying on a sandy
beach and then retiring into a cabana decorated with the sense of
palm trees and warm sun? Try doing a tropical chic theme.
TROPICAL CHIC STYLE
Tropical chic is one of the most popular looks today. It includes
comfort, warmth, and a touch of the exotic, using jungle themes,
restful colors, and natural textural elements.
It's a style that has fresh appeal with touches of traditional.
This is not the multi-colored jungle look you might choose for a
child's room. Instead, it might be defined as "lush minimalism" since it
mixes lots of texture and intricate pattern with simple details and a
few large accessories.
Common motifs include stylized palm trees, large leafed banana
plants, monkeys, animal prints, rattan, leather, and grass cloth.
This look is most often used in living rooms and family rooms,
but can be adapted for master suites and bathrooms as well. Here are
some of the underlying elements and themes of a tropical look room.
Comfortable upholstered furniture is a must in a tropical room.
Long horizontal lines underscore a casual look and add to a
restful mood, while taller elements such as plants, screens, or
artwork add a grand scale.
Neutral tones including ivory, beige, camel, tan, deep brown,
soft gold and pale yellows are the foundation of a tropical
themed room. Greens are also a major element in shades that
range from light sage to avocado and from yellow-greens to a
green that is nearly black. Accents might be in dark brown,
black, or even muted reds.
Furniture in a tropical room is often large in scale and selected
for comfort and utility. Accent pieces in wicker, bamboo, iron,
and rattan will also fit well with the look.
Fabrics should be soft and lush. Neutral solid chenille is perfect
for the major upholstered pieces. Pillows, ottomans, and chairs
might be done in jungle prints and leaf designs.
Wood furniture pieces and wood flooring fit well into this look.
Light woods can be used but add more weight to the room by
mixing in some dark tables, lamps, or furniture feet.
The main motifs used would be the tropical jungle look and
animal designs (monkeys, elephants, etc.) used in fabrics,
accent items, and accessories.
Animal designs figure prominently in a tropical room. Consider
using both animal hide designs such as leopard spots and zebra
stripes as well as animal images such as monkeys, lions, and
Large plants, especially palm trees, are a perfect addition to a
tropical themed room. Add them in corners and up light from
underneath using inexpensive can lights.
Because island prints, leaves, and animal prints are a feast for
the eye, avoid overdoing the room's accessories.
A few large plants, lamps, books, and some carefully selected
large-scale accessories will usually be enough. Avoid lots of tiny
little things and keep it simple and spare.
Window coverings should exhibit a natural quality. Bamboo or
matchstick blinds, breezy linen panels, or plantation shutters are
all choices that will fit into this look.
Grass cloth, baskets, rattan, and wicker in natural tones add
another layer of texture to the room. Consider these materials
for wall coverings, cornice boards, folding screens, ottomans,
Flooring might be hardwood, though tile or stone is another
possibility. Accent the hard floor with area rugs of natural sisal.
Artwork will look best if it sticks to the color palette of the room
-- pale gold, ivory, browns, and greens. Hang prints with stylized
leaf designs, exotic looking palm trees, and jungle animals.
Light fixtures can add some whimsy with decorations in monkey,
leaf, or jungle accents. Dark lamp shades will add more weight
to the room.
Tableware looks might include natural colored stoneware,
textured placemats, loosely woven fabric napkins, and sturdy
glassware. Accessorize with wooden bowls, baskets, and
Another great popular style of decorating is the “lodge” look.
This style brings the outdoors in and evokes the thought of a country
There is a good deal of emphasis today on an outdoors, rustic
approach to decorating, commonly referred to as "the lodge look" or
"Adirondack style." The feel of these styles recalls summer camps
spent by a lake or a winter mountain retreat; there are memories of
waking to the songs of chirping birds and falling asleep with only the
light of the campfire.
Few of us have the luxury of time or money to retreat to the
piney mountain or lakeside lodges whenever the mood strikes.
However the thoughts of furnishing a room in this style are intriguing.
Regardless of your decorating skills you can get a lodge home
décor theme by adding the right accessories and wall art. Changing
out your window treatments, flooring, wall coverings and furniture can
transform your home into a rustic lodge no matter where you live.
Window treatments are important to your lodge home décor
style. For a great look try using plain cotton or canvas with tabbed
tops or a lodge print fabric curtain or just plain wood blinds. There are
many treatments that go with this style, especially if you use
coordinating fabrics, but you probably want to avoid frilly curtains or
Decorative items are key to bringing your lodge home décor
style all together. Concentrate on choosing wall art, pillows and knick
knacks, in colors and patterns that match your lodge design. It's
amazing the impact a few simple changes can make!
Be sure to include lots of wooden bowls and old baskets as well
as antique snowshoes and other camp gear and you can even try a
few vintage lodge style blankets in traditional black and red plaid or
stripes to really add a warm campy feel. Incorporating additional
touches such as taxidermy mounts can give your home a nice final
A critical thing to consider when decorating your home with a
lodge home décor look is what you put on the walls. For this look the
colors can really enhance the feel - you should consider having earth
tones either as wallpaper or paint. Try using a split logs and chinking
for a real log cabin look on the walls, or go with paint.
It's not crucial that you match the furnishings and lighting but
you should include a variety of campy and rustic furniture. Try using
antler chandeliers or deer hoof table lamps. You have a wide choice in
furniture - leather always goes well with this look and you can even
accent it with twig or antler chairs. Be sure to include some campy
Native American style rugs or perhaps a sheepskin or bearskin rug in
front of the fireplace.
A critical aspect that we sometimes forget when decorating your
house is the wall space. Even the ugliest walls can be made to look
good with decorative wall art and accessories. Try adding hunting
prints and old advertising signs to your walls to really show off the
campy feeling of your lodge design.
Adding a fantastic lodge look to your home doesn’t have to be
difficult or take a huge amount of money. Shop for bargains at your
local thrift store and attend antique auctions for those campy items
that will make your home unique.
You can re-do a room and make it sensational without having to
buy a thing. Just work with what you have!
USING WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Are you confused as to how to ‘pull a room together’? Do you
want your home to feel more spacious, warm and inviting? You might
be tempted to add another chair, piece of artwork or accessory hoping
it will magically transform the room---instead the space feels more
disjointed and cluttered. The thought of buying all new furnishings is
not only daunting from a time perspective, but a very costly
The solution is literally surrounding you! By creatively using the
possessions you’ve accumulated over the years, you can make your
home more visually appealing and comfortable---a place where your
family will want to spend more time.
By showcasing your home’s best features and maximizing the
furnishings, artwork and accessories you already own, your home will
reflect who you are and provide an inviting and interesting
environment for your guests.
First things first: Dealing with your ‘stuff’:
To give a room a fresh, new look and feel, clear all surfaces AND
clear your mind as well…completely forgetting the way the space
looked before. Use an adjacent room’s floor or a large counter or table
top to sort the items you remove from the room. Sort ‘like’ items
according to function, theme, color, or substance. For example, put all
candles together in one area, all greenery in another and follow the
same guidelines for glassware, pottery, books, collections, lamps, etc.
Next, evaluate and remember… less is more! Use what you like and
what you have, but take a hard look at what you’ve got. Be critical.
Ask yourself which pieces you still really need and love---the
remainder can be donated, taken to a consignment store or sold at a
Group like items. Cluster like objects -- they’ll stand out more
and make a more dramatic impression. Group them according to
color, finish, or theme, instead of having items spread
throughout the room.
“Tack” your lighting. Much like a sailboat needs its sails tacked in
a triangle in order to achieve balance and flow, your rooms will
benefit from a triangular placement of lamps in order to equally
distribute light throughout the room.
Free Zones. No matter how much stuff you have, you need to
have some surfaces free of objects---especially windowsills. To
fully appreciate your collections and treasures, there needs to be
alternating, empty areas to balance the accessorized areas.
Create important ‘pauses’ by utilizing negative space when
hanging artwork and arranging accessories. Place artwork or
photos on every other wall, and notice the increased focus on
Cluster plants and pillows. Instead of spreading plants
individually throughout the room, group them together for a
more dramatic effect. Gathering pillows together on sofas, beds
and chairs adds more color and interest to the room.
Furniture finesse. To maximize flow, resist the urge to push all
your furnishings against the wall. Pull the big pieces away from
the walls, you’ll be surprised how much more spacious it makes
the room feel.
Cross-utilize and rotate items. Just because something has
always been in a particular room, doesn’t mean it can’t be ‘reinvented’
and revitalized in a new setting. Think outside the decorating box! A
bench found in the basement becomes a side table to accent the
couch. Bookshelves, once cluttered haphazardly with an assortment of
knickknacks, become a display area for a collection of teapots and
Believe it or not, you can actually re-do a room in a day! Yep,
it’s true. Check out the next section.
DECORATING IN A DAY
Great decorating does not necessarily mean it has to cost a lot of
money or take a great deal of time. The things that make a home
fabulous are using elements in unexpected ways. Just because they
call it a china closet...doesn't mean you have to store china in it.
Don't get hung up on what the original purpose of the room was
- use it how it works best for your lifestyle. Just because they called it
a dining room doesn't mean it can't be a sitting room. Think outside
the box and have fun with your home!
Here are some inexpensive ideas to help you to give your home a
decorator's flair, many of them in just one day!! Your goal is to have
people walk into your room and say, “I never would have thought of
Change your window treatments for the season by sewing two
fabrics together and use a simple rod pocket. I just did this for a client
and we used a soft yellow and blue floral for the summer months…flip
the rod around and the back side is a rich colored fabric in greens and
deep reds that will give the room visual warmth. .
Bring your china cabinet into the living room. Remove the doors
and merchandise it with books, accessories, and family
photos....mixed in with some of your china. This creates a great focal
point in a room that is missing architectural focal points.
Hang a picture low between the bottom of the lampshade and
the lamp table to create an element of surprise for the person seated
in the chair.
Don't neglect the ceilings in your home. Paint it (any color but
white) or wallpaper it. Add some interesting wood moldings to create a
faux tray ceiling look.
Float your furniture in a V-shaped arrangement instead of the
Add elements of comfort to your room. It is equally important
that a room “feels” good as well as “looks” good. For example, add an
ottoman for your feet instead of a conventional coffee table. Padma
Plantations make a great one with a reversible top that is ottoman and
one side and a serving table with trays on the other side.
Here are some other great tips for redecorating in a day:
Bring down the antique dresser or chest from your guest room.
Give it a place of honor in the living room or foyer.
Other interesting curtain rod ideas for your room can be using
old golf clubs, tennis racquets, copper plumbing, or PVC pipe,
painted with a faux finish.
Use a horizontal plate rack to create an instant cornice at your
window. Add a scarf to it and then change the plates with the
Add a glass round to a bird bath to create an interesting side
Stack old suitcases to create an instant lamp table.
Hot glue or sew bullion fringe to the bottom of your ready made
draperies to create an instant custom look.
Frame the unusual, how about a collection of antique door knobs
or old silverware.
Creating a space that is multi-functional as well as interesting
can be easily achieved by dividing the space into several smaller
vignettes. The living or family rooms are usually the rooms where
maximum usage is most desirable.
With an abundance of larger homes on the market, creating a
space that feels warm and inviting can pose a challenge. As in the case
of many urban dwellers space can be a costly luxury. Both of these
dilemmas can be easily resolved by utilizing the space to create
smaller rooms within a room.
If you have more furniture than you know what to do with, the
good news is that your furnishings become more purposeful when used
in a specific location. This can also elevate visual clutter which is often
the result when pieces are loosely placed in a room.
Create a place for conversation or entertaining. A place where
you would entertain or family gatherings would take place. By
arranging the seating in a way that induce conversation you are also
eliminating the need to shout. When your guest are at the edge of
their seat and it’s not because someone’s telling a great story, its time
to tighten up the seating arrangement.
How do you do that? Here are a few examples:
1. A nice comfy chair next to an occasional table with a reading
lamp makes a nice place to read a book or have a cup of tea.
2. A writing desk and chair for letter writing or paying bills.
3. An accent table flanked by two chairs for more intimate
4. Chaise lounges are ideal for an afternoon napping.
5. For entertainment game tables are always a great addition.
Another way to define specific areas of the room is to use the
furnishings themselves: Such as the backs of sofas or sofa tables
Arrange groups of seating away from each other to create
The use of rugs is one of the best ways to create a wall less
Screens or draperies act as a more dramatic partition.
Free standing open shelving can give the space a very
contemporary stylized look.
And of course space itself can help to define two separate areas.
Creating a path or flow of traffic will create an invisible barrier.
Empty out a room and think of it as a blank canvas. See what
interesting rooms within a room you can come up with. Just keep in
mind it may take several tries before you achieve what you want.
Have fun with it – it’s only decorating!
Finally, you may want to use a few pieces of artwork to help
enhance your new look!
Selecting art for your home can be an exciting adventure and a
source of enjoyment for years to come. Keys to success are figuring
out what kind of art you like, how it will fit in with the rest of your
interior design plans, and how to exhibit the art to the best effect in
If you regularly visit galleries and museums, you probably
already have a good sense of what kind of art appeals to you. If not,
there are many opportunities to browse art within your community at
local exhibitions and art fairs.
Even small towns usually have a non-profit gallery space, and
your local café or restaurant may exhibit the works of local artists. In
larger cities, galleries often get together for monthly or periodic
“gallery nights” where all the galleries hold open house receptions on
the same evening. It’s a great way to see a lot of art in a short time.
Today the internet provides the largest variety and depth of fine
art available worldwide. You can visit museum websites and see
master works from ages past, check out online galleries for group
shows, and visit hundreds of individual artists’ websites.
One advantage of using the internet is that you can search for
the specific kind of art you are interested in, whether it’s photography,
impressionism, bronze sculpture, or abstract painting. And when you
find one art site, you’ll usually find links to many, many more.
If you feel strongly about a particular work of art, you should
buy what you like and then find a place to display it prominently. But
you may find that when you get the art home and place it on a wall or
pedestal, it doesn’t work with its surroundings. By not “working,” I
mean the art looks out of place in the room. Placing art in the wrong
surroundings takes away from its beauty and impact.
What should you do if you bring a painting home and it clashes
with its environment?
First, hang the painting in various places in your home, trying it
out on different walls. It may look great in a place you hadn’t planned
on hanging it. If you can’t find a place where the art looks its best,
you may need to make some changes in the room, such as moving
furniture or taking down patterned wallpaper and repainting in a
neutral color. The changes will be worth making in order to enjoy the
art you love.
Sometimes the right lighting is the key to showing art at its
best. You may find that placing a picture light above a painting or
directing track lighting on it is all the art needs to exhibit its brilliance.
If you place a work of art in direct sunlight, however, be sure it won’t
be affected by the ultraviolet light. Pigments such as watercolor,
pencil and pastel may fade, whereas acrylics will not. (Be sure to
frame delicate art in UV protected glass or acrylic.)
If you prefer to do the room first and then find the art, size and
color are the two major criteria for selecting art to fit its surroundings.
For any particular space, art that is too large will overwhelm and art
that is too small will be lost and look out of proportion. The bolder the
art, the more room it needs to breathe.
As a rule, paintings should be hung so that the center of the
painting is at eye level. Sculpture may sit on the floor, a table, or
pedestal, depending on the design. Rules should be considered
guidelines only, however, so feel free to experiment. One collector, for
example, hung an acrylic painting on their bedroom ceiling so they
could better view it while lying down.
When selecting a painting to match color, select one or two of
the boldest colors in your room and look for art that has those colors
in it. You’re not looking for an exact match here. Picking up one or
two of the same colors will send a message that the painting belongs
in this environment.
Another possibility for dealing with color is to choose art with
muted colors, black-and-white art, or art that is framed in a way that
mutes its color impact in the room. A wide light-colored mat and
neutral frame create a protected environment for the art within.
Style is another consideration when selecting art to fit a room.
If your house is filled with antiques, for example, you’ll want to use
antique-style frames on the paintings you hang there. If you have
contemporary furniture in large rooms with high ceilings, you’ll want to
hang large contemporary paintings.
Think about it. When you walk into a gallery or museum, what
do they all have in common? That would be white walls and lots of
light. If a wall is wall-papered or painted a color other than white, it
limits the choices for hanging art that will look good on it. If a room is
dark, the art will not show to its best advantage.
If you want to make art the center of attraction, play down the
other elements of the room like window coverings, carpeting, wall
coverings, and even furniture. A room crowded with other colors,
textures and objects will take the spotlight away from the art.
You may want to select one room in your house to focus on art.
Paint the walls white or off-white. Lay hardwood floors or a neutral
carpet. Install window coverings with clean simple lines and neutral
colors (or no window coverings at all).
Put up ceiling spot lights that can be adjusted to focus on the
art, or use individual lighting for each piece. For the furniture, follow
the principle that less is more. Keep it spare. This is not the room to
display your collectibles. Let the art star. Then relax and enjoy it.
Selecting and displaying art is an art in itself. Experiment to
learn what pleases you and what doesn’t. You’ll be well-rewarded for
the time you invest by finding more satisfaction both in the art and in
Here are some things to consider when grouping and hanging
Contrary to popular belief, your sole task isn't to pound a nail in
the wall and hang the picture level. Pleasing wall arrangements follow
the same interior design rules used for placing furniture in a room.
Do you want a serene room or a stimulating one? Well, rhythm - the movement from one object to the next -- contributes to a room's
tone. Creating a certain rhythm depends on the size, shape, and
spacing of objects.
When all of the objects are the same size and equally spaced,
the rhythm is more placid. If the larger objects were replaced by tall,
vertical rectangles, the rhythm would be staccato, setting an emphatic
Balance refers to the even distribution of visual weight within a
display. Maintaining balance is important because an unbalanced
arrangement may look top-heavy, bottom-heavy, or as if a side is
A symmetrical arrangement (where each half of an arrangement
is the mirror image of the other) is the most straightforward
illustration of balance, but you can use the technique to create
asymmetrical arrangements too.
Sometimes an object's visual weight demands that it be
displayed alone. Anything that is large, dark, bright, boldly patterned,
or oddly shaped will look heavier and bigger than an item that is small,
pale, solid, and predictably shaped.
The sheer size of a huge rectangular wall hanging makes it best
displayed alone, but a smaller, bright red item would have the same
visual weight. When using this technique, it's best to display your
weighty object near similarly weighty furniture or architecture, such as
a sofa or fireplace.
Hierarchy, or the use of one dominant object mixed with subordinate objects, allows you to display a group of things while drawing
attention to the focal point.
Sometimes the wall area between items, called negative space,
is as interesting as the items themselves. Try placing a square and
four identical rectangles so the negative space creates a pinwheel
It's easiest to draw attention to the negative space when your
objects are in a color that contrasts with your wall, such as white
You can create a dramatic and dynamic pattern with repetition of
a simple object.
Repetition is a favorite trick of interior designers because the
objects used can be as humble and inexpensive as garden seed
packets or the same photocopy of your dog just thumb tacked to the
This technique is equally as effective for three-dimensional
objects, such as wall vases or display boxes.
Proportion is the size relationship between items, and analyzing
proportion helps us make visual sense of our environment. Take a
grouping at the top and make it large. However, divide a rectangular
piece and divide it into familiar proportions. That way the top is
divided in half and the bottom uses thirds.
Dividing up a panoramic photograph in this way, for example,
would make it more interesting and approachable. You could also use
rectangles painted in three intensities of the same color.
There are millions and millions of ways that you can redecorate a
space. On the same tack, there’s no one wrong or right way. What
you need to do is have a certain vision in your head and then act on
The beauty of decorating on your own is that you can always redo it if you want to. When you do-it-yourself, you (hopefully) haven’t
spent a lot of money and can scrap anything that doesn’t work and
As we said in the beginning of the article, celebrities spend
hundreds of dollars on interior decorating advice and handiwork. Still
others prefer to do it themselves. Some of the most prevalent styles
that celebrities prefer are the traditional, French country, and Shabby
Now you know how to emulate them and make your home the
home of your dreams!
Decorate like a celebrity? Yes you can! Now enjoy your new