Q: I am so disappointed. My husband and I just spent a lot of money on livingroom furniture and our room still looks terrible. What did we do wrong?
Presumably, you spent some time carefully selecting fabrics, colors, and furniture styles. Hopefully, you worked from a well thought out floor plan, so all of your major pieces now work well in your space.
Our guess is that you are disappointed in your room because it is simply not finished. Many of us mistakenly assume that a livingroom consists solely of a sofa, a loveseat, a chair or two, some end tables, and a coffee table.
If the result resembles a storage room, it's because you haven't completed (or even started) Phase Two: accessorization. Imagine you in that great little black dress without the hair, the make-up, the sandals, those drop-dead earrings…get the picture?
Usually a full one-third of your decorating budget will go to the lamps, pictures, area rug, pillows, throws, draperies, ceramics, crystal, foliage, etc that magically transform and finish what has only just started with the installation of furniture. To illustrate this point vividly, look through some of your favorite home furnishings magazines and observe some of the rooms featured. Make notes on the accessories present. How many lamps are there and what kind are they? Are there throw pillows accenting chairs or sofas? What do they look like? What is on the coffee table? What is on the walls? The windows?
Try softening your room with some of these items. The help of a professional decorator is an option, if you choose.
Q: How do I select art?
This is a broad question, and the answer would depend on many factors. Are you interested in art as an investment? Are you more interested in original art than in art prints? Both original art and limited edition fine art prints have investment value. Or would you prefer to purchase pictures at a lower price point, essentially as accents in a room?
If you are a beginning art collector, regardless of the price range, only purchase what you personally love. Invest only in what you would want to look at every day, and that which gives you joy. Remember that for every picture you consider, an artist started with a blank canvas. Enjoy the fact that the work was created from nothing and yet will become your lifelong connection with that artist.
Take your time, have fun, ask a lot of questions, and keep an open mind. Think of how your room will show off your art rather than purchasing a picture to compliment your room.
Do you have a specific location in mind for which you are purchasing art? It can be tricky finding a work you can't live without in just the right size. The search requires patience and is often governed by serendipity!
Note: Check out SHOPSICLE's Tips & Articles for a more in-depth guide to choosing and hanging art in your home!
Q: I don't have much money in my design budget for lighting. Do I really need a lot of lamps? Isn't recessed lighting sufficient?
As for cost, there is a huge array of lamps of every description, at every price level. You would be better off postponing the purchase of that last chair in order to invest in proper and sufficient lighting in your room.
The ultimate success of any room rests on how well lit it is. Recessed lights provide overhead ("ambient") lighting. Overhead lighting, used alone, is unflattering. It creates a distant, lonely feel. People generally shun spaces that lack good lighting. Surely you want your room to be warm and inviting. Your recessed lights are fine for a start. Put dimmers on them and only turn them up when you lose a contact lense. Add several eye-level lamps to your room. Of course, the number of lamps you may need depends on the size, the type, and the layout of the space. For instance, a livingroom could easily have two end table lamps (not necessarily matching), a smaller lamp on a console table, and a standing floor lamp by a reading chair. In some cases, other sources of mood lighting are extremely dramatic and effective. "Up-lights" can be strategically placed on the floor behind a palm or other foliage. Or behind a screen. Indirect lighting can be installed inside bookcases or curios or behind mock soffits at the ceiling line. An average size room can easily handle five to seven sources of light. Think of your lights as warm, glowing candles. Then you will understand why people are attracted to a room where the lighting is thoughtfully designed.
Q: How do I decide on a color scheme?
Q: One of my favorite old vases has developed a hairline crack and will no longer hold water. Can it be repaired? I love to put flowers in it!
A: A repair on ceramic or porcelain can be done, but it is not a practical idea, as the cost can be prohibitive. Try a trick that works well and will cost only pennies: Coat the inside of your vase, especially where the crack is, with a thick layer of melted paraffin. The vase will now hold water without a problem.
Another possible solution: If the crack is not too severe, you can place an appropriately sized glass container (a wide mouthed jar, etc) invisibly inside the vase to hold flowers.
Q: I just moved into a new house and am confused about where to begin decorating. What room should I start with?
Congratulations! We are assuming that you have moved some basic pieces from your former home into the new house, so that life can continue while you go about creating your new décor systematically. Hopefully you have a GOOD mattress, and at least a metal frame to put it on. If not, this is where to start. You have a big job ahead…you're going to need a good night's sleep.
As far as your décor is concerned, the "public" rooms - for instance, the livingroom, diningroom, and family room, are usually the first rooms to complete. Our advice is to start with the room where you will entertain guests most often, let's say, the livingroom. Complete this room, right down to the last detail, before moving on. No matter how tempting it may be to "finish it next year", and then anxiously move on to the diningroom, use discipline. Stay with it until it is picture-perfect.
The pride, satisfaction and sense of achievement you will derive from seeing a beautifully finished space will give you the courage and confidence to move through the house in this manner, creating success after success in your new home. There is no need to rush the process. Depending on your circumstances, your room could take over a year to complete. If you feel the need to "pace" the project for budget reasons, do so. But give each phase a "finished" look with lamps, pictures and pillows. And don't move to the next project until the last phase is complete.
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Forget decorating trends, and concentrate on colors you personally love. Look in your closet for a clue. Scan your clothes. What colors predominate? Most people gravitate toward a "signature" color palette. And it's your personal signature that we want to infuse into your home. A neutral base with color accents allows for flexibility. You may prefer a bolder color statement. If you do, GO FOR IT. If you are feeling unsure of your choices, it helps to remember that the bolder your color palette is going to be, the simpler the room décor should be. The ideal solution would be to work with an interior decorator. He/she will assist you in achieving your preferred look with good balance.
Another wonderful place to look for color inspiration is area rugs. Working from the floor up makes perfect sense. There are so many gorgeous rugs to choose from, in every category and in every color palette. Take your time, find one you love, and it will provide you with the color direction you seek.