Frozen Bedroom Accessories. How many times have you stood at the supermarket checkout counter and gazed at the allure of the magazines staring back at you? They tempt with their promises of fast easy tips to help us make a more beautiful home, cook the perfect meal, organize our lives…you get the point!
Why am I giving these tips for decorating success away for free? The internet is a fabulous thing indeed; founded on the spirit of shared information. I could never find time to visit personally all of the people I’d like to so in keeping with the original intent of the web, I’ve decided to share my experience and training with everyone who reads these pages. You see, I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible create happy, warm and inviting home environments through beautiful decorating. I visit so many homes where folks are just plain afraid to let their inner desires open up. Or, often my clients are so overwhelmed by the number of options that they experience “analysis paralysis”…they wind up doing nothing (but wishing they had).
I’ve experienced the fun of decorating; it doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. I also know that if I can give you a set of tools that assures success, that you may want to travel further into the world of decorating. It’s my hope that when you do, you’ll call me up and ask me to come along for the ride! OK, enough of the blather, let’s get to the matter at hand:
…*wait, I know I said let’s get down to it but one more thing…beauty is important to all of us, but if the room doesn’t serve the needs of the people who use it, then all the beauty of the universe is for naught…
1) Function First- Keep in mind the type of activity which takes place in the room. A bedroom shouldn’t be treated in the same way as a foyer…certain treatments are appropriate for certain spaces. There are generally two types of spaces in a home, relaxation spaces and task oriented spaces. Places where things happen such as kitchens and bathrooms demand brighter lighting and more dynamic design. They are up-beat spaces. Bedrooms, family rooms and libraries are quiet spaces with focused lighting; they should induce a restful feeling. Offering a home environment which is dynamic (that is; has a range of experiences within) is rich and fulfilling. Treating many rooms in the same way results in a big bowl of oatmeal…maybe it’s good for you but no one wants to have it every day.
2) Make it Personal – I don’t mean that you should post every family photograph or display every trophy you’ve won; instead I’m saying that the room should reflect your personal style and tastes. Don’t be afraid to mix styles or worry if a piece of art goes with your wall color. If you like it, use it…even if it’s a velvet painting of Elvis, if it reflects your style and you can incorporate it into the rest of the room, go for it.! Don’t worry about being “busy”. Busy happens when there are too many focal points in a room. This is usually the result of imbalance and the incorrect use of scale, i.e. lots of little things scattered about the room.
One of my friends collects mirrors and he has a whole wall of them in his house. A client of mine loves ceramics and has some very interesting table lamps which are family hand-me-downs along with some objets she has collected along the way.
Don’t know what your style is? Here’s a simple way to get a handle on it…Get a folder and place into it any picture from a magazine that you are attracted to. Don’t look for things which you think go together, instead just keep this folder as a sort of fantasy wish list. Collect lots and lots of pictures. Then one rainy day, go through the folder and look for themes which seem to emerge. After looking at all your pictures, I think that it will be clear which
types of things and/or styles you seem to be attracted to.
3) Layer Your Textures – For years, we’ve listed to the fashion experts tell us to layer our fragrances…that it’s the way to get them to last longer. Well your rooms are like that too, if you introduce many layers of texture, you will want to linger in the space longer and more frequently. Humans are tactilely oriented beings, we derive most of our comfort in a space through the use of surfaces which are nice to handle.
Do this experiment; the next time you’re in a furniture showroom watch the people who walk through the store. Every single person will at some point run their hands over many objects in the displays. It’s just what we do!
The trend today is for simpler paired down interiors. Especially important for rooms decorated in this way is to have many types of fabrics, rugs, carpeting, wood, stone, tile, pillows, leather, pebbles under candles, etc. These things don’t have to be colorful, just interesting and varied in scale.
4) Layer your Lighting- Too many spaces today have a bank of recessed lighting which functions as the main or only lighting in a space. Better than the builder’s ceiling fixture in most cases, recessed lighting can perform well but it cannot be expected to take care of all of the lighting needs in a room. In a space there should be ambient lighting (overall even lighting), task lighting (concentrated light for direct functioning) and accent lighting (concentrated beams directed at focal points and/or hidden plighting creating cast shadows and drama) For instance, the ever popular family room which often serves many purposes…there’s the TV and gaming, reading and/or hobbies, and family activities. Each one of these requires a different kind of lighting. Lighting is a decorator’s tool just as valid as paint or fabric. Because light is not a tangible object, most folks don’t give it a thought as a decorative means of expression. However it is very real and exerts a profound effect on a space
5) Want a True Decorator Look? Don’t Match…Coordinate Instead!-
Here’s where I can see the beads of sweat appearing on your upper lip…”matching is so easy” you say, and many fabric and wallpaper houses make it so. But it usually results in a room which lacks interest. This is how you can easily coordinate with color/texture but not be a slave to matching. Choose your basic color theme, red, blue, etc. Then choose variations on that color, the more the merrier. Two colors of blue which don’t quite match look a bit odd, add a third and they are better, add a fourth and fifth and now they become an ensemble. In fact, using color in this analogous way is fun and stress free…just make sure that the colors have the same “feel”. For instance, if you choose very muted blues, it may be difficult to place a pure sky blue in there. Conversely, if you are using all seashore and sky blues, then a dark navy will look out of place. Your eye won’t lie to you and you’ll know right away when it isn’t right. Most of all, have fun with this.
6) Paint your ceiling – a decorator’s secret which until recently has been one of the mainstays of the trade is to paint your ceiling a shade other than ceiling white. What’s wrong with ceiling white? Ceiling white is pure titanium oxide, that’s the mineral which makes white paint white and gives it its opacity. It is however a very cold white, leaning towards being blue in nature. Since ceilings are designed to reflect light back into your space, why would you want a cold blue light casting a tone on everything? It’s amazing how far from ceiling white you can stray and still have the ceiling appear as if it is indeed white. It all has to do with the relationships of colors in your room, the way light enters a space and your mind’s desire to expect a white ceiling. One of my clients has a raspberry red dining room and a dusty blue ceiling…it works! A soft bone white will generally create a lovely warm feeling in a room which everyone will notice but no one will know why. It will become a favored room in the house which people love to be in because it makes them feel good. Decorators know how to make you feel good in spaces, it’s our job!
7) Restraint or “Less is More” – We’ve all heard that less is more and usually this is true. My mother gave me some of the best advice ever when I was small, she said, “don’t’ tell everyone everything you know”. Applied to decorating this is also valid. Everyone who looks at any sort of art, (and your interiors are a work of art) needs to feel as if they have had some dialogue with the object or space. In order to have a dialogue there has to be a give and a take. If the room is dictating to us (telling us what to think because everything matches to a tee) then there’s no chance for that dialogue to develop. Good artists know that they have to leave a work just a bit unfinished or understated so that the viewer can experience their own reality with it. Important to remember too is that we are creating spaces which people live in, not museum rooms. A museum is static and reflects a frozen moment in time. Living spaces need to be dynamic and adaptable for those various individuals which live in them.
Gosh knows I could go on and on about my passion for decorating but I’ll stop here for the time being. Instead of focusing on the elements of decorating such as furniture, paint or accessories, this set of tips used as a template will give you a strong foundation ensuring success without stress.
Beverly Ferguson is an ASID Alled Member interior designer with a practice in Metro West Boston, SE New England and The Cape and Islands. She is a full-service designer specializing in window fashions. Beverly is a color expert with over 30 years of practical experience. Beverly shares her knowledge of design with the community at large through writing and teaching…she is a faculty member at The Rhode Island School of Design. Visit Beverly’s website at http://www.reflectivedesigner.com/beverly.html
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