Getting Started: 10 Decorating Tips
- If the thought of decorating sends you into a panic, donít worry. Whether youíve just moved into a new apartment or want to change a look youíve been living with for years, these simple tips are sure to boost your confidence and get you on your way to creating an environment youíre sure to be proud of.
- Do your research! Take advantage of every resource available for ideas, even if you have a pretty good idea of what you plan on doing. Magazines, decorating books and T.V. shows, the Internet, home furnishing stores, paint and project stores and even other peopleís homes are indispensable sources.
- Pick a focal point or inspiration piece. Choose something in the room that you really like, whether itís a couch, an oil painting, an Oriental rug, a fireplace, or a bed with a canopy, and try to draw from it ideas to focus on in the rest of room. Is there a specific color from the painting that you want to enhance? Do you want to use the same gauzy material from your bed canopy for the window treatments? Do you want to duplicate the design of your Oriental rug elsewhere? Do you want the entire room to pivot towards the fireplace? There are many ideas sitting right in front of you in the items you have already selected for your home to get you started.
- Make a wish list. List in different sections on a piece of paper (or on different pages in a notebook) what you want. In one area, list all of the items you definitely know you want, or basically need, such as a dining room table or a bed frame. If youíve already seen what you want, note where it was and the price. In another area, list the items that you feel you have a variety of options to choose from, as in book cases or shelves, carpeting or area rugs, or types of window treatments. In a third area, list the areas that you have absolutely no idea of what you want to do and are completely open to suggestion, such as wall art or storage options. Use this as a checklist throughout your shopping and decorating.
- For good measure. Measure everything thoroughly - every room, every wall, every window, every corner, every piece of furniture you are keeping - everything. Note them clearly, even if you have to make crude sketch drawings for clarification. These measurements will be essential when you are shopping, so always take them with you, as well as the measuring tape itself. This will be important when choosing new items.
- Create a Decorating Packet. Find an "organizer" that you feel comfortable walking around with, such as a planner with pockets or a bag with compartments. Place in it all of the measurements you have taken, measuring tape, your wish list, paint and stain chips in the colors you are considering or have already decided on, fabric and carpet swatches, pictures from magazines that you have liked, a note pad, pencils and so on. These items will be crucial when you finally stumble upon the blue cushioned bar stool youíve been looking for and arenít sure if the blue is the right shade or the stool is the right height, for example.
- Be true to your style. You donít have to fall into a specific category, such as classic or country. In fact, most decorating styles are slightly eclectic, combining more than one style in furniture, color and accents. Just be aware of what you find yourself drawn to when shopping, and this will give you a better understanding of what you like to be surrounded with. If you planned on decorating your living room in metallics and monochrome colors for an industrial look, but continually find yourself attracted to the red and white gingham sofa, take a step back and reassess your original plans. Try to incorporate what you know you like into an overall style with some special touches.
- Patience is key! Donít buy impulsively or make rash decorating decisions out of frustration. Youíll find yourself bringing home something that doesnít work in the room and cost too much, or youíll end up finding something better the very next day and have to do twice the work. Thoroughly comparison shop, even if it gets tedious. And remember that there is a difference between settling for something and compromising. If you settle for something, youíll never end up liking it.
- Small, simple changes go a long way. Even if you donít consider yourself "handy", there are probably many small things you can do yourself to fix, enhance or change something, while saving money. Can you sew a slipcover for your couch? Can you do an easy faux finish on your walls? Can you stencil a border around your doorways? Can you cut down a carpet and create a new area rug? Can you change the hardware on your kitchen cabinets? You donít need to be an expert (or wealthy) to create style and show your personality in any room.
- Recycle from other rooms. Before you purchase new pieces of furniture and decorative accents, look around and see if thereís anything throughout your house that can be used elsewhere. Maybe a desk that doesnít get used often can be placed in the bedroom as a vanity. Or maybe you could swap out light fixtures from one room to another. Perhaps you can gather photographs from around the house and place them together as a collage. Even a small plastic garbage pail can be converted into a lovely planter or be the vessel for a silk floral arrangement. Look around carefully for fun ideas before spending a dime!
- Tricks of the trade. Small rooms and low ceilings can be easily enhanced with optical illusions. Hanging window treatments close to the ceiling, as opposed to the top of the window, gives the impression of a long wall and high ceiling. Adding crown molding creates a break between the wall and ceiling and draws the eye upward. Mirrors do a great job of opening up walls and creating the sense of depth to any room. Strategically placed, they can make a room seem much larger and reflect light throughout when placed across from a light source.
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