Top Five: Design Tips

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I've always been a big fan of interior design, but like most of you, I can't afford to have a "Metropolitan Home" type home. But there are some easy ways to make the space you have live up to its maximum potential. Let's take a look: 1. Consider lighting. Bad lighting can ruin a beautiful space. The best, of course, is natural light. The worst would be overhead flickering florescent! In your home, you want to provide enough warm light that the space is visible but not so much light that it feels sterile. Look for dark corners. Could a table lamp go there? Also consider your wattage. I don't use anything higher than 40 watts, I just have more lamps. If you're into eco-friendly lighting, compact florescents are great but can be kind of harsh. Trick of the trade: paint or line the inside of your shades with a soft pink to cut the whiteness of the light. In the bedroom, use pink bulbs for a flattering effect (bow chicka bow... never mind)
2. Consider adding molding. I first saw this idea in Domino magazine but it's shown up a few other times and I think it's fabulous (the photo below is from desire to inspire. See the before here). Start with a plain flat wall. Draw up a molding design. Maybe 3 tall rectangles? Measure twice, cut once. Careful with those corners, cause the math can get tricky. Nail it up (you've spent maybe $15 at this point). Paint the wall AND molding the same color, or go a shade lighter on the molding. VOILA: Instant Versailles. Or at least instant chic.

3. Add texture and pattern. I'm guilty of this one. Mulling over floral fabric swatches for weeks only to panic and buy solid black and solid blue pillows for my solid taupe sofa. BORING. Adding pattern via cushions, drapes, or an ottoman can help add visual depth to your space. It also gives the eye something to rest on and examine (instead of skimming over the flat boring vision of my sofa). Texture works the same way, even in a tone-on-tone room. Baskets are cheap (try HomeGoods or TJ Maxx) and add natural texture. I use a large one to hold extra blankets in my living room. Smaller ones could go on shelves to corral odds and ends. A tray made of natural wood adds texture to a smooth coffee table (see a woven one from Pottery Barn below). A piece of driftwood your kids found at the beach would look great mounted as an art piece.
4. Put your curtains to work. One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, has always praised the technique of hanging your curtains high and wide to create the illusion of a larger window. This is an especially great idea for people with kind of dull windows without great details like deep windowsills. To do: Hang a roman shade or something similar higher than you would to just cover the ceiling, even a foot higher. Lower to the tops of the windows. Use a curtain rod that is longer than your window to hang a panel on each side so that it's really only covering wall. Your window could look two feet wider and a foot higher. How's that for an instant transformation?
5. Group like-objects. Have three vases in similar shades of blue? Or maybe some porcelain figurines or antique silver? Group them together for an instant collection! When I gave Gabriell's bedroom a virtual makeover, I noticed that she had some pretty white porcelain-looking vases scattered around the room (one on a side table, one on a dresser, etc). By grouping them together on top of the dresser, it was easier to spot and admire them. They looked purposefully placed and created a block of the same accent color in her room. You could use vases, decorative objects, antiques, boxes, or baskets (or globes, like in the entryway below!)
What are your favorite design tips?

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