Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Decorating in Stages

In today's economy where consumers are trying to get the most for their money, decorating a living space is no exception. There is a great hesitation, however when it comes to taking on a decorating project. The common misconception is that it all needs to be done at once, and it will cost a small fortune. Enhancing a room can be easy and cost conscious if it is carefully planned and evolves as time and budget allows.There are great benefits to decorating in stages:  (1) by taking the time to get to know the space and how you want it to function will leave no doubt in your mind about what pieces of funiture the space needs. (2) by assembling a room in stages you have more time to do research, comparison shop and take advantage of seasonal sales and markdowns.

While the end result can be beautiful, the process can be a bit haphazard. Here are a few ways to simplify the process and still end up with the same great results.

Stage One

Painting the room will give you instant gratification and the biggest impact in the space. Paint is a very inexpensive way to change the look and mood of a room. If you are handy with a roller and paint brush, then it is a great do-it-yourselfer project which will save you the expense of hiring a paint contractor.

Adding window treatments is also a great way to give a big impact right away. Most drapery workrooms can customize simple drapery panels for not a lot of money. If a custom workroom is still beyond your budget, try purchasing ready-made panels at any home decor store. The draw back to this is that you have to work around the color schemes they have available, and they are usually a bit shorter than most standard windows require. If choosing a color becomes an issue, then stick to something neutral that will work with any color scheme. If the panels are shorter than what you need, you may be able to attach a coordinating fabric to the top or bottom for a custom look. If you are handy with a sewing machine, then the sky is the limit!

Arranging the existing furniture you have is the next step in stage one. If you only have a few pieces of furniture, it's best to arrange them in one main conversation area for the biggest impact, instead of lined up against walls. Later as you acquire new pieces, you can arrange secondary seating areas throughout the room. It is best to always start with a scaled floorplan. It doesn't have to be a professional floorplan; all that is needed is a piece of graph paper and a tape measure. Play with different arrangements to find the one that's right for the room.

Finally in stage one, arranging your existing accessories in a pleasing way. Remember that sometimes less is more, so resist the temptation to bring too many small scaled pieces back into the room. Adding pillows to a sofa is a very inexpensive way to make a big impact and enhance your color scheme.

Stage two

Bringing in an area rug at this stage is a great way to define the conversation area and anchor the furniture arrangement. It is important not to skimp on quality when it comes to area rugs, but with some good research you can find great quality rugs for under $1000 and have money in your budget for some more accessories or even an accent chair or two. Keep in mind you are always tweaking your floorplan for each new piece of furniture you add.

Stage three

Bringing in some art work at this stage will get the room to the "fiinished" look. Also adding a secondary seating area complete with an occasional table will finish off the room. This is the stage where you can consider reupholstering the sofa if it was a bit more worn than you would like. Maybe replacing the ceiling fan with a fun new light fixture or adding another layer to your window treatment.

Each stage should be an improvement and should take you one step closer to a full makeover. At the end of these stages, you will have a beautiful and well pulled together room. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Be systematic and organized. Start by arranging the furniture you have. Evaluate it to see where the holes are, then make a shopping list and prioritize it. When shopping, always carry a list of measurements (doorways, windows, etc.), samples of fabric or carpet, and paint or wood chips.

2. Give furniture a test drive. Take furniture out on approval when possible. The best way to see if it really fits in a room is to try it there.

3. Watch for bargains. Showroom sample sales are great places to pick up designer furniture at good prices. To find out when these sales happen, call your local design center or check the website of a showroom you like. Add your name to the mailing lists of favorite retail stores to be notified of big sales.

4. Don't settle. It's tempting to buy furniture as a quick fix to fill a room, but such purchases often are unsuccessful long-term solutions. Only buy furniture you really love.

5. Consider using a designer. Interior designer fees vary, but you can usually count on their time costing 10 to 15 percent of your budget. Although that means around $300 of a $3,000 budget, a designer's recommendations could help you make sound choices that save money in the long run.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Decorating with Black

We all love black, right? Well did you know that black is not a color, but the absence of color? When we wear black it is sophiscated and powerful and down right sexy! It even makes us look thinner, which is always a good thing. Black is stabilizing, strengthening, authoritive, sophisticated and powerful. So if black is all these wonderful things, why are so many people afraid to use it in their homes?
Black is a very versatile color in home decorating; it makes colors paired with it pop a bit more, it's grounding in a room, it breaks up patterns and lends a bit of weight to a room, and gives the eye a place to rest. The safest way to use black in a room is through accessories and lightweight furniture pieces...but who wants to play it safe all the time? Painting an accent wall in black is a great way to walk on the wild side. Black paint is often used as an accent for front doors for colonial style homes or trim in old victorian homes. But black can be so much more than that. Try painting an accent wall and the result can be very daring and dramatic. The key to using black as a paint color is making sure that you use a matte finish and an absolutely black shade. Many black paints have blue in them so that's something to watch out for. Treat it just like you would when picking out other paint colors, by applying a small sample on the wall and observing it at various times of the day in different lighting. If you still don't like it.... it's only paint.

If you are afraid to commit to black as a paint color, then try using it in small ways that will have impact in the room. I believe that every room needs a bit of black, and I often try to repeat it in three different areas of the room. Some great ways to introduce black are through picture frames, a lamp base, small accessories, an accent table or chair, fabrics and trims on pillows or even in an area rug. Check out these pictures and see what you think.