Home Decorating Advice

I am often asked for home decorating advice from people hoping for a quick answer of color, style and painting techniques. Although I’d love to help, there is never a simple answer when it comes to home decor. Your room’s ‘flavor’ is as complex as you are, as varied as each member of your family, as interesting as your pets. Akin to the clothes you wear, room decor is personal. Therefore the first rule in decorating is that there are no set rules – only guidelines.

Here are just a few of those home decorating guidelines:

  1. Trust Your Own Style and Taste

    You know more about your favorite colors, furniture styles and art than you think. Your home should reflect your personality.

  2. Focal Points

    Choose one favorite or grand element in a room, say a fireplace or a large picture window, and make this the focal point of the room. Decorate around the item or area – placing furniture and objects around it to attract a visitor’s attention and to give the room cohesiveness. Windows are great for this, especially if your favorite flower garden or fountain is just outside.

  3. Choosing A Theme
  4. Every room begins with a theme – even if eclectic. This could be a color, or a style – my favorites are French Country and Farmhouse. Having a theme gives you a starting point to carry you through each phase of room decor. (More about the phases later.)Country Home Decorating

  5. Deciding on Paint

    If your room doesn’t have any distinguishing elements (see #2) consider painting a wall a unique or even your favorite color. This creates a focal point in home decorating where there once was none. A co-ordinating piece of framed art or decorative wall decor will set it off nicely and with a comfortable chair, an interesting table or a gorgeous bed frame you’ve just created the majority of the room in a few steps.

  6. Don’t Forget the Floors

    Area rugs are an inexpensive way to define a room. You can lay them straight or on an angle, purchase them to match wall colors exactly and they come in all types of designs and styles.

  7. Art and Mirrors

    The glass from framed art or simple mirrors reflect light from natural and and added light sources and give dimension to a room. Mirrors perform double duty as well as they create an illusion of space.

  8. Lighting

    My favorite decorating aspect – lighting. There are so many wonderful chandeliers, table lamps, ceiling fan lighting, track lighting, monorail systems – there is just no end to the variety. Go on a quest to find just the perfect lighting for each room and you won’t be disappointed. Your local home hardware or renovation store represents about 1% of the possibilities – shop online for lots of ideas, custom made, vintage and more lighting sources. You will never regret the time and even a little added expense to have fixtures that no one else has – they make the room!

  9. Furniture Placement

    Just when you think you have everything in place and your room is ‘finished’, try this. Move the furniture around. Try it on an angle, try groupings of chairs, add a nook for reading only, re-arrange around a different focal point – then sit in the room and imagine having one friend or five in that space with you. In your mind, live in the room. You’d be surprised how many times just changing the placement of your furniture can make a room feel new.

  10. Potted Plants

    Plants clean the air, make a room feel alive and impact the décor of a room. If placed strategically large plants can hide flaws in a room.

I hope these tips and ideas start you on your creative path to decorating your home or room. I strongly suggest getting a few books on your favorite style to get the ideas flowing and help you define your taste before you begin.

2 Comments to "Home Decorating Advice"

  1. Paula Little's Gravatar Paula Little
    March 9, 2010 - 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I have been in a couple of Country/Primitive shops in Temecula, CA for the past 7 years and do quite well. My customers like the black, red and some white furniture that I paint. I have been trying to find someone that can give me tips on the primitive finishes. The paint stores just don’t have it right. I have used Ralph Lauren Matte finish (pretty expensive). I use Behr’s flat paint and my customers seemed to like my furniture, but I have used so many finishing techniques and not satisfied. I am so frustrated, in trying to find the right top coat treatment that doesn’t come out to shiny and gives that low luster. I also do a lot of sanding, so I have got that part of the finishing down I noticed you said, you don’t mind sharing your painting ideas and I hope you can help me. I would gladly buy a recommended book, but I want the one that will give me all the information I am seeking…Thank you for your help. Paula

  2. Laura Childs's Gravatar Laura Childs
    March 10, 2010 - 7:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Paula, great to hear from you.

    I was a lot like you a few years ago. Selling my furniture and decorative items to primitive shops and testing/buying/trying out so many different ways of finishing the end product until I found the exact look. When I create larger primitive furniture pieces I do the same as you – I’m guessing – sanding, distressing, dry brush painting and perhaps a little more distressing. Then I take a New England or Puritan Pine Minwax stain and rub it on the entire piece until I get the color just right. On white pieces this takes a very soft application. On darker pieces you want to stain heavy on any exposed wood or paint cracks. To make every inch of the primitive furniture look perfect you may opt to do a little more hand sanding.

    To finish I like to use a clear, water-soluble, Varathane called Diamond Finish. One coat is all you need but depending on the furniture’s intended use I might add another coat for durability. It dries in about 30 minutes. Be sure that the stain has fully dried before you apply it. For an interesting look you might also try Behr’s Crackle medium. Don’t use it like everyone else though – don’t apply it before the paint…apply it before the varathane and I think you’ll fall in love with the results. Somehow it gives a more authentic look to the primitive furniture’s patina. Also, don’t use the crackle uniformly – some places will have deep crackle, others small. It is all managed by the thickness of the coat you apply.

    Have fun. Finishing primitive pieces is one of my favorite things to do. Such a great creative outlet for furniture makers and artists. Don’t hesitate to write to me again if I can help further.

    Laura Childs

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