Once you’ve determined your decorating style, you can move on to choosing the “bones” of your design. If you need a starting point go through magazines and tear out pictures that you like. Don’t think about this process too much. You can do the same with Pinterest by pinning favourite images. After you’re done look back at your pictures; you will usually find some things in common. Often it is a colour, fabric patterns or textures, flooring options etc. With this information, you can get started.
Addressing the basics at this stage will save a lot of time and money down the road. What colour to paint or do you want wallpaper? What style of lighting do you like (and need)? Will it be carpet, area rugs, hardwood or stone? Another thing to consider is the millwork. Do you want a natural wood or a painted finish?
Think about how you want to live in your space. There will be an obvious use for each room but try to look beyond that. Many of us live in smaller homes. Thinking outside the box gives us options to “multi-task” a room. Let’s say you are decorating your living room. Why not consider having a small desk in a window or behind a sofa? The desk can be used for display, writing, as a small intimate dining table or a buffet/bar for entertaining. To have more counter/workspace in my kitchen, I replaced the eating area with an island. I then put a small table in front of my fireplace in the living room where we have our dinner and watch the evening news on TV. It’s very cozy in the winter months with the fire going and perfect for dinner for two. The dining room/library/den combination is another possibility to consider. With built-in bookcases and cabinets, storage requirements for all usages are met. What could be more romantic than being surrounded by your favourites writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald) stories, candlelight, and good conversation at your next dinner party?
In most homes, there will be a single light on the ceiling in the centre of the room, often casting harsh shadows. One light source isn’t going to provide adequate lighting for all the needs of that area. It’s important to have lights at different heights…possibly some wall sconces, table lamps, and floor lamps. You then have the flexibility to highlight different areas as well as having task lighting for reading, cooking, crafts etc. Consider dimmers on both ceiling and wall lights as well as lamps. Everyone looks better in dim lighting. When entertaining you can change out the light bulbs to a lower wattage or to warm pink light bulbs which are especially flattering!
No matter what your decorating style, a room will benefit from the finishes you choose for your crown mouldings, baseboards and door casements. If you are planning on painting your millwork, it is not a good idea to use wood (like oak) that will be difficult to paint…it’s usually not easy to disguise wood grain. Often paint grade mouldings are less expensive and are already primed. The profile of mouldings range from very plain to very ornate to compliment any style. Its possible (with the know-how, the right tools and probably a good handyman!) to build up your existing mouldings.
Flooring is all important. Your choices must compliment your “style” as well as being practical enough to withstand the abuse that no doubt will follow. Even if your children are grown and have moved out chances are grandchildren will soon follow. Images of spilt chocolate milk come to mind! Many of us have pets that track in the dirt as well as have unpleasant accidents. If you have chosen well, there is comfort in knowing that whatever happens your flooring will hold up. You probably will not decide on wall-to-wall carpeting if you know that there will be heavy traffic demands on your floor. Hardwood or stone/ceramic tile would be a much better choice. Area rugs add warmth and comfort, as well as colour and texture.
Blinds are a good start, but window coverings are so often overlooked. Even if you are living out in the country away from prying eyes drapery protects your furniture and flooring from sun and heat as well as giving that cocooning effect that brings comfort when closed at the end of the day. Don’t skimp on fabric. Drapery should be at least two times the width of your window… 2 1/2 times fullness is so much better. Rods should be hung at least 4-6 inches above the window frame and make sure that the hem meets the floor. This will give the allusion of taller windows and higher ceilings.
Finding the right soft furnishings takes careful consideration. These pieces will be part of your decor for some time and are costly. Choose the right size relative to your space as well as meeting your usage requirements. Try to visualize different furniture configurations because you will probably want that flexibility at some point as your needs change. Traffic flow patterns have to be mapped out. Furniture does not have to be pushed up against the walls. Often it is more pleasing if these pieces are moved into the centre of the room also allowing for better conversation. Buying the best quality you can afford gives you the option to reupholster or slipcover these pieces later on if you are happy with the size, comfort and shape.
Within every colour palette, you will have neutral options. Keeping your basics within that colour range will serve you well. These are the colours that you will not tire of and will be most complimentary to your accessories. You will want these investment pieces to work for you long into the future.
All this may sound daunting, but have faith that all your decisions will come together!! It may be unrealistic to expect to make all of these purchases at one time. Most often it is a continuous work in progress and your confidence will build along the way. Getting started is usually the hardest part but remember this is not an exact science with only right or wrong answers. Its all about you!