Are you suffering from Decoraphobia? The New York Times
defines this as, "A panicky state resulting from the inability to make a single
decorating decision." About Decorating can help.
The following article will help you employ simple,
inexpensive, techniques that can cure "Decoraphobia," and enable you to make
decorating decisions you can be happy with for years.
How to Determine What You Really Like
To begin with, a lot of costly mistakes
could be avoided by determining likes and dislikes, before you start shopping. How do you
determine your preferences? Well, you have to do some homework. Begin by creating ideas
folders and a decorating file. Instructions follow.
You will create two ideas folders one for items you like,
and the other for items you dislike. The folders should is consist of photos, samples,
etc. Wherever you see a picture of a room or piece of furniture you like or dislike, tear
it out and put it into the appropriate folder. (Of course, I am not suggesting that you
tear photos out of a magazine that doesnt belong to you, i.e.: doctors office
or library. Dont you just hate it when you are in the doctors office, and you
are about to get to the best part of an article, only to discover someone has torn out the
page?) In addition of photos, collect samples of materials you prefer or loathe, such as
paint chips, fabrics, etc. Once you have a sufficient collection, lay each pile out and
look for the similarities. Perhaps youll discover that all the "like"
photos have oriental area rugs, or yellow walls, or mahogany furniture, etc. Maybe all
your dislike samples will include sea foam green, or Louis the XVI gilded furniture, etc.
Now, make written and mental notes of the above. Keep the notes and samples with you
whenever you go shopping.
In addition to the idea folders, you will need a decorating
file when you shop. A decorating file is a collection of existing materials, such as
carpet, or swatches of drapery, etc., and room and furniture measurements. (Hint:
When I cant take a cutting, I find a spool of thread that represents the color.)
This is also good place to store names, phone numbers, and business cards of installers,
Now that you know your likes and dislikes, and have all you
background materials in your decorating file, you need to ask yourself one question before
you purchase an item over $100. That question is "How long do I think I will want to
keep this?" If the answer is less than 3-5 years, forego the purchase.
(Unfortunately, this is a society which promotes instant gratification. But, what you love
may be just around the corner, at the next store, available at the next flea market, or in
the todays mail order catalog. New products surface constantly, so please be
In addition, if you are renting, dont spend money on
anything you cant take with you. Youll be happy to have the money you saved
when you commit to a permanent residence.
Thawing Out a Frozen Space
It is astonishing how much better you can
feel about a room, just by rearranging the furniture. Even moving a plant from one corner
to another can have a significant impact. Dont cast your rooms in stone and close
your mind to the idea of shifting things around occasionally. There isnt one correct
way to arrange a room. (I should have known I would be a designer. When I was young, I use
to shift the furniture around in my room around every time I got bored. I still do this on
occasion with my childrens rooms and my office. It is a wonder I havent gotten
Maintain a Consistent Scale
Keep the overall scale of the room, and
its furnishings, in mind when making selections. Although the size of items can vary from
one room to the next (if you dont have an open plan), pieces in one room should
relate in size.
This reminds me think of the gigantic lamp on my
daughters dinky nightstand. (Yes, even designers homes are imperfect, and
restricted by a budget.) This combination is clearly out of proportion, but try explaining
this to a seven-year-old!
If you arent sure, get a second pair
of eyes. Ask a friends opinion, or hire a designer for one session. (A designer
wont be happy about this, but you have every right to do it.)
Also, take photographs of your rooms, and analyze them.
Think about how differently you feel about an outfit youve purchased when you see
someone else wearing it. Similarly, a photo can give you a new perspective, and will be a
logical addition to your ideas and decorating files.
Have you ever seen the movie "Clueless?" Alicia
Silverstone, plays a hip teenage who has a Polaroid shot taken of her in an outfit before
she decides if she should where it. You can apply this same technique to decorating. Take
photos of different layouts, pillows, pictures, etc., then determine which one you like
Do you have a wall that is less that perfect condition? An inexpensive way to conceal
imperfections is to apply a wash. Mix latex paint with water, until it is a translucent
tint, then stroke it, or dab it, on with a sponge. If you dont feel confident about
diluting you own paint, buy a pre-mixed wash kit. (See Below.)
You can create the feeling of an Italian Villa with this technique. And, by applying the
mix in a "C" shape, you produce a French wash, also know as parchment.
- Pottery Barn: Color Washing Kit, link to catalog request page: http://www.potterybarn.com/catalog/catalog.ehtml
Feeling Insecure About Color Selection?
When you are feeling tentative about a color, try painting a small room first. (By small,
I mean a powder room, a laundry room, or a hallway.) "Trying-out" a color this
way will save time and expense.
Another way to increase your confidence is to use designer color scheme cards. You can
find mix and match pre-coordinated sets at Home Depot (Ralph Lauren) or Kmart (Martha
Stewart). These cards are a great way to introduce color with confidence. Each paint card
has approximately four colors. You can do an entire home with one set. Choose one color
for all your trim, then go from there, making changes from room to room, or wall to wall.
These are guaranteed not to fail.
View Martha Stewart paint colors online: http://www.finepaints.com/html/martha_stewart.html
The following are inexpensive trade secrets that apply to color and paint. They will help
bring your interior together, or provide a special effect.
~ A home feels coordinated when the trim, i.e.: base, crown, window and door frames, are
painted the same color. You should also apply this principal to your ceilings. (Trim and
ceiling colors do not have to be the same.) This approach reduces the number of cans of
paint, and therefore costs.
~ Painting the ceiling and the walls the same color pulls the ceiling down. If you want to
heighten a room, then use a different, lighter color than you plan to use on the walls.
Sky blue and sunlight yellow are especially uplifting because of the natural elements they
emulate. In addition, vertical stripes (painted or in wall covering) make a ceiling appear
~ High gloss paint, on the ceiling, will bounce light and add gleam.
Creative Wall Finishes and Borders
Here are some unique ideas, and applications, for wall finishes and borders.
~ Have you
every thought about stenciling your favorite saying across a wall in one room? How about a
quote from Shakespeare?
A continuos saying, around the perimeter of a room at chair rail or crown molding height
is also a beautiful and inexpensive embellishment. Perhaps a nursery rhyme, or lullaby,
could decorate your childs room?
~ Another creative idea for a blooming (or closet) artist is a wall finished in
blackboard paint. Terrific for a childs room (they can get out their doodling
obsessions), a recreation room (Bill Maddens play-by-play), or in a niche in a
kitchen (for phone messages and schedules).
Blackboard paints: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/h/crayola/cray-intro.html
~ Have you ever thought of cutting away the void spaces in a wallpaper
border to create a 3-D affect before applying it? This technique creates a dimensional
quality that the regular boarder can not achieve. (Best done with a very exact utility
~ Rather than a wood molding at chair rail height, try a wall paper border. Other
unusual and effective uses for borders are: surrounding a window or a door, and using a
border to create vertical stripes spaced at regular intervals across an entire wall or
around an entire room.
Article Courtesy of the Catherine