Author Archives: Jeff Rice

About Jeff Rice

Jeff is a Certified Interior Decorator & Redesigner, Real Estate Stager and Color Specifier. His award-winning work has been featured in numerous publications including From House to Home™ & Home Improvement™ as well as other local and online media sources. He is a three time recipient of the Houzz.com 'Best in Service' Award. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL and has been serving the greater Chicago area since 2004.

DECORATING FOR FAMILY

Beautiful spaces are a dime a dozen.  Fill a space with the trendiest, most expensive decor you can find.  And while it’s pretty to look at, it still isn’t home.  So, what makes a house a home?  It’s family.

Creating common spaces that suit the needs of a family is probably the single most important task any decorator will tackle.  Of course, you want it to be beautiful.  But, it also has to function well for every member of the household, no matter how young or old.

Consider a home to three young adults and their parents.  The home is a hub of activity for friends and family almost every day of the week.  All are coming and going either from college or work.  Whether just for family or casual entertaining, updating and enhancing the primary living space in this home needed to fit their busy lifestyles.

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That pretty much describes this project we’ve just finished in Hoffman Estates, IL.  The project focused on restyling a large combo family & living room in this beautiful home.  While we wanted to create two distinctive spaces with their own function and personality, both needed to play together when needed as one unit.

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Working with a generous budget, we were able to replace dated and worn furniture with all new seating.  Two durably upholstered sofas provide comfortable seating or lounging in the t.v. space.  Nearby, we grouped four new leather club chairs around the fireplace as more of a conversation space.   New reclaimed wood and metal nesting tables were separated to give plenty of spots to set a drink.  New Santa Fe storage trunks double as coffee and end tables.  New lamps, artwork, accessories and area rugs complete the spaces.

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While each area serves it’s own purpose, with a few simple moves, the leather chairs can be repositioned nearer the television for movie night or game day parties.

As we suggested, the homeowners repositioned one and refinished both built-in bookcases.  Darkening the wood work and mantel with gel stain and painting the brass fireplace surround with heat resistant bronze metallic paint gave the fireplace an updated and much stronger presence in the rooms.

The end result is a space that has already wowed family and friends.  It’s sure to get thorough use in the months and years ahead.

Decorating a room for family is more than just adding trendy furniture and accessories.  It’s about creating a space that blends form with function and provides a hub for friends and family to make a home

Happy Family Decorating from Decor Designs.   815-245-2433.

 

IS HOME DECORATING EVER DONE?

Most of us are goal oriented in some way, whether we realize it or not.  Maybe the goal is to lose weight or get a degree.  Perhaps it’s buy a new car or go on a special trip.  Dreaming, believing and achieving goals gives purpose to our lives, gets things done and keeps us moving forward.

One dream of many homeowners is to “finish” decorating their home.  You’d think that would be a reasonable goal!  While we work hard to help make that dream a reality, the reality is your home is never truly done.

But, don’t despair!  It’s not like there aren’t other elusive goals in life.  Is raising a child ever really a finished proposition?  Is your goal weight ever really permanent?  Some goals in life are constantly changing out of desire or necessity.  With ever evolving personal tastes and new trends in decor, your home is constantly in a state of change as it adapts to your family’s current lifestyle.

There are a few things you can do to help give your home a “finished” feeling even though it might never really be done.

1-  Choose fixtures and finishes with ‘staying’ power.  Rather than buying the latest and greatest, choose tried and true.  If it’s trendy now, chances are it’s going to have a short lifespan in the arc of decor.  Be happy with the fact that no matter what you choose, trends in home decor, as with fashion, are usually cyclical.  If you wait long enough, old becomes new again.

2-  While seemingly boring, neutral wall colors like creams, beiges, taupes, and greiges stand the test of time and changing tastes.  Swapping out colorful accents like rugs, pillows, artwork and window fashions is much easier than painting walls.

3- Along the same line as neutral wall colors, invest in upholstered furniture featuring neutrally colored and patterned fabrics.  Nothing dates upholstery faster than trendy colors or patterns (think paisley).  As with walls, you can always add punch to your ‘Plain Jane’ sofas and chairs with more trendy throw pillows and throws.

No matter what, embrace the fact that your home’s decor is always in a state of flux.  It can provide stability during times of great change in your personal life.  And it can give you the perfect opportunity to express your unique style when change is desired.

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

 

WHAT SHOE IS ON YOUR BEST FOOT?

Real estate staging is a tool savvy home sellers and good realtors use to market a property.  As with any marketing strategy, staging helps ensure a property is ‘merchandised’ to attract the largest number of prospective buyers.  In a nutshell, it’s all about putting your home’s proverbial ‘best foot’ forward.

Contrary to popular belief staging is much more than depersonalizing and decluttering.  While no one relishes the though of spending money and working countless hours on a property just to turn around and sell; staging can make all the difference between getting people in the door or being ignored.

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Of course, every home seller must decide how much they are willing to do and to invest in the sale of their home.  No one else can make that decision.  But, depending on how dated the property and its decor are, a reasonable staging budget is somewhere between 1/2% to 1% of the anticipated list price.  That usually covers most minor updates, staging props and of course the services of a professional stager.  Changes to infrastructure like flooring, kitchens and baths will obviously cost more.

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Stagers aren’t magicians!  While we have been known to work magic from time to time, our ability to make dramatic transformations in a property is clearly linked to the staging budget set by the seller.  That can apply to both the amount of time working on the project as well as the amount of things we change or add.  Think of it this way.  If the act of staging helps put the best foot forward, the budget for staging buys the shoes!

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While it isn’t necessary to totally renovate a house prior to putting it on the market, the more that’s done to shorten a future buyer’s ‘to-do’ list, the better the chances of selling quickly and for more $$$.

Working with a limited budget, it’s important to focus on the main living areas first which might include a finished basement.

With time or $$$ remaining, focus on the master bedroom, bath and all other bathrooms.

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Finally, if anything is left, turn your attention to guest or kid’s bedrooms since most people can envision the potential of those spaces.

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We just finished staging a nice property in Cary, IL this week.  After some time sourcing a limited amount of staging art, accessories and other props, we arrived at the house ready to pull together work the homeowner had already started.

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While the transformation isn’t always spectacular, the end results are no less impressive.   Using only available furniture, we rearranged each room to maximize it’s visual appeal.  Mixing colorful staging art and accessories with the owner’s decor helped give even more punch to the spaces.  And with over 85% of buyers shopping online first, the listing photos have to be memorable to get them in the door.

Again, staging is all about putting your property’s best foot forward.  If you think about it, nobody remembers Dorothy’s house when it fell into Oz.  (It’s a good thing she wasn’t  trying to sell!)  But, the munchkins sure as heck remember those ruby-red shoes.  The moral of the staging story…. when you’re putting your best foot forward, make sure you’re wearing kick-ass shoes!

Happy Staging from Decor Designs!

 

 

 

 

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

Who hasn’t changed part of their home decor only to realize redoing one thing leads to another… and another?  No matter how small the change, it usually has a domino effect.  Perhaps it starts with remodeling the master bathroom.  Beautiful new vanities, an amazing double shower and beautiful tile… all the things any spa would love to have.

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But, unfortunately, that fresh, new look stops at the bedroom door.  Looking around you realize you could probably use some new bedding.  Then, of course, the window treatments would need updating.  The seating in the room that blended well before is now a no-go.  New night stands and lamps would be nice.  Before you know it, the entire room is in play.

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We’ve been working with new clients in Crystal Lake who faced that very dilemma.  After she and her DIYer husband finished the master bath update, the decor in the adjoining master bedroom no longer flowed.

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At somewhat of a loss, she reached out for help restyling the master bedroom so everything would flow with the newly updated bath.  New hardwood floors and fresh paint became the backdrop for the new sanctuary.  Our client added new nightstands and we brought in bedding, lamps, window panels and artwork.  Along with furniture relocated from elsewhere in the home, the space now feels refreshed and inviting flowing perfectly with the renovated bath.

While we were at it, our clients asked us to redesign the living room, dining room and family room.  Reusing and repurposing a treasure trove of goodies, we maximized each room’s function and visual appeal just in time for Easter guests.  The end result in every space was a nice update without spending a ton of money or bringing in lots of new things.

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In our client’s kind words, “Decor Designs just finished an interior design of our master bedroom and a redesign of our whole house! I am speechless and thrilled with the finished project! Jeff was spot on to our decorating personality and repurposed so many things, I was amazed! He made our house feel like a home and I cannot wait to entertain! He was timely, courteous, and truly delivered a finished product that inspires me and makes me smile!”

So what if one thing leads to another?   Sometimes that’s all the motivation you need to finish something you’ve probably been putting off for a long time.

Here’s to letting one thing lead to another creating beautiful spaces in your own home!  Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433.

 

 

JOYOUS DECORATING

If you think about it, what we do decorating for others is a pretty intimate proposition.  After all, who else gets to spend their money and touch their stuff?  Having the chance to personalize the only part of the planet reserved for our client’s family and friends is a privilege.  So, for us as relative strangers, it’s flattering to be a part of something so personal.

Last week, we finished a decorating project that began back in January.  Just like most of our projects, it involved lots of “spending” and “touching”.  🙂  Time and money were spent sourcing new furniture, reupholstering older, beloved pieces and finding the perfect art and accessories.  And when it was all said and done, we’d touched almost every inch of the family areas in this Schaumburg, Illinois home.

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Our shopping & to-do list to refresh and restyle most of the home’s first floor was a long one:  new wall color, carpet, baseboards, light fixtures, lamps, window treatments & hardware, new sofas, chairs, end tables, foyer console, corner media unit, re-upholstering two wingback chairs, matching ottomans and two storage cubes.  As if that weren’t enough, of course we planned to blend a few, new accessories and art pieces with a lifetime of collected treasures to bring everything together.

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Whether shopping or meeting to discuss our progress, we were in frequent contact with the homeowners, Bernie & Joy.  During major projects like this one, frequent communication helps ensure a successful outcome.  Good communication is the basis for any good relationship.

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Over the weeks it took to bring everything together, we received text and email notes about one subject or another.  No matter what was going right or even wrong at the time, Joy kept me updated with photos and notes about our progress.  More often that not, I noticed she signed her messages “Joyous”.

I’ll admit that it’s easy to get lost in the process.  Wanting everything to be just right, I can obsess about every detail.  Each time I read her ‘joyous’ words, I was reminded decorating is largely a privilege rather than a necessity.  And since there’s no such thing as a decorating emergency, it was ok to take time to enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Living Room coffee table vignette

After everything was done, Joy and Bernie sent me a wonderful ‘Thank You’ note.  She told me again how much they love their newly updated home.  She went on to say that, even thought it had only been a few days, she missed all the texts and emails hopeful we’d stay in touch.

Custom faux floral centerpiece

Decorating is definitely an intimate business.  And while I get to spend their money and touch their stuff, when it’s aIl said and done, it feels like I’ve left a small part of myself with every client I help.  Joyous decorating is the best decorating of all!

DECORATING FOR ALL AGES

Every decorating project is different.  While most spaces and their contents are similar, a client’s age and personality always make every job unique.  Most of the spaces we style are more “adult” in nature.  But, every once in a while, we get the chance to work with the youngest members of the family on their rooms.  Adding the finishing touches to a child’s bedroom makes him/her feel special and “grown up”.  For us, it’s a chance to channel our own inner child with more whimsical & playful decor.

Earlier this year, we were invited back by a family we worked with a year ago styling their main living spaces.  This time, we were being asked to work with what mom and dad had already started and put the finishing touches on the kid’s rooms.  Three children at least three years apart offered a variety of personalities and interests to bring to life.

Our youngest was the self-proclaimed royalty of the family.  Anything little princess was right up her alley.  Having outgrown her infant space, she needed a new bed frame and night stand plus most of the finishing touches.  To personalize her enchanted bedroom, we kept the light gray walls and geometric panels adding bright white and pink bedding, accessories and artwork.

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For our middle child, we were inspired by travel.  Everything trains, planes and automobiles was his thing.  Starting with dark mahogany furniture, Kermit-green walls and dark blue draperies (complete with airplane finial hardware), we added an airplane shelf, art and accessories to transform his bedroom into transportation central.

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Rounding out the trio, the oldest wanted her own sense of magic.  Too old for the full princess treatment yet not old enough for all things teen, we needed to find the perfect blend of fun and sophistication.  Inspired by her love of purple, pink and butterflies, we added a pre-lit tree, lanterns, art and accessories to give her a slightly older but whimsical finished look.

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Making the most of what mom and dad had started, we added the unique, finishing touches that really reflected each child’s personality.  The end result, three very happy kids.

Have fun channeling your own inner child as your decorate with your kids.  Need help?  We’d love to play along.  Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

DECLUTTER IN STYLE

A common theme with most clients is the need to declutter.  Whether helping stage for sale or redecorate, too much old stuff can really get in the way of a fresh, new look.  This is especially true of anyone who has lived in the same home for ten years or more.

Image provided by freshome.com

Trying to decorate around tons of stuff, from hand-me-downs to old furniture, art and accessories is a daunting task.  While it’s certainly possible for an experienced Redesigner to work many of these items into an updated look, the average homeowner will struggle.  Either out of sentimental attachment or the thought “I might need that someday!”, it’s hard to let go of the past.  The reality, however, is if you haven’t touched it, looked at it or used it in the last year or so, chances are you will never really need it.

Image by lifeinleggings.com

It’s no secret Americans are a society of consumers.  We are bombarded with ads and sales to entice us to buy things we don’t necessarily need or sometimes even know we want.  While that’s a huge topic all on its own, the real problem is we tend to consume (or dispose) of much less than we collect.  Accumulated treasures, no matter how relevant at the time, can result in a home buried in the past with the look and feel to match.

I met a lady once who had suffered through a tornado.  Her home and its entire contents were essentially swept away in a matter of minutes. Understandably, she was devastated.  Years later, as she was telling me the story,  she said living through the tornado had taught a valuable lesson.  Ultimately, she’d come to appreciate that, while she and her family had escaped with their lives, her home and its contents were just “stuff”.  Rather than getting depressed by the loss of so many things, after a while she felt oddly liberated by the tragedy.  So, she decided that, every year on the anniversary of the tragic event, she would have a ‘tornado’ day!  Anything in her home that hadn’t been used or was just taking up space would either be donated or thrown away.

Courtesy of lifehacker.com

I’ve never forgotten her story.  And while I’m as guilty as the next of accumulating too much ‘stuff’, every so often I feel inspired by her to have my own ‘tornado’ day and I highly recommend the same to my clientele.  If possible, I suggest setting aside a day or two a year, perhaps when you change those smoke detector batteries or change the time on your clocks and have a ‘tornado’ day.

Image courtesy of softeny.com

The moral of the story is it’s ok to let go!  Stop holding on to or trying to decorate with everything you or someone you loved has ever owned.  Life is too short to be buried in a pile of crap that even you don’t want but hold onto out of guilt or perceived obligation.  (Side rant:  If I never see another “grandma’s” piano sitting in a corner covered in dust, it’ll be too soon!)

Your home is constantly evolving and so is your decor.  Out with the old and in with the new only works if you make that first bit (out with the old) a priority!  Declutter your way to style and you’ll be happier for it.

Happy Decluttered Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

RIGHT SIZING FOR SENIORS

How many times have you moved during your lifetime and why?  Maybe your parents moved when you were growing up.  Perhaps your first move came when you left home for college.  Or was your first move into an apartment with roommates?  A while later, you probably moved again when you bought your first home.  Maybe there were even other moves in between.  Chances are your living accommodations have changed many times over the years either out of want, necessity or both.

Usually, the most challenging moves comes later in life when you find yourself needing to scale back due to age or other physical limitations.  Sometimes that transition is out of choice.  More often than not, it is of necessity.  In many ways, these moves aren’t filled with the same excitement as those when you were younger.  Often, they can feel like a move with few choices.  On top of that, it has been reported that moving is the most stressful thing you will ever do in your life second only to burying a friend or loved one.  The logistics of any move, especially for seniors, can be overwhelming.

But, senior downsizing (or what should more accurately be referred to as ‘right-sizing’ ) into a smaller home can be be just as exciting and rewarding as those you looked forward to in your younger days.

One of the biggest challenges of ‘right-sizing’ is figuring out what to take with you and what should be left behind.  Sentimental attachments can make parting with a lifetime of accumulated treasures a very traumatic experience.  That’s where the help of an experienced decorator, especially one with senior move experience, can help put a different and more positive spin on this stressful time.

While younger folks usually handle a move independently, senior moves really are more of a family affair.  And while it’s natural to want everything to be nice and new for mom or dad to get them excited about moving, the reality is older furniture and accessories are actually better.  Time worn and cherished belongings immediately make any new and different space feel more familiar and comfortable.

We recently helped with such a transition for a senior in Palatine.  Mobility, memory and other issues had forced the family to decide to move this 90 year old widow into a nearby Assisted Living facility.  Apprehensive and confused, our client’s biggest concern was just how she was going to fit a lifetime of stuff from a four-bedroom home into a 400 sq. foot apartment.

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Over the course of several weeks, we discussed and planned the move with the entire family’s input.  First, we decided what absolutely needed to be taken and what would fit in the new home.  Next, we worked on solutions to maximize storage for clothes, toiletries and other supplies. Finally, we filled in the blanks with things that were mostly sentimental in nature.  Our goal was to make the new space feel like a small cross-section of the previous home.

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The day before the big move, we went through the home and collected all the furniture, art and accessories we had decided to take to the new apartment.  Of course, toiletries, towels, bedding and such were also on the list.  Everything was carefully packed up and readied for the next day.

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On the morning of the move, we arrived to take everything to the new facility.  While a few members of the family stayed behind to reassure our client, we were off to get things done.  Minimizing disruption, especially for those suffering with memory loss, is crucial to any successful senior move.

After several hours, we called to let the family know it was time to bring mom in for the big reveal.  What had felt like a tiny empty box the first time she saw it now felt more like home.  And while it could never compare to the home she’d left, it was now a cozy and inviting space that included many more of her memories and treasures than she ever thought possible.

In the Rascal Flatt’s hit ‘These Days’, part of the lyrics are “Life throws you curves and you learn to swerve!”  Nothing could be truer of moving, especially for seniors later in life.

Decorating for anyone is a privilege.  Helping seniors transition into age appropriate living accommodations that are both safe and beautiful is even more rewarding.  Honoring the past while embracing the present helps the future look much brighter.  Looking forward to hearing of the many new and happy memories this mom has in her new home.

Happy Right-Sizing from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERFECT PARTNERSHIP

Every now and then, a client like Stacey comes along.  Several years ago, we met when she hired us for a redesign in the family’s former home.  Since then, our professional relationship has turned into the perfect partnership on numerous decorating projects.

As the saying goes, two heads really are better than one!  That couldn’t be more true when we’ve worked with Stacey.  While most clients prefer sharing their ideas and then leaving us to bring their vision to life, Stacey enjoys being more involved in the process.  By being open to direction and willing to do some of the work, her sweat equity lets us stretch the budget even further than we might have been able to otherwise.  And when it’s all said and done, she can honestly say the beautiful results are as much her doing as our own.

These days, we’ve been working with Stacey on her family’s new home in Huntley.  Decorating room by room as budget allowed, we’ve transformed their blank, new-construction house into a beautiful home.  Most recently, after finishing the living areas, we’ve turned our attention to the family’s bedrooms, giving each its own personality and style .

SON’S BEDROOM

Over the years, we’ve fine tuned our process to perfection!  First, we meet to brainstorm ideas.  We discuss her vision, make adjustments as needed, and come up with a plan.  Next, we outline a time frame and desired budget.  Finally, we assign tasks for one another to accomplish prior to “the day” when it all comes together.  While Stacey goes shopping for the key elements we know we’ll need, we’ve moved on to our own list which usually involves finding the perfect, little details we know will bring it all together.

Not to be forgotten, her husband is always a good sport.  We know he dreads when we get together.  It usually means he has his own ‘honey-do’ list when we’re done!  Whether hanging window panels or painting walls, he always helps things along saving us time and money.

DAUGHTER’S BEDROOM

On the day of install, or what Stacey says feels like ‘Christmas Day’, she reveals what’s been accomplished and bought since our initial consult.  We, in turn, bring in all the goodies we’ve found.  Then we go to work weaving her purchases in with our own to put it all together.  You’d think it might be difficult for different people to work independently and arrive at the same goal.  But, that’s where Stacey really rocks!

Most things work perfectly and our collective efforts are usually spot on.  Anything that is duplicated, doesn’t work or isn’t needed is returned.  The final result is always a beautifully styled space that has Stacey’s personal taste and vision throughout.  Our job was simply to make sense of it all and guide everything into place so that everything works together.

MASTER BEDROOM

Decorator-client partnerships come in all forms.   Each client is unique and approaches the process differently.  Every now and again, you find that unique client who is open to the process but also capable of hands-on involvement to put his/her own spin on pulling together the perfect look!

If you like the idea of a hands-on partnership with a decorator who can work with you to create the space of your dreams, give us a call @ 815-245-2433.  Here’s to many future decorating partnerships with Decor Designs!

 

 

DECORATE BY NUMBER

Who hasn’t tried at least one paint-by-number?  I remember trying this classic moose masterpiece when I was a kid.  Sadly, I don’t think mine looked much better than this one.  In fact, I’ve never been very good at painting even by the numbers.  Thank goodness, when it comes to decorating, the numbers work in my favor.  In fact, here are some of my favorites. From ONE to SEVEN, these tips take the guesswork out of and might help fill in your own decorating blanks.

ONE:  Arranging any space is easier if you narrow down to ONE focal point.  Whether it’s a fireplace, picture window, piano or tv, picking a focal point to arrange around makes it easier to group furniture and helps a room make sense.

FIREPLACE FOCAL POINT

TWO:   Even numbers, especially pairs of things appear more formal.  Whether it’s a pair of matching wingback chairs, lamps, end tables or even TWO companion art pieces, duos work well symmetrically feeling balanced and more formal.

FORMAL TWOS

THREE:  When deciding the color story for your space, think in THREEs.  A trio of colors, even shades of the same color, add dimension and interest to any space.  Start with a canvas or background color (usually walls).  Enhance your background with a color that compliments it.  That could be another example of the same color or a neutral.  Finally, add a pop of color that is unexpected and seems to fight or clash with the first two.  Following the rule of THREE when picking colors will create a dynamic color palette for your space.

Color Trio

FOUR:  Most rooms have at least 4 corners.  And your room is going to look and feel differently when seen & appreciated from each one.  When you’re decorating, make sure you take a look at your space from as many vantage points as possible… preferably all FOUR corners of the room.  The balance and layout of a room can look great from one side, but might look off from another corner.  As you place furniture, add artwork and accessories always take a look at your composition from each corner making adjustments as you go.

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

FIVE:  Even in formal spaces, most accessories look best when grouped in odd numbers.  While pairs of accessories can be dramatic, odd numbers of accessories in varying sizes and shapes add visual interest and layers to your design.  Grouping a tall, short, flat, round and an oddly shaped items is a great formula for accessorizing.

HIGH FIVE ACCESSORIES

SIX:  Great lighting is one of the most important and yet overlooked aspects of decorating.  In order to showcase your decor and eliminate dark corners in your space, ensure at least SIX sources of evenly distributed light in your space.  Natural light from windows in addition to overhead lighting and lamps all count toward your six.

SIX POINTS OF LIGHT

SEVEN:  Artwork makes a strong statement in any space.  If hanging above a sofa, console table or other furniture, it should be ‘mated’ with the object it hangs above.  The rule of thumb is to hang artwork with the bottom roughly 6-8″ above the back of the furniture piece.  If your artwork is hung an average of seven inches above, you’ll insure perfectly hung artwork every time.

ARTWORK OVER SOFA

In many ways, the art of decorating is as straight forward and fool-proof as paint by number.  Incorporating ONE through SEVEN , rest assured your space will look as good or even better than your favorite fool-proof art masterpiece.

Happy Decorating by the Numbers.