Category Archives: Decorating Tips

WHY PEOPLE FEAR WORKING WITH A DECORATOR

When you start a decorating business, you’re ready to change the world!  You’ve taken the classes, studied the trends and mastered the skills.  And you can’t wait to go forth and help people transform their homes.  Your business cards are printed & your website is fabulous.  So, you put yourself out there and wait.  But, why isn’t the phone ringing off the hook?  Don’t people know you can help with all their decorating dilemmas?

Of course, it takes time to build any successful business.  Eventually, the jobs start coming in, mostly from friends and family.  But, as word gets out, people start to take you seriously and things pick up steam.  Referrals become your best source of new business.  And, over time, you gain experience working with all different types of clients, in many different styles of homes and with a wide range of budgets.  But still, those out-of-the-blue customers are elusive no matter how good you are or how much you spend on advertising.

At some point, it finally dawns on you!  It never crossed your mind that, no matter how genuinely interested you are in helping them, people might be afraid to let you into their homes.  It finally makes sense when a good friend says she’s never inviting you over because she doesn’t want to be embarrassed if you don’t like her decorating choices!  What the what???

The things we fear don’t always make sense.  And you can be sure it doesn’t make sense to most decorating professionals.  Their lives, livelihoods and passion are creating beautiful homes for others to enjoy.

Over the years, we’ve learned there are many different reasons why folks fear working with a decorator.  Here are the Top 12 most common excuses we’ve found:

  • Too Expensive/ Only for “rich” people

The common misconception that working with an interior designer or decorator is exclusively for the “rich” & “famous” is pure poppycock!  Every home, no matter how grand, is worthy of being as beautiful as it can be, no matter the size or decorating budget.

  • My ‘stuff’ isn’t good enough

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The vast majority of homes are filled with things, old & new, which have been accumulated over time.  Some might be hand-me-downs and others have sentimental value.  The entire collection is a visual representation of you.  And while some might be tired and worn, that doesn’t mean they can’t still work in a newly-designed space.

  • Fear of being judged, mocked or made to feel “less-than”

If you are brave enough to meet with a designer/decorator and they make you feel “less than” then kick their snooty butt to the curb.  While it’s natural to feel like you’re being judged when you open yourself and your home to professional critique, a good decorator should be your ally and not your enemy.

  • Fear of change

No matter how adventurous, it’s human nature to fear change.  We are, after all, creatures of habit.  We become comfortable in our surroundings, no matter how dated.  So our default is “it’s good enough” rather than risking change which may or may not be a good thing.

  • Fear of being taken advantage of or losing control

We’ve all been screwed over by a contractor, repairman or other service provider at some point.  It’s easy to be jaded and skeptical.  As with all relationships, communication is key.  A good decorator will listen to you and really hear your wants/needs.  Then he or she will help guide you through all the choices that fit your style and budget.  Of course, communication is a two-way street.  You need to open your mind as well so you can benefit from the experience and vision of your designer.  If you’re hiring a professional just to “agree” with you, then you’re really just wasting your money.

  • Too fancy

Any good decorator knows it’s not really what you spend but how you use it that makes the difference in a space.  Even if you have a limited budget, the talented and trained eye of a decorating professional can help you see the hidden potential in the “stuff” you already own.  A designer-look should still be functional and livable no matter the cost.

 

  • Too overwhelming

As with fear of change, the idea of tackling a major decorating project can be overwhelming.  If you’re redoing an entire room or multiple rooms, it’s easier to work with a decorator who helps you prioritize and tackle one thing at time rather than being overwhelmed and never starting at all.

  • Finished design won’t be livable

Who hasn’t looked at the beautifully finished rooms in magazines and thought, “Who lives like that?”  We all have!  While magazine-worthy rooms are certainly inspiring, they don’t always look livable.  Good design is finding balance between form and function and a talented decorator will do both.  How you use a space should be one of the first discussions you have with your designer.

  • My ‘other-half’ and I can’t agree

Similar to helping you with self-worth, your decorator isn’t in the marriage-counseling business.  However, good ones are adept at negotiations and compromise.  Whether it’s figuring the budget or picking a style or making the space livable, every member of the household should feel heard and a part of the process.  A neutral third party (in this case your designer) can help make that happen.

  • Decorators are “weird” & “pushy”

Newsflash… All creative types are “weird” and that’s what makes them invaluable!  If everyone saw the things exactly the same way, the world would be stale & boring.  As for “pushy”, a good designer should push you.  But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t listen as well.  If you could do what a designer does, you’d have already done it.  Again… communication is key.  Opinions are just opinions.  That doesn’t mean you need to settle for black ceilings or feathered walls if that’s not your cup of tea.

  • I don’t deserve it

While a decorator isn’t a responsible for your feelings of self-worth, there is a lot of psychology in good design.  Working with a professional actually shows just how well you know yourself and your personal strengths.  Asking for professional help is never a sign of weakness.

  • Decorator won’t waste their time on my little project

Home renovation TV shows are fun to watch.  And the perfectly styled and photographed rooms in magazines are awe inspiring.  But they can leave you with the impression that interior decorators only work on major projects.  The truth is, decorators also like small jobs.  Helping clients work on one room at a time isn’t only easier on you and your budget, it’s easier on the design professional.

 

After years of helping create beautiful spaces in their homes, designers learn how to help first-time clients work through these fears.  Of course, they can only do that if given the opportunity.  So, if you’ve always wanted a designer look but have used one or more of these twelve excuses to talk yourself out of asking for help, think again.  You do deserve it!  Your stuff is good enough!  You can have a “fancy” and livable space!  And you might actually save money in the process.

Happy Fear-Free Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

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REDECORATING, THE NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT

I don’t know about you; it’s only January and I’m already done with the depressing Winter weather here in the Midwest.  As anyone who lives this far north knows, this time of year is particularly challenging.  It seems our brief glimpses of sunshine are all too fleeting and the fluctuating temperatures have everyone sick or sickly.

On top of  the usual colds & flu, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are as bad this time of year as the weather.  You know what I mean.  The holidays are over.  The glitzy, glittery decorations are all down and packed away.  Instead of “Ho-Ho-Ho”, we’re back to “Ho-Ho-Hum”!

According to the Mayo Clinic, a key contributor to seasonal depression and SAD is living too far from the Equator (either north or south).  Folks who live in these locations endure decreased sunlight and shorter days especially during Winter months.  (No leap of logic there!)  So, la-de-da; let’s all move to Key West and watch our troubles vanish!  If only it were that simple, right?

Also, according to Mayo, the signs and symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

So, other than moving toward the Equator, what is a person to do?  All joking aside, there are several therapies and clinical fixes for helping cope with depression.  Checking with a trained medical professional is crucial if you suffer from severe depression of any sort.

But there are some home remedies for those with mild cases of SAD.  From light therapy to aromatherapy, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption and proper eating, all can help with mild cases of SAD and seasonal depression during these  gloomy winter months.

Perhaps a little unconventional but equally as effective in my book is re-decorating!  What better time of year to focus on all things indoors than Winter?  Yeah, you’ve take down your holiday decor and your house looks like a tired, old doily.  So, what better time to avoid the dreary weather and make some changes in your home to help fight off the winter-time blues?

I don’t know why people wait til Spring for “spring-cleaning”.  The last place I wanna be when the weather breaks is inside, cleaning.  I’d rather use snow days to purge and clean so I’m ready to enjoy warmth and sunshine when they finally return.   While they can be a pain in the butt; cleaning, purging and organizing are very therapeutic.  A neat, clean home is a beautiful home.  So even if you can’t afford to buy new things while you’re paying off those Christmas bills, you can “redecorate” with nothing more than a DEEP clean.  You’ll be amazed how good it makes you feel.

After you have everything clean and neat, why not change a few things?  Simply rearranging your furniture, art and accessories can give new life to your old stuff and give you a new-to-you look for the Winter.  Stores rearrange their same, old merchandise displays all the time.  Why?  Well, they want to showcase different products .  But they also want to create excitement  and make you think their offerings are always new and changing, even when they aren’t!  You can do the same thing in your house.  Why do you think your house looks so beautiful during the holidays?  Duh!  You have shiny new things to look at.

Finally, if your budget allows, go for a deeper refresh.  Maybe paint a room or two, buy a new area rug for your family room, replace some of your tired & dated window treatments, throw in some new pillows or change your art work using bright pops of color where you can.  Any or all of these things give you “something new to look at” and help release “happy” hormones in your body.  And who couldn’t use some of those, especially this time of year?

So maybe, rather than popping another pill or spending hours on a therapist couch, try redecorating.   It’ll give you something to do to keep your mind off your winter woes.  And the end result is something you can enjoy well into Spring and beyond.

Here’s to happier living and decorating from your friends at Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

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20 DATED DECOR TRENDS TO RESOLVE IN 2020

Keeping up with home decor trends is hard.  It seems like every time you turn around, something in your home is no longer the latest & best.  Who has the money or time to change everything just because?  On the other hand, holding on to dated decor for too long will make your home looked tired and has a definite impact on its value.  So, as you’re setting goals for 2020, take a look around your home and see if there are any bygone trends that you can resolve in the New Year.

From large to small, here are a few of the worst offenders still lurking out there.  Some are more involved fixes.  But, some of them can be changed almost instantly for a fresh, more updated look.

Furniture Against the Walls

Ok… this is a pet peeve of ours and has been for years.  Pushing your furniture up against the wall doesn’t always make a room look bigger.  Angling furniture off the walls creates a more cozy atmosphere and can actually make a room look larger.

Heavy Fabrics and Tassels as Window Treatments

We don’t care how much you paid for your swags and tassels.  Heavy, over-done window fashions are a no no!  Removing swagged fabrics in favor of simple, vertical panels is an instant improvement.  Swagged panels, bishop sleeves, and tassels as tie backs are also dead on arrival.  Get rid of them!

Patterned Sofas or Loveseats

Pattern is always a welcome addition in a room, just not on your large seating pieces like sofas and loveseats.  If you must have a pattern on furniture, use it sparingly (think accent chair).  Nothing is more distracting and dated than a large pattern.

French Country or Farmhouse

Yea, we know, “But, Joanna Gaines said….”.  STOP THE INSANITY!  Unless you live on a farm, you don’t need farmhouse decor everywhere in your home.  While up-cycled and shabby chic still have some appeal, using them sparingly is key.  And for goodness sake, get rid of those roosters!

China & Curio Cabinets

Having a nice set of china and crystal might have been a status symbol which needed to be shown off and admired back in the day.   (Not so much anymore!)  With the decline in formal dining and dining rooms, china cabinets have gone the way of the Dodo.  Curio cabinets are a close second.

Antiques & Collectibles

See Above!  As much as you might hate it, all that money you “invested” in your Beanie Baby, Precious Moments or Lladro et al collections hasn’t quite panned out.  Visual clutter is out and that includes large collections of bric-a-brac!   Consider using just a couple of your favs as accessories and rotate them out.

Tile Countertops

A staple of DIY home improvers, the dreaded tile countertop is OUT!  Solid surface countertops are a must-have for the majority of home buyers.  Do yourself a favor.  Save your pennies and upgrade your countertops if you still have tiled ones.

Doilies

Ah…. those dainty, darling doilies!  Burn them!

Matchy-Matchy

Sadly, matchy-matchy continues to make the list of once-was decorating trends.  Repeating colors, patterns and textures judiciously helps create continuity and flow between spaces.  But perfectly matched colors and patterns in rooms looks dated and contrived.  Let your creativity shine and embrace the perfection in mismatched decor.

Toilet Rugs and Covers

Ah… the infamous “piddle pad”.  Whoever thought putting a bib on their toilet was a good idea should have their head examined.  Along those lines… toilet cozies?  Really?  For the love of all that’s good and right in the world, lose those nasty funk traps!

Popcorn Ceilings

It should go without saying that popcorn ceilings are OUT!  And they have been out for years.  This one isn’t an easy fix.  You really need to have them removed and replaced with new drywall.  But this improvement is an investment that will benefit, not only the look, but value of your home.

Hanging Teacups

Ok… teacups aren’t the only offenders.  Hanging pots & pans, hanging baskets, hanging utensils and just about anything else that hangs from your kitchen cabinets or ceilings is OUT!  If you’re picking up on a theme here, good for you.  Less is More!  Visual clutter is out.  Clean and simple is in!

Sleigh Beds

Santa might disagree.  But sleigh beds aren’t the rage like they once were.  Can’t afford to replace your entire bedroom set?  Consider ditching the bed and replacing that big, bulky frame with a simple upholstered headboard.

Old Fashioned Fixtures

Fixtures are the jewelry in your home.  Light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, door knobs & hinges might seem like small details.  And that’s exactly what they are.  Keeping them up-to-date a little at a time will pay in the long run (especially when you go to sell) and you won’t have to bite the bullet to replace everything all at once.

Pickle Jars

You know how to pickle, good for you!  But, chances are you just bought a jar of colorful, pickled goodies for a pop of color on the kitchen counter.  Pitch it!

Excessively Formal Living Rooms

If formal dining is out, it stands to reason that formal living is too.  New, open concept construction has removed formal living spaces from the equation.  But we still have a lot of homes out there built with the traditional living room/ family room combo.  Reimagine your formal living room with more casual furnishings arranged formally.  The room will feel more inviting and might actually get used for a change.

Framed Photos

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again.  No one loves your family more than you do.  Decorate accordingly.  And while it’s ok to be proud of your family, decorating with nothing but family photos is a decorating crutch for those who aren’t willing to commit to actual artwork.  Plus it comes off just a little narcissistic!  You don’t have to buy gallery quality artwork.  There are plenty of low-cost options out there to use.  And since they won’t cost a fortune, you won’t feel like you have to be buried with them.

Fake Plants Especially Above Kitchen Cabinets

 

Ok…. so we’ll buck the trend here a little.  Yes, live plants might be ideal.  But, with our ever-busy lives, real plants can be dead ones quickly without proper care.  If you don’t have a green thumb, it’s still ok to use fake ones.  Invest in the best looking ones you can and use them sparingly.  And if you have a jungle of dusty fake greens above your kitchen cabinets, you have our permission to prune those hedges too.

Oak Cabinets & Floors

If your home was built in the 80’s & 90’s, you probably have oak in abundance!  Oak is fine.  But golden oak is NOT.  Since oak has a tendency to yellow over time, the finish becomes more and more “orange”.  If you can’t afford to replace the oak, consider having it refinished with a slightly darker, more brown stain for an instant face-lift.  Products like gel stains are available for you DIY types.  And paint works.  Just keep in mind the oak grain will show through.

Staying on top of decorating trends is a never ending battle.  While it might be easier just to throw up your hands, updating a little every year will help keep your home looking fresh, up-to-date and on trend.  Your home is never “done”.  It and its decor are constantly evolving. So as you begin a new year and a new decade, resolve to change the things you can and step boldly forward.  You can do it!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

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FOR EVERY ROOM A PURPOSE

Every room needs a purpose. After all, you’re paying a mortgage & taxes on every square foot of your home. Why not try to make the best use of every square foot of your investment? Sometimes, however, deciding how to make the best use of a space can be a challenge for homeowners.

It’s always great when folks are willing to think outside the box. Using a room or items in unexpected ways is definitely a trademark of good design. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to stray too far from a room’s intended function. Doing so can have an unintended, snowball effect that negatively impacts the look and feel of other rooms in the home.

This week, we helped a young family in Roselle struggling with how to best use & decorate their home’s family room. They’d tried everything to make the space feel functional and pulled together. But, nothing seemed to be working quite the way they wanted. Finally, they reached out to us for help.

Their last failed attempt had been flipping the family & dining rooms. And while functional, both spaces were left suffering from what we called an “identity crisis”. The dining room furniture didn’t quite work in the long, narrow family room. And their small sitting area looked lost and out of place in the dining room.

Family Room Before
Dining Room Before

While applauding their efforts, swapping the furniture was actually creating more problems that it was solving. And so, we decided the dining set really belonged back in the dining room. That way, we could make more progress creating a new, inviting and more functional space in the family room.

Dining Furniture Removed and New Chairs Delivered

Giving the family room purpose, we decided to reuse our client’s bar cabinet and create a sitting area to compliment it either for reading or enjoying cocktails in front of the fireplace.

We started by ordering two, larger scale-appropriate club chairs from Pier One. While waiting for those to be delivered, we set to work buying all of the other things we’d need to finish the space and bring it to life.

We found a large, tufted ottoman that worked perfectly for a cocktail table as well as additional seating if needed. Matching harp tables by each chair were found offering a place to put a drink or book. Next, we found a 5×7 area rug to brighten the space and anchor the seating group in front of the fireplace.

Family Room After

Drapery panels were purchased to soften the faux wood blinds in the corner window. And since no room is complete without them, we bought finishing touches included a floor lamp for additional lighting, a fiddle leaf fig tree for height and organic texture, large wall mirror to make the space feel wider as well as a throw and accent pillows.

A few new accessories were also purchased to compliment existing pieces and tie into the homeowner’s existing farmhouse and shabby chic decor.

The progress we made in solving this room’s identity crisis is clear. A new and inviting sitting area now greats the family and guests and makes for a better use of this space.

Never be afraid to think outside the box. It’s better to make use of a space than to leave it empty and a wasted investment. But, keep in mind that the rooms in a home are generally designed with specific purposes in mind. Straying too far from those intended purposes can create more headaches than it solves.

Happy, Purposeful Decorating from Decor Designs. 815-245-2433

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EASILY TRANSFORM YOUR FALL DECOR

Between now and Christmas, your seasonal home decor changes probably more than any other time of year.  Other than a few things in the Spring (aka Easter) or the 4th of July, seasonal decor generally doesn’t change much during the summer months.  Who has time to change up this kinda stuff with the kids out of school and vacations, right?

fall maple leaves

 

I love decorating for Fall!  Even better, it’s so easy to transition from Fall to Halloween and from Halloween to Thanksgiving without much effort.

Fall for most means colorful leaves, dried grasses, pumpkins, gourds, straw, corn and anything end of Summer.  Creating vignettes in your home with these natural items in mid to late September sets the stage for October and November holidays.

I’ve been known to say, “It’s not done ’til it’s overdone!”  But, with our ever-busier lives, I find we are all looking for ways to simplify both in terms of work and in terms of household accessories.  Less is best is faster, simpler and easier to clean around for any Season!

Adding seasonal touches in key areas will accomplish the same thing as decking the entire house with Fall decor.  Trying creating small displays of Fall in key focal areas like front doors and foyers, mantels and hearths and dining room tables.  Other areas for small touches of Fall can be a console or coffee table and the powder room counter.

autumn basket with gourds and pumpkins

Fall leaves and florals soften any accessories you might add and change throughout the Season.  Add those first!   Then nestle in your favorite “accessories” like gourds, pumpkins, Indian corn, small bales of hay, a vase filled with apples or nuts, candles and more. This list is practically endless.

Halloween Centerpiece

 

Early to mid-October, change out your Fall accessories with spookier touches for Halloween.  Pumpkins and gourds become Jack-o-lanterns, spiders, bones, bats, black cats, owls and tombstones fit the bill.  Adding touches of black with candles, florals and accessories immediately adds a more somber tone to your Fall decor.

 

cornucopia with fresh fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, after the last trick-or-treater has rung the doorbell, it’s time to transition for Thanksgiving.

You can probably bring back a few of your previous harvest accessories and then add things associated with giving thanks. Cornucopias, pilgrims & indians and such play up the traditions in your decor for this special family time of year.

With a few simple changes, your Fall decor can transform so you’re ready for each holiday without having to reinvent the wheel.  With roughly 30 days between each, you’ll have time to enjoy each look before it’s time to tear it all down to make room for Christmas and Hanukkah.

We’d love to see your Fall vignettes.  Consider sharing some on our Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/CLDecorator/)

Happy Autumnal Equinox from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BREAKING THE RULES OF DECORATING

Do This!  Don’t Do That!  For every rule that has ever been made, I think there is an almost implied challenge to try and break it.  That has never seemed more true than today in every walk of life and has always been true in interior design.

In a world where it’s easy to feel compartmentalized by labels and associations, we sometimes struggle to identify as an individual.  Your style (whether it’s the car you drive, the clothes you wear or the way you decorate your home) should be a statement about you as a unique being in the Universe.  And while it’s human nature to gravitate toward ‘like-minded’ individuals, nothing new has ever been created by being a copycat!

Strangely, one of our first priorities with every client is giving them permission to be themselves.  It’s as if they feel that working with a professional somehow trumps their own personality and sense of style.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I’m sure you’ve heard the adage attributed to Oscar Wilde, “Be Yourself!  Everyone Else Is Already Taken!”  That is exactly what we strive for with our clients as we guide them through the process of restyling their living spaces.  That’s not to say we ignore what’s popular or trendy.  But, it is important to take that trend and somehow customize it in a way unique to them.

With that in mind, here are a few of the most common decorating challenges every homeowner faces when updating their decor.  Along with them are some decorating “rules” and simple ways you can customize them to make them uniquely yours.

PAINT COLOR

So many clients are afraid of color.  They’re afraid they’ll go to the time and expense of painting only to hate the way it looks when they’re done.  Is there a fool proof rule?  NO!  But there are some tricks to help lessen the chances you’ll end up with an Oops!

Contemporary Gray & White Kitchen with Punch of Orange

Begin with a neutral color that is on trend.  “Greige” is the obvious choice these days.  Pair that color with another neutral to compliment it.  Let’s say cream or off-white.  Finally add your own personality with a ‘punch’ color you love.  That color can be introduced in accessories, window fashions, art and rugs.  Whether you go with bold hues of teal, yellow, blue, pink or even orange as pictured here…., almost all are guaranteed to work.

The end result is a color story in your home grounded by current neutrals including touches of your own flair & style.

FURNITURE

Kids… there only so many ways to build furniture.  At the end of the day, while the style and fabric may vary, a sofa is a sofa is a sofa.  Akin to the fear of making a mistake with paint choices, many clients are paralyzed by the thought of buying new furniture.  What if the fabric is dated in a couple years?  What if it isn’t comfortable?  What if I move?  “WHAT IFs” are generally NOT life and death decisions.  They are your brain walking you through the process of justifying the decision your gut has already made.  Trusting your gut instinct will generally guide you where you need to be.

Neutral Beige & Cream Living Room with punches of Gold & Teal

With furniture, first, don’t pick a style, pattern or color that screams for attention.  Chances are those have the best chance of being very dated, very quickly.  Instead, select furniture staples including seating and case goods which are classically styled with more neutral fabrics and subdued patterns.  As a rule, medium dark wood tones are always in style and will likely stand the test of time.

Add your own flair to these classics with throw pillows that compliment your decor.  As with paint, neutral furnishings come to life with the right combination of pillows and throws.  Those items are more easily interchangeable and can represent your own personal taste and style at any given moment or season.

ARTWORK

Investing in artwork can be intimidating.  Thank goodness artwork doesn’t always have to come from a gallery with a gallery price tag in order to make a statement.

Multi-color Artwork to suit Any Color Palette

 

 

Since your taste is ever changing as you age, so will your taste in art.  So unless, you are in love with a particular artist, a safer bet is to select pieces that are timeless in style and include a multitude of different colors.  That way, no matter what color trend you’re following at the time, chances are it’ll be represented in your artwork.

And when it comes to personalization, by all means, DO NOT use family photos as a substitute.  They are NOT artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

ACCESSORIES

Accessories, and how to use them successfully, are the single largest challenge for most clients.  Fortunately, and generally speaking, accessories represent the least expensive component of your decor and can be rotated out depending on the season or mood you want to convey.

Make an investment in larger statement pieces and fill in around them with books, boxes, greenery, florals and other cost-effective elements to complete a vignette.  Following the rule of odd numbers of items will always make accessories look more casual and “conversational”.  Mixing shapes is also key to making them look professionally styled.

For example, stack two or three large coffee table books or a decorative box on a table or dresser.  On top, add a wow piece like a wooden statue or hand blown glass vase.  This is a perfect opportunity to show off things you’ve collected from a favorite vacation or family members.  Finally, soften harsh edges with a plant or other something with an irregular shape or texture.

 

 

Manufactured necessity is part of our culture.  We have been conditioned to want and therefore need the latest style, color and trend of almost everything that we touch in life.

By making smart choices in paint, furniture, artwork and accessories, you can avoid being paralyzed with fear when it comes to your home decor.

Following the rule of choosing classically styled, neutral paint and furniture and pairing it with artwork and accessories that follow your own current style or trends will give longevity to your look and negate the need to reinvent the wheel with every passing fancy.

 

Rules, especially those for decorating, serve as guidelines and are created in your own best interest.  But, don’t be afraid to break them if the end result is a better way of expressing what makes you uniquely you!

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

 

 

 

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A NEW BEGINNING

New Years equal new beginnings.  So, it’s no surprise to think of the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one as a chance to start with a clean slate.  Traditionally, we set goals and make resolutions to improve our health & relationships or go on a much needed vacation.  And sometimes, we decide to tackle those decorating projects we’ve been ignoring.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Thoughts become things!”  While true, thoughts without action rarely manifest into reality.  Thinking of and setting goals is one thing.  But, it’s important to set ones we truly believe we have the tenacity and will power to accomplish.  Otherwise, failure just becomes one more self-imposed disappointment for the year.

Let’s say you’re mulling over a new kitchen in the New Year.  Yet, you have no idea where the funds will come from to pay for it.  Maybe, you need to set a more realistic goal.  That doesn’t mean you can’t want or plan for a new kitchen.  But, perhaps this year’s goal is simply beginning with new appliances.

A common complaint we hear from clients throughout the year is not knowing where to start.  Many are so overwhelmed by the number of decisions to be made with any decorating project, they procrastinate, or worse, never start at all.

Our advice to them is similar to that of making New Year’s resolutions.  Set realistic, achievable goals for your decor rather than letting fear of the final result keep you from beginning.

As we set our own personal and business goals for 2018, we look forward to and are thankful for the opportunity to work with as many of you as possible to help you meet your own decorating & home improvement goals.

Our mission statement reads in part:   “Décor Designs, Inc. believes in helping homeowners with their decorating goals, dilemmas and the evolution of their living spaces.

If you’ve set a goal to redecorate a part or all of your home in the New Year, don’t let fear of making mistakes keep you from reaching your goal.  Another good resolution might be to ask for help!  In that case, we are standing by to guide you and help you create the beautifully redecorated space you set out to achieve.

Here’s to reaching all your goals and to a Happy & Healthy New Year from all of us at Decor Designs!

 

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FIY (FIX IT YOURSELF) DECORATING TIPS

Having visited hundreds of homes over the years, we’ve seen a lot of great ideas and even more decorating don’ts & near-misses.  So, if you think there’s just something not quite right about your own decorating, you’re definitely not alone.  As much as every home and its decor is unique in some way, the majority share common problems that we’ve helped fix.  Over time, we’ve been able to compile a list of the most common decorating problems shared by those we’ve helped.

So here’s some FREE decorating therapy on how to recognize the problems you might have in your own home and some simple suggestions for fixing them.

The ten most common decorating problems, in no particular order, we encounter are:

1-WINDOW TREATMENTS

Mini blinds and blinds in general are not window treatments!  While they offer privacy and light control, they rarely enhance your decor.  Try pairing them with floor-length fabric panels hung at least halfway between the ceiling and top of the window or higher for a more refined and decorative look.  If you only want blinds, some treatments, like Hunter Douglas’ Silhouettes™ , offer clean-lined style combining the light control and privacy of a blind with a soft sheer treatment for a more contemporary look.

2-COLOR

Changing colors in every room in your home creates sensory overload.  Try painting your open common areas with different shades of the same color to unify those areas.  In rooms closed off to the main living area by a door, you can be a little more random in color choices.  Keep in mind, however, that a good color story includes repeating colors throughout the home.  If you have a teal powder room, for example, then teal pillows on the family room sofa would be a good repetition of that color.

3-ARTWORK

Artwork doesn’t have to match the color palette in your room but should compliment the style of your decor.  Family photos are NOT artwork (see below).  And most important of all, artwork should be paired with the furniture and other items in your room rather than hanging too far above them.  Hang artwork about 6-8″ above a piece of furniture (i.e. sofa or table). And for free floating art, hang it approximately 60″ from the floor to the center of the piece.

4-LAYERING

Good design involves layering.  From floor coverings, to accessories, to window treatments and more, layering elements rather than having a series of stand-alone objects helps create a cozier, more attractive design.  Put an area rug in your room, even if it’s on top of carpet to create a ‘room within a room’.  Rugs provide added color, pattern and visual interest.  (NOTE:  Don’t float a rug in the middle of the room.  Instead, make sure it is touching/mated with the furniture in the room.)  Feel free to stack books on the coffee table topped with a vase of flowers or your favorite accessories for more height and drama.  Lamps are a great way to enhance your decor and fill in that void of “nothing”.  And it’s ok if items overlap!

5-LIGHTING

Overhead lighting isn’t the most flattering light for you or your decor.  Spread at least three lamps evenly throughout a room trying to create a triangle of lighting when possible.  This will help eliminate dark corners in the room, provide more flattering light and will add another layer (see #4) filling in the vertical void between the top of your seating furniture and the top of your window treatments or artwork.

6-CLUTTER

While layering (#4) is great.  Too much of a good thing, like too many color changes (#2) in a space, creates sensory overload.  Your eye travels the room encountering so many elements that they all blend into visual noise.  “Negative space” in design refers to the area around an object.  Without ample negative space (think nothing) between accessories, artwork and furniture, you run the risk of having a space that looks cluttered rather than designed.

7-ACCESSORIES 

While most rooms are built around the expected furniture for their use, accessories are the detail that give the room personality and life.  Finding the right balance between enough accessories and too many (See Clutter) is a problem that confounds many homeowners.  If you need help, pay attention to the accessories the next time you shop for furniture.  A well- merchandised furniture showroom will group accessories and keep them to a minimum. You should too!

8-FAMILY PHOTOS

It’s especially hard for more sentimental clients to give up the family photos they have all over their walls and tables.  Having 1-2 larger photos on tables and nightstands is fine.  For all your other framed family pics, consider creating a gallery wall mixed with 3D objects like clocks, word art etc… keep a couple of your favorite shots for side tables or night stands and restrict the rest to photo walls in hallways or similar spaces. You and your guests can enjoy the photos up close where faces are visible as opposed to viewing them from across the room.

9-MATCHY MATCHY

Image courtesy of Houzz

Nothing is more predictable than buying everything on page 23 out of your favorite home decor catalog.  We’ll just call that ‘Decorating for Dummies’ and leave it at that!  While there are obvious exceptions like matching bedroom, dining or table sets, push yourself to think outside the box and create an eclectic mix of complimentary styles and finishes.  And remember, wood tones do NOT have to match.

10-TRENDS

Image courtesy of Overstock

Trends are just that….temporary obsessions.  Whether it’s a wall color like gray, or a specific pattern like chevron, fads come and go and can quickly “date” your decor.  If you just have to have the latest and greatest in your decor, consider introducing it in small amounts and in things that are easily changed.  In other words, don’t upholster your sofa with paisley fabric.  Save that, instead, for the throw pillows you can replace when the next trend comes along.

As you can see, many of the most common decorating problems we encounter are multi-faceted.  One problem and its solution can impact other decisions you make as you take inventory of your own decor.  As you look around and reevaluate your own decorating choices and pitfalls, hopefully these tips will help you Fix It Yourself in no time.

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

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THE COMFORT FOOD OF DECORATING

Thanks to design shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, the vintage, reclaimed, shabby chic trend in decorating is enjoying a long run of popularity.  Given our ever-busy lifestyles, when we do have a moment to sit down and enjoy home, it’s no wonder we want to surround ourselves with what could easily be called the ‘comfort food’ of decorating .

Just as hole-y, worn looking jeans always make a comeback, the trend toward less-than-perfect home decor appears to have lasting power.  It’s really no wonder.  Repurposing and restyling anything is an awesome way to stretch your decorating budget and keep things out of landfills. And it evokes feelings of nostalgia and better, simpler times.

As with any trend in design, however, moderation is the key.  As tempting as it might be to slather everything in your home with chalk paint, it’s probably not the best idea.  Just like all other trends, this too will eventually pass.

If you’ve been bitten by the shabby chic bug, understand that just because it’s shabby doesn’t make it chic.  Like too much meatloaf, pot pie or mac n cheese, too much of a good thing leads to other undesirable problems down the road.

Image courtesy of decoholic.org

Putting the chic in shabby requires restraint.  Still don’t follow?  Do a search for images of “shabby chic” on the internet.  You’ll be inundated with images of distressed, painted furniture smothered in pastel florals and accessories.  While that may speak to a small fraction of the decorating public’s taste, ‘grandma’s tea party’ (in my opinion) is a perfect example of not-so-chic shabby.

Unless your home and lifestyle truly lend themselves to shabby overload, consider only incorporating a few reclaimed elements in your spaces.  The juxtaposition of old and new creates an eclectic mix and your vintage treasures become the conversation starters you want them to be.

Cooking up the right mix of comfort, both in your home and on your table, requires a certain amount of restraint.  Your guests and your arteries will thank you!

Happy Shabby Chic Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

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WAKING FROM A KIDDY COMA

I read somewhere “home is where life happens” or something to that effect.  I totally agree! While it’s certainly nice to have a perfectly decorated, neat & tidy home, let’s be honest.  It’s almost impossible to live like that 24/7, 365 days of the year.  The daily coma of family life can take a toll on your paint, furniture and accessories making decorating perfection a fleeting, if not impossible, goal.

As much as we love them, kids (BOTH the two & four legged kind) can make having the perfect decor even more of challenge.  Since beautiful decor goes hand in hand with neatness and cleanliness, it’s an almost impossible feat with kids or animals around.

I consulted with a client recently who apologized for her lack of decorating.  Her excuse was that she and her husband had been in a “kiddy coma” for over 10 years.  I know that’s the way a lot of parents feel.  It’s a very real condition in many households and no reason to be ashamed.

Kids will be kids.  As they should be.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have pretty things or a reasonable expectation of everything looking nice.  Here are a few of the best tips I’ve shared with young families over the years to help wake up quickly from the dreaded kiddy coma:

1-  Set boundaries.  Children learn quickly.  Teach them the difference between adult spaces and kid-friendly ones.  Start early, making sure the kids understand which spaces are meant for child’s play and those for adult “play”.  That doesn’t mean the two can’t or won’t overlap from time to time.  But, if the kids have a space that is all their own, they’ll be less inclined to trash the ones you would prefer to keep neat and pretty.

2-  Storage.  Provide plenty of it!  It’s easier to keep things looking neat and tidy with lots of storage.  Cabinets, trunks and storage ottomans are great accent pieces in your decor.  And they offer perfect places to tuck things away.  If possible, toy boxes should have lids and should be tucked behind a sofa or chair.  And don’t forget decorative boxes.  They’re both a beautiful addition to your decor and very useful to keep life organized.

3-  Paint.  No matter how hard you try, expect your walls to take a beating, especially with younger kids and animals in the home.  Save yourself time and money by using the right paint for the lifestyle in your home.  Most paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams now boast products specifically designed for durability and washability.  And while it’s better at hiding blemishes and touch ups, flat paint tends to show rubbing and burnishing.  So, consider using a satin or eg-shel finish instead.  Finally, I find an ample supply of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers™ is a must-have in any active household.  (Just be careful… they can remove paint as easily as finger prints.)

4-  Area rugs.  Inexpensive, cleanable area rugs are much cheaper and more easily replaced than other wall to wall floorings.  Protecting high traffic areas with inexpensive rugs will help protect the finish of hardwood and make carpet last longer.  

5-  Upholstery.  Your gut may tell you to go a cheaper route with furniture.  Unfortunately, all furniture has a “life expectancy” based on its quality of construction.  Kids can be rough on furniture.  Cheaply made furniture will need to be replaced more frequently and may cost more, in the long run, than more well-made pieces.

The key to buying furniture that will stand the kid-test is to pick fabrics that are both durable and cleanable.  Check the cleaning code of the fabric.  “W” is the code used for the most forgiving and durable fabrics because it can be cleaned with Water.  “WS” refers to fabrics that can be cleaned using Water and/or a mild Solvent.

Depending on the price and coverage, fabric protection insurance from furniture retailers is a good idea with young kids and pets.  Many cover accidental spills and bodily fluids (both human and animal).  DIY fabric protectors from Scotchgard™ and others can also add a layer of protection.

A home with 2 young children

Home is definitely where life happens.  And life can be messy sometimes, especially living with kids.  Using these ideas and making smart choices as you decorate your home for an active family lifestyle will help you wake up from the “kiddy coma” much sooner than you might have expected.

 

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