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Work With What Your Have

PART 1 OF 2: WORKING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE & ECONOMICAL CHANGES

GENERAL PRINCIPALS
      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 doesnít belong to you, i.e.: doctorís office or library. Donít you just hate it when you are in the doctorís 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 youíll 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 bedroom carpet, or swatches of drapery, etc., and room and furniture measurements. (Hint: When I canít 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, suppliers, etc.
      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 todayís mail order catalog. New products surface constantly, so please be patient.)
      In addition, if you are renting, donít spend money on anything you canít take with you. Youíll 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. Donít cast your rooms in stone and close your mind to the idea of shifting things around occasionally. There isnít 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 childrenís rooms and my office. It is a wonder I havenít gotten hurt!)

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 donít have an open plan), pieces in one room should relate in size.
      This reminds me think of the gigantic lamp on my daughterís dinky nightstand. (Yes, even designerís homes are imperfect, and restricted by a budget .) This combination is clearly out of proportion, but try explaining this to a seven-year-old!

Second Opinions
      If you arenít sure, get a second pair of eyes. Ask a friendís opinion, or hire a designer for one session. (A designer wonít 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 youíve 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 best.

Part 2
Working With What You Have, and Economical Changes
Part 2 of 2, Color and Paint

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