OF 2: WORKING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE & ECONOMICAL CHANGES
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
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,
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
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
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!
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
Working With What You Have, and Economical Changes
Part 2 of 2, Color and Paint