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Top Ten Decorating Tips and Tricks!

With the change of the season, many homeowners feel inspired to decorate and remodel their homes. To help you with your spring interior design efforts, I share my top ten decorating tips and tricks to help you decorate like a pro!

Tip # 1:

Start Small, Think Big Too many people get bogged down in all the details of an interior decorating project and end up overwhelmed and unable to make decisions. Every design professional has his or her opinion as to how to get started-some say to start with a rug, others say find a beautiful fabric, while others suggest you start with artwork and build your interior from there. Often homeowners do not have these items or have trouble picking them and end up right back at "square one." Don't let the expert advice intimidate you. If you don't have an inspiration piece from which to build your color palette, you can create one.

Start by selecting photos of rooms that inspire you from home decorating magazines-such as Elle Décor, House Beautiful or Architectural Digest. Using these rooms as guides, pick one room in your home to start with and focus on your wall color first. Once you have your wall color selected, decide on your accent colors to round out your palette (using your inspiration photo as your guide). You don't have to decide how to apply the colors at this point, you just need to determine which colors go well with the wall color.

With a solid color palette identified, the next step is to create a layout for your room using graph paper and a 1 block = 1 foot scale. With a layout and color palette defined for your room, you now have a design "roadmap" which will be your guide as you go forward in selecting furnishings and fabrics to complete your room. When the first room is near completion start planning the next one, carrying at least two of the colors in the palette into that room and repeating the roadmap building process.

Tip # 2:

Decorate on the Diagonal One way to add visual interest to a room and make it appear larger is to place your furniture at an angle. This arrangement works best for rectangular dining room tables, beds in square bedrooms, sofas and desks. Placing furniture at an angle works because the longest straight line in any given room is its diagonal. When you place your furniture at an angle, it leads the eye along the longer distance, rather than the shorter wall, making the room seem larger. As an added bonus, you often get some additional storage or display space behind the angled piece.

Tip # 3:

Use Contrast to Create Interest Another inexpensive way to make your home's interior more appealing is by contrasting light and dark hues. In its simplest form, this can be achieved by using darker fabrics against lighter backgrounds and vice versa. On a larger scale, contrast light and dark wall colors throughout the home in rooms that are adjacent to each other. This same rule applies to sofa fabrics, window treatment fabrics, pillows on sofas and rugs under furniture. Using contrast in this way makes the colors throughout your home "pop."

Tip # 4:

Create Visual Vignettes Rather than distributing your artwork around the room, group your artwork with other pieces of art or with furniture to create vignettes of interest. Focus on the focal point first and build out the rest of the room from there, emphasizing areas you want to draw the eye to. A good rule of thumb when hanging artwork is to keep the piece 57" from the floor. This is the standard used by most galleries and museums as it represents the average human eye-height.

Tip # 5:

Use Color to "Raise the Roof" Choosing your wall and ceiling colors isn't just about personal expression and decorative style. Color can also be used to visually heighten low ceilings. Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls makes the delineation between wall and ceiling less noticeable, thus visually "tricking" the eye into thinking the ceiling is higher. Likewise, choosing colors from the cool end of the spectrum-blues, grays, lavenders and greens-gives the illusion of space.

Tip # 6:

Maximize your Design Dollars One way to stretch your design budget is to select core room elements-wall color, window treatments, upholstery and rugs-in neutral fabrics and designs. Then add a little "icing" to your space by incorporating bolder elements in your decorative pillows, inexpensive artwork and accessories. And, if you want a bolder look, try out some of the bolder decorative wall decals. They add color and interest, and can be removed without incident when you desire a change. If you adopt this design approach, when you want to try out a new color scheme or update your room, you can simply replace the "icing" to create a whole new look at very little cost.

Tip # 7:

Add a Dash of Black Black has amazing power to solidify a color scheme, pull together disparate pieces of furniture, and give your home a touch of Hollywood glam. Black works with every design style-from traditional to contemporary. The color black is to your home's interior what a black coat or a stunning pair of black heels is to a woman's wardrobe. Each room in your home will achieve a greater sense of balance if you add a dash of black-a small vase, a side table or picture frame should do the trick.

Tip # 8:

Create Asymmetric Groupings Think out of the box when creating symmetry in a room. Instead of placing your artwork in the center of your fireplace mantel and flanking it with two candlesticks, try your hand at a little asymmetry. Lean your artwork against the wall and move it to one side of the mantel. Fill the other side with a grouping of three items spread out enough to mimic the relative width of the artwork. Make sure that one of the items is approximately the same height as the artwork and the other two items are shorter and vary in height. Fill in the middle of the mantle with a round bulkier piece to ground the ensemble and you have achieved symmetry through a very asymmetric grouping.

Tip # 9:

Keep Artwork Straight Having a piece of artwork or photography uneven on a wall can throw off the entire look of the room. One trick to prevent this is to purchase clear mounting squares from your local craft store. Attach the piece of art to the wall and place a level on the top of the frame. Once the piece is level, place a mounting square on the bottom of the frame and press it against the wall until it "sticks." Once the frame is secure, remove the level and move on to the next piece of art. The beauty of these squares is that they provide a great sticky medium without damaging walls or frames.

Tip # 10:

Create a Basic Budget One of the keys to a successful interior transformation project is having an understanding up-front of what things cost and what you can afford to spend. One way to determine the cost of case goods, rugs, lamps and upholstery items is to peruse the various retail furniture store catalogs that are mailed to your home to get prices for sofas, lamps, side tables, etc. Using those prices as the low-end of the range, calculate the upper end by doubling the price for each item. This upper end represents entry-level designer goods. Calculate this range for each item you will need to purchase and add them together, giving you a lower and upper price range.

The next step is to determine where your budget falls within that range. If you find that your budget will not allow you to purchase all the items on your "wish list" at once, then break down your purchases into three categories: must haves (3-6 months); like to haves (6 months to a year) and willing to wait (1 year+). When breaking down your purchases into these categories, remember that the core elements-main upholstery or case goods, a few lamps, basic light blocking/privacy window coverings and wall color-should be purchased first followed by the more decorative elements-rugs, artwork, accessories and decorative window treatments.

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