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Decorating your own home

We all want to have a beautifully decorated home and on home design TV shows, interior designers seem to wave a magic wand and ... hey presto! However, behind the scenes is not as magical as it looks, with staff and helpers running around trying to get everything organised so that it looks picture perfect and gorgeous to look at, but not ideal to live in.


Let's be honest, the finished rooms do look stunning, but would they work in your home and with your family?

If you are planning to decorate your own home and want to have that 'designer' look, consider the following tips:

Get the arrangement right

The starting point for any successfully designed room is to have a functioning furniture arrangement. What do you require from your furniture? Are you looking for a room setting that offers comfort, practicality and a specific look?

For example, in your living room, (multi-purpose or not), you'll want a conversation area and comfortable seating for everyone. A sofa, two chairs flanking or opposing and a coffee table in the middle close enough for everyone to set down drinks or food is a classic solution.

A few small changes, perhaps moving the furniture around slightly and letting the furniture 'float' off the wall and you have instant chic. It doesn't have to be major furniture upheaval to give your room a more sophisticated look. Bear in mind, however, that you need to allow for natural traffic flow from one area to another - at least 80cm width for pathways surrounding the area.

Having settled on the right arrangement for furniture in the room, further down in this article we talk about balancing accessories, but another way to look at balance is the contrast of light or dark furniture and fittings. Every room should have the right balance between light and dark, which could mean a dark floor, light furniture and medium toned walls, or a light floor with light walls and furniture. Every room should have a balance between light and dark.

Create a focal point

focal point is the first place your eye lands when you enter a room. In a lot of homes a fireplaces is a good example of this, but entertainment units, bay or picture windows can also serve the same purpose. This is your starting location to arrange your major pieces of furniture according to need and purpose.

In a house that lacks architectural details, has no fireplace, or feature that stands out, you can easily create a focal point with an extra large flower arrangement, a large grouping of art, or even decorating folding screens. Work with the layout of the room to create your own focal point - a place where the eye is drawn immediately upon entering.

Use the ceiling to visually alter a room that suffers from low or high ceilings, a room that is dark, or even to draw attention to a focal point. Painting a ceiling white only serves to draw attention to the solid line that you create between walls and ceiling. . In a room with no mouldings, you have an opportunity to select a light to medium shade to paint walls, including the ceiling. By doing so, where the walls end and the ceiling begins is not as obvious and the room boundaries expand.

It takes two...

It's all about balance and rhythm and how a room is viewed that makes the difference; a pair of lamps on either side of a sofa, two wingback chairs, or two pieces of art that are of a similar size - pairs create a balanced look. But don't overdo it. Too many matched pairs and the room becomes more of a showroom than a home. And pairs don't have to look exactly the same of be of the same style, as long as they are of the same approximate size.

image kathleen hay

the light touch

Many homes have too few light sources in our home, or worse, use a single light source and a high wattage globe. Every room in the home should have a variety of light sources to cater for specific tasks. In the absence of plenty of natural light, or for night time, lighting should accommodate for both mood and practicality.

You don't necessarily need to call in an electrician to start chopping into walls to install additional lighting, floor and table lamps provide task and atmosphere lighting, low-voltage downlights can easily be fitted to a ceiling, and when combined with modern ceiling fixtures, will provide plenty of interesting light sources for a room.

Work with colour, materials and texture

Many of us make the wrong choice of selecting the paint colour first but it is far more sensible to start with fabric. There are millions of paint colours available that will be a possible perfect pick, but not vice versa. A sensible designer will tell you to pick one colour and vary the shades and tones of that colour for each room, or to choose your colours carefully. For excellent colour ideas visit Jane Lockhart's website.

Select a colour scheme that will work with your style... Neutral colours of one, or at most two colours, is an automatic statement of calm, orderly sophistication. Neutral doesn't mean boring. Alternatively, use bold colours sparingly around the room for wonderful pops of colour that give a designer feel to a space.

As you layer the setting with accessories remember to vary the textures, finishes and materials you use. Look for contrast and opposites: rough and smooth, shiny and matte, silk and burlap, leather and lace, glass and metal, as well as natural and organic elements. And finally, mix it up with your own personal style.


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