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The Smart Approach To Home Decorating - Part 2

Updated on January 30, 2010

Once you settle on a style you like, walk through your house and try to imagine being surrounded by that style. See if it's appropriate for the dwelling. Chances are, the house and the style will be compatible. Keeping your style and architecture in mind, get out your scrapbook and tack up some of the photos you chose as inspiration. Try to visualize them in your space.

Make sure to keep these inspirations handy at all times. They will act as a guide to keep your look consistent, especially when you begin to shop for paint and furniture. Your photos will allow you to compare and contrast the items you'll be purchasing, or you can use them to show a salesperson so he or she can lead you in the right direction.

Assessing the Situation: Getting a Sense of the Space

Soon you'll get to purchase new furniture, but not yet. First, take an inventory of your existing pieces to see which will work and which may need to be replaced. You may be inclined to try to make do with some of your old furniture, but make sure it really goes with your new scheme. For instance, an old colonial sofa with brown, avocado and gold plaid Herculon fabric will most likely need to go when you're striving for a clean, crisp, elegant neoclassical style.

Once you've decided what to keep, you'll need to decide on a furniture arrangement. Then you can begin shopping. But remember, don't just dash out and buy. You really need to do your homework for this step. Research and shop around. Not only should you look for items that match your style; you'll need to make sure they are the right sizes, too.

Take notes on the pieces you are serious about. Mark down their measurements. Use one afternoon to mark out the sizes on your floor with masking tape and see if there's still room to walk and use the space. You don't want to get stuck with an assortment of pieces that are too big or too small.

Laying the Groundwork: Planning the Arrangement

The first thing to do when building a room is to determine the focal point. Usually, the focal point is a prominent, eye-catching piece of furniture or architectural detail like a mantle. It could happen that you have two focal points in a room. If this is the case, decide which has the more important function for you and those who use the space. For example, you may have a fireplace and a television in a room. Is it more important to converse around the fire or to watch television? Once you've decided, use this point and build the room around it.

Separate pieces of furniture, rather than sectionals, tend to be more flexible when creating an arrangement. However, this is largely a matter of taste. A good furniture arrangement is fairly simple: It is flexible and spacious, and has a good mix of visual levels of upholstered furniture. "Visual levels" refers to the different textures and weights of the furniture around your room. A big, padded sofa will be very heavy visually, while a wood chair will be light. By using a mix of weights and textures, you can create a balanced feel in the room. For example, flank a heavy sofa with a pair of lighter club chairs. Using club chairs that are a notch lighter than the sofa will balance out the room visually. Or you could use a wood-frame chair of a smaller scale next to the sofa, upholstered or not. Wood breaks up the bulkiness of a large, fully upholstered piece.

Continued In The Smart Approach To Home Decorating - Part 3

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