Monday, July 30, 2012

35 Decorating Secrets from Top Interior Designers

1) Start your living room furniture plan with the best seat in the room and work from there.

2) While looking at one of my first New York apartments, David Hicks told me diplomatically, "Dear boy, if you're going to paint the walls white, you need art."

3) "If you have a painting that looks too small above your sofa, don't center it.  Offset it a few inches to the left.  The negative space - called 'ma' - becomes part of the image."

4) "The only time white curtain living should be used is with white curtains."

5) "Use the precious for everyday purposes.  We'll rummage through clients' closets and find loads of precious hand-me-downs like porcelain vases and crystal that are a bit out of vogue.  We'll use them or completely ordinary purposes - a vase becomes a chic pencil holder, a crystal bowl holds makeup brushes.  Turn the ordinary into a special moment!"

6) "Use wallpaper in unexpected places: on the ceiling in a paneled room, in closets, hallways, and small foyers.  A great pattern or texture in small spaces can be prodigious twists!"

7) Never push furniture up against the walls.  By pulling your seating arrangement in (even just a few inches) you instantly warm up a space and create flow.

8) Use recessed lighting sparingly.  Too many fixtures turn your ceiling into Swiss Cheese!

9) Don't install carpet wall-to-wall in a narrow hall or on a narrow staircase.  Instead, install the carpet as a runner and leave at least a 3" border on both sides to make the space seem wider.

10) I have a lot of dogs, so I take the same fabric that's on the sofat and make a blanket that covers almost it's entire length.  This way my dogs can lounge on the sofa and I just take it off when I have guests.

11) In lamps with two sockets, I like to use one pink bulb and one white bulb.

12) I typically suggest an island 5' wide by 8' long.  You don't want it to look like an aircraft carrier.  And when cleaning up you want to be able to reach across it effortlessly.

13) Best dog-proof floor covering: Cowhide.  Cannot beat it, cannot hurt it.

14) Throughout the house:  Use carnations (the iceberg lettuce of the floral world) in great quantities and with abandon. Like iceberg, they last forever, they're available everywhere, all the time, and they're cheap.  A word of caution - don't mix colors, and do not use those terrible ferns that always seem to be included!

15) Request unlacquered hardware whenever you can.  Most of the big companies are offering it now, and the subtle bit of patina adds so much warmth to your house.  Even if you never polis it, it will look just fine.

16)  When ordering fabric, add two yards to the final order.  You never want to be stuck with a ruined cushion and a discontinued fabric on a piece of upholstery.  Call it insurance against a rainy-red-wine-day.

17) If you love a fabric but is seems to strong, check the reverse side- it may just do the trick.

18) Install your doorknobs at 34", a bit lower than the usual 36" - it breaks up the doors into a prettier, more relaxed proportion.

19)  Make sure you display everything in your collection together.

20) Displaying any collection small or large, calls for ruthless editing.  Always ask yourself, 'Do I love it, does it enhance my life, and can I live without it?'  Restraint calms the eye and gives everything a sense of purpose.

21) Every room needs a touch of black, just as it needs at least one antique piece.

22) The perfect wall color is seldom the prettiest shade on the fan deck.  Give that slightly drab stepsister shade a go - it will be far more interesting.

23) You never want to match your walls to a color in one of fabric.  It will be too strong.  Find a grayed - out version of the color.

24) I get bored without color in a room.  Interesting, strong, clear colors are easier to live with in the long run than pale colors.  People always think it's the opposite, but in actuality soft colors get boring much quicker.

25)  You do adjustable, horizontal glass shelves for shoe closets.  Slanted shelves take up 25 percent more space, and glass is easily cleaned.  Line up your shoes so that the right and left shoes of each pair alternate to and heel.  This way you can quickly see which heals and toes need freshening, and you will also have a quick reference for heel heights and toe shapes when you are picking out shoes in a rush.

26) A good paint formula for ceilings is the trim color plus 50% white.

27) Instead of a towel bar, mount 5 robe hooks 68" high for towels and robes.

28) I recommend a height of 36" for a bathroom vanity instead of the standard 30".  It's much more ergonomic and more comfortable all around.

29) Never use a sconce over a mirror in the bathroom - it will cast unflattering shadows across the face. Sconces that flank the mirror will give a more realistic and flattering light.

30) Always use white linens and towels. Never cross the line- always use white.  They're bleachable and they send a message of cleanliness, refinement, and order.

31) Do not, DO NOT use colored sheers in your home - particularly those that are pea green.

32) Float something in the room - a sofa, a lounge chair - to avoid the 'dance hall' look.  Think of it as an opportunity to show off the back (do something with the back).

33) The ideal height to hang your flat-screen TV is at eye level when you're in viewing position.  The ideal viewing distance is 1 1/2 times the size of your flat screen.

34) The perfect amount of space between a mirror and the top of a mantel is 7".

35) When framing artwork that requires a mat, specify a mat with 8-ply tickness - the increased depth of the resulting bevel can make anything look important.

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