April 5, 2011

The Basics

Their are basic rules when it comes to design and decorating. Some rules cover function, while other rules help to make things look just right. Some of these rules come naturally to certain people, while others are completely lost and just sort of go with it.

In an effort to help some of you decorating-challenged folks, here are some of the rules that work with any decorating style and budget...

Color Wheel:
First, and most important: know the color wheel.
Now, the color wheel in itself comes with its own set of rules. The most important rule to know about the color wheel is how to find complimentary colors, which are the colors directly opposite one another (example red and green are complimentary, as are violet and yellow). Check out this helpful article for other ways to find multiple colors that go well together. 

Neutrals:
Use neutrals. These include any shade of black, white, grey and I also consider brown a neutral. Neutrals are great if you are afraid of a permanent decision. So, go ahead, add some dark aubergine or hot pink in a room, but make sure to include a few neutrals as well. As a back drop such as a wall color, neutrals will help your accent colors stand out. A great tip is to always have a few black items in a room. I read an article once that stated that each room should have at least three black items in it. It helps to ground the room and adds dimension. 

Hanging items on walls:
This one is difficult for those to whom it does not come naturally. Here is a tip: before making holes all over the wall, consider the functionality of a room. If it is a living room or dining room, where you will most often be sitting, you should be able to see art work comfortably while seated (meaning you should not have to lift your head, or lower it to admire the art work):
While art work in a hallway, where you will mostly be walking by or standing, should be more at the height of the average persons eye level (between 5 and 5.5 feet) as you would do in a real art gallery:
 

Most importantly, art work should never be hung super high, leaving a huge gap between the last highest point, like this:
Just a few inches lower would have felt just right...

A recent trend in wall galleries is filling an entire space with different shapes, sizes and types of art work and photos, like this:
In this case, the trick is balance, balance, balance... This wall gallery is from one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, who explain how they determined the placement in this post. The best thing about this kind of placement is that, as long as it feels and looks balanced, you can use any mix of frames, art, photos, items, etc. As long as you are happy with the finished look, it does not matter what is included in the gallery! 

Know your style:
Although mixing and matching different styles can be fun and eclectic, it is also difficult to achieve. Know your style and embrace your style. Homes flow better when the style throughout is consistent from one room to the next. I don't mean that you need your entire house to match, but it shouldn't clash completely either. [I always kind of wondered when watching shows like Trading Spaces back in the day, and the style of the new room was absolutely nothing like the rest of the home... Did they really keep it after the show was done?] 

Three of a kind:
When making galleries or grouping items, three is always better than two or one, or five for that matter. Example: a small ceramic animal collection on display will look better and more balanced if the items are grouped by three. Even if you have several on a shelf, try placing three closer together on one side, and then three together on the other side. It will look more intentional and organized than if you just line them all up like a bunch of soldiers. 

Rug placement:
When placing rugs in a room, there are certain rules that will help you determine how best to place the rug. A well situated rug will help the room feel balanced and grounded. It can also define the area in an open-concept floor plan. Example: in a living room area. I say that you have three options:

1) your rug should be centered in the middle of the room, without touching any furniture (except maybe a coffee table); this would be the case if you get a smaller rug, like 5' x 8';
2) the front legs only of all the larger pieces of furniture (say the sofa, the loveseat and the chair, but not the entertainment unit) should all be on the rug, but not the back legs;
3) all the legs should be on the rug.

Those are some of the basics that I think any DIY-decorator needs to know.

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