Friday, April 10, 2009

Decorating for Real Life

~ Company Girls, please skip to the previous post for my coffee for today. ~

As I mentioned in a past post, iLearn, I participated in a free online course called "Decorating for Real Life", hosted by iVillage. I thought I'd share some of the highlights of what I learned. Here are my notes:

* The trick is to keep a room at the level of fullness or emptiness that makes you happy.

* Make sure things are not in the wrong place and therefore never being used, e.g., an ottoman miles from any chair or a comfy chair with no reading light near it.

* Keep in mind that light affects just about everything in decorating, including color. Take color swatches home and look at them in the light of the room you're decorating before purchasing paint.

* Small rooms that you pass through quickly - like entries, foyers, and bathrooms - can handle brighter and bolder colors than other rooms.

* White won't make a sunless room look brighter. Instead it will make it look dingier, because white reflects its surroundings. Small and dark will get smaller and darker with white walls.

* Dark ceilings make a room look shorter. Light ceilings make a room look taller.

* Suggestions for wallpaper:

a) paper the back wall of a niche

b) paper the back panel of bookshelves

c) paper the ceiling and paint the walls a color in the paper
d) paper the wall only above chair-rail height, and use paint below
e) create tall, rectangular panels on the wall with picture molding and paper inside the panels

* When choosing window treatments, first determine what function or combination of functions you want the window treatment to accomplish:
a) partial privacy

b) complete privacy

c) filtering sunlight

d) blocking sunlight

e) admitting as much light as possible

f) framing a good view
g) blocking an unattractive view
h) turning a window into a focal point

i) making a window look taller or larger
j) making a low ceiling appear higher

* Furniture's style is usually determined by height and heft. Height is how tall the item is, heft is its visual weight (largely determined by its width, but especially by the thickness of its arms and legs). Heights and hefts of pieces in the same room should be similar.

* Furniture that is lower to the ground gives a more casual feel.

* Heavyweight fabrics and elaborate patterns generally look better on chunkier,
more elaborate pieces of furniture, while small patterns look better on smaller, slimmer pieces - with the exception of narrow stripes, which go with everything.

The course was written by Sarah McNamara, so all kudos go to her for this great advice.


  1. Those are some good tips! I'll have to keep some of tha tin mind, especially about the painting, because I'm trying to decide where and what color right now.

  2. I love the tips! Thanks for sharing! Decorating is such a personal thing isn't it, I've finally allowed myself at 44 to start truly allowing my space to reflect me, not some definition of what I should be, but what gives me simple joy upon entering!