Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Furniture Placement Guidelines

Now that we are progressing well into the field of decorating, and have a solid grasp on getting a design brief, brainstorming for a style, using color well, making fabrics work for you and what to look for in home finishes, we will look at how to place the furniture into you cleverly decorated room. The furniture placement will further enhance all your good work you have done so far.

I will show you how to place your furniture by telling you what not to do!!

The most common error in furniture placement is to place all the
pieces around the walls, thinking that it will make the room look
larger. Unfortunately this theory is incorrect, and it does exactly
the opposite, it makes the room feel smaller and is less usable.

The next error is to group all the furniture around a focal piece, half right, except it is the television! Neglecting other features like a fireplace or a spectacular view.

A popular error for hoarders is to have so much furniture that they
have to stuff it all into one space, less is best when it comes to design, we don't want to go back to the Victorian style of decorating.

This isn't really a placement error, rather a purchasing, make sure
that the furniture is in proportion to the size of a room. A huge chunky sofa may be comfy, but if is the only thing that fits into the room, then it definitely is not in proportion. The same can be said for the heights of furniture, if you have a high stud then the space will look bigger automatically and you can have taller and more solid furniture. The other area here is that a large sofa and a small spindly side table will also look out of proportion, so think about how furniture will work together when you are purchasing or deciding which furniture to keep in your room if you are a hoarder!

So how do we go about making these spaces work?

Small Steps

Decide what you are going to do in the space, ie read, watch tv, sleep, exercise, relax, converse, play.

Then work out what you need to achieve these tasks. (do this for every room) For example the living room - the most difficult as it has to be very flexible to accommodate a whole family. You will need to allow furniture for watching TV - sofas, chairs and coffee table or side tables (to hold the remote controls obviously!), chairs, playing computer games - desk, office chairs, reading quietly - armchair with accompanying side table and lamp, play are for the small children - bean bags, cushions, toy chest, bookshelf. Do you start to see what we are trying to achieve?

Next step - if you can draught, you can plan out on paper how you
are going to fit all this furniture in, remembering to look at where people come and go from the room, you don't want them walking in front of the television every time they need to leave the room, orientate the furniture in another direction. If you can't draught, don't worry, good old graph paper will do, measure the size of the room, layout out the overall space on the paper, then measure the furniture and on another piece of graph paper, measure and draw using the graph paper to help you, a rough shape of the furniture, then cut them out and you can start placing them in the room. This is much easier than literally pushing the furniture around the room yourself. This way you can explore the numerous options until you feel that the space works.

Some tips:

Group sofas, chairs parallel to each other if you are wanting people to converse, in general keep you furniture parallel to the walls, this is the most pleasing on the eye. You can get away with angling a chair in a corner but apart from that parallel to the walls is best.

Define a specific area with a change in floor coverings, ie a rug under a dinging table, under a sofa and chairs, or as a way to protect your carpet and define where the children play in an area.

Keep all your electrical equipment in one area, TVs, Stereo, Video,
DVD etc, this way it reduces the cables lying around on the floor,
if possible use an entertainment unit and it can also store all your cds, dvds and videos out of sight, this makes a huge difference in a living room. If you are able, get your speakers wired into the walls and ceiling, this way you won't have to see them on the walls or on the floor.

Think about how you want to create the mood in the room, lighting
is where I'm going here. It is great to have your general lighting from the light switch, but to create different moods and effects, don't overlook the power of lamps, there are so many types available now that there is no excuse not to be able to find some to suit your scheme, some are sculptural, some are slim and almost invisible, others have the traditional lamp base and shade.

What they all do is create an extra zing to the room, and this will
show off all the hard work you have done.

Where do you place them? Tall up light lamps look best in corners as
they make the room look larger, small lamps work best on side tables next to chairs or sofas, as they provide light for you to read or do handiwork with, sculptural lamps can become a focal point, so they can go anywhere.

Focal points, I think I have overlooked explaining this and it is very important for furniture placement. Every room should have a focal point, this is how we succeed in decorating and design. We have something attractive that immediately draws the eye into the room and makes you want to be there. Some people are lucky and have an ever changing view from a window that does this naturally, but most of us have to work at it.

The most common ways to achieve a focal point is with the use of a
piece of artwork be it sculptural or a painting. Other ways include
a large decorative mirror, a fireplace, using a change in wall color with a feature wall, using a change in texture with a wallpaper or fabric to draw your eye. Sometimes a piece of furniture or a rug can be a focal point, but they aren't usually as obvious because you eye has to look down to see these, the best place for a focal point is at eye level. Don't forget to highlight the focal point with lighting.

Use these guidelines to work with the other rooms in the house.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How To Save Money On Your Home Remodeling Supplies

You've got a budget, and you've got a plan for your home remodeling project. What about your home remodeling supplies. Where are you going to get them? How much will they cost. What's the best way to purchase home remodeling supplies. Home remodeling supply can make or break your planed remodeling budget. Here are a few tips to make things a little easier for you:

Research Your Requirements

Before you start the home remodeling project do your research on everything you will need and want and most importantly the source from where you will get the needed supply. There are so many options, and contrary to what you might think, the "big box" stores aren't always the best.

Now, depending on the remodeling you have in mind, if it is a big job and you are planning to hire an architect, interior decorator or builder; or if it is a relatively small job and you will be doing it yourself, you will need supplies.

If you hire a contactor you need to specify clearly who will get the home remodeling supply. Sometimes contractors will supply the materials and if that is the case you also need to go through the cost and the type of supply that will be used. Specify everything clearly in detail; failing to do so will came back later to bite you when faced with supply quality or quantity issues. This will further bring additional costs, frustration and stress.

If you are in charge of providing the home remodeling supply you still have a lot of work to do; before you go to the store make a list with exactly what to need for each project. There are two reasons for this:

1. You will save money buying in bulk
2. You will save time not having to run two times for the same materials.

Planning Home Remodeling Supply

Planning is perhaps your most critical step. Without a good plan, you're doomed to pay far more than you can imagine. Take time to draw out a great plan. In construction, they'll figure that the planning process can take months, and (hopefully) they won't start until the plan is complete. A poor plan spells financial disaster every time.

Draw a plan with all details and material needed. Research online the availability of these supplies and the packages for the same. You will find that by doing your homework in the long run it will be rewarding.

When you have a good idea of what supplies you require for each project it will be hard for any contractor to trick you into getting poor quality material at high costs or even for any salesman to suggest what he/she wants to get rid of from the store.

Home remodeling supply will prove to save you a bunch of money in the end and still get the remodeling you dreamed of but, at the right cost and in the budget you had planned.

With a good plan and time for research, you can sometimes find great deals. On a recent bathroom remodel, for example, we found the perfect cabinet in a recycle center. It was brand new and in perfect condition. The contractor donated it because it didn't fit his client's project. Look around. Take your time. You'll be happier in the end.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What to Look for in Home

It is important to have an understanding of what interior finishes
are, what they are used for, when and where to use them and why.
The why is important, as you must always be able to justify WHY you
have selected a finish or a product to use. Because "I like the
look of it" is not enough. This is the part of Interior Decoration
that we get accessed on, as it is what people "see." It is a
complex process of continual questions that we need to ask to
ensure that the product will do what we expect of it.

The best way to gain knowledge of these products is by assessing
supplier and manufacturer's information and specifications. They
freely distribute these and some are happy to provide samples so
that you can physically compare different products. Be careful when
checking for flame resistance. I once naively put a match to a
small swatch of fabric to see if it could withstand flame. A split
second later I had a hot black gooey melted fabric over my finger.
It hurt and I came to the conclusion that the fabric was not what I
was looking for and it wasn't specified for the project. It pays to
read the back of the label for the properties and used their tried
and tested information.

Selecting products or finishes, as discussed requires accessing
their performance capabilities. The following items should be

Economic and budgetary issues. Does the budget allow for the
initial purchase cost of the material as well as the installation?

Does the product require long-term maintenance, which may impact on the weekly household budget?

Durability considerations. Will the product withstand daily wear
and tear -water spillage, foot traffic, pets, and children with
artistic flair, furniture movement? Is the product able to be
easily maintained? Is it easily broken, or scratched, prone to
changing temperatures?

Safety issues. Is it slippery when wet (flooring)? Is it a fire
hazard? Does it have hard or sharp edges? Does it provide a surface for glare? I.e. is it highly polished and reflective. Is the
product dull and dark and impede vision without the lights on?

Comfort and Aesthetic considerations. Does it look great? Does it fit in with your scheme, texturally, color wise, patterned items? Does it meet the acoustic and thermal insulation requirements of the local building authority? Do the tactile properties live up to the look? I.e. is it soft to touch, silky to run your fingers over, or cool underfoot?

Keeping all these items in mind, start visiting interior stores to
have your interior finishes and product knowledge increased. A way
to remember the product and its properties and functions is to
consider where you would put it and why, it helps to keep a
notebook of these observations until you become confident with
interior products and finishes available.

Always ask lots of questions to the sales staff, especially when
you are considering wet areas, or areas where humidity can be a
factor, for example cork is a wonderful flooring product, it is
warm underfoot, a natural product, economically priced, saves
glasses and crockery from breaking when dropped (most times), but
it is prone to damage with water. It is sealed with polyurethane,
but often moisture can get in around the edges and the tiles start
to lift off the floor and it really does look messy and is
dangerous, the conclusion there is, best not to use them in the
bathroom, kitchen or entrance ways.

Once again the finishes that you select come down to getting a good
clear brief of what you are going to be using the rooms or spaces
for, the style that you are trying to achieve, the color and
texture that fits these parameters and then obtaining the product
for the right cost to suit your budget.

Don't forget to touch and feel all the products, make sure they are
the best quality that you can afford, ensure that they will last to
your expectations, and of course the most obvious, that they look

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making Fabrics Work for You

Color, as we have learned is an important factor in interior decorating, added with fabric we start to create a stylish interior.

Fabrics have many uses, some are purely aesthetic, while others are
truly functional.

Curtains are a functional use for fabric. Using Drapery as a window
treatment reduces draughts, keeps the heat in the room (insulates
the window), reduces noise in a room as well as the obvious good
looks of curtain drapery in a space.

Fabric is also used for upholstery on chairs and sofas. This is not
only functional but has the added value of comfort, especially when
seated, it also feels warm and looks inviting.

Fabric can be used to create the style of an interior. I say
English country cottage, and what do you immediately think of?
Chintz, roses, soft pinks and greens, and creams. Fabric can
independently create a style. 1970's? Bold geometric designs,
with lime green, browns, orange and teal. Scottish? Tartan, checks,
heavy wools. Nautical? Canvas, blue and white stripe. Asian? Red,
Silk. You see what I mean.

How to Use Fabrics for Window Treatments

The art to using fabrics well for window treatment is to look at
them through half closed eyes, this way you will see the changes in
tone and the texture and the highlights of the material. It is also
important to hold it up upright and see how it drapes, look at the
weight, too heavy can bog down a window, too light and it can look
whimsical. Can you see through it? What is the type of weave? Is
the fabric suitable for drapery? Is it color fast or will it fade
quickly? Synthetic fabrics tend to have better fade resistance and
are not prone to breakdown in the sun like natural fiber fabrics
such as silk, linen and wool.

Look at the pattern, are you going to be able to see it when it has been made into curtains or will you lose the effect? Having large patterns at the windows will enclose the room, ensure that the room is large enough to handle the scale of the pattern. The same thing goes with patterns that are very small, they can look out of proportion in a large room.

If you want to create a monochromatic color scheme and you require drapery, use a fabric one or two tones darker or lighter than the wall color, this provides a break and a small amount of contrast for a
monochromatic scheme. It is best to have some sort of texture when
doing this style of scheme otherwise the room can look flat.

Choose carefully the type of heading you will use for drapes as this will effect how the fabric hangs and how the pattern is viewed or lost!
Sheers create a soft and romantic look at a window in contrast to
velvet which exudes heavy luxury and warmth.

How to Use Fabrics for Upholstery
This is an area where the inexperienced can be caught out.
Upholstery fabrics have quite different properties to drapery
fabrics. Occasionally some can be used for both purposes,
but generally not. Upholstery takes a lot of wear and tear from us.

There is a lot of abrasion from us sitting on the upholstery of a
chair or sofa, especially when we wear jeans that have the little
metal tags on the pockets.

Here it is important that you look for a Martindale rub test or Weizenbeck test (I explain this in my soft furnishings ebook) to see how the fabric will stand up to wear. This is often printed on the fabric swatch where the properties are listed. If it is not there then ask the seller of the product.

Upholstering items of furniture is an expensive business, you do not want to do it more than is necessary, so make sure you check out the properties of the fabric before you decide to put it on you chair, sofa or footstool. Obviously you can get away with lower grade upholstery fabric on occasional chairs, but items that are in frequent use need a good quality fabric. Good fabrics for upholstery are wools, some wool blends, Dralon, leather and vinyl.

How to Use Fabrics to Accessorize

This is the fun part of fabric. You can use fabric to accessorize,
to brighten up a tired color scheme, or add some seasonal color to
a room. Cushions are the most popular. We have gone through a phase of fur, animal prints, silk and beads, sheer overlays, quilted, buttoned, in fact, cushion fashions change so quickly that I dare write about them for fear of being out of date! Any way, they are a great way to add color and texture to a room. You can use the same fabric on tie backs, or throws to balance the look. You can use the same fabric as the curtains but in a different colorway, to add a new dimension to the room, remembering to use these patterns more than once in a room for a good visual appeal.
Or you can pick out a color from the drapes and use that as your accent. The most important thing to remember is that you are using fabric to add texture and softness to a room, it also adds color and creativity to the scheme as well as enhancing the style that you have created.

Finally a really good reason to use fabric in a room is that it absorbs sound. This means that your living room won't echo when you turn on the stereo if you have soft furnishing in the room. Don't believe me? Then stand in the bathroom, usually a room without soft furnishings, remove any towels etc. and turn on a radio. Then put some towels back and a bath mat and turn it on again. Notice the difference? (This works best in a room with hard surfaces, ie tiles, timber floor, stone floor etc).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Use Color Well

How to Use Color Well.

  1. Always choose one color to start your scheme. That color can come from an existing piece of artwork, a rug, existing upholstery fabric, or a silk flower arrangement. if you are decorating from plans or blue prints then it is often best to start planning color from the floor up.

  2. Decide what type of look and or color scheme. (Use your last lesson how to brain storm your style ideas and visit how to use the color wheel as tools for this selection).

  3. Then start "layering" your color using your selected color scheme, start with the largest areas, floor, walls and ceiling.

  4. Slowly bring in other large pieces, furniture, chairs, etc. Remembering to balance the room. Don't group all the same color in one area, "sprinkle" it so that it is easy on your eye.

  5. Using patterns is often a hurdle for some people so they just don't bother, and the color scheme lacks interest. We need to make our schemes look alive by using either pattern and / or texture. For more help with these areas pattern and texture.

  6. Think in three dimensions when you plan your color, dark curtains will enclose a room, a similar tone to the walls will keep the space looking open for example. A dark color for the floor will essentially "ground" your scheme. To create a cosy intimate feeling use warm dark colors, to create light and airy the opposite, pale and fresh, cool colors will open up a room, and it will feel cool. A dark colored ceiling will lower the height of a room, and the opposite if you use white. Color can be used to reshape your room, for example you have a rectangular room, you can make it look more like a square if you paint the two shortest walls a darker color than the longer walls, this will make them appear to advance, and make the room feel more balanced.

  7. Test your color scheme - get "test" or "sample" pots of paint and paint large pieces of card or board. Put them in your room or order a large sample of wallpaper or large piece of fabric. Leave these items in the area that you wish to decorate and look at how they change at different times of the day, due to different lighting situations. The will look dramatically different, this is when you need to decide when the room will be used the most and what color looks best in that light!

  8. Ensure that the room or area that you are working in coordinates or is in harmony with the rest of the house. There is nothing worse than a disjointed color scheme with rooms colored hap haphazardly, it is very unsettling for a designer, an just plain unsettling for the general population!

  9. If you are looking to choose colors that are in vogue now, your local paint store will be able to help, paint companies keep on top of fashion colors and produce ranges of colors to suit, but if you don't have any luck there then try the fabric stores, they have new ranges of colors for every season. The other place is of course up to date home and garden or interior decorating magazines.

  10. Make sure the room has enough light to do your color scheme justice. A very poorly lit room will never look go no matter what you do. Lighting is the interior designer and decorators secret weapon, (and I almost forgot to tell you!)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bathroom Design Ideas The Average Mom Would Like To See In Their Own Bathrooms

Attention to all you bathroom design specialists. If you really want to please all the moms when it comes to their bathrooms then get busy designing and marketing these wonderful ideas. As mom's we don't ask for a lot but a few of these suggestions could go a long way in keeping our happy families happy.

Okay when it comes to mirrors I don't see why they can't make them tooth paste repellent. It seems like every morning and night when I go look in the bathroom mirror I see little specks of toothpaste. I am sure it would be much easier to design mirrors like this rather than to teach my family to brush their teeth with their mouth closed, or heaven forbid wipe off the toothpaste when they are done.

How about a water rail you can flip up on the tub when a toddler or younger child is playing in the tub. Lots of children like to play in the bath tub and some fill up containers of water to set on the edge (that sometimes get knocked over onto the floor). If you had a waterproof rail you could flip up it could keep all the toys, water, and waves in the tub and make things much simpler.

Now this one will be tougher to design, and maybe it is something that needs to be taught in school, I know I have had more success teaching new math, world history, and physics than I have in teaching my family how to consistently change the toilet paper roll when it is empty. But if a design could be invented to help make this happen in homes with children that would be an amazing invention. Maybe a buzzer should go off when it is empty and the doors automatically lock. The only way the buzzer stops or the door unlocks is when the old roll has been replaced with a new one. I don't know, this is one for the experts.

The last bathroom design ideas is the biggee. If inventors can invent vehicles that sense when something is getting to close when you are backing up and they can invent moisture sensing windshield wipers I see no reason why those two technologies cannot be combined into making a smart toilet. Can't all you mothers imagine how much more pleasant cleaning the bathroom would be if your toilet was equipped with those two technologies? If this ever becomes a mainstay in bathroom plumbing you can bet it will be a mom that invents it!