Saturday, May 14, 2011

Learning how to “read” your room

A number of steps can be taken to control or r...Image via Wikipedia
Learning how to “read” your room
Every room has hints and clues as to how to furnish and decorate it, even open floor plans have to be addressed wall by wall, window by window, and from floor to ceiling. Knowing how to "read" your room is the key to creating a room that has that “good” feeling, as opposed to one no one ever wants to be in. So how do we "read" the room? By simply paying attention to the characteristics of the bare room, aside from built ins and furniture. Every room has strong points, weak points, can be cooler or warmer than other parts of the house, or be exposed to more or less light. By assessing what those strong and weak points are, you can address and correct what those things are to get the best look for the space possible.

Floors, Ceilings, and Walls
Part of reading a room involves looking at every surface to address size, scale, and light exposure, for instance, walls must be addressed in  light exposure, window placement, height, and length. Big wall, bigger furniture, larger artwork, medium walls smaller and so on. Nothing gets lost in its appeal like a large wall with the wrong size artwork and furniture flanking it. When we use properly scaled decor and furniture with the spaces and surfaces that are a backdrop, we create symmetry and visually balanced compositions. Windows that are off center on a wall can be a particular challenge as well. In some cases creating a "faux" window complete with matching drapes helps balance the look in the room that has an off center window. Dark rooms will benefit from painting surfaces in satin or semi  gloss paints. In some instances a wall opposite of light sources painted in reflective satin paint will help with adding additional light into a room. Painting smooth ceilings in a reflective paint will definitely improve the amount of light as well. Flooring in dark rooms should also be lighter and if possible consider the reflective qualities of hardwoods that have a high polish. Flooring should be noticed as well. Rooms that do not have carpeting such as tiled, or hardwood will make sound reverberate. If you have a family consider lose laying carpeting, or using area rugs to cut down on sound echoes, (especially with children). Homes with small children should generally have plenty of soft flooring to account for the falls children may have. This is  especially true for babies and toddlers. In making your choice factor in light exposure, the natural temperature of the room whether it is a little cooler or warmer than other rooms of the house, and who will use this room and how often. A room that tends to be a little cooler than other rooms might benefit more from carpeting or warm tones of hardwood flooring. Tiles tend to be cold to the touch and unless additional radiant heating is installed prior to installation, tiles will make a cool room feel cooler. 

Windows always have to also be addressed in a room because they play such  a pivotal part in the light and aesthetic beauty, but they also play a part economically as well. A family room flooded with natural light may not be the best room for placing the big screen tv. or furniture that has fabric directly exposed to the sunlight that pours through. Sunlight bleaches and fades fabric and this can cause fabric to eventually tear and weaken. If you are having custom pieces make for a room that has a lot of windows and sunlight consider choosing fabrics manufactured by Sunbrella, et al. to cover them. Indoor/outdoor furniture fabrics come in a wide variety of styles and patterns today.  Take extra precaution to add the right window treatments here as rooms with many windows are naturally warmer and have to have extra efforts made to keep them comfortable. Remember as well that light filled rooms tend to fade  carpeting so be sure to pick flooring that can stand up to years of sunlight exposure. Rooms with little natural light have to be dealt with in a different way. Single sources of light, such as one window or door have to be emphasized and capitalized on. Ways to do this include adding mirrors opposite of the door or window to reflect light back into the room. A mirror often can  function as  a second window in a dark room. Sheers are not only transparent window dressings, but they also many times are made from man made fibers that are reflective. 

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Questions from my readers: Where did I go wrong with my grey room?

grey-bathroom2Image by dawnella66 via Flickr

Dear Dawn,
of all I really enjoyed your blog on interior decorating. Here is my question. I read your article about "grey" being the new "beige" and thought it'd be a great color for my bedroom. So I went and painted it "grey". Now it looks blah and sort of "institutional". Where did I go wrong?
Thanks for your help,

Dear Bethany,
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my articles on interior decorating. First let me say that while "grey" is currently a popular neutral, it is just like every other neutral, a little bland on its own. Its really the accent colors that make or break a neutral in the home. Grey is a nice soft color but to make it come alive it needs a few lively friends in the room. There are a few accent colors that naturally look great with grey. Those colors are chocolate brown, black, and bright white. These all compliment grey very well and look best as trim, wood finishes and furnishings and decorative accents.
First, lets take a look at trim, although your trim work in the room is white or light colored, it probably could use a fresh coat of white. I'd go with a satin or even a high gloss bright white. Next family photos and artwork on the walls look great if they are framed out in black or chocolate colored contemporary frames. You'd be surprised how sharp these contrasting colors look with grey. Great choices for metal accents is Pewter, or brushed Nickel or Oil rubbed Bronze. By adding bold and bright contrasts to your newly painted grey room you will see a room transformed into a posh, sleek and anything but "institutional" design.  For more information please see: Grey, the new Beige in home decor, Good luck!


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