Some decorating Rules of Thumb

As an Interior Decorator, I see a lot of homes…A LOT…and I am continually amazed by what I see, and not in a good way. Too often I am left in awe wondering to myself “what were they thinking” or “who thought that was a good idea”.

The biggest single complaint people have about their homes is that there is no flow and the place feels disjointed, it doesn’t feel cozy or relaxed.

Sooooo, here are some general rules to follow that will help you achieve a coherent look to your home and create a relaxed, inviting space.

1. Artwork.

Boy, is this a struggle for most people. I see artwork that is hung too high, hung too low, too big for the wall, too small for the sofa, every single inch of wall covered by something. Frankly, what I see more often than not is an absolute mess. It’s as if the artwork is hung by new owners on nails left there by previous owners.

So keep these tips in mind. Hang all your art (and mirrors) 60″ from the floor to the centre of the piece. This will ensure that all your artwork is at a comfortable viewing level for most people and that there is a consistency and a flow.

If you’re hanging a piece over your sofa, make sure it’s width is about 2/3 of the width of the sofa. Your 8 X 10 graduation diploma does not go over the sofa, no matter how proud of it you are. It’s simply too small. Hang art at about 10″ above the sofa (or other furniture piece).

Choose one piece for each wall as a focal point and don’t hang multiple pieces together unless they are part of a grouping. If you are doing a grouping, the centre of the group should be 60″ above the floor. If you have a long wall, use one piece of art and perhaps a mirror. You don’t want your art competing for attention.







2. Rugs

Most people have area rugs that are waaaaaaaaaay too small. An area rug is to anchor and define a space (i.e.) living area, dining area. In the living area, the rug is not supposed to fit just under your coffee table. At least the front legs of the sofa should be on the rug and opposite that, if there are chairs, their front legs should be on the rug. Ideally an area rug should  end up about 18″ away from the walls. When this isn’t feasible, then follow the previous rule.

If you are putting a rug in your dining area, the rug should be 24″ larger than the table. This will ensure that the chairs stay on the rug when they are pulled out.







3. Patterns

Don’t mix too many patterns too close together. A checkered sofa mixed with with paisley cushions and poka-dot draperies is just confusing and can actually make you feel agitated (or maybe just me).

If you have a solid sofa and draperies, you can go with a patterned rug and cushions. Conversley, if your sofa has a bold pattern, go with a solid rug and draperies. You might be able to get away with a subtle stripe, but that’s as far as I would go.

4. Lighting

I do a lot of condos and you would not believe the amount of track lighting I see. Perhaps, it’s because track lighting is a fairly contemporary look which bodes well for condos. Track lighting is far too directional to provide overall illumination for a room. Track lighting works well as task lighting (over a counter or cook top) or to highlight a piece of art, but for general lighting, it just doesn’t work AND if you happen to look up at it, you will be temporarilly blinded.

For general illumination choose a flush or semi-flush ceiling fixture, then add some table lamps or a floor lamp for mood lighting and a small lamp as accent lighting. Rooms should have multiple light sources.

In the dining area, the chandelier should hang 30″ above the table for average ceiling heights and 36″ for 9 or 10 foot ceilings.  This ensures that the 2/3 rule is followed (the chandelier will be 2/3 above the floor).







So there you have it. Four simple rules that will reduce your stress (and mine) and help you achieve a cohesive look in your home, creating a relaxed, inviting environment.

Next time, a few rules to follow when it comes to trim work and paint.

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