Category Archives: Interior Decorating

Feng Shui 101 -Three Ways Your Home Affects Your Health

Your home directly influences your health. Like vitamins, annual exams, and exercise, a home has a significant impact on your health. Addressing the following three attributes of a home can act as insurance against ill-health.

1- Too much clutter. Clutter creates a blockage which restricts the flow of energy in your home. Clutter is life-deadening rather than life-affirming.  It inhibits your ability to feel vibrancy in your life. Like “too much clutter in your head,” too much clutter in your home weighs you down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Clutter comes in many forms – too much furniture, accessories, paperwork, and clothes. 

The solution?  Clear the clutter!  Take to a thrift-store, give away, donate, dispose, or re-purpose.

2- Inadequate natural light in your environment.  The quality of light affects the quality of life you feel in your home.  When a space is dark, it creates Yin energy. Yin energy translates into quietness, constriction, and lack of movement. (Its opposite is yang energy which creates movement). If your home is too dark you may suffer from a lack of energy and/or motivation to engage with the world.

The solution? Open your drapes and/or blinds, install a skylight or a French door, place mirrors in dark corners facing windows to reflect light, paint walls in soft white or yellow, remove outside screens, and ensure you have enough man-made lighting in each room.

3. Lack of a balance of colors in your home.  Having too much of one or two colors creates imbalance. When energy is imbalanced, you can feel the results both immediately and long-term. Short term, you may feel irritation. Long term, irritation can develop into disease.  A balance of colors and shapes will create Soul, the key to feeling comfortable in a space.  And when you feel comfortable, you are naturally more relaxed and focused.

The solution to bringing balance in a space is to ensure there’s a variety of colors and shapes. (You may not realize it but shapes, like colors, transmit energy.  For example, a triangular shape creates a vibrant, fire energy and a square shape creates a more grounded, earth energy).

You can paint the entire space just one color as long as you balance it with by adding color in other ways. Think of how you’d feel in a beige and white space and then how you’d feel in a beige, white, green, and red space. Odds are you feel more comfortable when imagining a space with a variety of color. To create a space which supports health, use a moderate amount of fire colors such as red, orange, terracotta, or pink in your color palette.

The one key to maintaining good health through your home, is creating Balance!

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Interior Decorating 101 – Using the Color Wheel

The color wheel is a terrific way to understand the relationships between colors.  You can use it as your guide for selecting color schemes for your home.  And it can give you inspiration for you next room makeover. 

There are 12 colors in a standard color wheel.  They are divided into three designations – primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Primary Colors: red, blue and yellow. 

Secondary Colors: these are combinations of two primary colors – orange (red+yellow), green (yellow + blue) and violet (blue + red). 

Tertiary Colors: These colors are a combination of a primary and a secondary color; such as red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, and red-violet.

Color Intensity describes the brightness or dullness of a color.  Color Value refers to a color’s lightness or darkness.  Tint is what you do if you add white to a color.  Shade is what you do if you add black to a color. 

Warm colors are oranges, reds, and yellows.  These colors create intimate, cozy rooms.  They make a space feel condensed so use them thoughtfully in small rooms. 

Cool colors are greens, blues, and violets.  These colors are soothing and create a feeling of expansiveness.  They’ll make a room feel larger. 

Color Schemes

Color schemes are based on the color wheel.  These four color schemes provide guidelines for selecting colors for a room.  Using these guidelines helps you have a cohesive, pulled-together look.

Monochromatic: Just one color, but add tinting or shading to that color to create different versions of the color in the room and using neutrals (black and white) to add contrast. 

Complementary: Two colors that are opposite on the color wheel.  For example, red and green.   

Analogous: Using adjacent colors on the color wheel.  For example, red, yellow and green. 

Triad: Using three equally-spaced colors from the color wheel.  Pick one dominant color, a secondary color, and then an accent color.  For example:  blue-violet, yellow-green, and red-orange. 

Using the color wheel helps take stress out of making color selections.  And finding photos in magazines of colors that make you smile is another good tool to make your color selections.  Once you paint the walls the rest of the design of the room will start coming together based on the feeling you’ve created by your selection of wall-color.  You can take it step-by-step and change your mind along the way if things don’t feel right to you.  Trust your intuition!

More on selecting colors next time!  Please feel free to leave me a question or comment.

Interior Decorating 101 – A Dozen (Quick) Tips for Choosing the Right Wall Color

Ready for a fresh look and feel in your home?  Painting is the quickest and easiest way to change the look and feel of a space.   And don’t worry, choosing wall color is the least expensive design “mistake” you can make, so make your choice unfettered by fear.  Painting with abandon makes the process fun!  The worst case scenario is that you’ll have to repaint. 

Tips to help you get started

1-  Test a color before committing to it.  Find three to five color possibilities from which to choose.  Paint a 2 x 3 box of each color on different areas of the room, or on a piece of poster board and move it around the room.  Sit with the colors for a couple days to see how each one  looks at different times of the day or night and how each one makes you feel.

2-  Pick colors using objects as your guide.  Flowers in a landscape, piece of artwork, a ceramic plate, or a piece of fabric can be the palette from which you choose your colors.

3-  Colors look darker on a wall then on the small swatches.  It’s safest to pick from the top two colors on a paint card unless you want drama.

4-  Using different shades of the same color in different objects is a harmonious way to pull a room together. 

5-  Follow the Rule of Three: when you pick a color, use it at least three times in a room.

6-  In a small room, if the walls are the same color as the primary upholstered piece of furniture the room will seem larger.

7-  Use off-white rather than pure white which can be harsh.  When you put a warm white next to color, it still looks crisp and bright.  Trim rooms in off-white.

8-  Use neutrals to harmonize colors and help them blend with each other.

9- Using a high-quality paint spreads easier and often makes only one paint coat necessary.

10- When purchasing paint, it’s best to buy a little more than you think necessary rather than too little. When paint is blended, each batch is apt to be a little different.  The paint you buy on Tuesday may be a little lighter than the paint you buy on Friday. It’s better to get all the paint for one room out of one batch.

11- If you’re hesitant about painting your entire home in just one color, rest assured that the color looks different in different rooms and at different times of the day.  The beauty of creating a one-color palette is that the rooms in your home will relate to each other and feel harmonious.  You can use different accent colors in each room to create interest.

12- Lots of paint stores offer $3.00-$4.00 samples but not all colors are available.  If your color isn’t offered in a sample, you’ll have to invest in a small can of paint. 

Eliminating Clutter Creates Better Focus

The most prevalent issue I see in clients’ homes is clutter and its partner – disorganization. Simply put, most people have too much stuff.  And the more stuff you have, the more difficult it is to keep all the stuff organized.  Couples with children suffer from trying to organize lots of “kid-stuff”.  Clients without children are prone to accumulating too many books, accessories, clothes, shoes, paperwork, collectibles, and/or things they just can’t part with on an emotional level.  

It’s important to understand that creating order and simplicity in your environment allows you to better focus and feel centered. Clutter produces chaotic and draining energy. 

For example, take a look at these photos and notice how you much peace you feel ~

There’s harmony and symmetry in nature which creates a peaceful experience.  The same principle translates to your home.

The biggest negative about clutter is that the more stuff that fills up your home, the more emotional energy you’ll spend in trying to live around the clutter.  Clutter keeps you unfocused.  And with the unpredictability of the world “out there” it’s important now more than ever that you feel centered at home.  Being organized allows you to experience a healthier quality of life.

Here are Easy Tips for Preventing Clutter in your Home

1.  Avoid places that may activate your particular clutter “trigger”.  These could be thrift stores, bookstores, outlet stores, garage sales, and sales in general.

2.  If you can’t stop a “clutter craving,”  make sure that you buy something that you can return.  Keep the receipt. Sometimes, just driving around with the item in your car for a couple days will enable you to see that you don’t really need it and then you can return the item but DON”T use it as an opportunity to do more shopping.

3.  Be proactive and dispose of clutter on a daily basis.  Don’t let mail, laundry, dirty dishes, shoes, or paper on your desk pile up.

4. Stop your unsolicited extra postal mail. Stop by  http://www.newdream.org/junkmail  to opt-out of email lists.  Virtual clutter is still clutter!

5. Stop accepting freebies.  Don’t take home everything you’re offered from party, a trade show, or a grocery store.  Don’t bring home travel samples from hotels or events.  Leave them there! 

Hope this helps and I’d love to hear your suggestions for keeping clutter in check.

How Home Decorating with Feng Shui Creates More Peace in Your Life

Odds are, you’ve experienced the feeling of exhilaration when you’re in a particularly stunning place in nature.  The view from a mountain vista, hiking in a tall forest, or watching waves in the ocean can provide peace and inspiration when you’re feeling tired and knocked-around by the stressors of daily life. 

Being in nature adds a vital component to our well-being.  It allows us to get in touch with our deeper selves.  It reunites us with our soul.  Although nothing quite compares to the beauty and peace found in nature, your home can be transformed into a respite from the daily rat-race.  You can create an environment that reflects the qualities nature offers – beauty, inspiration, flow, and symmetry. 

We’ve come a long way since caveman days when a home simply met survival needs.   We have access to millions of home decorating magazines, books, and television shows.  The bottom line is the idea that a home can be a place of beauty and comfort.  A kitchen is place to nurture your body, a bedroom allows for rest and renewal, a bathroom can be a place of nurturing, and the other areas of your home support getting together with friends, or working, or pursuing hobbies. Every room in your home can be arranged to inspire you and showcase your uniqueness.   

Did you know that everything you put in a space influences the way you feel in the space?  Have you ever walked into a restaurant, hotel room, or even a friend’s home and felt uneasy and didn’t want to stay very long?  It was the energy of the space you were feeling.  It could have been the furniture arrangement or the colors or clutter that you responded to.  The bottom line is that whether you are out in nature or in your own environment, the energy affects you.

Wall colors, color palette, amount of natural light, furniture arrangement, artwork, flooring, rugs, window treatments, and arrangement of bookshelves, tabletops, and accessories create energy.  You pick up on that energy, either consciously or not.  If the space is unbalanced, you’ll feel uncomfortable.  And don’t we all need a break from feeling discomfort caused by stressors out there in daily life?  It’s vital to your well-being to be able to relax in your home.

The Chinese art and science of Feng Shui (pronounced “fung schway) explains that balancing energy allows for a richer life.  Through correct arrangement of furniture, colors, and accessories a room will feel harmonious or chaotic.  Feng Shui is derived from patterns in nature.  Feng Shui actually means “wind and water” which references the flowing nature of the elements.  Feng Shui rests on the principles of symmetry and flow.  It allows us to sort of re-create nature, indoors.  

The items you select for your home and where you place them can come together like a symphony or be disjointed and chaotic.  When a space is balanced and appealing it should comfort you.  My rule of thumb is – if you don’t feel “Ahhh!” when you walk into a room it means things are not in alignment.  Whether you know it or not, you intuitively pick up on bad Feng Shui.  A good way place to begin creating “Ahhh!” moments in a room is to break the room down into small sections – I call them vignettes.  For example, your dining table, a shelf on your bookshelves, or your bed can be a place to exercise your creatively and intuitive decorating.  Use accessories from other rooms or purchase new things – it doesn’t matter how small your budget is, what matters most is to use things you absolutely love.  Play around with the accessories until you have the “Ahhh” moment.  Creating a vignette oftentimes opens the door to create in other areas of the room.

Of course, seeking expert advice can point you in the right direction.  Most importantly, have fun and stay open to your creativity.   In Feng Shui there is no absolute right or wrong way to decorate, there are only guidelines which you can color in with your unique choices.

Feng Shui Tips for Decorating Large or Small Rooms.

Whether you’re decorating a large or small space, to create coziness and appeal the primary design principle to focus on is balance.  A room must exude the right energy to feel balanced.   By its nature, a large room exudes “yang” or expansive energy.  A small space room transmits “yin” or constrictive energy.  It follows that yang energy needs to be balanced with yin energy and yin energy with yang.  The correct furniture, colors, and accessories are the key to creating balance.  If you don’t feel comfort and relaxation in a space it’s because the yin/yang energy is out of balance.  When good Feng Shui is coupled with good design, an environment is naturally cozy, relaxing, and beautiful. 

Small Spaces.  If you’ve got a room that feels cramped or constrictive:

  1. Use the same wall color throughout the space.  A light color is best because it creates an open feeling.  Yellow, warm beige, or white works well.  Yellow is also the best color for illuminating dark areas.  
  2. Paint the ceilings white or the same color as the walls.
  3. Use European furniture which is smaller in proportion than “regular funiture-store” furniture.   (Look at IKEA’s selection for an example).
  4. Add mirrors to create the illusion of space.  A mirror reflects light from outside if placed opposite a window.  A whole wall of mirrors can open up the space in a dramatic way.  
  5. Don’t block natural light.  
  6. Hang drapes a few inches higher than the top of your windows to create a feeling of height.
  7. Avoid clutter, use decorative containers to stay organized and don’t display a lot of chotchkies (aka knickknacks).  A few well-placed items evidencing your style and flair are plenty.
  8. Choose pieces of art that relate to each other.  Use similar frames for each piece (or no frames).  The over-all feeling should be cohesive and light. Art containing fire colors (red, orange, purple-pink) or wavy lines transmits an energetic quality which counteracts feeling constricted in the space.  Landscape scenes and photographs open the space up.
  9. Use monotone, natural fiber, or non-fussy area rugs to add a finished quality to the room and to create separate areas.

Large Spaces.  If you’ve got a room that feels empty or like a mausoleum:

  1. Break the room up into several areas to fill up the space and create visual interest.  When you’re in a large empty space you’ll feel exposed making relaxation difficult.  Create several areas within the room that serve different functions.   For example in a living room the first area can be a conversation area with a couch, two chairs, a coffee table, and two or three small side tables with table lamps.  The second area can be a reading corner next to a window with an overstuffed chair, an ottoman, a table and good reading lamp.  And a third vignette can be a game area using a round table with chairs on either side and a  floor lamp nearby. 
  2. Use thick, earth and fire color (brown, yellow, beige, red, orange) rugs in each area in the room to further delineate each area.
  3. Use furniture proportionate with to size of the room. Generally, wood is best.  
  4. Hang artwork at eye level or a few inches above, especially if ceilings are high (above about 12 feet).  The art will pull your eye towards it and minimize the length of the wall.
  5. Paint the ceilings the same color as the walls or in a slightly darker shade. 
  6. Hang drapes even with the windows.
  7. If you have built-in bookshelves, arrange them to create visual interest.  Don’t simply line books up in a row.  Add framed photos, ceramics, and accessories.  You’ll create energy and soul.

Have fun and remember that if something intutively feels wrong, it can be corrected by applying principals of balance.  If you don’t know exactly how to remedy the problem experiment and see how changing things affects the way you feel.

Feng Shui 101 – Creating Coziness and Comfort

Do you find yourself drawn to certain places in your home more than others? Is there an area where you feel particularly relaxed?  Maybe it’s a nook in the bedroom or a reading chair in the living room.  Odds are, its architectural features and its interior décor are in balance.  Balance in a space signals safety and security which you feel on an unconscious level.  When you feel safe, you can relax.  Balance is the essence of Feng Shui. When good Feng Shui is coupled with good design, an environment is naturally cozy, relaxing, and appealing. 

 What makes a room cozy and comfortable? 

1.  Size of the room.

2.  Ceiling height.

3.  Proportion of windows to walls.

4.  Amount of natural light.

5.  Outside noise.

6.  Floor plan.

7.  Furniture Placement.

8.  Interior Décor.

Although some of these qualities can’t eliminated, Feng Shui Design Principles can significantly change the feel of a room.  Your choice of wall color, furniture arrangement, lighting, and furniture placement can transform a cold and uninviting space into a cozy, beckoning nest.  

Next time….using Feng Shui to balance these areas.