Category Archives: Interior Decorating

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.

Five Affordable Feng Shui Fixes For Decorating Dilemmas

Applying practical principles of Feng Shui can solve common decorating dilemmas.  Any of these principles can be applied in any room.

1-  If you don’t have a foyer or if you have a large room needing several different conversation areas you can create the illusion of a separate room by placing an area rug in the center of the space, coordinating with the color palette in the room.  For example, to create the feeling of a foyer place a circular area rug in front of the front door.  You can use area rugs wherever you want to delineate a space or create a conversation area.  Circular rugs are particularly good for pulling together a space.

2-  To complete or find inspiration for decorating a room, look for artwork that speaks to you.  Artwork  gives a room a finished feel and creates coziness as well as visual appeal.  I like to hang pictures so that the middle of the piece is one or two inches above eye level.

3-  Dark areas?  You can add balance and movement with mirrors, artwork containing fire colors (red, orange, pink, and purple) and circular or wavy objects which create movement.  If you have a corner that feels “dead” revitalize it with “up lighting” that’s placed on the floor, a decorative floor screen, or a standing mirror.

4- Does a room feel stark or sterile? “Cozify” it by adding soft drapes or roman shades, using earth and fire colors (brown, yellow, beige, red, and orange), and adding area rugs and soft fabrics such as cozy throw-pillows.

5-  If you don’t have a wall where you need one, you can invent one by placing a console behind a couch, using a decorative floor screen to separate areas, using bookshelves open on both sides, or drapes hung on side mounted retractable rods.  Floor screens also work well in corners to soften the area and create energy.

Feng Shui 101- Ten Easy Tips

1.  An altar or meditation area is best placed in the Northeast area of a room as this is the location that corresponds to inner knowledge, reflection, and stillness.

 2.  Don’t use a lot of the colors red and gold in the bedroom.  These are yang colors and they create activity and energy.  A little is fine but too much is bad for relaxation.

 3.  Don’t place the head of your bed on wall shared with a toilet.  You’ll inevitably absorb harmful energy you while you sleep.

 4.  Cleanse the  energy in a room or in your entire home to keep the environment healthy.  Cleanse at least a couple of times a year. You can cleanse in several different ways – with wind, with bells or chimes, with fire as in smudging with incense, and misting with salt water.

 5.  If you have a bathroom adjoining your bedroom, close the door while you sleep.  Actually, it’s best to have any doors leading into your bedroom closed so that you aren’t disturbed by energy flowing at you while you sleep.

6.  If you place your bed against a window, ensure that you have a solid headboard or heavy drapes to block off the window.  Your head needs protection while you sleep.

 7.  The first rule of Feng Shui is to allow chi (energy) to circulate.  Clear clutter and clean often to allow the movement of chi in your home and in your life.

8.  Keep in mind the principles of yin and yang when decorating.  Balance light and dark colors, soft and hard surfaces, and smooth and rough textures in your choice of wall color, furniture, flooring and window treatments.

9.  Use curving paths in your garden and yard to encourage chi to flow in a naturally organic way.

10.  Keep something uplifting on your dining table.  Fresh flowers, a colorful table runner, interesting salt and pepper shakers (kept full), and/or a nice piece of pottery will uplift your spirits when you eat at the table, causing good chi.