Feb 7, 2013

Decor Secrets from the experts!

9 Interior Decorator Secrets
By Brynn Mannino
Source: www.WomansDay.com

Learn the tricks of the trade from home design experts.

While some of what you see in home decorating magazines can only be chalked up to creative genius and big budgets, even the most inspired decor follows basic design rules. Below, experts share their little secrets, from how to use color to their favorite luxe tricks, so you can give your own home that magazine-ready finish.

1. Designate a theme.
Photo: sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images
The best way to ensure decorative "flow" is to work within a theme, says art expert Jen Bekman, founder of 20x200.com, a website that sells artwork at affordable prices. Whether sports- or Paris-inspired, the focus (even if only loosely adhered to) immediately grounds the designer's creative options. For a DIY decorator, this rule of thumb is especially important, as it will help focus an otherwise overwhelming task. "As you continue to shop around, you'll notice pieces within your premise everywhere, giving you a chance to compare and contrast," says Bekman. So, not only does a theme create parameters to work within, it also helps a new decorator refine her tastes along the way.

2. Test your ideas.
Photo: iStockphoto
When it comes to redecorating, designers like to test their visions first. Before hanging art, Kristan Cunningham, former host of HGTV's Design on a Dime, builds paper templates from brown construction paper and hangs them on different parts of the wall. This way, before nailing through a coat of paint, she'll know if she likes the placement. When upholstering a chair, Cunningham also likes to do a "mock job" by draping fabric over each cushion and fashioning it to the legs. Why is this trial period so important? By "testing" each possible design for a couple of days (not minutes!) you can gauge your full reaction to the change. Luckily, home goods stores usually comply with sample requests and returns. After all, these are big decisions!

3. Use what you've got.
Photo: Thinkstock
"Before you spend money, do a little reconnaissance work around your house," suggests Anitra Mecadon, host of DIY Network's living room design show Mega Dens. For example, in one episode, Mecadon takes a country-style bureau and, using paint and a little elbow grease, turns it into a cool new bar. "Pay no attention to the color, scratches or dents," she advises. "If it has great bones, then it has great potential." Instead, focus on shape, structure and how it will fit in a room.

4. Choose a color scheme-not just one color.
Photo: Jupiterimages
A good color scheme has three colors, explains Mary Lawlor, color expert at Kelly-Moore Paints: the base color, which is usually neutral and sets the tone; the contrast color, which is often a dark color and creates depth within a space; and the accent color, which pulls everything together and adds punch. Lawlor suggests using a color wheel to help select your sequence. Or play on the base color with accessories, like Mecadon does: "My walls are a lush emerald green, so I usually leave out a bowl of electric-green apples."

5. Dimmers are the ultimate lighting accessory.
Photo: iStockphoto
If you're not using a dimmer, you're limiting a room's potential. Think of it this way: It's not so much what a dimmer adds to a room as what traditional lighting-in all its neon glory-takes away. "I like to think of a dimmer switch as a mood switch. You can turn on the mood just by turning down your dimmer!" says Mecadon. Whether you choose a basic or integrated style, the toughest part is taking the time to install them, she says. The rest is easy.

6. Double up on decor accents.
Photo: Hemera Technologies/Getty Images
When it comes to decorating, repetition speaks loudly, explains Mecadon. For example, one lamp works as an accent piece, but two lamps are a focal point. Curtains? An excess of fabric ramps up the feeling of luxury, so spring for two or three treatments instead of one. The same theory applies to artwork. "For one episode of Mega Dens, I spanned several of a cute little statue that caught my eye across the dining room wall shelving," says Mecadon. "It blew my client's mind!"

7. Accessorize with paint.
Photo: Robin Stubbert
Wallpaper and molding help break up the monotony of a one-tone wall, but so does a painted pattern, like stripes. Interior design blogger Chris Kauffman used this trick to add dimension to her dining room. When choosing colors, think shade and sheen, Lawlor explains. The more contrast, the more dramatic. For example, teaming two flat colors within the same color family will have an understated effect, while two opposing colors with varying luster-i.e., a gloss and a flat-will stand out.

8. Add luxury in unexpected places.
Photo: ML Harris/Getty Images
Especially for country or cookie-cutter decorating aesthetics, adding an unexpected plush touch can give your home an arty feel. For example, Courtney Cachet, a designer and style expert on NBC's Open House, likes to hang inexpensive, small-scale chandeliers in bathrooms. "It looks chic and the lighting is more flattering than the light from a standard-issue lighting fixture," she says. Similarly, interior designer Ingrid Leess, whose Connecticut home was featured in Elle Decor, used a fur throw blanket to add lavishness to her otherwise traditional decor.

9. Try out wall decals.
Inexpensive, available in a multitude of colors and patterns, and easy to install, wall decals work wonders to fill a hole and cheer a space. Melissa Salamoff, who owns her own design studio in Burbank, California, says she used stick-on decorations in three different ways: in place of a headboard (create your own design), to add whimsy to her daughter's room and to inspire women at a shelter (she installed large-scale Bible passages on a front-entrance wall). "Most of them start around $20 and can go up to a bit over $100 for the full wall decals," she says. Plus, they aren't permanent-so your wall designs can change with your decor.


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