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Living Rich in a Readymade World

Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt These days decorating doesn’t have to be about custom design. It can be about where to find it now and how to make it work for you. There is such a wealth of readymade elements both at retailers, online, and in mail order catalogues. You can do it yourself or get the knowledge and expertise of a professional decorator, transforming your house into a home without ever leaving your chair. Best of all you can have it all immediately. No waiting, no anticipation, just take it home today.

The trick is in knowing what to buy and how to make it not look like everyone else’s. Read on for the real scoop on living rich in a readymade world. Firstly, it’s not what you have that gives you style, but what you do with it that really counts. Using the big box retailers for decorating is a real time saver, but it's up to you to personalize. Certainly photo frames are easy to make yours.

Consider theming the groupings; a family wall is usually a real favorite. Another option is to do a travel wall with collage matting so you can display multiple photos within one frame. You can have one frame dedicated to each trip. You can also do groupings of individual frames united by a theme. Think about forming a collection or two, displaying the frames en masse for greatest effect. Layer your rooms to create maximum character. Start with the floor adding rugs, even over wall to wall carpet. Rugs are artwork for the floor and anchor furniture arrangements. To add depth to your upholstery, layer pillows and the occasional throw for softness. On your tables be sure to include practical ideas like a coasters along with room for a book or even a plate of food.

(I always make sure there is enough space on the coffee table to put up your feet. Life is about comfort!) Lamps are another opportunity to build layers and can really add personality and punch. Don’t match them unless you have matching tables (boring and formal). Have fun with the variety of shapes and sizes available, not to mention the host of shade variations, including beaded or feathered. Once you’ve got the basics of rugs, upholstery, tables, and lamps you are ready to add drapery. This is often an overlooked element and really necessary to finish a room. Whether your goal is to frame the view, control light or gain privacy, draperies are important in bringing softness and color vertically in a room. Last but not least are the artwork and accessories. Find pieces you really enjoy rather than just adding elements to take up space. Remember it’s your home, so make it count.

Go for comfort, not just good looks! I know you saw that really cool chair in that catalogue and had to have it, only to find that no one, including you, will sit in it, because it is woefully uncomfortable. Remember it needs to function as well as look good. Upholstery in particular is for sitting on, not looking at, so be sure you either are familiar with the maker or can sit test it. Tables need to be the right height. For a coffee table 17-18” is usually optimal, end tables need to be at a comfortable height coming from the arm of the seating piece next to it. Too low and they are awkward. Too high and you’ll knock things over when you reach. On many elements you can check them out on approval before making a decision, which is very helpful because seeing them in context is important. This is often the case with rugs, lamps, artwork, and even some tables. Little changes make a big difference.

Consider changing the hardware on your kitchen cabinets. It is a seemingly little change that has a big impact. Changing a light fixture over a breakfast table can make a dramatic and often very cost effective improvement to a room. Save your old chandelier to put back up when you sell your house so that you can take your favorite light fixture with you. This stretches your decorating dollar and becomes a flexible and lasting investment. Changing plate glass mirrors to framed mirrors also really finishes off a bathroom. (Do any of us really want to see ourselves reflected so much anyway?) To avoid boredom with your interiors change your accents with the season. Think hot colors for the winter and fall months with reds, oranges, golds and persimmons. For the summer and spring try cool blues, fresh greens, crisp whites and soothing lavenders.


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