Six Golden Rules of Decorating

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Author: Laurel Clarke
Date Published: March 1, 2014

Six Golden Rules of Decorating

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You might not feel like you have the decorating ‘gene’ but trust me, following some simple rules will give you a game advantage for tackling a project yourself. Redecorating a home can include changes that are large or small. If you want to make big changes, you can get new flooring or countertops installed. Smaller additions such as new throw pillows and a rug can make huge differences as well.


In her book ‘Interior Designing for all Five Senses” author and designer Catherine Bailly Dunne emphatically claims “Use them and I guarantee your house will take on that extra something that gives it spark and sparkle”. I have distilled her recommendations below but if you want to enjoy a really great decorating book I highly recommend purchasing it.


Check out these Decorating Rules!

1) Design for all five senses :This rule is so overlooked by DIY decorators! Use the same consideration in your home that you use when you are ‘presenting’ yourself. If you thought about it, you are dressing for all five senses almost automatically. Keeping all 5 senses in mind as you decorate you will quickly create an ambiance that is solely your own. Ever notice when you walk into a large furniture showroom it feels like, well, a large furniture showroom, yet when you walk into a ‘lifestyle’ store like Ballard’s, Pottery Barn or Kirkland’s all your senses come alive and you see a million things you want to buy? That is clever merchandising for all the senses. Everything feels energized when the senses are engaged.


2) Create a focal point in every room: Some rooms have a natural focal point like the fireplace (no, not the TV!!), and some rooms are unremarkable. Stand at the entrance to a room and see where your eye goes first. If you are looking into a bedroom the focal point should be the bed. If you are looking at a plain wall this is the perfect spot to create a focal point. Creating a memorable focal point is as easy as adding a vase of flowers. Your focal point should look natural, not forced or staged and you should refresh it occasionally. Even a very plain room can benefit by a pretty, simple vignette on a coffee table or on a demilune table on a wall.


3) Make your home a mirror of your soul: I love Catherine’s ‘trick’ to help you figure out what personality you want to project in your room. She suggests attaching an adjective to the space – “a word that also describes the person who lives there”. She goes on to say “ We are a friendly family, so I had the word ‘friendly’ in mind when I started to decorate our family room, and that’s exactly the kind of room it turned out to be”. Create a space to celebrate your family whether it is framed family photos on a gallery wall or hanging your child’s artwork in the breakfast area. Incorporating family mementos gives life to your space.


4) Respect the style of your home: Hopefully, if you chose it you love the style but sometimes this isn’t the case if you have been transplanted or relocated. What I am really getting at is don’t try to decorate a traditional Georgian completely with ultra modern mid-century furniture or you will never be happy with the result. This doesn’t mean you have to slavishly follow the architectural style to the tee, but the overall style should ‘inform’ the furnishings you choose. So how do you create a more youthful modern look in a traditional home? Adding natural materials, matte finishes (such as oil rubbed bronze vs polished brass) , casual, current color pairings (rather than historical color palettes) and contemporary art. Your furniture could be more ‘transitional’ in styling which is a cleaned up traditional style with less ornamentation. If your heart is set on a style that really doesn’t compliment the home’s architecture, then add small doses mixed in with some of the above ideas and you will create an eclectic, interesting interior that speaks to your personal style.


5) Subtracting is often adding:Spend an afternoon editing your collections, your accessories and your clutter! You will be shocked how fresh a room will look with a little careful editing and creating a new focal point vignette. If you are working with a mish mash of hand me downs and are waiting for the kids to move out before you redecorate ( don’t laugh, I hear it all the time!) then you need to find a thread of continuity to pull the room together. Sometimes the addition of a new patterned rug that has some of the disparate upholstery colors you are working with and a throw and some new toss pillows will be enough to pull the arrangement together. Keep what works and move the rest to another room or donate it.


6) There is no such thing as a small room: Well, there is, but it shouldn’t deter you! Small rooms can be the most fun to decorate because they don’t need much to look new but they often get overshadowed by their big noisy public room cousins taking the entire décor budget. Powder rooms are my favorite ‘small room’ to tackle because there are so many great accessories on the market to give you an instant lift. Also, what about that laundry room that you spend hours in each week? Think of what a new paint job and some pretty and practical accessories will do to cheer up that chore!


So, let me know how your décor projects are coming along. Send me your pics and questions – I’d love to hear from you!


Leave a Comment Regarding "Six Golden Rules of Decorating"

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One Response to Six Golden Rules of Decorating

  1. Dixie Randall on March 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Loved the 6 decorating rules. Good, simple, sound advice. Thanks 🙂

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