Home Decorating For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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Home decorating draws on your creative side, as well as your inner engineer. Whether you dabble in home decorating or make it a career, you get to play with color, texture, and pattern, in addition to tape measures, graph paper, and paint. Finding the furniture you want is important, and so is doing the planning that makes your decorating a delight.

Tools every home decorator needs

Pack a portable carry-all filled with all the must-haves:
  • Claw hammer: Pick a size that fits comfortably in your handgrip.
  • Fusible hem tape: This tape, available at grocery stores and online, creates iron-on, no-sew seams.
  • Glue gun: Use a glue gun for a variety of decorating and crafts projects.
  • Laser level: This tool is a must to ensure level hanging of anything on walls.
  • Nail kit: Look for a set that includes a variety of sizes of nails for various jobs. Make your own kit with fine nails, long nails, short nails, and finishing nails.
  • Notebook: Pick one with unlined sheets for sketching/notetaking that fits inside your tool kit.
  • Picture hangers: Buy a kit to make hanging art easy.
  • Pins: Keep straight pins and safety pins on hand for draping and shaping.
  • Plate hangers: Pick up sizes for both small and large hangers.
  • Screwdrivers: Pick a pack with slotted, Phillips, hex, and other types of screwdrivers in various sizes from tiny to large and short to long.
  • Screws and fasteners: Choose a variety pack of styles and sizes with anchors.
  • Tape measure: A 25-foot retractable steel tape works best.
  • Tool kit: Use a tackle box, bucket, or basket for storing your gear.
  • Velcro: This comes in handy for making easy-to-remove items.
  • Wire: Use wire for hanging, fixing, and holding things.

Quick-start home decorating tips

Jump-start your decorating process with the following tips:
  • Fix your budget. Spend no more than what you have.
  • Formulate an action plan. Establish goals. Set priorities. Decide what gets done in what order. Document your program in a journal or app.
  • Scope out the job. Create a floor plan using an app or pencil and graph paper.
  • Discover your personal style. Eliminate confusion by steering yourself toward the best choices for your look.
  • Shop with confidence. Pick stores that stock a large selection for quick delivery or carrying home. Surf the web for prices and products from the comfort of home.
  • Do first things first. Perform carpentry and wiring first. Decorate ceilings, walls, and floors next. Last, bring in furniture, rugs, and accessories.
  • Prioritize purchases: Get functional pieces to make the room usable first. Add refinements such as lighting and rugs next, to make the space livable and lively.
  • Spice up your decor with accessories galore. Accessories make your room stylish and professional-looking. Take your time to find the right art, decorative art, or statement-makers for your space.

Furniture facts

Knowing the following lingo will help you find the perfect piece of furniture for your space:
  • To the trade: Furnishings and decorations available only to professional decorators or interior designers.
  • Fully-assembled: Preassembled or no-assembly furniture ready to use right out of the crate.
  • Ready-to-assemble (RTA): Also known as knock-down (KD), this type of furniture comes unassembled in flat boxes and must be put together by the buyer (hence, the lower cost than fully assembled furniture).
  • Case goods: Pieces of furniture that provide storage such as cabinets or bookcases; any furniture that has no upholstery such as tables and chairs.
  • Upholstered furniture: Any piece of furniture intended for sitting, resting, or reclining and consisting of resilient cushioning covered with fabric or material in whole or part, such as sofas and lounge chairs.

Handy measurements for home decorating

Get it right the first time by using accurate formulas to calculate how much of what you need in your space:
  • Area: Find your room’s square footage by multiplying the room’s length by its width. (Multiply by wall height for cubic area.) Knowing the area is handy for estimating quantities and prices.
  • Tiling: Figure the amount of tile you need by dividing the width of the floor by the width of the tile (horizontal row) and the length of the floor by the height of the tile (vertical row). Buy up to 10 percent more tiles to allow for breakage and error.
  • Ceiling paint: Multiply the ceiling’s length by its width (usually the same as the floor measurements), divide by 350 (the estimated square footage covered by 1 gallon of paint) to figure out how many gallons to buy.
  • Wall paint: Find the paintable wall area by adding the areas of the ceiling and walls. Divide this figure by 350 or the spreading rate (located on the can). Double the amount of paint for a second coat for dark colors). Add 25 percent to 50 percent more paint for porous surfaces.
  • Walk-around space: Leave 4 to 5 feet of clear walking space for traffic flow through rooms. Allow about 2 to 5 feet between chairs and sofas in seating groups. Add up to 1 foot around your bed for bed-dressing and sheet changing.

Using pattern, texture, and color

Pattern, texture, and color are the stylistic building blocks of your home decorating palette. Use these three elements to create the style, mood, and feel of each room in your home.

Playing with pattern

Add instant personal style by following these pattern rules:
  • Pattern contrast rule: Mix checks or stripes with florals. Pit large-scaled patterns against small-scaled patterns.
  • Three pattern rule: Use three different patterns that contrast in scale or design but relate in color to be on the safe side.
  • Five pattern rule: Confidently mix up one large-scaled pattern (any type) with one medium-scaled floral, one geometric, and two small-scaled accent patterns (floral, geometric, stipe, or check), all using the same colors.
  • All-over pattern rule: Put the same pattern on the walls, windows, and furnishings for a strong design statement.

Toying with texture

Play up your personal style with the right texture:
  • Minimize texture rule: Go with smooth and shiny textures for traditional styles.
  • Optimize texture rule: Use nubby and natural texture in accents/accessories to warm up contemporary styles.
  • Maximize texture rule: Employ texture and contrasting textures to add impact to neutral and monochromatic color schemes.
  • Strategize texture rule: Use heavy textures that “eat” space to make large rooms feel cozy or to add a cozy ambience to space.

Creating with color

Create mood, alter space, and influence how people feel and act with color:
  • Receding color rule: Light, cool colors make walls seem to fade away into the distance, making rooms seem spacious.
  • Advancing color rule: Use deep, warm colors to make walls seem to come closer and rooms seem cozy.
  • Neutral colors rule: For the best most livable color schemes, pick neutral colors that you’ll never grow tired of and won’t go out of style in five years.
  • Law of color distribution: Use dark colors on the floor, medium colors on the walls, and light colors on the ceiling, which mimics nature.
  • Law of chromatic distribution:
  • Backgrounds: Put neutral colors on large surfaces such as the floor and big objects like a sofa.
  • Focal areas: Use stronger shades in a smaller amount on smaller spaces or items, such as a short wall or a chair.
  • Accent touches: Employ the strongest accent color in the smallest spaces and places. Scatter the accent color around the room to make an impact.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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