How to Choose Paint Colors

A: Paint color can be very tricky. Even those of us that who deal in this world every day need a certain amount of trial and error to get things perfect. Let me talk you through my usual process.

1. Determine the Palette of the Room
You should know from the start whether you’re looking for a dark, dramatic space or something more neutral and softer. One common misconception is that small dark spaces will feel lighter with a gallon or two of white paint — I actually find the very opposite to be true. I often take those rooms that have less natural light and make them much darker and more dramatic. My best advice for you is to meet your rooms “where they are” and not try to make them into something that they can never be.

How to Choose Paint Colors

2. Shopping for Paint Options
Now for the fun part: Let’s hit the paint store. You’re always going to be best served if you take a few things along with you while you’re shopping. I’ll often take samples of some of the textiles I’m using in the room, or even a favorite piece of clothing if it’s one of the inspirations of the space.  Your “color memory” can often play tricks with you, so having a few references always helps! I will caution you that quite often paint colors read much darker on the walls than they look on the swatches. So if you’re in doubt, I would recommend that you err on the lighter side. But, much like we talked about last time when discussing mixing textiles and patterns, you’re always in better shape if you’re “working from a place of abundance.” If you need two of three colors, pull 20 samples. Get a few lighter, a few darker, some with more yellow, some with more blue. In my opinion, the best part of shopping for paint is reading all of the colors’ names!

How to Choose Paint Colors

3. Shopping for Light
Get the largest paint chips that the shop will give you and head home and start taping them to the wall. It is amazing how much paint colors can vary over the course of a day. Check them out in the morning and take another look at them in the evening. After you’ve edited them down to a few options, I always get a small sample of each color and paint a three-foot square sample on a few walls within the space. Colors are going to be a bit different on each wall based on how much light they have, so put your samples in several places.

How to Choose Paint Colors

4. Decide the Paint Finish
Yes, there’s still another decision to make! Paint will come in several finishes from flat to high-gloss.  For wall surfaces, I prefer an eggshell or satin finish. It will have a tiny bit of reflectivity to it, and frankly, it looks amazing by low light or even better by candlelight. You could also use a flat finish, but personally, it feels too chalky for me. But, take a look at your options. Keep in mind that as your finishes get more and more reflective — from flat to eggshell to satin — the imperfections in your walls will become more evident. I’m seeing  a lot of lacquered wall finishes these days, and I love them, but, your walls have to be in magnificent shape before you lacquer. For the trim, I love a classic semi-gloss finish.

10 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

Little details go a long way. These upgrades will bring a touch of luxury to your space without emptying your wallet.

1. Update hardware.  Hardware can completely change the look of a piece of furniture and it can do the same for your cabinets. Replace drawer and cabinet pulls for an new unique look that instantly updates your entire space.

10 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

2. Paint a lighter color. A light color on the walls and cabinets instantly brightens a space making it look larger and in turn, more expensive. Light colors reflect light and hide a multitude of sins, including those scratches, dings and dents in your old cabinets.

3. Replace Cabinet Doors. Replacing old worn out cabinet doors with new ones or sanding and refinishing your old ones will give your kitchen a sleek new look.  Bring in glass, or high-gloss doors for a dose of glam or forgo the doors in some areas and create open shelving to show off your nicest pieces.

4. Change lighting. Chandeliers and pendents are the perfect accessory to not only brighten your kitchen but change the mood of the space. Standard lights that come in most homes and rentals are uniform, change it up and give the most used room in your house some personality or an unexpected element.

10 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

5. Use artwork. Artwork is a great way to elevate any room and it will do the same in your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to go big and bold—it will give the illusion of a bigger space. Art is also a great option for renters who don’t have the freedom to change everything they’d like to.

6. Paint Your Appliances Stainless Steel. Don’t have stainless steel appliances? No problem. Use a paint-on stainless steel finish to update your appliances that still work well but are giving your kitchen a dated feel. Be careful, companies make different types if this liquid stainless steel depending on the appliance and its use.

10 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

7. Window treatment. Dress up your bare windows to instantly dress up your kitchen.

8. Style your breakfast nook. Add throw pillows, a centerpiece and fresh flowers to give your breakfast spot some style.

9. Replace an old bowl or decorative elements.  Change out your fruit bowl with beautiful chinoiserie or a bowl or tray for a subtle change that makes a big difference.

10. Hide small appliances. A no-cost trick! Nothing brings down a space more than clutter. Keep your counter space clear of small appliances like toasters, blenders and coffee pots— They are easy enough to take out when you want to use them.

The 10 Things Every Dog Owners Needs At Home

You love your dog. You love your house. Here’s what you need for to keep them both at their best

1. Something more fun to chew than the sofa. Great-looking dog toys don’t just mean a happy pup; they mean a untouched sofa and rug.

The 10 Things Every Dog Owners Needs At Home

2. Dog Art. Chances are you already have a great portrait of your beloved pet—why not give it pride of place on the mantle or as part of your gallery wall?

3. Dog-proof trash in every room. Try one with butterfly doors and spare yourself the horror of coming home to trash everywhere.

4. Pet-friendly upholstery. You might think white is the craziest choice you could make, but durable white slipcovers are easy to wash and can hold up well through multiple washes.

The 10 Things Every Dog Owners Needs At Home

5. A “messy dog” station. It should be well-stocked and well-placed—a wash basin with a basket filled with super absorbent towels, wipes, clean-up bags, dry shampoo, and anything else you need to keep you pup looking his best.

6. A faux fur throw. It has design cred, protects your furniture, and makes for a perfect place for your pup to drift off to sleep. Bonus: Dog hair will blend in so no need to be militant about washing.

7. An accessory that lets guests know dog lovers live here…even at times when the dog’s in the other room. Kelly Wearstler’s engraved dog bone, in solid brass, is a favorite of Safford’s.

The 10 Things Every Dog Owners Needs At Home

8. The perfect spot for the dog bowl. Safford is seeing some of her clients build custom bowl-holders into the kitchen island—no matter what, it’s important that the water bowl is in an area where it will not be kicked over.

9. A prime napping spot…preferably in the sunniest place in the room. If dogs could talk yours would say “Thank you I love you!!”

10. A scented candle you love. Because no matter how much you love your dog, chances are this will smell better.

Decorate Bathroom Walls With a Stencils

Lots of people are reluctant to put patterned wallpaper in a bathroom, thinking that the moisture and humidity caused by showering and bathing might cause the wallpaper to start to peel off.

Decorate Bathroom Walls With a Stencils

New wallpaper adhesives are far superior to those used even 10 years ago, so there’s little risk of having strips of wallpaper hanging into your bathtub. But if you’re still concerned, but want pattern and color in your bathroom, read on.

Decorate Bathroom Walls With a Stencils

Stencils on the walls in a bathroom can be more practical than wallpaper, since the paint could not peel in even the most humid of environments. Choose a pattern that will coordinate with the adjacent bedroom or select a geometric design. Try words on the walls to remind you of important people or inspiration. Use stencils sparingly so that each motif is important.

Decorate Bathroom Walls With a Stencils

A mural painted on the walls in a bathroom might be more work but the custom touch will be the main focus of the room. Choose a subtle design or go wild in this small room that only you will see. Use your creativity. Draw out the design on paper then transfer it in pencil onto the walls. Select your paint colors and complete the work.

Art in a bathroom is a real lift and should be something you’ll enjoy seeing every day. And the art in this private space can be very personal.

Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath

On this page you’ll find some of our favorite ways to add fresh lighting to a bathroom.

Brighten Things Up a Bit

If your bathroom is too dark, there are several options.

If you have a 3-light fixture, would changing to a 5- or 7-light fixture give the light you need?
Select a higher watt bulb if the fixture can accommodate it.
Add additional light fixtures or recessed lighting.

Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath

Change Light Fixtures

If there’s just no solution with the fixture you have, replace it with one that allows for more light. This is a good opportunity to choose one that enhances your decorating theme and fits the style of your bathroom. You might get a fresh look and more light by simply replacing the glass globes from frosted to clear.

Add an Outlet When I remodeled my bathroom, I wanted the tile and walls to be clear of electrical outlets. So I had my electrician install the electrical outlets inside the wall cabinets. I keep my personal coffee maker and curling plugged in all the time. It’s a great convenience and keeps all the dangling cords and appliances out of sight.

Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath

Add a Lighted Switch

Install a lighted switch for greater convenience. When you wander into the bathroom at night, you’ll know just where the light switch is.

Install a Pair of Wall Sconces

If your bathroom doesn’t already have them, consider installing a pair of wall sconces on either side of the mirror. If there’s not enough wall space, the electrical holes can be drilled right through the mirror. The fixture should be installed so the light bulbs are just about eye level. Be sure there is electrical power near your installation point before you start drilling into the wall. You might need to consult a licensed electrician about this addition.

Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath

Set a Lamp on the Counter

If your bathroom vanity has enough countertop space and an electrical outlet handy, place a small table lamp there. Keep the lamp a safe distance from the water source. A decorative lamp adds a warm charm to the room and serves as a nice alternative to a night light.

Tips and Ideas for Decorating Small Rooms

The most important rule when decorating small spaces is to only include items you love. In a small space there’s no room for anything that doesn’t make you happy. With that in mind, check out these tips for designing a small space.

Tips and Ideas for Decorating Small Rooms

Use Versatile Furniture

Whenever possible make sure that items have more than one purpose. For example an ottoman that has storage space inside of it can be used as a table, extra seating and as a place to store books, blankets and remotes; a dining room table with drop leaves can also be used as a desk; a daybed covered in pillows is a couch during the day and a bed at night; folding tray tables can be used as side tables and then the bases can be folded up and you’ve got a couple of serving trays. Always try to find at least two uses for every item.

Keep Clutter to a Minimum

Avoid over-accessorizing when decorating small rooms. While accessories add charm and a personal touch be careful not to overdo it. Instead of having a lamp and a decorative accessory such as a statue on a table, use a sculptural lamp that can serve both purposes. Or try storing small items in decorative boxes that can be displayed on mantels, bookshelves or tables. Again, every item should more than one purpose.

Tips and Ideas for Decorating Small Rooms

Don’t be Afraid of Color

Don’t shy away from dark colors or bold patterns. Most people immediately think they should paint with light colors and avoid bold patterns when decorating small rooms, and if that’s your style and you want the space to look larger go for it. However, being in a small space isn’t a bad thing and making it look bigger doesn’t always need to be the goal. Dark colors and punchy patterns won’t make your space look bigger, but they can help to create a wonderful lively and dramatic space.

Decorate Vertically

Take shelves all the way to the ceiling. People tend to think only of the amount of floor space, but don’t forget that there’s space above you as well. Try taking window treatments all the way to the ceiling (if it suits the style). It will help elongate the wall and make it look taller.

Tips and Ideas for Decorating Small Rooms

Use the Walls to Free Up Floor Space

Instead of using bedside tables try installing a shelf where the tabletop would be. You still get a surface to hold a lamp, book, and whatever else you need, but you free up the space underneath for a stool, bench, or something else. This is also a great way to save space in the entryway. Install a shelf/bracket near the door for putting keys, the mail, and whatnot, and free up the space underneath for shoes, bags, and whatever else you choose.

Hide Storage

When decorating small rooms hide unattractive storage spaces with fabric. If you have ugly filing cabinets or under-table storage that never look organized, find a pretty piece of fabric and place it over top.

How to Arrange Living Room Furniture

Living rooms serve different purposes for different people. In some homes they serve as the main gathering area for family, while in others they’re more of a show room, used only when company comes over. Either way, there are certain issues that always come up when trying to arrange living room furniture. Check out these tips for placing furniture in your living room.

How to Arrange Living Room Furniture

Living Room Basics

There are a few important things to remember when arranging living room furniture.

Establish the focal point of the room and arrange furniture around it. In some rooms the focal point will be an existing feature such as a fireplace or window, and in some it will be something you bring in to the room such as a television.

Use the furniture to create conversation areas. People should be able to comfortably talk to each other without straining their necks or shouting. If the room is particularly large you might want to create a few different conversation areas.

Don’t forget about traffic flow. Leave enough room for people to walk around furniture so they can easily get from one side of the room to another.

Pull furniture away from the walls. Having all the furniture backs touching the walls is one of the biggest mistakes people make in the living room. If the pieces are closer together it will create a more intimate setting. As long as the backs of the pieces are finished, there’s no reason not to show them off.

How to Arrange Living Room Furniture

Furniture Sizes and Placement

When it comes to living room furniture, size matters.

Sofa and Chairs – These are often the big-ticket items so it’s important that they suit the space. The most important thing to do is measure the space before buying any of these pieces. You don’t want them to be too big or too small, so it’s best if you draw up a Floor Plan ahead of time. Sketch out the room on a piece of graph paper using all the appropriate measurements. Try putting the sofa and chairs in a few different spots and see what works best visually and in terms of leaving space to accommodate traffic flow.

Rug – Using area rugs is a great way to define seating areas, but the number one mistake people make in the living room is using an area rug that’s too small. Remember that all of the furniture should be able to comfortably sit on the carpet. If space doesn’t allow it, make sure that at least the front legs of any large upholstered pieces are on the rug.

Coffee Table – Coffee tables are practical pieces that are often found in the center of conversation areas. If you choose to use one remember that the height should be slightly lower than the seat height of the sofa and chairs around it. The length of the table should also be roughly one half to two thirds the length of the sofa. If you don’t want to use a coffee table you can try using a couple of smaller tables or benches to achieve the same look. Just make sure they’re not too small. People sitting around them should be able to lean over to put down or pick up a drink without having to get up from their seat. At the same time be sure to leave enough leg room between seats and tables: 14 to 18 inches should do the trick.

Side Tables – Side tables tend to be an afterthought but they’re actually very important. The number you need will depend on how much seating you have. Everyone should be able to comfortably set down a drink without having to get up and walk over to a table. Try to have one on either side of the sofa (unless there isn’t enough space – in this case people can use the coffee table), and between pairs of chairs. The key is to have enough surface space without overcrowding the room. The tables should be approximately the same height as the arm of the chair or sofa they’re next to.

How to Arrange Living Room Furniture

Living Room Accessories

Once the furniture is in place it’s important to think about where to place the accessories. No doubt you will have some window treatments and artwork, and maybe a television and some sconces. Give just as much thought to placing living room accessories as you do the furniture.

If you’re unsure about what will work try using an online room planner to create an arrangement. Test out some different looks and see what looks best and what works for your lifestyle. If you’re not too computer savvy you can make up a living room floor plan using graph paper. Just make sure to use all the appropriate measurements so you don’t face any unwelcome surprises when you actually put the furniture in the room.

Create a Pretty and Functional Coffee Table Display

As a large surface that has a prominent place in many living rooms, the coffee table needs to look good while it serves its function. You want to accessorize it with a few items that look great and compliment the style of the room, but you don’t want it to be too crowded or obstruct anyone’s view. Here are some tips and ideas for coffee table displays that will make the most of form, function and style.

Like with any tablescape or display, you have to find the right balance of style, texture, and proportion.

Create a Pretty and Functional Coffee Table Display

This is the element that most people have trouble with. It’s not so much about the individual items you place on a table, but about the way they work together as a unit. The items should relate to each other either through color, style, or theme.

Balance and Size
It’s important to find balance in your display. You don’t want anything huge that will overwhelm the surface, nor do you want anything too small that will get lost. It’s also very important not to use anything too high. While it’s good to vary the heights of objects, make sure that nothing is so high it obstructs anyone’s view when they’re sitting around the table.

Create a Pretty and Functional Coffee Table Display

Coffee Table Display Tips and Ideas

Books, flowers, and a decorative object are the usual pieces you’ll find on a coffee table. Feel free to use them. It’s hard to go wrong with the classics.

A big bowl full of flowers is great for a coffee table. Place it off-center and then balance it on the other side with a stack of three or five books and a decorative piece .

You can also use books as pedestals. If you have an item you want to display but it feels too small place it atop a stack of boxes. It adds height, and it the object is sculptural it will be a nice contrast with the streamlined books.

It’s always nice to have a mix of items. Look at objects for their shape, size, color and texture and try to find a pleasing mix. For visual interest pair curved items with straight, shiny with dull, textured with smooth, and hard with soft .

Create a Pretty and Functional Coffee Table Display

Try to include at least one really interesting or unusual item. This can be a favorite statue, vase, decorative box, or even a clear bowl filled with something like seashell, pine cones, or nuts .

Use a tray to corral smaller items. Trays are great because they add organization and focus.

Try using items all one color but give it interest by varying either the shade or the texture.

Try to avoid using things that don’t look good from all angles.

Think about including a small decorative box to store remotes. It will look good and everyone will always know where to find them.

Consider the style of the room. The objects should enhance the decor, not stand out like a sore thumb.

Whatever you do, don’t overcrowd the table. It still needs to be functional so there should be enough room to set down drinks, put up feet, or serve whatever purpose your household needs. Remember that displays are meant to enhance to look of a piece, but they shouldn’t overwhelm or hurt the piece’s functionality.

10 Problems Only The Interior Design-Obsessed Understand

The top 10 annoying things decor-philes deal with regularly…but wouldn’t give up for the world.

1. It’s been so long since you’ve had to deal with an un-color-coordinated bookshelf, you have trouble finding what you want at bookstores.

10 Problems Only The Interior Design-Obsessed Understand

2. Clothes shopping always becomes “wouldn’t that pattern look amazing as a throw/rug/curtains?” shopping

3. When you go to a new place, your conversation skills suffer a bit because you’re busy mentally rearranging the pieces in the room.

4. You can’t name the celebrities in primetime shows, but you can ID the set decor while half paying attention.

10 Problems Only The Interior Design-Obsessed Understand

5. Your family gets upset when they find out that vacation was just an excuse to hit the nearby flea market.

6. You’re known for serving skimpy portions at dinner parties…how else can people best admire your china?

7. You can spot a fake from a mile away. And you have trouble not pointing it out.

8. Because you can’t find a treadmill that goes with your decor, your workouts are limited.

10 Problems Only The Interior Design-Obsessed Understand

9. You have to buy a new bookcase because you can’t bear to part with you old issues of House Beautiful, ELLE DECOR, and Veranda.

10. You never, ever get your security deposit back. And may need to pay extra for all those holes in the wall and renegade wallpaper jobs.

Tips for a Small Bathroom

You can “push the walls back” if you select the correct wall finishes.

Choose Light Wallpaper

Wallpaper with a white or light background gives the illusion of a more open space. Choose an open, airy design with white, yellow, or neutral ground.

Tips for a Small Bathroom

Add Depth to the Walls

If you have an artistic flair or a friend who does, you should consider painting or stenciling a decorative mural on the largest open wall. Or hang a framed picture that looks like a window, looking out onto a garden or beautiful horizon. These can help to expand the look of your space. Any piece of art that shows an outdoor vista will help to enlarge the feeling of the room.

Tips for a Small Bathroom

Expand the Ceiling

You can create the illusion of a raised celing if you paint a lattice or molding design around the edge of the ceiling. Install crown molding around the ceiling and paint it the same color as the ceiling. Or faux paint clouds or stars, using a light color and white.

Tips for a Small Bathroom

Eliminate All Clutter

A clean, neat bathroom always looks larger and more spacious than a cluttered, dirty one! Have only essential must-have’s visible and put away everything else. Spend some time organize storage areas in a linen closet or vanity to make the most of what you have.

Just because your bathroom is small doesn’t mean that it has to be dull. It can be a warm and inviting retreat, showing off your sense of color and style.