When Does Dining Furniture Go On Sale Crate And Barrel How to Spice Up Your Home – 101 Interior Decorating Tips From Top Designers

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How to Spice Up Your Home – 101 Interior Decorating Tips From Top Designers

Living Room

1. Start your living room furniture plan with a mantel or the best seating furniture in the room and work from there.

2. In a large living room, create several seating areas that will comfortably accommodate both small and large gatherings, and make sure to limit the maximum grouping to eight people.

3. Divide large living rooms by 3, 5, 7 or 9, never by 2.

4. For a small living room space, select plain colored upholstery for sofas or chairs instead of bold plaids, stripes, or prints. Use texture of neutral tones if you can.

5. Rugs can be used as subdivisions in a room, acting as frameworks for specific seating areas without any architectural changes.

6. When it comes to small rooms, futons are ideal because they serve two functions – sleeping and seating.

7. Don’t push your sofa up against the wall. Think of it as an opportunity to show off its back. For many of us, we simply use an end table. But by placing a folding table and a couple of chairs behind the sofa, you are creating a cozy breakfast nook. You can also consider converting it into a desk by adding a chair and a task lamp. If your living space is compact, simply put shelving, storage behind the sofa.

8. End tables should be higher than 30″. Nightstand should be somewhere from 36″ to 38″ in height.

9. For modern decor, strong, clear colors are easier to live with than pale colors in the long run. People tend to think the opposite way, but believe it or not, we get bored of pale, soft colors much quicker.

10. Allow 15-18 inches of legroom between coffee tables and sofas.

11. The optimal height for a coffee table is somewhere between 20″ and 24″, depending on your height and comfortable zone.

12. When using velvet on sofas or chairs, make sure always use low-pile velvet. This is because if you put plush velvet on seats, you’ll see the shadow of a person behind when he/she gets up. A big mistake!

13. Don’t hang a mirror between windows, because this would create distracts from the view. And don’t place mirrors in EVERY room or over EVERY mantel! Mirrors by themselves are not art, and your room needs art.

14. The perfect amount of space between a mirror and the top of a mantel is 7”!

15. Every room of your house or flat needs a touch of black, whether placing a black furniture, upholstery, or accessories.

16. In winter time, use warm accent color to highlight certain areas in the living room to achieve the modern look without making you feel ‘cold’. For example, if you have a white or pale sofa, toss a few orange or red cushions on it; rest an orange vase on the shelf above the TV; get a golden, white or ruby red rug to lie beneath the coffee table.

17. In old days, women would match their pillows to the bedspread. Nowadays, it will look more chic to have a variety of throw pillows made from different fabrics. Don’t pair up pillows as though they’re animals on Noah’s Ark. Try an odd number of pillows on a sofa.

18. Throw pillows with Turkish corners are so much plumper and look more luxe than the “perfect” linear and regular square ones. And they soften and complement a modern sofa very well.

19. To fashion a peaceful reading spot for your sofa, use plush knit and tapestry pillows of different sizes alongside quilted satin. Choose closely related colors for the pillows to keep the look balanced; satin you use will add romance.

20. For television watching, the traditional guidance for viewing distance is 2 times the size of the TV screen.

21. The ideal height to hang your flat-screen TV is at eye level when you’re in viewing position.


22. For most modern bedrooms, a bed should be 23″ off the floor, no higher.

23. When placing your bed, make sure to allow a minimum of 24” in between the bed and the wall in order to get out of the bed comfortably.

24. Use cream or pale yellow paper-backed linen on bedroom walls – it gives your most private room a softness that no paint can match!

25. A bench at the foot of the bed should be no less than 2″ shorter than the mattress width.

26. To create a rustic countryside bedroom, keep the bed, bench, nightstand and dresser in light colored wood, with wooden laminate flooring made of pine or cedar. And ideally the bed should have four posters.

27. If you like a rustic English countryside design, make sure you want to have the following in place: an aged trunk or a bench with distressed light colored paint at the foot of the bed, a wicker dust bin, pristine white linen on the bed, white sheer curtains, a lime green chair and rug, a bunch of cheerful daisies, and more.

28. To decorate a classic bedroom with a welcome sight, instead of having a bench, put in an ornate settee at the foot of the bed. Pick bed, dresser and chair that are carved. Hang a chandelier in the ceiling. Rest a thick bedcover with tassels to add to the opulence of the bedroom. Place crystal photo frames and vases on the dresser.

29. A bed runner should be 18-24 inches in width and about 24 – 30 inches longer than the width of your bed.

Dining Room

30. Don’t place round dining table in a long, rectangular dining room, and vice versa-refrain from putting a rectangular table in a square dining room.

31. At the dining table, allow at least 24” space for each person. Again when placing a dining table, allow at least 48” from the edge of the table to the wall or buffet.

32. Choose dining chairs for how they look and function. Paradoxically, they don’t need to be so comfortable, because this would encourage bad posture while dining. If the dining chairs are slightly uncomfortable, it keeps people attentive to the conversation.

33. To captivate attentions, you can consider placing chairs in different designs or colors at each end of the dining table. This breaks visual monotony and dullness.

34. To make a small dining room look bigger, place a glass dining table is most effective because the glass table top opens up the view beyond. Have you heard of “see-through space”?

35. Make sure the height difference between your dining tables and chairs are in the range of 11″-13″ for most comfortable sitting position.

36. To dress up your dining room, place a wine rack near the dining table will add some nice character to the space, provided you like collecting wines. A wine rack with modern chrome creates a contemporary feel, and distressed wrought iron will produce a rustic look.

37. To add warmth and coziness to your room, use un-lacquered hardware; to create cool and modern flairs, use lacquered, glass, metal furniture.

38. Large-scale article can take your room up a notch. For instance, use a large lampshade on a large lamp, an oversize vase, or a vast ottoman. They will have a wow effect.

Kid’s Rooms

39. For kid’s rooms, a most up-to-date concept is that instead of a regular bunk bed, place a pull out one. The first bunk bed is of the regular height, while the second bed can slide in under the first. So the upper bed will serve as a couch during the daytime and the lower one can be pulled out at nights. This way, you save more space for your kids to play on.

40. If the kid’s room is long, use two single beds; placing them side by side would waste space. Place one bed behind the other against the wall, and create a storage partition in between.


41. Before starting design the kitchen, you need to understand a concept called “work triangle”. It is an imaginary shape that is connecting the centre of the sink, the cook top and the refrigerator. The guideline is: the sum of three sides should not exceed 24 feet and each arm of the triangle should be in a range of 4 feet to 9 feet. This idea is not only for aesthetic, but also function – you don’t have to ‘travel’ between the three key points in the kitchen and improve efficiency.

42. An island with 5′ wide by 8′ long is a perfect fit for most kitchens in this country. You want to be able to reach across it effortlessly. And you certainly don’t want an aircraft carrier in your kitchen.


43. The bathroom is a very personal space. To convert it from being a white clinic room to one that is visually appealing, buy a countertop basin in clean lines and rest it on a wooden vanity. This offers a wonderful contrast while remains classic, and always looks chic. The wooden vanity also gives you ample storage space.

44. Refrain from matching your sanitary ware to the tiles on the floor. It’s always safe to pick white or off-white sanitary ware, no matter what the color your tiles are.

45. For modern interior decoration, lay tiles in dimensions of 2′ x 1′. Use neutral colors in beige, slate or light grey to make the bathroom look slicker.

46. Serving as an accent piece, highlighter tiles on the wall are magic to complement the main tiles in the bathroom. You can choose to place the highlighter tiles one below the other from ceiling to floor, in at least 2 feet width, right behind the basin or on the wall of the shower area.

47. The rule of the bathroom is quality and contrast. Buy soap dispensers, vases, toothbrush holders, or any accessories in colors that stand out and are different from the colors of the walls and tiles.

48. Never use a sconce over a mirror in the bathroom-it will cast an unflattering shadow on your face. Place the sconce beside of the mirror and it will provide a more flattering and natural light.

Wall & Ceiling

49. Never paint a ceiling stark white, because all white paint has a bit of gray in it, and it takes the room down. Paint the ceiling a cream shade. A good paint formula for a ceiling is the trim color plus 50% white.

50. Before you paint ceiling and walls, obey the 9 feet rule. If your ceiling is over 9 feet, paint it one shade darker than the wall color. For a low ceiling shorter than 9 feet, go one or two shades lighter for the ceiling.

51. In general, the floor should be a little darker than the walls.

52. Painting one room in 2 different finishes will make it look a bit higher.

53. To give your room architectural detail when it doesn’t have any, paint a 1.5″ to 2″ lining stripe around the ceiling and up the walls in the corners.

54. As David Hicks put it, “if you’re going to paint the walls white, you need art.”

55. Where to hang your artwork? People come in different height, so this is a moving target. But a good rule of thumb to start with, 63″above the floor is a perfect viewing height for most pieces.

56. When hanging a series of paintings in the living room, keep the gap between the paintings 2″ to 2Ã��Ã�½” to fully utilize the wall space, and keep a minimum 9” between the pictures and top of sofas.

57. If you have a painting that looks too small above your sofa, don’t center it. Here is a magic fix – move it a few inches to the left. The negative space will become part of the painting.

58. When framing a painting with a mat, use a mat with 8-ply thickness-the increased depth of the resulting bevel can make any artwork look important.

59. Avoid matching the color of your wall to one of your fabrics. It will be too strong. Try to find a grayed-out version of that color.

60. When painting the walls, go slightly stronger than you’re comfortable with. After the project has finished, if the color looks too intense, gray-out the color with its complement and wash it on. Pour the paint in a tray, then with a wet rag slosh and rub the new color over the old. In the end, the color will become the weaker and quieter version you just love.

Blinds and Curtains

61. For a cool Greek look, pick wood blinds for windows and paint them in white color. In the meantime, paint walls turquoise and use white furniture.

62. Curtains add style, warmth and texture to rooms. For a classic room with large arched or French windows, put up curtains in a scallop shape is a good way.

63. Use curtains as a magic tool to bring in balance in your rooms. For example, curtains in turquoise or violet well complement sofas in stark white upholstery. You get the idea.

64. You can use sheer or organza window curtains alone or as a second layer behind the main curtain, to achieve many different styles – whether contemporary, rustic or classical. You can experiment with the curtains to see what colors of light is let in.

65. For a contemporary room, install a tab curtain header. For rooms with classical or rustic furniture, place pleated or smocked curtain headers to create an ornate look.

Doors and Windows

66. Your front door sets the tone for what lies beyond. Add finesse to your place with a few accessories to the door is a smart and easy way. Use door knobs, handles, nameplates, letter boxes that are made of brass, nickel and steel for styles of range from contemporary to traditional.

67. The door knocker should reflect your style inside. Install a brass knocker, beautifully carved door knobs and handles if your furniture is classical, or use sleek and shiny chrome accessories in geometric patterns to enhance a modern flair.

68. For summer, windows need t be casual, to let in sun and air and take in the surrounding views. Opt for smooth fabrics to keep rooms feeling fresh. Add natural greens and citrus yellows to set off crisp whites; all three colors enhance a sense of airiness. Winter window treatments tend to be heavier and more formal. Taffeta, damask, chenille, silk and velvet are some traditional fabric choices. Pull them back with a tassel for a dressed-up look, and use lined dense, matte-finished outer drapes contrasted with a luxurious inner lining.

69. Curtains and drapes should always touch the floor!

Furniture and Accessories

70. Use your largest furniture as a focal point to start your room plan (In a living room, this would be your sofa; in a bedroom, your bed; and in the dining room, a dining table). Use remaining smaller furnishings to define areas and create ambience.

71. Never place a large piece of furniture at the entrance of a room.

72. Arranging furniture is more of an art than a science. Modular furniture such as sectionals allows for a variety array of arrangements.

73. Place an occasional chair or tall plant in a ‘dead zone’, an area where is empty with no apparent use.

74. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there are times using large pieces of furniture when decorating small spaces can effectively make your room look larger. Instead of fitting in excess small pieces like a sofa, an ottoman, a coffee table and chairs, try installing a larger size of sectional, a single table or bench, and an accent chair.

75. Grouping sofa pieces together in an L-shaped plan, you create an intimacy that encourages conversation. This arrangement feels as cozy for two guests as it does for six. A U-shaped grouping takes a more formal approach, with chairs placed symmetrically across from each other and more space between the seating, for easy traffic flow.

76. Transparent accessories such as glass and crystal wares wonderfully complement an all-white room.

77. To achieve flexibility in your room, look for multi-use furniture like a large ottoman or bench that can also serve as a coffee table.

78. Change your room accents for winter and summer using different furniture arrangement. When spring arrives, you shift the focal point from the fireplace to the garden by orienting the sofa toward the window to capitalize the garden view. When winter kicks in, rearrange your sofa facing toward the warm fireplace.

79. A diagonal arrangement of your sofa pieces makes your square room space look more dynamic.

80. Placing small abstract sculpture will instantaneously energize and modernize a room.

81. Furniture and objects can have more than one useful life. Take side tables for example. A handful of types of furniture can be used as a side table – All you need is a flat surface next t your sofa or armchair with space enough for some combination of lamps, books, drinks, etc. Think beyond the ordinary. A milk pail, a wooden chest, a trunk passed down through generations, or a tall stack of books can serve your needs well, and add an unexpected personal touch to your room’s decor.

82. Accessories don’t have to be formal. They can be a casual expression of whimsy. Mix modern vases and picture frames with vintage game boards or primitive artworks; display old hand mirrors r antique toys with fine crystal; add natural objects; use stones paperweights; add a bowl of leaves on the credenza; display a sleek collection of silver candlesticks to create a palette of contrasting textures.

83. Accessories give personality, paintings and artwork give quality and mirrors give depth.


84. Don’t fall prey to using more than three fabric patterns in one room.

85. If you love a fabric but it looks too strong, check the reverse side and very often than not it may just do the trick.

86. After using a fabric in a room, never use it again anywhere else in your house. Just do not match your fabrics, because this will make your rooms look over decorative.

87. It is safe to use small fabric patterns for a smaller room – of course, and for a larger room alike – when the patterns are seen at a distance; they tend to be read as solid.

Carpet and Rug

88. For a narrow hall or a narrow staircase, make sure you install the carpet as a runner and leave a 3″ wide border on both sides to make the hall or staircase appear wider than it is.

89. Nothing shrinks your room faster than placing a tiny ‘postage stamp’ rug at the seating area. Instead you want a good sized rug but need to keep 12″ of wood showing around the rug.

90. Carpet with leather borders can always make a room richer.

91. What rugs are you buying, pattern or solid? If you have lots of pattern in your furniture or drapes, use an area rug with little visible pattern. Otherwise, lay down a patterned rug will bring a vivid life to the room.


92. Limit overhead lighting to bathrooms and laundry rooms. Overhead light is just too harsh and flat. If there is too much light from overhead sources, we instinctually feel exposed. The rule of thumbs, at least 50% of the lighting is not from overhead for most of your rooms, except hallways, stairways and the entry hall – these are the only places where overhead lighting is necessary.

93. If there’s too much light from one direction, our instinct will signal that we would be unable to identify danger. This gives us a feeling of uneasiness.

94. Lighting creates atmosphere, drama, and intrigue. All you need to accomplish this is to use a dimmer switch as much as possible. The “pre-set” type is quite useful, as you can leave them dimmed and just switch them on and off.

95. Over-lit rooms lose their magic. A beautiful lit room will have 4 layers of light: recessed ceiling lights, drop-down ceiling fixtures, walls sconces and picture lights, and floor and table lamps.

96. Task-oriented lights in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms should be bright enough to provide ample light on the work plane, but put overhead lighting in these rooms on dimmers in order to moderate the light – and the mood – in the room.

97. Light sources of different temperatures create different effects.

98. Landscape lighting is a great way to prevent windows from turning black at night. Lit trees and landscaped elements provide a fabulous view beyond the window.

99. Don’t waste money to get a costly lamp. Invest in lampshades, not in lamps. You can get a lamp from Crate & Barrel or even IKEA, and make it look glorious. Use old saris, antique Chinese paper, box-pleated silk, anything you find attractive can be converted into a fabulous lampshade.

100. To create clean and modern feels, use white opaque paper for lampshade. Fussy shades date a room quickly.

101. Good rule of thumb for lamp wattage: 50-60 watts for the dining room; 70-80 watts for the overhead light in the bathroom and 60 watts on each side; 18-watt/830 compact fluorescent lamps (for providing adequate reading light according to Lighting Institute); 75-100 watts for your living room.

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