Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Your House a Home! Part 1

Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt

Now that you’ve got your decorating project well underway by placing rugs, ordering upholstery and selecting a color scheme, it is time to add the finish and polish.  Here we’ll touch on ideas and sources for some wonderful window treatments, awesome accessories and charming collectibles, and delightful artwork to add personality and character to your interior.

Window treatments are made to dress the windows, simply framing the view or providing light and privacy control.  They have valuable acoustic benefits, especially in the soaring spaces so popular in today’s homes.  With the vast quantities of glass and hardwood floors found in so many new houses, draperies can be an important softening element against rooms that echo.  In addition, they provide an easy and effective means of bringing some pattern and color to a higher level, thereby balancing the room.  (Otherwise, it can tend to look bottom heavy!)  Be aware that we are talking about fabric based treatments here, not wood blinds or plantation shutters.  While both are an option, they do not offer any acoustical advantage and, in fact, may compete with the profusion of architectural detail prevalent in interior spaces today.

Often window treatments can be used successfully to frame a terrific view or highlight an outdoor feature. For a more tailored look, an upholstered cornice board may be used.  (These are often best balanced by adding side panels for a grounding effect.)  By using simple, stationary side panels with a valance or swag design cost is reduced, and the effect is optimized.  Unique and creative decorative hardware, such as a fluted wood pole or twisted metal rod with delightful finial ends can be incorporated for a more airy feeling.  You can fudge the height of a room, visually lifting the ceiling height, by installing valances and such at least 8” above the top of the window molding if space allows.  If there is very little room between the bottom of the crown molding and the top of the window frame, then mount the valance at the base of the molding.  Make sure that your top treatment is deep enough to cover the top of the window frame so that the effect is maintained.

Remember to pay attention to the type and size of pattern you choose.  In many instances, the fabric will be gathered so that the pattern will be distorted.   Surely you’ll want to consider the wealth of beautiful tassels and trims that can be added to treatments. These can range from whimsical to elegant and serve to personalize your look.  For ready made window treatments, check out some of the bed and bath stores, like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Linens and Things, Home Expo, and The Curtain Exchange.  For a custom look contact your favorite local designer.

On accents and accessories, consider mixing your elements again.  You’ll want to include elements of glass or crystal, a variety of metal finishes, wood tones, stone looks, and even ceramic.  For a more traditional formal feeling, use pairs of objects to create a symmetrical balance.  For a casual, more contemporary mood, work in odd numbers, providing a more asymmetrical look and dynamic. Try to group like objects together for maximum impact.  Always keep your collections together, rather than scattered throughout the house.   Do use bookends, and not the kind from the office superstore!  There are a host of intriguing ones to choose from including fancy ornamental ironwork, globes on stands, any manner of animal (monkeys and elephants seem most prolific), and, of course, architectural features like columns, finials and acanthus leaves.  Avoid running books clear across a shelf, because it is heavy looking.  Create interest by adding art objects and photographs between clusters of books.  Photographs are most effective when grouped by like frame, such as all gold together, all silver, all wood and such.  Vary the sizes so that they can be stacked with tall in the back and smaller in front.

The key to accessories and accents is to make it personal.  Try to get pieces you really enjoy rather than just space fillers.  Be sure to include family mementos and treasures from your travels, even children’s crafts can be shown off.  Display your collectibles, no matter what the item. When effectively presented personal collections add personality and interest.  If you aren’t going to enjoy it, why have it?!  Even sports memorabilia (not just for guys!) can be well arranged and handsomely showcased.

Consider putting decorative accessories on an angle. Placed at an angle, objects are easier to view from all sides, have a greater sense of movement and are less static visually.  Great places to shop for decorative accents are Hill Street Warehouse, Pier 1 Imports, Home Expo, and your favorite local designer who probably keeps special accents on hand for just such an opportunity.

Personalizing your home may seem overwhelming, and you may feel like you don’t know where to start. Just use these steps, take your time and have fun with it.  If you are more inclined to get it all done at once and don’t know where to start, call a qualified design professional.   Their expertise and guidance can be invaluable, and many work by the hour, both consulting and sourcing.  Your home is your castle, your haven, your place to enjoy, so take the time to make it reflect who you are!

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