Millions of us are ready to spend time reading the myriad of "design 101" articles and pieces that generous writers, decorators, and interior professionals make available. Most of these items have some solid tips for avoiding the biggest or most common design blunders, but many of them do have one glaringly consistent flaw, and that is that they describe design as having a "right", "best" or "only" approach.
As the classic saying goes: "there is no right or wrong way" where home decorating is concerned because we are such original and unique individuals. Yes, there are some definitive dos and don'ts when designing your own or a client's spaces, but the foundation of it all is decorating based on that individual style, personality, or need.
As Shakespeare so aptly said, though, "therein lies the rub". After all, how do you decorate accurately, meeting personal or individual style, without using some guesswork or painting with some broader designer strokes? In other words, how do you take what you know of someone (yourself or another) and convert that into a design scheme that is the ideal fit?
The good news is: You don't have to! This list of tips and tricks is going to help you cheat your way to flawless décor using some of today's latest technologies along with some time-proven approaches.
The Cheater's Manual
We live in the age of information, and yet we may not be connecting on a level deep enough to understand someone's personal style or preferences. For example, how often have you entered a friend or colleague's home and been surprised that they had a preference for "shabby chic" or "contemporary and clean" décor? It is likely that at least one or two people you know have caught you off guard with their personal style.
If your task is to help someone redecorate, or you are decorating your own spaces and running into challenges, use these resources to avoid any flawed judgments or unpleasant outcomes:
• Use Pinterest - Yes, you did read that correctly. However, we are not suggesting that you use it to create a board for all of the world to see. Use it to begin curating only the images, ideas, pieces and projects that appeal directly to you (or the person who is doing the redecorating project). Don't hesitate to add images of paint chips, rooms you love, ideas you believe might work well in the space, individual products, and anything else.
After a while, a definitive image will emerge, and you will start to see a long list of preferences to integrate into the décor. Colors, furniture styles, textiles and art…and everything you need to get a perfect fit.
• Start a list of "keywords" - Modern marketers talk at length about SEO or search engine optimization. This is done by integrating specific words into their online materials. Those words are the ones their customers would most often use to find whatever it is they sell or provide. Choosing keywords to describe the room or space is incredibly empowering.
Did you want it romantic and airy? Rustic and artisan? Relaxed or casual? Start making a list and work on it over time. Soon you will have a list of criteria that you can run every design choice through before giving a green light. As an example, is that overhead lighting too glitzy for your rustic décor? Maybe the Dutch modern table is just the right kind of contemporary.
• Palettes - As you progress through the first two steps, also keep the idea of a palette in mind. For instance, you may favor a pale, sage green. That's great, but that might not be your key or anchor color, and it may instead be better to work as an accent. Alternately, overlooking the choice of a key color makes it impossible to choose anything else for a space because it may fail to work with the key colors you already favor. So, begin building that palette with a leading color and at least two to three support hues for accents, textiles, paint and décor.
Keep in mind that you may have a piece of fabric, art or upholstery that you use as the basis for the palette, and you can then build the rest of your design around that powerful piece too. Remember that a lead piece that is a very large and bold pattern should be supported and complemented by other patterns. Go with smaller prints or scales if your leading pattern is bold and big. As an illustration of this, say you chose a large scale paisley with teal and salmon hues. Your support prints could be smaller geometrics in coordinating colors and also a few solids to give bursts of support.
With those three preliminary actions, you have created the perfect little cheat that will enable your design and decorating activities to be far more effective and powerful than ever before.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com and www.dreamstime.com