Have you ever wondered what advice an interior designer would give you if he or she stepped into your house? Should I ditch the rug in my family room or live with it a little longer? Do I have too much color or not enough? Is it okay that my chairs have brass nail heads but my fireplace screen is silver? I asked Claire Paquin from Clean Design in Scarsdale for her top ten interior design tips and you might be surprised what she said.
Don’t be afraid to mix metals.
There is no reason why you should stick with only one metal finish within a room. Adding different finishes creates a layered, rich look.
Buy a bigger rug.
Often people select rugs that are too small for their rooms and seating areas. Sometimes the reason for this is budget – bigger rugs cost more! However, at a minimum, two legs of all the furniture in a seating group should be generously on the rug. It’s preferable, if possible, to have all legs of the furniture on the rug.
Hang your lighting at the right height and buy the right size fixture.
There are some simple rules to follow regarding lighting installation. In terms of height, pendants in rooms that have 8 ft ceilings should usually hanging down to about 80″ off the floor. In 9 ft ceilings, 84″ off the floor works well. Over dining tables, hang your fixture between 30-36″ off the table. In terms of size, a quick trick is to take the width and length of the room in feet, add those two numbers together to get the approximate diameter of the fixture that will work in the space.
Have different sources of lighting in a room.
A room with all recessed lighting can feel cold and sterile. Add sconces, table and floor lamps, and pendant lighting to spaces to spread the light around and achieve solid ambient, accent, and task lighting.
Mix patterns by varying their scale and design.
Neutral, plain or textured fabric is great for your larger upholstered furniture items like sofas. But make sure to add pattern into your room on chairs, draperies, and pillows. You can have more than one pattern in a room as long as you vary the scale (small, medium, large) and design (geometric, organic, floral, stripes) of these patterns.
Distribute accent colors around your room.
It’s not enough to choose an accent color or two, toss some pillows on your sofa, and call it a day. Accent colors need to be distributed around a room in order to have the desired impact. Consider other ways to bring in and repeat your accents colors. Flowers, throws, pillows, lighting, and accessories are great ways to reinforce a color decision.
Hang your draperies as high as you can.
Window treatments are functional and beautiful. They can insulate a room, provide privacy or light diffusion, and they look great doing it! Take advantage of the height in your space by mounting your drapes as high as possible. I often mount draperies only 1-2″ down below crown molding. It makes the room feel bigger and grander. Also, for decorative drapery panels, the drapes should hit the floor slightly – my preference is for 1/4″.
Look for opportunities for custom built-ins.
Every home has nooks and crannies that are under-utilized. Think about customizing these awkward spaces with cabinetry to increase function and storage. A small alcove could become a cozy reading nook by building in a window seat with storage drawers below. Built-in bookcases can be great around a doorway in a symmetrical room. Build in a bench or cubby cabinet to enhance the functionality of a mudroom.
Use drawers instead of doors on cabinetry.
In general, drawers tend to be a more functional use of space than doors. Have you noticed how many kitchen designers add pull-out drawers to the interior of cabinets that are behind doors? Why would they do that? It’s twice the work to open the door, then pull out the drawer!
Don’t decorate based on the style or era of your house.
Just because you own a beautiful Tudor, does not mean you have to stick with barley-twisted chairs and tapestries! Buy what you like and feel free to modernize a beautiful, old home by updating the furnishings, kitchen, and baths. The charm of your old home won’t be lost, but enhanced by the contrast and increased functionality.
Photos courtesy of Clean Design. To see more of Claire Paquin’s portfolio, visit Clean Design.