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How to Decorate: Everything I've Learned from an Interior Designer Mom [Nov. 23rd, 2010|02:02 pm]
Painfully perky
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How To Decorate

I will confess that I'm the sort to hang pictures two inches too high. From there I tap a trail of nail holes all the way down the wall till I finally get it right. Meanwhile, my mother, the professional interior designer (and feng shui consultant) takes one look at a room and transforms it just by moving the furniture around.

I remain an average Joe decorator, but I do have advice from pros to pass along.

Decorating isn't about drapes and frilly throw pillows. It's about planning, storage, organization, making the space fit your needs. Lastly--the part that we think is decorating--creating a cohesive look that suits you.

Good planning will save you money. You buy what you need, use what you buy, like what you buy, and then (the hard part) have it all look good together.

Here's all I know about decorating in a few easy phases. With homework. The short version:

1 - Learn what you want: Write down how you're going to use the space, really.
2 - Learn what you need: Write a list of what you already have, and what has to go with it (i.e., a bed needs bedding).
3 - Learn what you like: Window shop! Explore catalogs, shops, and online stores to learn what you like, writing down (yes) what you like about these things, 'till you come up with a list of catchphrases that describe how you want things to look.
4 - Create pools of activity spaces. Draw a layout of your place and, based on 1 and 2, decide how to accommodate your favorite activities.
5 - Finally, shop. List what you still need and shop with your catchphrases in mind.

Phase one. My mother the interior designer asks first: What you intend to do in your place?

Homework:
1 - Make a list of how you spend your time at home.
2 - Make a second list of how you'd like to spend your time at home. (For example, you may be a recent college grad who wants to have an "adult" space.)
3 - Write down which of these you do most and/or require the most space.

Be honest.

Many women decorate just like their moms did. They set up a fancy living room for entertaining that they never use because what they really do is read novels, spend their time online and watch TV. So they end up living in the dining room, or bedroom, with books and DVDs overflowing shelves, and dust a huge wasted living room.

Many men buy stereo equipment and video games and use their space practically: the video games will be centrally located. But they don't think through storage and end up with piles in corners, unable to find things. One day they reach over to put their drink on a table ... which doesn't exist. So they buy a coffee table. They bring their girlfriend in and, whoops, someone has to sit on the floor. Bit by bit they buy random furnishings, then scratch their heads and wonder when that nice stuff turned into haphazard junk.

Neither have thought in advance how they're going to use their space.

Here's a list of possible things you might do in your place:

1 - Store your things. Most people who have a place have things, or will have things.

2 - Live there, i.e., the basics, shower, eat, sleep. (Hey, some people don't live in their apartments, they spend their time elsewhere, see the movie Up In The Air.)

3 - Relax there, i.e., watch TV, play video games, dink around on the computer, make nicer meals, work out, practice your tap dancing (who knows?). (Again, this is not universal, some people do all their relaxation elsewhere and just crash at home, see half the people in NYC.)

4 - Entertain there, i.e., sleep with your girlfriend/boyfriend, have friends over, have family over, have your boss over. (Obviously, if other humans have to see your place, you'll arrange things differently. The porn collection probably can't be on the coffee table.)

5 - Other, i.e., run a small business, do myriad craft projects, create chain mail, set up a full S&M dungeon, babysit your sister's 6-year-old (little kids change your decorating options drastically).

Finished your homework? Good. Now you know what sort of decorating there is to do. A place that's largely for storage needs different (and far less) decor than an elegant showplace where you'll have your boss over for dinner parties.

Coming soon ... Phase Two: What do you have? What do you need?

Also posted at http://icarus.dreamwidth.org - Er. But please don't unfriend my LJ over this.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: raveninthewind
2010-11-23 07:34 pm (UTC)
if other humans have to see your place, you'll arrange things differently

Ha, yes, so true. Practical exercise: when I invited the nice FBI agent in to talk about my ex for his security clearance update, I noticed all my bootleg discs lying out in full view. Heh.

I would add: when experiencing a major life change such as moving or a breakup, re-evaluate all of the above.
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[User Picture]From: icarusancalion
2010-11-24 04:40 am (UTC)
Practical exercise: when I invited the nice FBI agent in to talk about my ex for his security clearance update, I noticed all my bootleg discs lying out in full view. Heh.

Ooooooops.

Hey, how's life treating you? I've been off-line, playing with the boyfriend.

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[User Picture]From: maraceles
2010-11-23 10:56 pm (UTC)
This is very, very helpful! *g*
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[User Picture]From: icarusancalion
2010-11-24 04:41 am (UTC)
Marvelous! You're very welcome.

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[User Picture]From: tafkah
2010-11-24 02:14 am (UTC)
This is really helpful.
I'm in the process of preparing an apartment for me to live in, so this comes at exactly the right time... :)
Thanks for the advice!
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[User Picture]From: icarusancalion
2010-11-24 03:04 am (UTC)
Perfect. I'm posting the next part tonight. In just a moment, in fact.

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