Heartbreaking as it may seem, some homeowners either have no sense of design or simply don't care enough to make their home look inviting. Some enlightened homeowners will hire a designer or consult with one at a retail furniture store. Of course, "designers" employed by these retailers are there more to help the company sell a suite of furniture than to help you make your house a home. Here are some tips to debunk store-bought sterility.
The idea that all furniture in a room should match is one of the biggest myths put forth by in-house designers. On the contrary, the best rooms are a mix of furniture styles and periods and colors that don't match exactly but rather complement each other. Everyone is different, and rooms are meant to be biographical and reflect your personality. Thus, they should be filled with things that you like.
The key to making your home have a distinct character is to focus on finding one strong unifying element. Perhaps it is a color, a repetitive pattern, or the use of a material such as a natural wood or crystal. If you study the work of designers that are published in magazines, you can usually spot this defining character which affects the choice of each item selected.
While I am partial to white walls, colors can make the biggest impact on the look of a room. Contrary to the popular opinion that dark colors make a room look smaller, darker hues, such as blue, brown and gray, will make you lose perception of where walls start and spaces end. This illusion makes your brain think the room is larger. Your eye registers a boundary where there is a color change or where light bounces. The trick is to minimize color changes and contrasts, and to use a flat or matte paint to avoid any bouncing light.
Lining furniture around the perimeter of rooms is the instinct of most homeowners. However, doing this limits the way a room is used. On the other hand, designers will seek out the focal point of a room, such as a fireplace or a grouping of windows, select that as the primary furniture location, and then identify other areas where secondary seating may be placed. Keep in mind that a room may have more than one focal point, and your furniture layout should acknowledge that. This will help balance out your room.
Finally, don't feel limited in how you can use certain pieces of furniture. There is no reason why a china cabinet should be reserved for storage china in the dining room. A china cabinet can function as a focal point in an entry way or as a bookcase in a bedroom. Or, for something very different, consider having a canopied bed filled with decorative pillows in your living room. It is a great place for conversation or after-dinner drinks with friends.
Don't be afraid to think beyond the store's vision of how you should live: Be courageous; take the risk.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.