icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
[personal profile] icarus
Took forever for me to finish, but in response to a friend, at long last:

How To Decorate

Final phase: Now. Where to put the furniture...?

So you know what you're going to do in your place. You know what you need to be comfortable. And you know the styles you like. And as synedochic suggested I've listed official "designer" terms to make those styles searchable.

Now it's time to draw your layout and decide where to put your furniture.

1 - Measure your place. (Oh! And measure your larger pieces of furniture.)
2 - Now sketch the shape of your place (on graph paper if you like), marking the length of each wall.
3 - From the list of what you want to do in your place (eat, sleep, read, entertain, exercise, tap dance), pencil in areas for each of those activities. Draw a circle demarking the areas for each activity and label them.
4 - Then draw where, within those areas, what you already own will go (consider first things like, oh, grand pianos that can only go in one or two spots).

A drawing helps you use your space intelligently.

Most people just stick the furniture flat along the walls, out of the way, for an unattractive warehouse effect. That's exactly what warehouses do: store furniture out of the way.

*raises hand*

Guilty as charged. My last apartment had a couch against one wall with a coffee table in front of it, TV against the opposite wall, easy chair waaaay over in the right hand corner, another chair allllll the way in the left hand corner, and bookcases placed in between. Basically, every corner had a chair. When we had friends over we had to shout across the room.

Not only was my setup unworkable, the geometric shape of it was dreadful. If you looked around the room, turning in a circle, I had a tall bookcase, then a low easy chair, then a tall bookcase, then a long couch, then a tall silk tree. Visually, it made a ragged, jagged line, giving the room a cluttered, uncomfortable feel.

It's easy to get locked into the shape of a room. That's how Stick-A-Thing-In-Each-Corner syndrome happens.

Seeing your place on graph paper, viewed from above, you loosen up how you conceptualize your space. You take charge of the space rather letting it dictate to you.

Decorator!mom says the placement of furniture "is the math of decorating." It's geometry. You draw nice smooth lines and shapes.

Pencil in areas for each of your planned activities from phase one.

Design your space with your planned activities in mind. Go back to the first post and look at your list. You plan to eat. Will you eat in a dining room, in a kitchen breakfast nook, or in front of your TV?

Reconsidering my old apartment (my current one was designed by decorator!mom), I've followed these steps and drawn a new layout. I wanted space for friends, reading space, a place to sit down to pull off muddy shoes, more space to cook in the kitchen-dining area, and TV-crocheting-computer space.

I drew general circles for those activities on my layout.

Sigh. It's so simple now. For example, all I needed to have done was arrange the chairs around the coffee table in talking distance and use a rug to make a grouping. But I thought, oh, no, chairs might be in the way. (Sigh. Warehouse priorities.) For reading, it would have made sense to cluster all the tall bookcases together into one cozy corner around the easy chair (my ex even suggested it once) to make a little library nook. My imagination was locked into the rectangular shape of the room.

The graph paper helps you see the space as fluid.

You don't need walls to shape a space. Think about it. When we build roads, we just draw lines down the middle and, boom, we've already redirected how we see the space. With just a painted yellow line. A rug does the same thing. A rug acts like a pool, makes a cluster of furniture. A tall plant, a bookcase, a couch, a table with a big fish tank ... all these can reshape a room, creating a wall where there is none.

Heck, if you painted a chalk outline of a body on your floor, everyone would walk around it.

Another way is to imagine that you're creating pools and clusters of furnishings. Like designing a garden. Many of the nicest gardens have curving pathways that go around a little cluster of this ... a pond, a bench under a nice tree ... and around a little cluster of that ... some small pine trees nestled a gazebo. Draw those activity circles to mark your clusters.

Of course I'm not saying put a fish pond in your living room. I'm suggesting that you ignore your four walls--don't look at them!--and design a garden of furniture. Use those circles you drew to carve up your space.

What are you going to use to shape the room?

Do you like cozy little nooks? Or do you like big open spaces?

1. If you like open spaces...

... then make sure you can always see across the room. You're still going to reshape the space, but only with rugs and furniture waist-high and below.

After you physically place your furniture you're going to sit down in every spot and look around: make sure that nothing looks cluttered. Decorate the flat spaces with simple sculpture, or Leggo art, or art books, or else (for most people) the blank spaces will attract crap.

2. If you like cozy nooks...

... then reshape the space with tall things you can't see around. Eight foot silk plants. Bookcases. Coat racks. A six foot mirror on a tilted stand. Your priority is not that you can see everywhere, but that everywhere you look there's something interesting to see.

After you physically place your furniture, you're going to sit in every spot, look around, and micro-decorate: there should be nothing ugly or unconsciously arranged. Treat it like little fairies have been there; use mirrors and lots of little lights to draw the eye around the corner to the next nook.

Pick your colors according to the mood you want to create.

For that clean, calm feel, control your colors to just three per room: two dominant colors (like white and mauve) and one accent color (like, I dunno, deep green). Controlling your colors will keep the space feeling open and clean.

For a busier, more playful effect, you'll also pick just three colors (two dominant, one accent, you don't want more colors than that). However, treat them as palettes of color. If your three colors are light green, cream, and the accent rust, you can use various shades of those colors. You have three themes of colors. Bear in mind, the more colors you use, the more busy your space will feel.

Now place (draw) furniture in the activity areas according to what works for your activities.

Do you want to have friends over? Create intimate seating arrangements with convenient tables. Sit on your couch and imagine trying to hold a conversation. How far away should the other chairs be? Figure out the size of rug you'll need that's big enough for your couch and chairs to sit on. Measure the distance and draw it on your sketch.

Do you want to watch TV? Sit down on a couch either at home or in the store. How far away is comfortable? Measure the distance and draw it on your layout.

TVs are often unattractive, so consider a cabinet or wardrobe that closes. Or place a tall plant so that you can't see the TV as soon as you walk into the house.

Do you want a private space for studying or reading? You can create a cozy little nook with bookcases. Decorator!mom advises keeping bookcases clustered together for a library effect since bookcases tend to look cluttered and messy when full. And we always fill them, don't we?

Do this for each of the activity areas from your list in step one. Unless you have a very big house, you'll probably have to make sacrifices and prioritize one activity over another.

Consider line of sight.

The first thing you see is defines the room: its purpose, its style. So if the first thing you see is the trash can ... well, there you go.

Make the purpose of the room clear from the moment someone glances through the door. If it's a multi-purpose room, pick one main activity. Seen in the activity areas in your drawing, it's clear that the table is the centerpiece of the dining room; the bed is the center of the bedroom; the desk is the center of the office.

If you're changing your style, you don't have to run out and buy all new furniture. If the new style coordinates with the old ... say, changing from contemporary to sleek modern (see phase three) ... then one new piece, if it's the first thing you see, acts as a signature for the whole room.

From within each area, the first item people see has the most impact. If your living room furniture's from dumpster diving, except that beloved rocking chair from grandma, you class up the joint if you make the rocking chair the first thing you see. If it makes you happy to look at it, then you'll be happy every time you walk in.

Most important: How does your home make you feel?

There's no need to imitate the pictures in catalogs, or unconsciously copy how our parents decorated.

If we think it through, our spaces can first be effective ways to store and access our things, adapted to how we really live, and finally, relax us, by being pleasing to our eyes.


icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

December 2015

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