icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
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.

Homework:
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.

Read more... )

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

Read more... )

The graph paper helps you see the space as fluid.

Read more... )

What are you going to use to shape the room?

Read more... )

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

Read more... )

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

Read more... )

Consider line of sight.

Read more... )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Continuing the How Decorate series (see How To Decorate: Phase One and Phase Two, and Phase Three here)....

We've figured out the practical stuff: how we're going to use the space, what we have and what we need. Now we're on to style: figuring out what we like.

I guess we've spent three years doing this.

Well. I did say take your time....

I suggested in Phase Three that you come up with words to describe what you like. [personal profile] synecdochic pointed out it might be helpful to have the official terms. Good point. Others asked for a browsing guide. Another good point. Why get catalogues when you can look online?

Here you go:

Modern
Possible words you chose - stark, New York penthouse, urban, cool, sleek, metal and glass, monochromatic, abstract, high contrast, IKEA-esque

Contemporary (I don't have a link for this one because it's often mixed up with modern)
Possible words - suburban, updated, practical, uncomplicated, basic, overstuffed, warm, cushion-y, relaxed, normal, JCPenney-esque

Traditional
Possible words - sophisticated, mature, British-y, formal, fancy, dignified, old fashioned, the-furniture-with-little-feet-that-look-like-they're-going-to-walk-away, Sherlock Holmes-y

Asian
Possible words - detailed, oriental, hand-carved, lacquered, solid, lots of red and black, intricate, very Chinese-y

Transitional (note the big difference between this and Asian)
Possible words - Zen-like, streamlined, artsy, unusual shapes, simple curved lines, Japanese-esque

Country (decorator!mom says most people mix contemporary and country; it's hard to pull off)
Possible words - farm furniture, down home, woodsy, old west, grandma-like, cutesy, kitschy, handmade, southern, cabin in the woods, Bed & Breakfast style

Shabby Chic
Possible words - artistically beat up, French-looking, washed out, not everything matches but it still goes, acid washed, lots of white cottage stuff, Anthropologie-esque

There are many other styles, but these are a few of the popular ones. Some of those other styles are pretty self-explanatory: Retro or Tropical, for example? Others tend to be included with the major ones above: Mission style (included with country), French Country (which shabby chic elaborates on), Queen Anne (included with traditional), Chippendale (also included in traditional).

That should get you started.

The next part I've had the hardest time with: Phase Four: Layout. The actual placement of furniture.

Yes. Finally we get to decorate.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
After paying a paaaaiiiiinful $200 heating bill for my DeLonghi oil heater (it's one of the better ones, but not cheap to run, no, no) I ran to decorator!mom for help.

"Oh, the Australians have the best heating and insulation options," said decorator!mom. (The job comes with a cape.)

After some confusion, she linked me to convection heating at econo-heat.com. "You want convection heat. The heaters aren't the cheapest, but the cost savings on your electric bill are amazing."

Beware the Eco-heat sold on Amazon.com. It's a cheap knock-off that doesn't always honor their warranty and has a problem with cracking. They're also sneaky and picked a similar name.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Continuing the How Decorate series (see How To Decorate: Phase One and Phase Two here)....

How To Decorate

When I moved into my first apartment, my mom asked me what I liked. "You're an artist," she said.

I should know, right?

Not being a decorator, I responded with confusion. "What do you mean, what do I like?" After a puzzling conversation filled with terms I didn't recognize, I said, "Er. I like the tables and chairs with little feet on them-?"

She wrinkled her nose and called me "very traditional." But that wasn't it. When I looked at actual photos, I discovered I didn't like those chairs at all. Too fancy. I just don't like straight lines. I like curves.

Most people get overwhelmed and confused when figuring out what styles they like. There are so many options. That's one reason to give yourself time.

And photos. Lots of photos.

How To Decorate: Phase Three, What Do I Like?

Homework (this part is fun--you can take an afternoon with a stack of catalogs, or, if possible, take your time, days, weeks, even months):
1 - Online and in print, order catalogs of furnishings and decorative items. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY'RE LAUGHABLY EXPENSIVE. You're not buying these things but finding your tastes. Window shop! Check out stores that have Things You Like.
2 - Mark the catalogs and/or keep a list of links with comments. Put stars on what you really, really like. Notice what you really, really hate, too.
3 - Write down in those comments what you like about them ("It's kind of Jetson's retro" or "I like the color, it reminds me of fall" or "Looks sturdy, like I can put my feet on it" or "My grandma had one." Lame phrases like "it's pretty" or "I like it" are useless).
4 - After doing this with a several catalogs, stores, websites, take a look at what you've said. What patterns do you find?

Do the words "comfortable" or "sturdy" come up a lot? How about "fun" or "whimsical"? Did you mention grandma's house over and over? In those pictures, do you see similarities? Maybe a lot of black leather sofas and glass tables? Is half of it Asian and half of it country kitchen? Is there a lot of wood? Do things look handmade or antique? Did you like animal pictures? Leopard spots? African stuff? Kites and bright colors?

If it all seems a confusing jumble, you may want a friend to help you spot the patterns. English majors: you're looking for themes. You know how to do this.

Don't worry if they don't all seem to fit together. Everyone has a range of tastes.

Now. Narrow what you wrote down to a few phrases that describe what you want in your place. (This time. Some phrases you might reserve for another place.) For example: "Old fashioned. Country. Handmade-looking. Reminds me of grandma's."

I ended up with: "Asian, wood, looks a little beat up, soft, rounded edges and curved lines, musical instruments, classy cat art, fall colors, (no glass or metal furniture!), brass fixtures."

Sometimes people (usually guys) hit this stage and ... it all looks the same. You just couldn't care less. Try the opposite approach. Point out what you think is ugly. Guys, it might seem a little "frou-frou" to have an opinion about interior design, but bring in that zebra striped couch and, oh, man, what the hell is That?! Suuure you don't care. (If you're resistant to this part, recall phase one: who's going to see this place? Girlfriends? Trust me. What your place looks like has an impact.)

In rare cases, nothing looks ugly either. All right. Write down how you want other people to react and have someone help you. (If you don't expect other humans to ever see your place--until they carry out your body--then never mind. Just do the storage planning and ignore the rest, ha.)

Have you done your homework? Great. Now you have a list of catchphrases to guide you in your shopping. With those phrases and images in mind, what you buy will click together even you make that impulse buy on vacation in Aruba.


Next ... Phase Four: Layout.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
How To Decorate

Continuing the decorating series (see How To Decorate: Phase One).

In my first apartment, I made the mistake of trying to decorate it before I put things away. The result was sort of a band-aid effect. Pictures on the wall and a total mess around them. Visually, the mess dominated. I called myself an "unrepentant slob" but in reality I just didn't set up places for things. My closet was too full so my coat went on the couch, I didn't have a hamper so my clothes went on the bed, and so on.

When I moved into my current place (this time with mom's help) I noticed she cleaned and organized everything first. "The Feng Shui improves as you keep your place clean. You slowly improve, clearing out your space more and more."

Phase two: At first, your home is for storage.

Homework:
1 - Make a list of what you have.
2 - Make a list of what you need, i.e., you have a collection of mint condition 1979 Star Wars X-wing fighters; you need shelving to display it. You have clothes; you need a dresser. You have a kitchen; you need kitchenware.
3 - Mark next to these items *where* they would most likely be used (bedroom? kitchen? living room?).

Your home, at its most basic, is a place to store your things. Homeless people can't own much because they have nowhere to put it.

Decorating starts with being tidy and organized. A clean space feels good, has good feng shui, and is livable. When you first buy or rent your place it's so clean and inviting ... and then you move in piles of boxes. A daunting, discouraging mess. (Set up one room first. You can retreat from the chaos.)

Once you've listed what you have and what you need, consider a few organizing basics:

- Things you need all the time should be easily accessible.

- Things you rarely use can be less accessible.

- Store similar items together: i.e., cleaning items in the same place, gardening tools in the same closet, etc. That way if you don't know where you put it, at least you know where it should be.

- If possible, store things near where they will be used, since the farther an item has to be moved (especially if used regularly) the more likely you'll leave it out.

- If you have things you don't need or use at all, consider giving them to Goodwill. In my opinion, if you can store it where you have to drive to it, you probably don't need it.

- Decorator!mom says open bookcases often look cluttered, so put them close together to create a "library."

- Open buckets of trash are awful, so buy trashcans with lids. If there's one thing you can do for yourself, try not to decorate with bouquets of trash.

If this is your first apartment/house, you're probably listing basics like beds, kitchen tables, flatware, linens. I suggest buying the small items (like dishes and flatware) long before your move. Free up your budget for the big ticket items. If it's kept in a closet or drawer, buy it early.

Don't buy the big ticket items until you've done the entire planning process.

Finished your homework? Now you have an idea of what you *have* to buy. Some--or all--of it may double as decorative items, but these you need to make your life comfortable.

Next ... Phase Three: Researching What You Like.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
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?

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