Decorating your property? Mistakes you should avoid

Whether buying a newly built or pre-owned house, or simply giving your own home a new look, decorating and furnishing your abode is easily done if you follow some simple rules.

Many homeowners jump right in and start slapping on the paint, but think carefully before you proceed. There are things to do and not to do when decorating and furnishing a home.
Measure up before purchasing furniture

Don't be too quick to rush out and buy furniture. Many homeowners buy items before taking possession of a home, or order furniture without thinking, with the result that when the furniture arrives, it often doesn't fit through the door or is too long or too deep for the room. Rather than making buying decisions based solely on a floor plan, live in your space for a while - you'll make better choices.
Don't make the mistake of buying furniture that is too large - or too small for that matter. People buy sofas that are too large, and rugs and other furnishings that are too small for the rooms they're in. Playing with the scale of furnishings is an art; a large armoire in a small room isn't necessarily a bad thing - if you create balance with a dark wall colour, large framed art and rich carpets. A sofa should fit on the short or long wall of a room; make sure if you place it along the short wall that you still have room for end tables on each side.
For day-to-day living - and certainly when selling a home – a neutral colour scheme is easy to live with. But some rooms cry out for something different and a feature wall may be the answer. In the dining room above a vibrant red was applied on one wall. Without the red the room would have been - well - average, but the red gives the room a burst of colour that takes it from average to awesome.
When choosing an area rug for a particular room, make sure you buy the right size rug. You want one that allows the front legs of your furniture to sit on the edge to define the space, so the rug doesn't appear to float in the middle of the room.

Choose sensible colours

After you have selected the colours for your home, look carefully at paint colour. You might have selected the right colour but the wrong hue. Hue is the lightness or darkness of a particular colour, and when you have a colour swatch in your hand you will see that the strip offers a selection of hues ranging from light to dark hues. A good rule of thumb is to work from the bottom up: darker hues at the bottom and lighter at the top, especially since floors are usually a darker hue than walls and ceilings are lighter than walls.
If you have decided that a particular room - or space - needs more impact, consider painting one wall with bolder colour to create a feature wall. Choose one wall that is as close to being solid as possible - without windows or doors - or use a wall that incorporates an architectural element such as a fireplace or a staircase.

Keep rooms uncluttered

We hoard, collect and often have too many things that don't belong, so learning to edit a room is a huge lesson. The easiest way to do it is to dress a room completely and then take away 30 per cent of the accessories, such as candles, picture frames and knickknacks. That will leave room to add items as the décor develops over time.

Vignettes of small collectibles are wonderful in a room on top of a coffee table, mantel shelf of dresser. Instead of placing them all over and creating a cluttered look - create big impact by grouping a collection on a table, or samplers or family photos on one wall. Dotting them all around the house only lends a cluttered look to your décor.

Hang it right
It is a common mistake to hang artwork too high. The rule of thumb is that the bottom of the frame should be 25cm to 30cm above the top of any piece of furniture, be it a headboard, sofa or dresser. In a passage or hallway, hang art so that the middle of the work is 150cm from the floor - or at eye-level.
Don't clutter up a lounge or dining room with too many family portraits or photos, rather save those framed wedding, school and family photographs for the hallway, home office or family room.
A blank canvas is created by painting walls, trim and ceiling beams in one colour. Look closely at the room above and you will notice that there is quite a lot going on in the room, as far as furniture and accessories are concerned. With walls and trim painted in one colour, these fade into the background and allow upholstered fabrics, accessories and flooring to stand out without looking too busy.
Highlight architectural features

While painting skirtings, ceiling beams, trim and crown moulding adds impact and effect, if your trim is less than 8cm in width or height, paint it to match the wall colour so it blends in; otherwise you'll end up with a racing stripe effect around the room. Additionally, painting skirtings, door and window frames, walls, beams and crown moulding the same colour also makes a room feel higher.
Add life to rooms

A living or dining space needs fresh plants or flowers, whether it's an arrangement of seasonal flowers or a potted plant. Using silk or artificial greenery is fine, but only if you rotate it and make it seasonal. Dusty, outdated-looking floral arrangements make a room appear old and in need of change.
Make a visit to your nearest flower shop or market, as opposed to local supermarket, and you will be surprised at how affordable fresh flowers can be.

Don't skimp on curtains and drapes

With the availability of inexpensive tab-top drapes and rods, buying and hanging quality draperies have been a low priority for homeowners in the past few years. While these are perfect for the family room or den, these window fashions do little to dress up an elegant living or dining room. Custom draperies never go out of style.
Pay attention to hardware and fit a curtain rod or pole that matches the room décor.

Stop being a square

Many homeowners - myself included - keep moving furniture in and trying to line it up. As an option, try dividing a long, narrow room by using the two-thirds/one-third rule: allow two-thirds of the space for the main seating area, and one-third a space for a reading chair, home office or a sunny spot by the window. You don't need to be afraid to show the back of a chair or sofa by using the piece to divide the room.

Choose upholstery fabrics wisely

You want your upholstered sofas, chairs and draperies to last many years. Opting for a bold colour fabric will quickly make a these pieces look and feel outdated, plus you will have the additional expense of re-upholstery when you get tired of the look. Instead, choose colours that are a shade lighter or darker than your wall colour, so furnishings work well together and maintain their timeless appeal.
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