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Decorating Dos and Don'ts

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Do choose a starting point with colors and motifs to repeat in the room.
Photo c.2003 Glenna Morton, About.com
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More of this Feature
• Part 2: More Dos
• Part 3: The Don'ts
• Part 4: More Don'ts

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Part 1: Decorating rules can focus your planning

The rules of interior decorating can be as solid as a rock or as open to interpretation as the sky. But many experts agree that learning the rules can be the first step toward freely breaking those rules when necessary. Here are some of the decorating dos.

>> Do sketch your floorplan and record the room dimensions, window sizes and placement, and the location of special features, electrical outlets, and so on.

Take your floorplan with you when you shop.

>> Do take the time to discover your personal style by reading shelter magazines, attending showhouses, and browsing online and in stores to learn what styles and colors really appeal to you.

>> Do identify the focal point of the room (a fireplace, a view, a bed, an armoire).

>> Do define a room's style in writing , being specific. (Not just "country French", but "French Country with a rooster motif, chicken wire cupboard fronts, and a color scheme that includes black and gold.")

>> Do pick a signature piece to focus your decorating decisions. It could be a beautiful fabric, an area rug, a picture, a piece of pottery, dishes, or a postcard. The item should embody both the color scheme of the room as well as the style and mood you hope to create.

>> Do coordinate fabric and flooring choices before making any major purchases, and before choosing exact paint colors.

>> Do purchase large elements first (rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture) whenever possible, and use the exact colors and style of those major pieces to coordinate all other choices.

>> Do use a mix of patterns -- large-scale, small-scale, checks, stripes, geometrics, plain -- when coordinating a room.

>> Do allow for natural pathways in a room (such as from the door to the closet) and try to arrange furniture with those walkways in mind.

>> Do consider the uses and function of a room before deciding on furnishings and arrangements. For example, if your dining room will also be your study, then you'll need room for a desk, books, lighting, and files as well as the dining room table and chairs.

>> Do consider using unifying elements such as trim color, wood tone, flooring, motifs, fabrics, or materials.

>> Do use the principle of repetition when planning shapes, colors, fabrics, and patterns. One red accent in a room may look like an afterthought whereas several red accents here and there will contribute to the color scheme.

>> Do plan ahead for appropriate task, general, and dramatic lighting by using a mix of light fixtures on dimmers for maximum control.

>> Do purchase the best quality furniture you can afford . Learn more about quality construction and materials that can prolong the life of furniture and make it a better buy in the long run.

>> Do read more decorating dos on the next page.

Next: > Page 2: More Decorating Dos

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