Design Basics – A Recipe for Your Rooms

Decorating your home is like baking a cake. You would not add icing or accents until you had followed the directions and baked a tasty dessert. Like using a recipe, following the basics of good design rules will give you a home that is equally scrumptious and ready for all the trimmings.

Let’s look at just a few common decorating mistakes. We’ll discuss what can be done to address them and, in so doing, create a room that is more functional and pleasing to the senses.

Chocolate or Orange Marmalade?

Every room should have a focal point just as every cake has a flavor. Sometimes it’s a natural or architectural feature; sometimes you create the focus. Play it up by allowing it to orient the room. A fireplace or beautiful garden views through French doors are examples of natural or architectural features, while an entertainment center is a created attraction. This is the place where the eye wants to go. Position the furniture in such a way that the focal point gives visual reference for the room, much like chocolate is the focus of a chocolate cake.

Mix Well

Well-designed rooms, much like great desserts, spark conversation. Make yours inviting by creating a comfortable conversation area. Ideally, a sofa and pair of club chairs should form a “U” shape for maximum comfort and ease of conversation. You can accomplish the same with two sofas facing each other, or a sofa facing two chairs side by side. Create a cozy, self-contained space that eliminates traffic through it for a more-fluid flow around it if possible.

Build the Layers

The balance of a room is affected by the size, style, and placement of the furniture in the same way that using a level pan produces a uniform cake.  The visual weight of an overstuffed, puffy-armed, skirted sofa versus the visual weight of a tailored, tight-armed sofa on wooden legs is significant. Consider open-shelved end tables and coffee tables with legs to accompany and offset a weighty sofa and, conversely, more solid tables with drawers to offset clean-lined sofas. Balance the weight of the room itself by ensuring furniture of equal visual weight is on the opposite side of the room.


2 Equal Spoons Full

Nothing creates a cohesive look like pairs. Pairs appeal to our natural sense of balance and stability. Two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs. You notice when a woman is missing an earring or accidentally wears one black shoe and one blue. Pairs create cohesion and that “pulled- together” look. Symmetry contributes to the overall order of a space and establishes a solid foundation that brings harmony to any room. Pairs of candlesticks on the fireplace mantel, sconces flanking a piece of artwork, throw pillows on the sofa, prints hung side by side, matching table lamps on end tables, double bookcases, floor plants in matching planters—all create balance. Even if you don’t have an exact twin, you can create the look. For example, raise up a shorter lamp by setting it atop a few coffee-table books.

Start With a Good Cake Pan

Beyond furniture, art, and accessories, you are left with the framework or backdrop of the room. This includes the walls, windows, and floor— essential and important areas to address in any room. Your walls should be in good shape and periodically painted or papered. Flat paint is best for all rooms because it shows the color at its best and hides flaws. Semi-gloss is for hard-to-clean kitchens and baths. Choose colors that work with your upholstered furniture and act as the backdrop for the scene. Select good-quality flooring and keep it in good condition. Whether wood, tile, or carpet, follow the care instructions to preserve its best look and long life. Window treatments range from honeycomb shades to plantation shutters to beautiful custom drapes and top treatments. They are an investment that will enhance the look of the room, last for many years, and be a source of color and style.

These few design basics are not dependent on style or taste; they work for the contemporary or the traditional, the art deco or the French country. I have worked with many homeowners who have dramatically improved the look of a room in their home simply by correcting and modifying according to the basic recipe for good design, using ingredients they already had—and you can too.

Bon Appétit!

We are delightedOur house finally makes us feel at home, comfortable and inviting

Jane M.,Doylestown,PA

Patty Kendall is the owner of Creative Decor – Interior Refining & Decorating and a gold-level certified member of The Interior Redecorators NetworkÔ. Offering great value for style-conscious home and business owners who want a comfortable, functional, and fashionable home or office. Creating great rooms with what you already have and design planning for what you need, Creative Decor works with you to achieve that finished look. From one-day room makeovers to a full-service redo, Creative Décor has flexible options for you. Beautiful window treatments, flooring, and sourcing for all your decorating needs. Call (215) 353-8544

Bucks County Women’s Journal

About Nickey

Personal Touch Concierge Service is a multi-virtual assistance company that assists businesses and entrepreneurs with the day-to-day operation of their businesses, social media strategy and management, bookkeeping, and website design and maintenance. With over 25 years' experience in the legal and corporate fields, there is virtually nothing we can't accomplish for you. Transcription, word processing, proofreading, administrative duties, scheduling, research, keyword research and implementation, website content writing, email management, event planning - we can assist you with all the tasks you don't have time to do yourself. Because your time is valuable and you have your business to run!
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