Want to know how a professional pulls a place together? We asked ten top decorators to reveal their best tips.
dining room1. In a Small Space, Try Large Furniture
A seven-foot-wide foxed-glass mirror was made to open up the space in the dining area of this Alabama town house by designer Susan Ferrier. "A few very, very large-scale pieces make a room appear bigger. It's kind of counterintuitive, but it works," she says. Its dramatic scale is in perfect proportion with the Flemish wood and iron chandelier from Beckett Antiques.
See more: Designer Living Rooms
living room2. Avoid Saggy Pillows with the Right Size Insert
A variety of colorful, plump pillows sits on the sofa in the family room of this colorful North Carolina house
by designer Lindsey Coral Harper. Her trick? "When making custom pillows, use a stuffer/pillow insert that is 2" larger all around than your finished pillow size. For example, if you want a 22" square pillow, use a 24" square insert," she says. Natural Curiosities print by Paule.
3. Know that Formal Dining Chairs Don't Have to Be Comfortable
"I'm not sure dining chairs need to be comfortable. It encourages bad posture and dozing off.... if they're slightly uncomfortable, it keeps people attentive to the conversation. I choose them for looks only," says Robert Couturier. He covered a set of handsome dining chairs in Rose Cumming's Swedish Stripe for a Florida home. The curtains are in Alan Campbell's Ferns. The rug is by J.D. Staron.
More Photos: Designer Dining Rooms
4. Use Furniture in an Unexpected Way
For this California bungalow designer Chris Barrett chose a 1860s Czech table with beautifully turned legs to act as a kitchen island. "I love using an antique table as a kitchen Island. It gives the room so much character," he says. It serves as both breakfast island and buffet for dining on the terrace outside the French doors. Table from J.F. Chen.
See More Photos: Beautiful Designer Kitchens
sitting room5. Don't Over Coordinate
For the sitting room of this Los Angeles house, designer Madeline Stuart chose a mix of pillows she designed herself. "In the old days, women would match their shoes to their handbag and their pillows to the bedspread. Unless you're doing a room that's completely covered in the same pattern, don't coordinate! It looks much more chic to have a variety of pillows made from different fabrics. Don't pair up pillows as though they're animals on Noah's Ark - nothing looks as dated as pairs flanking pairs. Try an odd number of pillows or use just one long kidney pillow on a sofa."
Plus: 20 Decorating Secrets
hallway6. Leave High-Gloss Paint to the Pros
The long vaulted hallway of this New York apartment by designer Todd Klein is brightened by light from windows in the surrounding rooms reflecting off the high-gloss walls and ceiling. But the designer warns that getting high-gloss paint right is tricky: "You can't use a roller to apply high-gloss paint. You'll end up with 'orange peel' walls, a texture you don't really want." Walls are painted White Tie by Farrow & Ball. Three neoclassical alabaster ceiling lights hang above a Madeline Weinrib Orleans runner.
bedroom7. Hang Curtains from the Ceiling
"When doing curtains or shades, take them all the way up to the ceiling - it will increase the height of a room," says Vicente Wolf, who designed this Palm Beach Condo. He chose Linen Gauze for the Roman shades in the master bedroom of this Palm Beach condo. He designed the bed's powder-coated steel frame, coating it in white enamel "to look like a line drawing" against pearly blue walls painted Benjamin Moore's Patriotic White. Bed curtains are VW Home's Linen Sheer in lime green. Shades are Bergamo's Dunes in ice blue.
living room8. Vary Scale
"Surprise the eye with scale. Use one large lamp with a large lampshade or an oversize ottoman," says designer Myra Hoefer. "One large-scale element takes a room up a notch." In the living room of a California home, Hoefer placed a large lamp on a table by one of the custom tufted sofas. She prefers lamps to overhead lights and does them with "huge lampshades that give you a sense of the moon." Sofas are covered in Rogers & Goffigon's Somerset linen, in Marble. Bora Bora jute rug from Merida Meridian.
9. Try Open Shelves to Open Up a Kitchen
In a California kitchen by designer Kathryn M. Ireland, open shelves hold tableware and pantry items. "It is my firm belief that upper cabinets are just not useful and actually impede the easy use of a kitchen," she says. "I therefore strongly advocate replacing them with simple open shelving. In one fell swoop, you have instantly enlarged the sense of the room and made the countertops below that much more comfortable for casual food preparation." Dining chairs are flea market finds, the antique table is from Lief.
See More: Amazing Designer Bathrooms
bedroom10. Use Paint to Fix a Too High or Low Ceiling
Knowing the correct type of paint finish is key. "Slather a reflective, glossy glaze on any lower ceiling to create the illusion of height," says designer Barry Dixon. "Conversely, if the ceiling seems too high in a space, use a matte-finish paint, preferably in a cola or a darker tone, or cover the ceiling with raffia or a paper. For the bedroom of a Capitol Hill row house, he created depth by painting the walls and ceiling using Ralph Lauren metallic paint. Flax curtains cocoon the bedroom and hide all the books. Zentique chairs and ottoman. Upper East coverlet from Ankasa.
Read more from House Beautiful:
- Step Inside a Romantic New York Town House
9 Colorful Ways to Cheer Up Your Kitchen
- 10 Charming Animal-Themed Home Accessories
Amazingly Cheery, Colorful Rooms
- 6 Designer Secrets to a More Comfortable Home
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