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Tried and True: Easy to Remember Tips for Decorating and Designing Your Interiors


When you have done something long enough, naturally you pick up a lot of tricks of the trade along the way. Here are a few of the tried and true, lessons and short cuts I’ve learned over the years.
 above via DOMAINEHOME.com
Paint, fabrics and flooring, if chosen well will make a home function well, look better and feel “right”.  Aim for clean, edited, well accoutered rooms first and foremost. Once that’s accomplished, you can throw in a few unexpected elements to give your rooms a little personality.



Always buy a small sample of at least three or four of your chosen paint colors and paint them on 8 x 11 pieces of art board. View them on different walls and at different times of day to get a clear idea of what the paint color will look like.


Even better, paint the colors directly in and around the corner of the wall opposite the main light source, wrapping each of them around the corner so the color can “bounce” off itself. Paint color reflects on itself and intensifies.

above via DECORDESIGNREVIEW.tumblr
I like to view paint colors next to white paper for perspective. I also like to compare colors that are similar to one another side by side. It’s especially helpful to compare neutrals this way.

above via DOMAINEHOME.com
Never paint a bedroom red. Red is a dynamic, vibrant color and can be agitating in bedrooms. Use restful colors like soft greens, blues and even lavenders. Soft yellows and pinks if chosen correctly can be pretty too.

Generally speaking, light, cool colors enlarge a space and warm, dark colors make it appear to be smaller or “cozy”. However, the rules with paint color are often broken for special effects such as in powder rooms and dens. Small spaces can look nuanced and mysterious with dark colored walls and floors. Use high gloss paint finishes and reflective surfaces such as mirrors, polished nickel, and brass as accents. For women with chronic pain, you want to choose cool, soothing colors. 


Floors, walls and ceilings are the biggest surfaces in your home. When choosing wall to wall carpet I usually prefer high quality, neutral colored wool. For wood floors, I generally choose medium/dark finishes for large spaces and light finishes for small spaces.  In homes with a mix of rooms sizes, choose the finish that’s predominantly best and stick with it throughout. If you do too many flooring colors or styles in one home, your floors will look like a patchwork quilt. When it’s not possible to use the same flooring throughout, you can achieve continuity by using the same color or tone.

above via PAINTEDROOM.com
Window Coverings
When choosing window treatments for your home you need to keep several things in mind: privacy, heat, cold, sun, the value of the home, and the type of window you’re covering.

Over the years I’ve kept my window treatment projects very tailored and simple. I like tasteful, high quality, style-savvy fabrics in simple, pinch pleated draperies, box pleated valances and Roman shades sewn by experienced work rooms (at least fifteen to twenty years in the business).


If the views beyond your windows are less than desirable, floor length stationery curtain panels over stationery floor length sheers allow maximum light without the unsightly scenery.

Floor to ceiling draperies make windows appear larger and are a great camouflage for unattractive windows. One of the most important considerations, is how you’ll manage light in the master bedroom. To get a good night sleep, you want a good room darkening option. Roman shades and draperies work great.

After flooring and walls, the sofa is one of the next biggest surfaces in your living room. If it’s not chosen properly, it will have an adverse effect on the room’s overall appearance and comfort level. In small rooms, choose a sofa without a skirt to visually enlarge the room. In a large room conversely, a skirted sofa will help keep the room from feeling cavern like. The same goes for chairs but it’s not always necessary to have both skirted or un-skirted sofas and chairs. You can mix them up a bit.
Warm colors (red, orange) and patterns, as in clothing, make your furniture appear larger while black and other dark colors make them appear to be smaller.

Without upholstered pieces or fabric window coverings, your dining room will look like “one big sea of wood”. If you have a sleek and modern home with few adornments this look can be quite lovely. Otherwise, add color and pattern with his and her accent chairs in a beautiful fabric. Even better, add accent chairs AND coordinating custom seat cushions. Coordinate the fabrics with the living room furniture for cohesiveness.

Shiree’s Style File

Mirrors are a great way to visually double the space of any room.

Original artwork is a big investment. Purchase mirrors and framed prints until you’ve developed your own preferences for original artworks. Seek the assistance of a reputable, experienced art dealer to help build your collections.

Area rugs are an important purchase but tend to look “busy” next to upholstered pieces. If you collect fine rugs for your home, work your fabric treatments around them by choosing those with little or no pattern. Let the rug’s pattern be the focal point.

Sofa throw pillows look best in two’s and three’s. For an average 87-90 inch sofa, or 75 inch apartment sofa, use twenty inch throw pillows. For a loveseat, use 18 inch pillows. 22 inch pillows are quite large and best used as “pillow backs”, in place of back cushions. These are usually seen in fives.

If your room is missing something, it’s usually texture, color, scale or greenery.

Lastly, I feel every room should have at least a few small touches of red…in flowers, in books, in a lampshade, or in artwork

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into the how to’s of design, then check out my free download, Shiree’s Interior Design and Lifestyle Tips.