Decorating & Design - Design Lesson

Design lesson: Perfecting imperfections

Kimberley Seldon's suggestions for improving an awkward room.

Rarely is a room perfect. Those of us with low ceilings may have little sympathy for homeowners who complain of soaring ceiling syndrome, but double-height rooms can pose problems: How do you strategically place artwork for viewing from two separate floors? And where should draperies begin and end? Consider, too, the misshapen room, with sloped ceilings and irregular floors, or the living room that's akin to a bowling alley. Here are suggestions on how to improve an awkward room.

Kimberley's guide to colour correction
Problem: Odd angles
Solution:
No need to get bent out of shape by awkward angles. Soften them by using one paint colour. If you like wallpaper, pick an overall pattern to cleverly distract the eye. But avoid stripes and other geometrics -- they'll only highlight bumps and twists.

Problem: Ceiling is too high
Solution:
Paint the ceiling a darker colour, creating the illusion of a lower ceiling. This is an ideal fix in rooms like the dining room, where you want to establish intimacy.

Problem: Inconsequential crown moulding
Solution:
Never highlight crown moulding or baseboards that are small or inadequate. Instead, minimize their impact by painting them the colour of the walls.

Problem: Long, narrow hallway
Solution:
Create a feature wall at one end of the hallway by painting it a contrasting, dramatic colour; that will serve to visually bring it forward. Another trick is to paper the walls in a repeating pattern like a trellis, toile or other motif.

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