5 decorating dilemmas solved
From the paint to the pictures to the fabric swatches, decorating projects can be daunting, especially when you're trying to revamp your living space solo. So we enlisted the expertise of Sue Bennett, principal designer of the Toronto-based firm Bennett Design Studios to help you solve some of your most common decorating dilemmas. Here, Sue answers five questions about decorating.
Q I don't have a big budget for home decorating. What are some wallet-friendly solutions to make my home look stylish and chic on a budget?
-- Susan Boid, Toronto, ON
A I'd start with paint. The basis for every beautiful room is always the overall ambiance that's created with the colour that surrounds the space. Don't be afraid to accent a feature wall with some colour and then highlight it with an oversize piece of art. If your furniture is fairly neutral, choose a couple of throw cushions to match the accented wall. To complete the space, accessorize the coffee table with a small stack of coffee table books topped with a beautiful large glass vase with fresh flowers. Gorgeous! Find more budget-friendly ideas here.
Q I love to follow current decorating trends in my home, but am afraid my house will look too "been there, done that" after a few years. What are some trendy accessories I could add to my current decor that will stand the test of time?
-- Tonya Simpson, Campbellville, ON
A Buying accessories that are interesting to you is the key to timelessness. You have to go with whatever suits your own personal style. Part of the fun in shopping for home decor accents is picking up special pieces on your travels, at a flea market or at antique shops. Finding things in unexpected places will help you avoid the mass trends! But, a word of caution: Many people feel as though they have to display all of their home furnishing accessories at once, but don't! Instead, group your accessories (three to five pieces) into a theme or particular style and store the rest. For example, milk-glass pieces grouped together look elegant and cohesive, as does a series of silver picture frames or wooden artifacts. When you get tired of what you have on display, pull some fresh pieces out of storage and swap them out!
Q I love the idea of having a feature wall in my bedroom. What colour choices would work in a room that has a very muted colour palette of creams, greys and browns?
-- Doug Ratcliffe, Calgary, AB
A I truly believe that a bedroom should be a restful oasis of a space, so I generally stay away from high energy colours. When you're working with a palette of neutrals, just about any gentle accent colour will work. The most common hue lately is a rich robin’s egg blue; it's calming and very sophisticated when paired with cream, taupe or beige. Other colour ranges that work well are soft, muted turquoise, burnt oranges or rich eggplant; they always look stunning and work well with any warm-based taupe colours.
Q I have a lot of artwork that I'd like to hang in my living room, but I have no idea how high or how low the pieces should rest on the wall. Any suggestions?
-- Amanda Peters, Vancouver, B.C.
A There are a couple of golden rules that we use when we hang artwork: If it is a single piece or a series of prints that are all framed in the same size frame, then always hang it so that the top 1/3 of the art piece is at eye-level (usually around 66" off the floor). If you're looking to hang a collage of multi-size pieces, then try to create a "shape" on the wall for them; measure out an imaginary triangle or square and make sure that the prints are all lined up within that shape, the edges of the frames lining up with the edges of the shape. Find more tips on hanging art here.
Q My house is full of floor-to-ceiling French windows that bring in a lot of natural light. It's fine by day, but come nighttime, I want some more privacy. What window treatments will work but won't mask all of the daylight?
-- Sam Sizemore, Ottawa, ON
A For a truly timeless and elegant solution, I love simple drapery panels on a beautiful rod. They work beautifully if you have enough space on either side of the window to pull the panels totally off the window glazing during the day; at night, the panels can be drawn over the window for privacy. Select an appropriate solid or semi-transparent fabric depending on how much privacy your condition requires. Side panels work with light floaty fabric as well as they do with heavy rich brocades. Find more advice on selecting window treatments here.
Image courtesy of Crate and Barrel.