Interior Decorating Advice

Interior Decorating Advice
There is no feeling quite so satisfying as personalizing your own space. By
adding your touches to well-established standards of taste and practicality,
you can transform a room in a matter of a few hours or a couple of days.
Gone are the days of cookie-cutter “musts”, but there are a few tips and
guidelines that can make your decorating, or redecorating, experience fun
and foolproof. Because we are a full-service decorating resource centre,
Décor Solutions can help you make your house a home to be enjoyed
Where do I start?
The first rule of decorating is simple: do
not take on too much. Pick one room,
not the whole house, and work on that
until it’s complete, then start the next
one. This is especially important if you
are living in the house while any
renovations and/or decorating are done.
If the whole house is covered in painter’s
drop-cloths, tools and fabric samples,
you’ll want to move out!
Remember, too, that once you’ve
decorated one room, the rest will pale
by comparison, so it’s a process.
Which room should I start with?
It depends on your needs and budget. If
the kitchen is malfunctioning, and you’re
really into gourmet cooking, start there,
assuming you can afford it. But that
room, along with the bathrooms, will
involve the most cost and upheaval,
maybe even not being able to cook at
home for a week or more. It could be
discouraging, and maybe put you off
doing the rest of the projects you had
planned. So we would suggest you start
with a simple room, like the living room,
dining room or a bedroom.
Where do I get my ideas?
Décor Solutions has all the resources
you need for putting together ideas, but
the options can be intimidating. Here are
a few suggestions for getting preliminary
decorating ideas (once you have a sense
of what you like and don’t like, come and
see us to take it to the next stage):
• magazines
• showcase homes (these are often
charity events)
• real estate open houses
• the homes of friends whom you
consider to have good decorating savvy
• books (they can be expensive to buy,
so check out the library)
If you look at books or magazines for inspiration, be cautious and practical. Your house may
not be the same calibre or style as the ones in, say, Architectural Digest, and always
remember that these publications have substantial budgets for staging, and often bring in
objects that are not normally in the rooms being photographed.
Let the sources of ideas be just that, a place to begin developing concepts for your project.
It’s best to start a file and keep clippings or copies of the pictures that just feel right to you,
rooms that you think you could live in comfortably. Share those favourites with us and
together we’ll develop the right room for you and your family.
What is my first step?
Start with the room layout; how the furniture be arranged, and base that on the size and
style of the room. Your room layout will depend on numerous factors, all of which we will
take into consideration when guiding you in the best layout for your room, its use and your
personal style.
It is useful in the early stages to decide what of the existing furniture and accents you plan to
keep; make a list of those and plan a garage sale for the ones you’ll replace.
How do I layout my room?
Once you have decided which room to redecorate first, there are a few simple steps you can
take that will help to ensure you don’t end up with what you didn’t plan to have; the most
important of those is to get help from the professionals. Mistakes are costly and timeconsuming.
You can start the process by making a list of the existing items you want to include. If you are
starting completely from scratch, with no existing pieces, then this step will not apply.
Determine the purpose of the room, how much use it will get, and who will be using it most
of the time. Let us know your thoughts on this. It makes our job smoother when we have the
facts about your personal needs.
Think about your room’s focal point; if there is no existing one (like a fireplace or built-in
fixtures), then you’ll need to create one. This is another area in which our expertise can help.
Once you have the groundwork done, we’ll make a visit to your home and work your basics
needs into livable, lovely designs that marry what you need and want with what works and
looks great, too!
Part of that may involve rearranging your furniture, eliminating some pieces and adding a few.
We’ll advise on the furniture arrangement that works best for the space and integrates with
the design style you prefer.
We take into account the following factors:
• traffic flow
• position of any fixed objects, like windows and doors, or built-ins
• position of electrical outlets and heat registers
When we arrange a room, our goal is to
make it work effectively and look beautiful.
How do we do that?
Less is more. If a room has too much
“stuff ” in it, it will feel crowded.
Not all the furniture needs to be placed
directly against a wall; we can suggest
arrangements that give the room a
connected, inviting look, sometimes by
bringing the pieces away from the walls.
We’ll look for balance in the pieces of
furniture you are arranging. When a lot of
large pieces are set together, it creates a
heavy, dull effect. We know how to
combine “weights” of furniture for the
best balance, scale and contrast.
To make your room flow nicely, we’ll
create the sense of coming down and into
the room, not being jarred by your entry.
Once we have worked on a few layouts
and come up with one you really like, it’s a
good idea to live with it for a few days; if it
passes the test, you’ll know it’s right for
This is the time to make changes to your
room layout, not after all the work is
Once my layout is done, then what?
It’s design time! We’ll work from, the floor
up and figure out your theme or style, and
your colour palette. Why start with the
floor? Because unless you already have in
place perfectly good, neutral wall-to-wall
broadloom, odds are you’ll have a floor
that demands an area rug. Area rugs serve
three functions: to create warmth and
comfort; to define an area of floor that
unites the furniture; and to add colour, and
sometimes pattern, to the room.
Depending on the style of an area rug
(traditional, classic, modern, etc.) it can
also establish the tone and style of the
space, and be the room’s “anchor”. We
have a terrific range of area rug styles,
sizes and colours, and you can “test-drive”
them to ensure they work in your setting.
Next, we’ll choose the fabrics that will
comprise your upholstery, draperies or
other window coverings, and accessories.
Those will need to coordinate with, but
not necessarily match, your area rug (or
other flooring, if an area rug is not part of
your room).
You might be surprised to discover that
patterns can be mixed and matched. We
have hundreds of fabric sample books to
help you choose what works for your
room. And since you’re too busy to go
through them all, we’ll develop a short-list
of fabrics you should consider.
Then, it’s time to select the paint. Let’s
have a look at the myriad of questions
that people often have regarding paint
(there’s so much to choose from these
Q: Should ceilings always be white?
A: Not necessarily. White ceilings are
common because white is reflective and in
most, but not all, design situations, serves
as the best colour (even though white is
not technically a colour, per se). The ceiling
is in a supporting, not a starring role in
your room! Sometimes just a hint of
colour, perhaps a few shades lighter than
you use on the walls, can make all the
difference. Let us use professional colour
chips to help you decide.
Q: Latex or oil?
A: This is more or less a no-brainer these
days. Oil paints smell pretty awful, and
unless you have an old house already
done up with oil paint (usually found on
the trim, not the walls) that demands oil
to be painted over oil, Latex is your best
decorating pal. Maybe your house is an old
gem? We have classic historic paints that
Interior Decorating
“To make your room
flow nicely, we’ll
create the sense of
coming down and
into the room, not
being jarred by your
-Pamela Delaney
will stay true to the original.
Q: What is the best finish to use?
A: It depends on the room and its use, and
the look you want to achieve. This is an
integral part of the design process that we
work through with you.
Q: What about walls that are stained?
A: It depends on what caused the stain. In
cases where there has been serious water
or condensation damage to a wall, or tar
and nicotine as a result of cigarette
smoke, a thorough cleaning with a product
called TSP will likely remove the problem.
Mildew can normally be removed by using
a rather smelly paint product called
Zinsser B.I.N. (keep the windows open
and the door closed when applying this!),
but if there is mould, there may be a more
serious underlying problem.
The source causing the mold needs to be removed, and it’s best to ask a contractor to
assess this before taking action.
Q: Do dark colours make a room look smaller?
A: Actually, the reverse is often true. The exception might be in a room with poor light,
either natural or electric. This is where our expertise comes in. Why go to the trouble of
painting a room the wrong colour when we can advise on the ideal shade for the
Once the colour of the ceiling and walls is chosen, it’s time to make the next decision,
one that will easily draw together all of the major elements involved so far: accent
pieces and finishing touches. Items on this list will include:
• lamps
• occasional tables and chairs
• artwork (including sculpture)
• objets d’art (ornaments)
• plants, flower, books and bric-a-brac
Now, start working on your budget. We will help with this step by pricing the various
things you will need.
Always remember, you really do get what you pay for. If you’re 19 and decorating your
dorm room at university, a few inexpensive items might just work, for now. But for most
of us, decorating our own homes is a long-term, very personal undertaking, so why
skimp on quality? You’ll only have to replace the items sooner than you want to.
We’ll put together a rough cost estimate, including labour, and you can consider your
options from there. But remember that in any quote we give you, the risk element is
virtually removed. You’ll do it right the first time!
Now we can start purchasing.
By planning ahead as carefully as we have outlined here, you are able to:
• avoid making hasty purchases that could turn into costly mistakes down the road
• buy cheap stuff and regret it
• go to a lot of trouble and cost decorating only to discover you don’t like the look
when it’s done
• end up with an uncoordinated mish-mash of things that make a room look cluttered
and cheap
If you are not starting from scratch, then the items you have decided to keep and
include will strongly influence the style and colour choices you make. If you take
photographs of those and bring them in to us, we can give sound advice when we select
what items will coordinate with them.
The items that you opt not to include in the redecorated
room may be useful in other rooms. If you have purchased
wisely in the past, and have quality furnishings that are of
classic design, and in a generally similar palette, you have an
advantage; moving the pieces to other rooms and settings
often works. And remember, too, that upholstered items can
be recovered to suit the new look.
When I’m making purchases, how do I know what to
Most people start with the main piece, in the case of a living
room, this would be the sofa. The biggest mistakes that most
people make when purchasing furniture are:
1. buying too much furniture for the room
2. buying furniture that is too big for the room
A few good-quality, timeless pieces will make a perfect
setting. Too many pieces will drown the effect with clutter
and detail, and make the room seem smaller. We can steer
you in the right direction!
What do I look for when buying a sofa?
In three words: quality, comfort and style.
Here’s an important tip: because they are so huge and with
higher ceilings than most homes, furniture showrooms make
great big pieces of furniture look much smaller than they
actually are. So, get out that tape measure and use it!
Measure length, width, height and general bulk (for example;
some sofas have huge, thick arms; will that work in your
If you can’t find exactly what you want, then consider
custom. It’s not as costly as most people believe, but it is not
returnable. All the more reason to get us involved in such a
critical decision.
Always buy the best pieces you can afford. You won’t regret
it! Quality sofas, chairs and hard furniture, like tables and
cabinets, last longer, and stand the test of time. Cheaper
sofas are often made with basic foam; quality ones have
springs and strapping. Like most things, when buying
furniture, you get what you pay for!
What about areas rugs; how do I choose one?
Because a rug anchors a room, you need to consider the
elements of the room, those that are permanent fixtures
and the various items of furniture you already have and
intend to use; they will, to a large degree, affect style and
colour of the area rug.
Because we are trying to create a flow of welcome into the
room, the floor, and therefore the area rug, are vital
components. Although most floors are natural, neutral
wood, we tend to forget that wood contains colour, from
very light to quite dark. The area rug pulls double duty by
enhancing the floor, through colour that segues from the
floor to the rug and back again, seamlessly, and by adding
textural contrast to the floor.
The style and colour of your furniture, new and existing, will
also influence your choice of area rug. Generally, we suggest
you align your style and colours, but sometimes an eclectic
look can work, if it’s done carefully and properly; otherwise,
you’ll have a room that is uncoordinated and a jolt to the
Think about what is most suitable for the space itself and
the people who are going to be living in it: you and your
Figuring out the appropriate size for an area rug should be
done at the stage where we are laying out your room. Once
we know where the furniture will be situated, we can easily
determine the size of rug you need. We ensure that the
front feet of your main pieces of furniture rest directly on
the rug, but the back legs don’t necessarily need to.
We’ll measure the distance between the front legs of the
major pieces in your grouping, add two feet and that should
be the size of one side of your area rug; area rugs are made
in proportionate sizes.
Here’s a good tip: make sure your area rug is not so big that
it butts up to the walls or the fireplace (that, partly for safety
reasons) or it will seem to be too big for the room. But
there is no hard and fast rule regarding the amount of floor
space that should be left showing around the perimeter of
an area rug.
Ideally, in a dining room, the area rug should be large enough
to fall directly under the table and chairs, even when the
chairs are pulled out to seat guests. And don’t even think
about rare occasions, such as Christmas, when you might
add another table to the room; buy your rug based on
normal dining room usage.
Some rooms are large enough that
the furniture is grouped into
“vignettes” or smaller groupings; in
that case two smaller areas rugs will
likely work best, as opposed to one
huge one. This is a more tricky design
consideration, so let us help in
determining if this technique will work
for your space.
Here’s a great tip for choosing a paint
colour: once you’ve made your
choice, apply a patch at least 2’ x 2’ on
your wall and leave it there for 24
hours. See how it looks as the light
changes from morning to afternoon,
and then into the electric light of the
evening. If it passes the light condition
test, it’s a good one to buy!
How do I choose a paint colour?
Colour choice is a very personal
thing, but most people who venture
into the land of bravery — such as
bright reds, dark purples, oranges or
bright greens — live to regret their
decision. For example, while pink
tones are believed to enhance the
look of the complexion, they are also
among the hardest colors to paint
over and tend to be trendy.
We’ve covered the main questions
about paint and its functions, but
colour is the ultimate decision when
considering paint. Here is a really
great tip and reminder: paint can be
painted over. If you choose a colour
you think will be perfect, and once it’s
applied, you hate it, well paint over it!
Paint is relatively inexpensive, one of
your least costly decorating items per
square foot, and you don’t have to
live with it if you don’t like it. But
there are a couple of ways to be very
sure the colour you have picked is the
right one:
1. Most paint companies make tester
pots of their various paint colours, so
buy one of those (they cost $2 to $4,
generally), and paint a very obvious
place, like the wall directly across
from you as you enter the room.
2. Some paint companies make huge
paint chips (around 2’ x 2’), so you
can tape one of those to your wall
and see how it looks.
3. Some paint companies have a website feature that allows you to either
use one of their standard room
photographs (choose one that looks
most like your room), or to even
insert an actual digital photo of your
room, and then “paint” it virtually,
trying out any colour the company
We can advise on several possible
options and then help to narrow that
down to the ideal shade for you,
taking into account important factors
like room usage, light, and contrast to
ensure harmony and balance.
many answers. It depends so much on
the room.
Key to making the most of any small
space is planning the room layout
carefully. Determine what pieces are
needed and where they will be
placed; eliminate extraneous pieces
because the less “stuff ” the bigger the
space will seem.
Ask yourself these questions when
thinking about decorating a small
1. What will it be used for and what
will the frequency of its use be?
2. If it is to be a living room or family
room, how can I lay out the furniture
elements so that a conversation is
possible (with no craned necks)?
3. Will a television be included?
4. How can I make the most of the
space without blocking good traffic
flow in and out of the room?
We take everything in the room into
account when advising you on a
selection of possible paint colours,
Here are our big tips for your
small room:
• the stain or paint on any built-in
cabinets (unless you plan to restain or
repaint those)
• the tone and colour of the stain on
any pieces of wood furniture
• the various colours in any piece of
patterned cloth
• the amount of natural and electric
• the compass direction that the main
window faces
• a colour you really like!
• keep furnishings smaller in scale so
as to not overpower the room
• avoid bright colours in abundance;
let us help choose the right shade of
• instead of a sofa, try two loveseats,
or one loveseat and two chairs; we
can create a layout that works best
• avoid large, busy or colourful
patterns in the fabrics you choose
(there are many options in our fabric
sample catalogues)
• don’t use a lot of accessories or
How do I decorate a small room?
This is a question we get quite often
at Décor Solutions, and there are
What if my spouse and I have different
This is a common problem! And not a
good reason for divorce! Obviously, when
tastes differ, a compromise has to be
reached. But how to find that middle
ground? A third-party might be the
catalyst. Try calling in a Décor Solutions
expert to provide an unbiased opinion.
First look at the style and period of the
house; what styles will it allow, what works
best with it? A log cabin house will likely
ask to be decorated in a rustic theme; a
classical Georgian will beg for neo-classical
elements and colours. Our experts can
help make this definition and see the
house through objective eyes.
If you are starting from scratch, bare
bones, then perhaps compare your two
preferred styles, and see if there is a clever
way to combine at least some of the
elements of each.
Is there a third style, one that you both
like, even if it’s not your individual
favourite? If he likes modern and she likes
traditional, perhaps understated modern
furniture will form a lean, uncluttered
background for traditional accent pieces.
Professional decorators can help you
avoid making costly mistakes, like buying
the wrong piece piece of furniture for
your room, or wasting time and money
using the wrong colour or incorrect type
of paint.
If no compromise can be reached on any
given room, perhaps let one person have
their style in one room and the other
person claim the style choice for another
room entirely.
We ease the stress of decorating by
assisting right at the planning stage and
guiding you through the process; this
leaves you not feeling overwhelmed by the
scope of your project. Our sensible plans
take into account the time, skills and
budget that you have at your disposal, and
if you are not an expert painter or
upholsterer, or just don’t have time for
such things, we know reputable people
who have these skills.
Why should I hire a professional?
Professional decorators are talented,
trained, and experienced. Because of this,
we help our clients save time, money and
arguments. Since this is our field of
expertise, we can quickly and easily
determine how to get the look you want,
how to maximize your budget, and how to
make the most of your plans and ideas.
We know the practical, refined way to get
your room the way you want it.
By trusting your personal space to a
professional decorator, you can rest
assured that any purchase you make will
work today and well into the future, too.
Decor Solutions
Decor Solutions is your choice for interior design in southern
Ontario. Servicing Erin, Caledon, Belfountain, Georgetown,
Orangeville, Milton, Hillsburgh, Acton, Rockwood and surrounding
areas. Whether you need a new rug or a whole home makeover look
no further. Contact one of our design consultants today or visit our
We offer free in-store consultations and/or in-home consultations.
We will lend you samples to take home in order to visualize things in
your home.
92 Main St., Erin, Ontario, N0B 1T0
Phone: 519.833.2141 Fax: 519.833.0472
Email: [email protected]
Pamela Delaney
Decor Solutions