Contemporary lifestyles have certainly thrown out many of the traditional rules for interior decorating, and we all feel freer to experiment with combination our parents and grandparents would have loudly rejected. Still, in order to avoid some of the big mistakes that you will certainly regret, there are a few standard “rules” to consider.
- Furniture: Before you make any furniture selection, you must consider the use for each piece. If you want a family or great room sofa that will be used on a daily basis for television viewing, etc., you will of course go for comfort and more casual design. An over-stuffed piece in which you can sink and put your feet up will be the best choice. On the other hand, a formal room which will only be used when entertaining guests will require a more traditional, “rigid” style.
- Fabric is another consideration. If kids and pets will be on your furniture, be certain that you select fabric that is easily cleaned or that will “hide” stains.
- Construction: For furniture that will be used daily, be certain to check the back of the piece. A hollow back is a sign of poor construction, and the piece will not last long! Remember, you are buying furniture pieces that you plan to live with for years, so be very careful and selective, and think about how they will be utilized.
- Window Treatments: A contemporary design will not take heavy formal drapes; on the other hand, there are great contemporary patterns, stripes, and solids in fabrics that complement contemporary décor. Don’t scrimp on the width of your curtains or drapes. A good rule of thumb is to have twice the width in fabric of your window width. Panels can have great effects, by moving them about on the rod.
- Hardware: Rods, etc. must match the overall room décor, including the lighting fixtures. If you have brushed chrome, for example, you will not want intricate filigree hardware that is brass, “gold,” or “copper.” Matching the metal and style is critical to tie a room together!
- Light/Temperature Control: If you plan to use drapes for control of light and temperature, they must be lined. Use a good cotton fabric for these needs.
- Floors: If you have wall-to-wall carpeting and you like it, nothing needs to be changed. Wood, laminate, or tile flooring, however, is now common, and the need for area rugs thus becomes important. General “rules” apply in the use of area rugs, and these should always be considered. First, select rugs that complement the room décor. Orientals and floral prints are generally for more formal room anatomies; stripes and geometric prints, on the other hand, work for more contemporary décor.A word about stripes, however: if the colors are complementary, there are many stripes that will “go” with a more formal/traditional setting, and they should be considered. Second, the size of the rug will “make” or “break” a room. If you purchase a rug that is too small, you will be sorely disappointed. A general “rule” to follow is to add a rug that will at least meet the furniture that you have against the walls. Rugs that are too small look silly, and the room appears incomplete.
- Lighting: Always consider the purpose for which the lighting is being selected. “Task” areas (kitchens, offices, etc.) will require far different lighting than the ambient lighting of living spaces or the accent lighting that can provide stunning effects in bathrooms, hallways, and entryways. Generally, chandeliers area not just for dining rooms anymore, and you will find an enormous variety in such pieces today. A good “rule” is to be certain that chandeliers, not matter what the type, should be at least 4 feet away from walls. Also, consider using chandeliers in bathrooms and bedrooms for a great impact. And, another important hard-and-fast rule – install dimmers on all of your overhead lighting. You will want that variety!