Over the years I’ve found there are mistakes, or habits if you’d like
to call them that, that most people make (myself included) when it comes
to setting up their home. Below I want to outline them, and provide
tips for dealing with them, but I also want to ask you to rate yourself.
This is more about compassion than guilt, as I suspect that we’ll
discover we all share at least a few of the same bad habits.
What is your most common mistake??
Art Hung Wrong
Not Enough Lights
Fear of Color
No Window Treatments
1. Artwork Is Hung Too High
Most people tend (for some reason) to hang their artwork too
high. Perhaps it’s because they sight it and hang it while standing,
when artwork wants to be hung so its best seen when you’re sitting, or
maybe they just feel that high on the wall is right. I often find
artwork hung at different heights in different rooms or on different
walls in the same room!
Either way the easy rule to remember is that ALL art wants to be
hung at the same height so that it all lives on the same line, BUT that
line is from the center, not the bottom or top. So, ALWAYS HANG YOUR
ART AT 57″ ON CENTER. Here are full instructions and a video.
2. Poor Light In Every Room
Most homes I visit are underlit. Even when people have enough
lamps, they often don’t turn them all on. Some people think that the one
bulb in the middle of the ceiling is enough. It isn’t!
Every room should have at least THREE POINTS OF LIGHT, and this
does not include a light bulb in the middle of the ceiling. The best
light sources are:
a. Indirect (no bare bulbs, use lamp shades or direct spot lights at the wall)
b. Below standing eye level
Table and floor lamps that direct light where you are living is
best. It allows you to see things better, puts a nicer light on your
face, and illuminates the colors and textures in your furnishings
3. Collections Are All Over The Place
Most people are collectors of something, and I’ve seen so many
different love affairs with books, hats, clothes, figurines over the
years and most of them look awful. If you love your collection, the best
thing you can do is to CONCENTRATE IT INTO ONE AREA of one room and
really celebrate it. It’s far better to max out a wall in your living
room with your books, than to keep them in piles around your home. It’s
neater, looks better and makes it easier to find something when you want
4. Fear of Bright or Dark Colors
Everyone says they love color, but most homes end up in a confusion
of neutrals and beige or flat white. While color is a commitment and an
emotional move, experimenting with some real bright and/or dark colors
is a must. This doesn’t mean that you start off by painting all four
walls of your living room deep purple. Start with some colorful pillows,
bright bedding, or just one wall in an accent color. A little color
goes a long way (I ALWAYS RECOMMEND 20% REAL COLOR IN EVERY ROOM) and it
doesn’t take much to dip your toes in.
Once you start experimenting with real color, you will never go back and your home will come alive.
For more help, here’s a primer on how to choose and work with cool colors and warm colors. And here’s another short discourse on warm and cool people which relates to the colors we choose.
5. Not Enough Rugs
Strangely, many decorating projects end with nothing to cover the
floor. Perhaps people think that their newly refinished wood floors are
really beautiful (I’m sure they are), but rugs are super important for
adding color, softness and absorbing unwanted sound that reverberates
around a non-rugged room (carpets are fine too, but usually less
interesting and better in a bedroom).
HAVE AT LEAST ONE RUG IN THE FOLLOWING ROOMS:
a. Living Room
d. Bathroom (bathmat)
e. Kitchen (try colorful vinyl sisal)
f. Home Office
And don’t skimp. Large rugs that cover the room and have all the furniture sitting on them are delicious.
6. No Shades or Curtains
Beyond all of the above mistakes, nothing is a pet peeve of my own
more than those people who don’t want to cover their windows with
anything. Particularly in New York City, folks seem to think they’re
going to starve for light if they put anything near their window.
Windows are holes in the wall and extremely ugly and visually
disruptive when not softened by curtains or shades. ALWAYS HAVE AT LEAST
A CURTAIN OR A SHADE ON EVERY WINDOW (both if you’re really good).
Personally, I LOVE light, so I soften all my windows with cotton or
linen curtains that let the light through, and fill the window with
solar shades that also let the light through. The combination, however,
softens the window frame, introduces a scrumptious textile and filters
the light in a lovely way. Here’s a little more I wrote On Covering Your Windows.
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