Hi, I'm Shirley

Welcome to my blog on apartment living.  You can also visit my food blog where I share Recipes, stuff on Food Talk and Cooks' Resource. 

3 Design Dilemmas You Can Avoid

3 Design Dilemmas You Can Avoid

Yes, there are 3 design dilemmas you CAN avoid:

Color scheme 

Know your style 

I can't state this enough, so I'll state it again.  Know your style.  On a very popular design site, I recently read through several threads where home owners and apartment renters were asking for suggestions or HELP, PLEASE as one writer had put it.  Requesters added multiple photos of their furniture and rooms.  Other people chimed in with suggestions.  The suggestions were all over the place, from short practical responses to buy new furniture.  Some comments were so critical as to border on just bad manners.  What struck me was that no one addressed the real issue of style. 


If you have a room (home or apartment) that shares two different activities, you don't mix the styles. Would you eat string beans cooked in ham hocks and a German chocolate cake served to you on one plate?  One such example was a gray monstrous sized sectional and a kitchen table both of which shared the same room.  Another example was a dining room with dark wood traditional furnishings, a shining industrial style chandelier, a mirror set in a shiny chrome-like frame.  These designs were not eclectic, just pieces of furniture and accessories thrown together without benefit of a style to pull them together cohesively.  Consequently, the home owners had painted themselves into a corner.

Take the time to know your style.  How do you do that?  Books, magazines, T.V. shows on home decor and the internet.  A lot of information on style is confusing, some inadequate and others outright wrong. 

An easy tip:  

Select one piece of furniture that you love and just can't forget.  Learn what style it is, read and research all you can about that style.  Then proceed to shop "around" for other pieces that fit into that style, including fabrics, colors and accessories.  You may find other styles attractive. This doesn't mean you can't mix the styles.  But do so armed with a knowledge of what distinguishes one style from another. First, however, know your style.  Focus on it.

Houzz.com has a great series on several styles.  Here are the major ones.  If you think your style, "Transitional," click here:  

More 'So Your Style Is': 
Traditional | Contemporary | Cottage | Eclectic | Industrial | Arts & Crafts

Know your desired color scheme 

That's a no brainer.  Right?  So why do people ask what color should I paint the wall, after having bought the furniture.  That's like walking into a grocery store, hungry and wondering what to have for dinner.  So you walk out with all sorts of food stuff and you spent more than you had intended.  Did you ever get frustrated, walk out of the grocery store, and go to a restaurant where the food is colorfully served, smells great and is nicely organized on the plate?

So what's your favorite color--and why?  What colors do you buy the most?  Check your closet, lately?  Do the colors of nature turn you on?  Or do you prefer the glitter of a disco ball? When you walk into a room, how do you want to feel?  Now that you know your style, what colors best represent that style?  

Did you know that there are shades and tones in the same color.  Even white paint is not white with an under tone.  Types of lighting from ceiling to task to natural all influence the colors on your walls and furniture.  

Okay, you found a drop dead gorgeous sofa that you don't want to live without.  It is to become your focal point.  This may seem unorthodox to you but I suggest, you take a look in your closet for similar colors and what other colors do you pair it with.  Too crazy of an idea?  Well hop over to Design Seeds.com for color inspirations.  You can even build your own color palate.  Here are just a couple of examples of how the author presents color schemes:


Other resources would include paint companies, such as Benjamin Moore and Sherman-Williams.  Of course, you may have figured out that you could hop over to my page on Inspirations and my category on Decorate With Color.  

The point is it just doesn't make real sense (at least not to me) to ask total strangers for color suggestions over the internet for whom each monitor will inaccurately show the color of your photo--and not consider style

Know your space

I saw photos of small dining rooms with very dark wood dining tables that could seat six, a sideboard and a curio.  One person even said she was going to paint the sideboard a metallic silver.  I didn't but I sure wanted to scream "get rid of the sideboard and the curio."  If your space is that small, better to clear an area on the kitchen counter and set up a gorgeous space where family and guest can serve themselves buffet style.  Or roll in a lovely serving tray into the dining room.   

Another problem with those rooms was that each piece of furniture crammed into the small space also represented a different style.  It's not easy, especially when you are downsizing, to edit out furniture pieces you love.  If you must have it, do so with caution.  

Tips for cramming in furniture, if you must:

  • Consider traffic flow.  Can you and your visitors easily move about the room.
  • Use a minimum of colors.  Neutrals but no more than a dash of color will sooth the feeling of claustrophobia
  • Lay off the shiny stuff.  Nothing like a deer in the headlights to make you slam on the brakes.
  • Introduce texture, 3-4 to give interest and the feeling of comfort
  • You may not believe this, but even a dramatic dark wall with light colored furniture makes a stunning room
  • And yes, you can even add large pieces. Here's one of my favorite:
 Calvin's apartment from Apartment Therapy (see my post on   Decorate With Neutrals  )

Calvin's apartment from Apartment Therapy (see my post on Decorate With Neutrals)

Why do I like this apartment living room?  There's a lot in it, without a doubt.  And there are big pieces too.  But notice traffic is clearly defined.  You can even get to the window.  Strong contrasting colors offer drama but it is balanced with the soft neutral color of gray and grayish blue.  Warm colors are added in the rug which plays on the strong dark brown and off white of the zebra picture.  Collections are organized.  

Wondering why these are my three key tips for avoiding decorating dilemmas?  Been there, done that!!!  Even if you follow these tips, it doesn't mean you won't run into a few bumps.  It does mean, your decorating project will have less bumps and you will be able to get back on track more easily.  

I could have added a fourth which is to take your time.  The last major decorating project I went through lasted for nearly  5 years, with that final year being the most intense.  My style taste was changing along with my priorities in what I wanted out of my home and my life--and so it took me longer.  Hopefully, that is not the case for you.  Just knowing your style will save you time and money--and not find yourself painted in a corner.

Can you add another suggestion on how to avoid a design dilemma?  Would love to hear from you!  And please do let me know if you like this post!

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