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Top 10 Decorating Tricks


Good interior decoration is as much a case of self-confidence as anything else says Charlotte Starling of Velvet & Dash. Below she reveals her top 10 styling tricks for interiors.

velvetcitrinebulbvases.jpgTo turn a house into a home, it needs to reflect your personality. Add individual touches by arranging collections of objects you love. Create little vignettes that tell a story.  A selection of hats hung on a boot room wall, Granny’s vintage plates propped on a dresser.  It’s ok to mix a selection of random objects as long as you reign in the colour palette. A mantelpiece will easily swallow a few tiny things, so be bold with size and group small pieces together for more impact. If in doubt, follow the rule of three – everything looks good in groups of three.

Use features like fireplaces or windows to create zones in a room by grouping furniture around them.  Somewhere to read, watch TV, study. In box-like featureless rooms, make your own feature by wallpapering a wall or hanging a large picture or placing a rug and work around that.  ‘Zoned’ rooms read as less bland because breaking up a space makes it visually more stimulating.

velvetchandelier.jpgMarried to a writer and book hoarder, I am completely obsessed with bookshelves and great ways of displaying books.  Books add character and are the ideal opportunity to add interest to a room.   I like to paint bookshelves the same colour as the walls. This makes the shelves ‘disappear’ and the colour of the book spines really stand out. Don’t always stack the books vertically.  If there’s space, try alternating with horizontal piles every so often or alternating books with photos or ornaments for extra interest.

Make sure there are variations of height in every room. Lighting, furniture, accessories.  You want the eye to be led around not settle on one thing. If you have low ceilings, tall verticals like floor lamps will help heighten the room.

For awkwardly-shaped or narrow rooms, don’t be afraid to place large pieces of furniture like sofas away from walls or put them on an angle to trick the eye away from the long lines. Paint the shorter walls a tone darker than the long walls and this ‘moves’ them forward, helping to square out a rectangle.

Mirrors are brilliant.  They bounce light around and create an illusion of space. Play with scale and hang an oversized one in the smallest of rooms - it will add instant drama and impact.

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If you have a dark, north-facing room, embrace the lack of light and paint it a dark colour.  It will become either a cosy cocoon of a den or a glamorous, opulent boudoir.  If you paint a room that lacks natural light a pale colour it just looks dull. Avoid gloominess by accessorizing with bright hues which will really pop against the dark background.

Pay attention to lighting.  If you are stuck with recessed overhead lights, add lamps for ambient lighting, they give out a much softer and more appealing light. Plus lampshades are a good way to add colour and texture to a space. Always put overhead lights on a dimmer.  Home offices and kitchens require a good task or spot light to work by.

Add pattern and texture. This creates layers and depth. Think of pattern as salt and texture as pepper – without the right amount of seasoning, the result is bland.   Something as simple as adding cushions can lift a whole room. Look at how a battered vintage trunk adds patina and character to a space.

Start small to build your confidence.  Compile tear-sheets from magazines or start a Pinterest Board and you will soon see a pattern emerge of what you are drawn to.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Alternatively, give me a call.  At Velvet & Dash we are always happy to help with advice on anything from finding the perfect curtain fabric to re-styling a room or entire house.

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