It is human nature to appreciate beauty and to want to live in an environment that has harmony and is reflective of the homeowner’s style. I have worked with many clients who are talented and naturally creative men and women, but who have not quite developed an eye for design or gained an understanding of what it takes to create a beautiful room.

Rooms that are beautifully designed by trained professionals are typically the result of three primary factors: the natural-born creativity of the designer, the basic principles and elements of design that are learned in school, and the experiences encountered when working with design clients. In addition, most design professionals have deep knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of the products they sell, know what the materials are made of, and are well versed in how to use them. It is a design professional’s further responsibility to pay attention to details in order to enhance the architectural features in any space.

Whether you are a naturally gifted homeowner or one who needs a little advice, I want to share some tips to help you design your living spaces. Being creative is great, but when the creativity and talent get polished with basic knowledge, the end result will be even greater!

By applying simple rules, one can create rooms that speak elegance!

  • Understand the value of textures and how to mix them: People often focus on what colors they want in a room or what accessories or artwork they need to complement the furniture. I recommend adding various textures to add depth and visual interest. The use of texture often stimulates the tactile sense (meaning people want to touch the fabric or they can imagine the way it feels). For example, adding a knitted throw on a leather sofa will convey a feeling of comfort at first glance. The secret is also in mixing the smooth leather with the softness of the knitted, textured cotton or wool! Mixing textures is a key element in designing a stylish room.  As far as window treatments you might vary the materials you use to add beauty and interest. For example, once I used woven shades to a living room windows as a first layer to provide semi privacy. The second layer was adding silk drapery panels! Yes, silk panels that gave the room formality and the overall ambiance was stunning! The textural woven shade and the smoothness of the silk panels gave the room that unexpected addition.  Adding trims, bandings, fringes and any type of boarders in a contrasting materials to your draperies or valances will add sometimes that punch the room needs.
  • Balance is important: Have you ever entered a room and immediately felt uncomfortable without knowing the reason why? For example, have you seen a room that is heavy on one side, packed with heavy furniture, and on the other side of the room, it is sparsely furnished – almost empty? Or have you seen a room with a large painting on one side of the fireplace and a small painting (or nothing at all) on the other side? That type of room is unbalanced. Awkward. Uncomfortable.
  • Proportion: I see this on a daily basis, whether it’s the furniture being oversized or undersized for the room, swags that hang too deep in the window, or having a tiny pillow on a massive sofa. Special attention must be paid to proportion, because it can ruin the look of the room if attention to this detail is overlooked.
  • Dominance: Having one focal point in a living space is key to intelligent and stylish design. Always avoid creating too many focal points. Having one focal point in a room is all that is necessary to draw the eye to that point. A fireplace could be the focal point, or any architectural element, such as columns. When there is no obvious focal point in a room, some people create too many. But other clients I have worked with have chosen to create a focal point by dressing a window with unique custom draperies. (Some windows are so well-dressed, they go beyond “focal point” and they become “artwork”!)
  • Contrast or similarity: Many people misunderstand the use of contrast and do not recognize why sometimes it is needed. I remember working with a client who was totally excited to show me how she painted the soffits of the breakfast nook in her kitchen with contrasting colors. When I first saw the space, I thought, “This is a total disaster.” The dark honey colors on the soffits did the room so much esthetic disfavor, it made the ceiling feel as if it was falling down. Her efforts were totally unnecessary and purposeless. In the window covering world, contrast or similarity sometimes is used as a remedy. For example, if the room is very large and cold, we might need to make it seem cozier, in this case the drapery or window treatment must have noticeable contrast to make the room shrink a bit and it will not seam cold. On the other hand, if the room is small and we need to make it look more spacious, the window treatment should be as close as possible or the same color of the wall.
  • The flow: A room needs to flow with the rest of the house, especially when rooms are open or semi-open to each other. What I mean by flow is the soft transition of the “look and feel” of the design from one space to the other. What makes the transition easy on the eye is how colors work together. Design professionals (and naturally gifted homeowners!) understand whether the undertone of the paint is cool or warm, and they also know about saturation levels and hues and how colors look in different light. The vast majority of beautiful rooms that I have seen or helped create are designed with furnishings, accessories, artwork and custom drapery that revolve around creating that flow.

Whether you are a naturally gifted homeowner or one who needs design advice, I thought these few tips might be helpful for your next decorating project!

And speaking of design tips, here is one for you: You cannot put nails or screws in mirrors! But as a window treatment specialist, I can always find a “workaround.” Continue reading for my client-of-the-month story.

Client of the month

I had the pleasure of working with Mary Lou, who had a lovely traditional home in Oak Brook. Mary is in the process of transforming her home from traditional décor to modern.

My challenge was to install window treatments (stationary panels) on mirrored walls that expand from floor to ceiling!

Why it is challenging? Because rods cannot be installed on a mirrored wall, since it is impossible to drill on a mirror! That means we had to go all the way to the ceiling. But then we were faced with this dilemma: How do we pin the returns to the wall?

Here is our solution:

We installed the rods all the way to the ceiling, and we had the returns be attached to hooks with self-adhesive material. The hooks securely adhered to the mirror and the returns where smoothly attached to the hooks!

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Do your Rooms Flow? If not, we can help! We have all the remedies and solutions to your design dilemmas!

May yours be a happy and comfortable home, today and always!

For design advice and a “flow” consultation, call me at 630- 854-9082 or send an email: susan@gailanidesigns.com