Tag Archives: Home Decorating

How to Decorate a Family Room

Adding the WOW factor to a Neutral Color Scheme

For this Free Room Review Stacy from California submitted pictures of her Family Room to get my opinion on what to do with the challenging furniture layout. She also mentioned that she likes warm comfortable rooms that are inviting; rooms that have a traditional touch but don’t feel stuffy or uptight.

decorate family room
Planning a Furniture Arrangement for Long Narrow Rooms can be a Challenge

The real challenge for me though, is that Stacy doesn’t like Browns or Grey and most of her room is quite neutral. I’ll always do my best to honor any request that a client offers up because I believe that your home should reflect you and your tastes, not mine. However I have to say that this room had me stumped, but, after some persistence I managed to find a few sensational items that’ll bring some wow factor to this space!

Stacy, here’s what I came up with for your Family Room:


The best way to decorate long narrow Living Rooms is to visually divide the space into two distinct areas, then treat each of those areas as an individual room. You’ve already got a great layout on the far end of the room (where the TV cabinet is) but the space where the occasional chair sits seems underutilized. So after playing around with a few options I finally settled on making this a multi-purpose area because I know you entertain a lot. With 4 comfy chairs this space now has a “coffee-house” vibe that that could easily transform into a games area whenever you need it too!

Furniture Arrangement for a Long Narrow Family Room
Visually Divide Long Narrow Rooms by Creating Two Distinct Areas Within The Larger Room


Stacy, you mentioned that your sofa has to stay, but because it is such a mid-tone color and very similar to the wall color, we’ll need to add some contrast elsewhere the room for interest. Knowing that you’re not a fan of Browns I opted to go to the other end of the spectrum and chose off-white to keep the light, bright feeling in the room. I wanted to define the new entertaining area as a unique space, and having different colored furniture will achieve this.These new slipper chairs are a birch color which is perfect because it doesn’t have a yellow undertone. Both your walls and sofa have a slight peachy-pinky undertone and yellow in this room just wouldn’t work.

Birch Colored Slipper Chair for Entertaining Area

I also liked these slipper chairs because they have a similar line to your sofa but the button tufting on the back gives it a more tailored look, this’ll start to create that traditional feel you’re looking for in the room. These chairs are also a steal of a deal and will easily fit into your decorating budget.. Click Here to Buy these Chairs


Use a Clean, Simple Wood Coffee Table to Anchor the Accent Chairs

To finish off the furniture in this area I also found this simple but elegant round coffee table. The color is almost identical to the curio cabinet that you love, making it a perfect fit for this side of the room. Like this table? You can buy it, click here!


Stacy, I wanted to give you some options that would bring some wow factor to this room. So I immediately went to toss cushions, relatively speaking they are an inexpensive way to bring some drama to the space and if you ever want to transform the look of a room, toss cushions are very easy to change!

Use a Patterned Throw Pillow to Unify the Color Scheme in the Room

The first toss cushion that I choose for your room is this gorgeous velvet pillow with a crewel embroidery pattern. It’ll look sensational on your sofa because it’ll give you some contrast but the big plus of this pillow is the accent colors in the embroidery (aqua and celery). By introducing just this little bit of colorful pattern we are opening up possibilities for beautiful, striking accent colors. I call this element a “design key” it’s the element (or elements) of a design that unify all of the colors in the room, and make the color palette make sense. Although I tried desperately to stay away from browns, the truth is that your room needs a touch of a darker color to bring depth. On the plus side though you’ll only need 2 of these pillows on your sofa! Buy This Pillow Here


Seaglass Accent Pillow
Thyme Accent Pillow


With the velvet toss cushions in place we can have a bit of fun with the rest of the accent colors, like the greens you love. For your sofa I’d suggest sticking with the softer, more muted colors like the seaglass and thyme pillow. BUT, this sensational vibrant green apple color is perfect for the the new entertaining area. The green apple brings some drama and vibrancy to the space while still tying in with the rest of the colors in the room!

Green Apple Accent Pillow

Well Stacy that should give you a good fresh start to your room, and give you the opportunity to start using this room to it’s full potential. Once you’ve got these items in place we can look at a new area rug option (with less brown!) and soft flowing drapery panels to accentuate the height of the room. So when you’re ready to tackle the rest of the elements in the room, check out our complete styleIT and styleIT 3D decorating plans. A complete decorating plan is 20-30 pages of the same well thought out, professional decorating advice that you’ve received here, just more of it!

Click Here to Learn More about our styleIT or styleIT 3-D decorating plans.

How To Create an Eclectic Art Gallery Style Picture Arrangement or Grouping

Photo Wall Grouping (Picture compliments of Ikea)

One of the hottest design trends right now are those Chic Eclectic Art Gallery picture arrangements for your home. This stylistic form of hanging artwork is a fantastic way to showcase a grouping of your family photos or an artwork collection, and gives you the ability to display several pieces of various size within a relatively small footprint.

Displaying artwork on your walls in groupings, is an art-form itself but after creating several of these sensational decorative walls for clients I’ve come up with a collection of the best designer tricks and tips to make your job easier. This handy how-to guide will help ensure that your new picture arrangement idea is a success!

Start by choosing a large wall in your home and determine how much of that wall you want to cover, 2/3rd of the space is a good guideline to follow but you can also use a furniture piece (like a sofa) to anchor the artwork grouping. If you choose to create your arrangement over a piece of furniture, use the same ratio 2/3rd’s artwork, 1/3rd blank space as illustrated below.

photo gallery wall, art wall

Now that you know roughly how large an area you’d like to cover you’ll need a large piece of paper. I find that the blank, back side of a roll of wrapping paper works well. Cut it to the approximate size of the area you’ll be covering with artwork. Then using low-tack painters tape (so you don’t peel the paint off your walls), gently tape the piece of paper to the wall where your picture arrangement will eventually hang. Take a step back and see if you like the amount of space the hanging artwork grouping will take up, if you need to, adjust the paper size accordingly.

Lay out that same piece of paper on the floor and find the center point of the piece of paper; do this by folding the paper in half both vertically and horizontally, where the folds meet is your center point, unfold the paper and mark the center point.
Gather together the pictures that you’ll be using in your arrangement. Start by placing your largest photo or piece of artwork somewhere near the middle of the paper. Then proceed to layout the rest of your pieces, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle within the boundaries of the paper until you get an arrangement that looks good.

Hang photo grouping template, Home Decorating Ideas

Trace the outline of each frame and turn it over so that the back of the frame is facing up, this will be your template. Using your traced outline as a guide slide the picture towards you and draw a line on the paper to illustrate where the picture hanging hardware sits on the frame (or the center point of the wire).

How to hang pictures, gallery wall

Then do the same to show the height of the hanging hardware (B) by sliding the picture frame to the right (within the traced lines) and draw a line to mark the point.

gallery art wall, display family photos

Where the two lines intersect is where you’ll need to install your nail or hook. Repeat this process for each piece of artwork or framed photograph in your grouping.

Once you have the hanging marks for each picture marked on your paper template it’s time to tape the piece of paper back up on the wall. The center point that you marked in step 3 should sit at 57” from the floor. Be sure to level the piece of paper so that it is perfectly straight and square in the desired spot on the wall.
With the paper in place all you need to do is hammer in your nails or Monkey Hooks through the paper using the marker lines you created. TIP: if you’re using hooks, make sure that the bottom of the hook (NOT the nail) lines up with the intersecting lines.

Gently remove the paper from the wall leaving the hooks or nails in place. You can tear the paper if you need to, we’re done with it. Now simply place hang your pictures on the installed hooks, level or adjust as required and YOU’RE DONE!

You now have a perfectly aligned picture arrangement without creating a single pencil mark on your walls. Sit back and enjoy your stylish new Eclectic Art Gallery Picture Wall Arrangement.

DECORATING TIP: These groupings tend to look best if there is a unifying element to your arrangement. I usually recommend using the same picture frames in different sizes like the ones shown here. Shop for these gorgeous picture frames here.

Picture Frames for Photo Grouping
Hammered Copper Picture Frame

For an alternate method and a great tip on selecting picture hanging hardware, check out our “How to Hang Artwork, Pictures and Wall Decor at the Perfect Height Everytime” blog post.

What Type of Hardwood Flooring is Right for Your Home?

This post is a continuation of our “Choose the Right Flooring for Your Home” informational blog series. And, in this entry I’ll cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of site finished, pre-finished and engineered hardwood floors PLUS I’ll give you some tips that your supplier might not even tell you. It’s everything you’ll need to know before you buy those lovely new hardwood floors for your home!

So, we’ll start with the questions you’ll need to consider before you set foot in a flooring store…

Are you installing above grade or below?

Do you want a pre-finished floor? Or would a site finished floor be a better option for you?

Here’s all the information you’ll need to make your decision:

Decorating with sand and stain on site hardwood floors
Site Finished Hardwood Floor

SITE FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORS  (also referred to as sand and stain on site)

PRO – Endless color possibilities, changing stain colors is possible in most cases
CON – Messy to install and refinish, it’s difficult to repair without refinishing the entire floor
Site finished hardwood was the only option available until recently when pre-finished floors came on the market. The process to install a site finished floor includes laying the floor, sanding it to create a smooth surface, applying the stain, then applying the finish coats, and all of these steps take time. Each layer of stain and finish requires time to properly cure, so rushing the process will result in a lower quality finish that won’t last as long or be as strong. There are also environmental challenges to consider, dust particles in the air can land on a wet surface and be embedded forever creating an uneven surface. Additionally humidity levels can affect the curing time of the finish, if the finish coats are not given enough time to completely dry their integrity will be compromised. On the plus side though this method of installation is ideal if you are a “serial re-decorator” like me, as it is easier to re-stain a site finished floor than any of the other hardwood options!

Decorating with hardwood floors
Mirage Yellow Birch3/4" Solid Hardwood Floor


PRO – Considerably stronger finish than a site finished floor, faster installation, easier to repair
CON – Limited color selections
Pre-finished hardwoods are rapidly becoming the preferred choice for new homes and renovations projects because they are easier to install, have a stronger finish and are easier to repair. With pre-finished hardwoods the entire finishing and staining process is done in a controlled environment, producing a finish that is cured in optimal conditions with fewer contaminants. Installation is a single step process which means you will ultimately be less inconvenienced and be ready to move into your new room faster!  And, should you ever need to repair your floor the damaged boards can simply be replaced without refinishing the entire surface so be sure to keep a few extra planks on hand, just in case!

Decorating with Engineered Hardwood Floors
Armstrong Engineered Hardwood Floor - Cherry Amberwood


PRO – Dimensionally stable, Widest plank widths available, Can be installed below grade, Less affected by humidity levels, Wider selection of exotic woods
CON – Can’t be refinished as many times, Limited color selections
Engineered floors are relatively new to the marketplace and gaining popularity fast. Constructed by laminating plywood planks together with each layer perpendicular to the last, this process produces a floor that’s not as affected by humidity levels as solid plank floors. This method of production also produces less waste and promotes forrest sustainability. Because only the top layer is the finish wood you will often find a variety of rare or exotic woods are available, typically manufactured in wide width planks to showcase the woods’ unique textures. Only available as a pre-finished floor, engineered hardwood floors can either be installed as a floating floor over concrete or conventionally secured using glue and nails over a wood sub-floor.

Picking the best type of hardwood for your situation will ensure that you enjoy your new floor for years to come. So don’t miss the next blog post when I’ll give you designer tips for choosing hardwood plank width, the sheen of your finish and even hardwood accessories!

Choosing the Best New Floor for Your Home: Are Hardwood Floors Right for Me?

Great rooms start from the floor up, and replacement flooring often the sparks full scale decorating projects. So I created this series to help you find the perfect flooring solution for your new home or reno project.

I’ll kick start this discussion with the ever popular hardwood floors, the natural beauty, texture and visual warmth of hardwood has made it a preferred flooring choice for centuries. But is it right for you?

Here are a few of the reasons why so many people choose hardwood floors for their homes:

  • Easy to Clean – A quick vacuum and a light wash (not too much water though) is all you need to do for regular maintenance. Because there are no flailing fibres to trap dust, this a great option for allergy sufferers or clean freaks! There are several hardwood cleaners on the market but if you are going to use a chemical always choose the manufacturer recommended products to ensure that you don’t void your warranty, however I find a damp (not wet) rag works well too!
  • Hardwood has Flex – Because wood is not as rigid as tile there is a little bit of bounce when you walk on them, this slight flex will make it considerably more comfortable to stand on for hours reducing back, neck and leg strain.
  • Durability – Although hardwood will scratch and dent it is pretty hard to destroy. Minor surface scratches and wear can be fixed via a screening process where the floor is given a light sand and a new finish top coat applied. Large dents or areas of damage can typically be fixed by replacing individual planks, however this is not a DIY project and may involve refinishing the entire floor.
  • Beauty – No two trees ever grow exactly the same, so each and every hardwood floor on the planet is unique

And here are some of the common complaints:

  • Price – Hardwood is an investment in your home and often the priciest option for flooring. Once you include the materials and the skilled labour required it can take up a significant portion of your decorating budget.
  • Refinishing is a Hassle – Sanding is extremely dusty and time consuming making the process more cumbersome that other flooring options.
  • Unpredictable Outcomes – because each floor is unique you’ll never know exactly what you are getting and that makes some people uncomfortable. A good installer will use planks from several different boxes at once to create a more uniform look across the entire floor but even a good installer has no control over the variety of planks that are in the box.
  • Scratches and Dents – No matter how careful you are accidents happen, expecting a piano like finish on hardwood floors forever is unrealistic. Regular vacuuming and the diligent use of floor mats at doorways will help tremendously. Surface scratches happen when dirt and dust get dragged across the finish causing it to wear and become dull.  Using throw rugs or carpet runners in high traffic areas will also help preserve the floors finish.
  • Humidity Control is a Must – Wood is fussy, it likes a range of 35% up to 50% humidity at all times, too much moisture will cause the wood to expand and in extreme cases buckle, too little moisture in the air will cause the wood to contract creating cracks and gaps in the floor. Having a humidifier or dehumidifier (depending on your climate) installed with your hardwood is a very wise choice!

Is hardwood still an option for you? I hope so!

But, there is still a lot to consider including the variety of wood species available, stain choices and installation methods. So before you decide to invest in hardwood be sure to read the next post in the series where I’ll cover some of the options that you probably weren’t even aware of, including a caution about flooring transitions and what you’ll need to know about the sheen you select for your new floor.

In the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who currently has hardwood in their home. Do you love it? Hate it?

High Style: Decorating with Natural Wood

There is something stunningly gorgeous about natural unfinished wood, wouldn’t you agree?

The texture, warmth, and uniqueness of each and every piece is something that instantly captivates me. So much so, that I often find myself unconsciously reaching out in admiration just to run my had across it’s texture. Perhaps its the connection to the earth or simply an appreciation of wood’s organic beauty. For whatever reason I think wood elements make a fabulous addition to any home, in any form. From cabinets to floors to decorative accessories wood is simply beautiful.

Feldman Architecture eclectic dining room

I recently came across this home designed by Feldman Architecture, the natural wood planks on the back of the island and the fabulous dining table are a fantastic element of  warmth in this room. Although the room itself is stunning, it’s the wood elements that make the space feel warm and cozy. And I’ll bet there’s a great story behind its acquisition.

I love using natural wood elements in contrast to starkly modern or ornate design elements, to create interest. The tension creates interest and an unexpected delight. Just like these birch poles as a backdrop for the ornate crystal chandelier creates a perfectly balanced focal point for this Dining Room

Although I don’t have a picture to show you, I once saw some very original wooden tiles lining the bar in a restaurant. The 12×12 tiles were created from a fallen heritage tree that had been cross cut into 2″ slabs and formed into the square shaped tiles. This technique produced a fantastically elaborate mosaic of wood grain, each tile a unique masterpiece. The rings, burls and knots were captivating. So much so that I found myself more engrossed in the texture of this wall, than in the conversation at the table. I say this not as an insult to my friend but as a testament to the beauty of the wood! (I really wish I had a picture to share with you, it seems almost cruel, my apologies.)

So I guess to wrap things up my closing thought would be, when you are planning your next decorating project consider using found wood objects. They are stunning, unique and usually come with a great story about how you acquired it.

What do you think? Do you have any great wood decor stories to share, or pictures (even better)? I invite you to post a comment below or send your pictures to admin@decorateITonline.com

Window Coverings 101

The right window coverings are an essential decorating element in a room

Window coverings are one of the most important design elements in a room; unfortunately, they are also the one most commonly overlooked.  Even the most perfectly painted, furnished, and accessorized room can appear flat and unfinished if the window coverings are either unsuitable or missing altogether. Here are a few of the basics to keep in mind when exploring your window covering options:

Vintage Velvet Drapery Side Panels


Curtain Panels: This is the all-encompassing term for many types of fabric panels that are hung from a rod on either side of a window. They can be either purely decorative (in the case where blinds or sheers are also used to cover the window) or functional and come in a variety of styles, from tab-top and rod-pocket, to grommeted and pinch-pleated..


Sheer Linen Drapes



Sheers: Often layered behind curtain panels, but equally impressive on their own, sheers are curtain panels made from semi-transparent fabric that diffuse the light and provide a moderate level of privacy while still allowing people to see out (and others to see in) to some degree. Sheers generally create a more feminine, classic, or traditional look that other types of window coverings.


2" wood Blinds with Cotton Accent Tapes


Venetian Blinds: One of the most versatile window products ever invented, Venetian blinds allow for varying degrees of light and privacy at the flick of a wand. A series of metal, plastic, or wooden slats are arranged horizontally so they can be angled together to block light completely, angled to diffuse and direct it, or set flat so as to appear almost invisible. They’re available inexpensively at most home improvements stores, but for a more custom fitted look try ordering your



Roman Shades


Roman Shades: A roman shade consists of of a length of fabric that is sewn with a series of bats or spines it it to give it shape and to enable it to fold uniformly as it is drawn upward with an integrated cord. Roman shades are available off-the-rack at most home improvement and variety stores, or can be custom-made in almost any imaginable fabric by a professional drapery workroom.



Bamboo Woven Wood Blinds

Woven Wood Shades: A personal favourite of mind, woven woods are a fantastic way to add texture to a room. Available in a wide variety of natural fibers like seagrass or bamboo these blinds work well in both traditional and contemporary rooms. Woven Woods function just like Roman Shades and are often available with a Top Down Bottom Up feature for versatility and privacy.

Panel Track Vertical Blinds



Panel Track Vertical Blinds: A stunning modern alternative to it’s dated cousin (vertical blinds), Panel Track Verticals are perfectly designed for large windows or patio doors. Available in a wide variety of fabrics and colors these blinds look best in contemporary homes.

Roller Shades




Roller Shades: These are comprised of a long piece of weighted fabric or vinyl that is rolled around a spring-loaded rod that is mounted at the top of a window. The purpose of the spring-loaded rod is to allow the fabric to roll back up easily with a simple tug of the bottom. Roller shades are available at almost any home improvement and department store, or they can be custom made in a variety of materials from fabric to wood to sheer-woven composites that allow for both light and privacy.


For help finding the most stylish window coverings for your space visit our DESIGN SERVICES page and check out our affordable range of professional decorating packages!