Tag Archives: how to

Choosing The Right Paint Color for Your Home

It seems that whenever I pass by the wall of paint chips in any home improvement store there is always at least one person staring blankly at the seemingly endless wall of color samples. One hand typically holds a fanned out array of color swatches while their eyes methodically scan the wall hoping for the “the perfect color” to leap out… this time.

Choosing the right paint color isn’t easy, and I’d bet that there’s enough “mis-tint” paint stashed in basement corners across the country to paint the White House 100 times over.

So how do you choose the right designer paint color for your room? Here are a few tips from long time industry pro with a passion for color (and painting):

Dark Paint Colors

Don’t Whimp Out! If you want a deep rich color on your walls check your conservative hat at the door. There is no halfway or safe way to be bold, if you want Red pick the darkest shade in the colorway otherwise you’ll end up with pink. Or a rich Chocolate will end up looking like watered down coffee with cream and so on… if you’re going to do it, be fearless!

Designer White Paint Colors

You may think that decorators are just being flamboyant when they drone on about the billions of shades of white out there, but, I’ll stand firm, the right white can make all the difference in the world. The subtle undertones can either create a soft, clean, cozy feeling in the room or it’ll end up looking the the inside of a liquid paper bottle. When choosing a white paint color the best advice that I can give is to consider the other colors in the room; for example if you are decorating a room with warm brown or beige colors be sure to stay away from whites with a blue or cool grey undertone (it’s probably the biggest rookie mistake).

Helpful Tips!

Never Ever make your final selection under the fluorescent lights of the home improvement or paint store, always take a few samples home to see what it’ll look like in the room with your furnishings.

If you’re not sure what the undertone of a paint color is, place the sample on a white piece of paper, having a neutral background will usually make the undertone jump out (even if you don’t have a lot of experience choosing colors).

There is so much more to say on this subject but I’ll have to save that for anther blog post. So for now I’ll close off by saying, never be afraid to try a new paint color, it is by far the most big-impact,  budget-friendly decorating tool available and the results may astonish you. If you’d like help choosing the right paint color for your home try using our paintIT e-decorating plan, it’s an affordable way to get a designers paint color recommendations, customized to your home. Because, in the world of paint, practice makes perfect and we’ve had lots of practice!

Have any great painting success stories, comments or tips to share? Post a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

How to do IT: Hanging Wallpaper

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Wallpaper is one of the most dramatic interior design statements you can make in any room. From a simple, subdued tone-on-tone texture to a dramatic high-contrast geometric pattern, wallpaper can be one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to instantly transform the look, feel, and color scheme of your space. And hanging it right is easier than you think. Here’s an easy to follow guide to help you get it right the first time:

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1. Prepare the walls:

– If you’re hanging wallpaper on new drywall, prime the wall first with wallpaper primer to seal the it and help the paper adhere properly to the wall.

– Wash any dirt or dust from old walls and sand smooth any chipped paint. If the wall is already wallpapered, remove the old wallpaper using wallpaper remover, and a wide blade.

– Remove all outlet and switch plate covers from the wall.

– Fill any holes or cracks using an interior filler or spackle and a putty knife. Allow the spackle to dry according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, then sand it lightly until the surface is smooth.

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2. Pick a starting point:

If you are papering all four walls the first strip of wallpaper will line up with the last strip of wallpaper you hang and the pattern should match up at that place. You will want to start and finish wallpapering in a corner, near the curtains or behind a door so that the mismatch is less obvious. The focal point of the room should have the fewest seams.

Measure out from your starting point and use a level to lightly draw a vertical straight edge on the wall. This line marks where the first strip of wallpaper should be placed.

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3. Cut the wallpaper:

Lay the first roll of paper, print side down, on the flat work surface. Confirm the top and bottom of the pattern. Measure, then cut the first wallpaper strip to the proper length, adding a few extra inches at the top and bottom. (This will be trimmed off later). Measure and cut the next several strips in order, paying attention to pattern match.

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4. Activate or apply the adhesive:

If the wallpaper is pre-pasted, loosely roll up the first cut strip of paper right side out and immerse it in room-temperature water in a water tray or bathtub. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for immersion time. Pull the strip out of the water, allowing the wallpaper to unroll slowly.

For un-pasted wallpaper, apply pre-mixed paste using a large pasting brush or paint roller, working from the middle to the ends. Be sure that all areas are covered with paste with no un-pasted spots. Gently fold the top of the sheet down to the middle so that the pasted sides touch. Next, fold the bottom edge up to the middle. This allows the paste to cure and keep it from drying out. Do not crease the wallpaper.

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5. Hang the wallpaper:

Starting at the ceiling, carefully unfold the top half of first piece of the wallpaper and gently place the side edge of the strip along the measured line. Don’t forget to leave a few extra inches of paper at the top and bottom for trimming later.

When the strip is in the right position, let the bottom half drop down and gently smooth the paper against the wall with your hands, beginning at one edge and working your way across. Use a smoothing brush or damp sponge to smooth out any air bubbles. Use a seam roller to gently smooth down the edges of the wallpaper.

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6. Trim the excess paper:

Use a wide-blade putty knife to hold down the top of the wallpaper strip at the ceiling. Use the utility knife or straight-edge razor to trim the excess wallpaper. Repeat at the bottom of the strip. Carefully clean any paste from the ceiling and baseboard.

Wipe the strip of wallpaper with a clean, damp sponge to remove any paste and remaining air bubbles.

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7. Smooth the corners:

At the corners, measure from the last full-width strip of wallpaper to the corner. Add 1 inch to that measurement and cut the next strip of wallpaper to that width. Activate or apply paste to the strip.

Apply the wallpaper on the wall, making sure to smooth it totally into the corner for interior corners or around the corner for exterior corners.

At the corner, make a small slit from the top of the strip to the wall to allow the strip to lay flat at the ceiling. Repeat on the bottom to allow the strip to lay flat at the floor. Trim off the top and bottom and clean the strip.

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8. Hang around the corner:

Place the next strip of wallpaper on the wall so that it overlaps the extra 1 inch of paper from the previous piece.

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9. Repeat hanging the strips around the room:

Continue hanging the next strips of wallpaper, taking care to match the pattern, trimming at the ceiling and floor, removing any creases or air bubbles, securing the seams, and cleaning the paste off the paper.

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10. Replace light switch and electrical outlet covers:

If you’re feeling extra-crafty, you can also cover the light-switch and electrical plate covers with wallpaper, taking care to match the pattern with the surrounding wall.

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Check out our TOOLS page for more handy tips and advice on getting your DIY decorating project right the first time!

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The IT List: 5 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products to Make Your Life Easier

So, you’ve finally figured out your room decor solutions and have everything looking fabulous! Now the challenge is keeping it all looking shiny and beautiful with a minimum of effort. With the recent focus on the environmental impact of the products and methods we use in day-to-day life, many people are seeking out more eco-friendly cleaning alternatives without sacrificing convenience. Here are a few of our favorite all-natural, non-toxic cleaning products and tips to leave you feeling good inside while keeping your space looking spectacular:

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Vinegar: Not just for salads anymore, white vinegar is surprisingly versatile for many different cleaning applications. Use vinegar and old newspapers to make your windows and mirrors shinier than they’ve ever been before (afterward simple dry out the newspaper and send it for recycling). It’s also great for removing soap scum and mildew from showers, cleaning paintbrushes, and getting the waxy yellow buildup off of linoleum floors.

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Baking Soda: One of nature’s wonder products, sodium bicarbonate cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes, removes stains, and softens fabrics. It is safe to use on fabric, vinyl, carpet, upholstery, silver, stainless steel, and copper and plastic pipes. Keep a box in the refrigerator, behind the wastebasket in the bathroom, and in the front closet to eliminate odors. Plus, sprinkle a small amount on your carpets every time you vacuum to keep them smelling fresh and clean.

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Natural Soap: Available in bar or powdered form at any natural food store, natural soap is great for everything from dishes and laundry to washing the car and the exterior of the house. It’s also way cheaper than most chemical-laden cleaners.

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Lemons: Their fresh, pleasing scent and high level of acidity give lemons a double punch when it comes to cleaning. Deodorize your microwave by boiling a mixture of water and lemon juice in a glass container for 5 minutes, then wipe down the insides with the mixture.

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Borax: Great for washing wallpaper and painted walls, floors, and textiles, Borax deodorizes, removes stains, and boosts the cleaning power of your detergents. It can also be used as an insecticide to get rid of ants, cockroaches, and fleas, and in small doses as a fertilizer for some household plants.

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For more handy tips to keep your perfectly decorated room looking perfect check out our TOOLS page!

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How to do IT: Installing a Dimmer Switch


Perhaps the most important piece of electrical equipment in any home (at least to a decorator), the dimmer switch is singlehandedly capable of transforming the entire look, feel, and presence of a room at the turn of a knob. Often ignored by builders, it is usually up to homeowners to install these handy-dandy little devices themselves. But thankfully it’s both easy and inexpensive to do. Here’s what you need to know:

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Materials:

– Flathead screwdriver

– Phillips screwdriver

– Wire Strippers

– Needlenose Pliers

– Voltage Tester (available for a few dollars at most home improvement stores)

– Electrical Tape

– Wire Nuts (these are often supplied with the new switch, but check first to make sure).

– Dimmer switch faceplate

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Note: Almost all dimmer switches are designed to work with traditional incandescent light bulbs and fixtures only. If you use high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs in your fixtures, or if the fixture is designed for fluorescent tube or halogen lighting, do not attempt to install a standard dimmer switch. Consult a home-improvement store associate to find alternate options.

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Though dimmer switches come in many different styles, the installation procedure is mostly the same from type to type. Check with an associate at your local home-improvement retailer to find out which type of switch is best for your needs and budget.

Before you attempt any DIY electrical job we highly recommend checking with your local municipality or county to see what rules and regulations exist in regard to building codes and permits in your location.

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1. The first and most important step with every electrical job is turn off the power to the circuit you’ll be working on. This not only protects you from injury, but it will also protect the dimmer switch from possible damage. Always double-check to make sure the correct circuit has been switched off, and place a small piece of electrical tape over the switched-off breaker so that no one turns it on by mistake while you’re working on it.

2. Unscrew and remove the existing faceplate from the switch using a flathead screwdriver.

3. Using a phillips screwdriver unscrew and remove the existing switch. Gently pull the switch out of the box (over the years wiring can often become loose or brittle on the old switch). The wires may disconnect from the old switch while pulling it out, but don’t worry about that at this point (though it’s another good reason to have the power off).

4. Following the manufacturers instructions, use the voltage tester to double check and make sure the circuit is off.

5. Unscrew the wires from the terminals on the old switch. Some switches may have been installed using pressure connectors on the back of the switch. If so, you may be able to wiggle them out or just clip them off with needlenose pliers. Discard the old switch.

6. Use the wire strippers to cut the bare wire off right below the insulation. Then, use the wire strippers to strip 3/8″ insulation off the wires. There is also a guide on the side of most strippers that will show you how much insulation should be stripped.

7. In most cases the dimmer switch will come with pre-wired and pre-stripped wires on the back. Simply take one wire on the dimmer switch and one wire from the wall box (matching the color of the wire on the switch to the color of the wire in the wall) and hold them side by side. With the needlenose pliers, twist the exposed part of the wires together. This gives a better connection and helps prevent one of the wires from slipping out of the wire nut. Tighten a wire nut over the wires. Repeat with the other wires. You should have one dimmer wire connected to the wall wire, and the other dimmer wire connected to the other wall wire.

8. Take a 3″ length of electrical tape and wrap it around the wire nut where the nut meets the wire. This helps protect against a wire being accidentally grounded. Repeat this with the other set of wires.

9. Gently fold the wires back into the wall box. Dimmer switches are larger than regular switches, sos it may take some careful working of the wires to make it fit well. Also, if the switch shares the box with other components, it would be wise to turn the power off to them before this step for safety reasons.

10. Once the dimmer switch is set in the box, ensure it is perfectly straight, then screw it into place.

11. Screw the new faceplate on the dimmer switch. Make sure the dimmer switch is in the OFF position.

12. Back at the electrical panel, remove the electrical tape and turn the circuit back on.

13. Slowly turn on the dimmer switch to make sure it works properly.

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The entire process is incredibly simple and shouldn’t take you more than 20 or 30 minutes. Then you can sit back and enjoy the fabulous new mood lighting in your space!

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For more great tips on getting it right the first time check out our TOOLS page!


5 Quick Fixes That Will Make You Love Your Home Again

As is true with most relationships, once the glow of the honeymoon phase is over it’s all too easy to take your home for granted. Assuming that it’ll always be there to lean on, an ideal companion that never complains, and simply exists on a diet of bare-essential maintenance.

Is it possible to rekindle the flame? Experience that jump out of bed, miss you when we’re not together, can’t wait to re-connect feeling again… with your home?

YES YOU CAN! With a little bit of effort, the following do-it-yourself, budget-friendly, quick-fixes may ultimately be the thing to kickstart a happier, more rewarding life with the biggest investment you will likely ever make… Your Home!

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Here are a few designer secrets that are the biggest bang for your buck DIY projects:

A New Coat of Paint: Just like the iconic Tom Waits song, a “New Coat of Paint” holds within it the promise of a fresh start. Paint is an instantly rewarding project and the right paint color can not only transform the look of a room, it can also add personality, giving style and vibrance to bland interiors!

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Add Fresh Artwork: There are thousands of ways to decorate your walls, from designer mirrors to unique 3-D wall-mounted sculptures. For instance, grouping smaller items like family photos together is a great way to make a big impact without breaking the bank. To further increase the WOW factor of any wall decor be sure to choose a paint color that will make whatever you put on your walls stand out and get noticed!

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Cozy up with stylish Toss Cushions: Nothing is more welcoming than a grouping of colorful throw pillows casually tossed in the corners of a sofa. They invitingly whisper: “come cuddle with me”!

The most effective way to add this vibrant splash of color to a space is to co-ordinate the pillows with your room’s color scheme, and for maximum impact don’t be afraid to try something bold!

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Re-arrange the furniture: One of the most powerful and dramatic changes you can make in a room is implementing a new space plan. Try bringing furniture away from the walls; it’s a cheap and fabulous way to create intimacy in the space. It even makes the room appear larger. Don’t be afraid to try a few different configurations; finding the right placement may take a few tries if you don’t possess the ability to visualize the space in your head.

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Set the mood with lighting: A great lighting plan will influence the ambiance in a room. While overhead lights are great for functionality they can create an institutional feeling in the space, so turn ‘em off! The best design plans incorporate multiple points of light, that, when used in the right proportions, can actually be more functional and comfortable than overhead lighting. Try placing table or floor lamps near the sofa for great task lighting, and directional lighting strategically positioned to highlight the features of a room.

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Weekend projects are a great way to reconnect with your home, and decorating doesn’t have to be a chore. With just a little bit of planning, and by implementing a few small changes at a time, you will discover how rewarding a beautiful home can be.

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So, if you need some inspiration to get you going check out our DESIGN PORTFOLIO or BLOG for more great ideas to make your home the showhome you’ve always known it could be!

Happy Decorating!

The decorateITonline Team

How to Paint Your Home like a Pro

A professional looking paint job for your home can be a do-it-yourself project if you know what you’re doing. Here are some painting tips from a professional painter of 25 years, follow this simple advice and you’ll get an even coat of paint on your interior walls. These  tips will help you get the job done quickly and eliminates common problems like light areas, roller marks and built-up ridges.

First, start by choosing the best equipment and materials for the job. You can pick up professional-quality equipment that will last a lifetime for just a few dollars more than cheap, all-in-one roller setups.

    • Start with a good roller cage.
    • To extend your reach and give you better control, screw a 4′ wood handle or extension pole onto the end of the roller.
    • Invest in a good roller sleeve (also known as a roller cover). It’s tempting to buy the cheapest sleeve available and throw it away when you’re done, but cheap roller sleeves don’t hold enough paint to do a good job. It’ll take you twice as long to paint a room and the results won’t be as good. Use a 3/8″ – 1/2″ nap for flat paint on walls and ceilings, 3/4″ nap for rough surfaces like textured ceilings, and 1/4″ nap for satin or semi-gloss paint.
    • Roller trays work well for smaller areas such as bedrooms where a single gallon of paint might be all that’s needed. Cleanup is also easier with roller trays. A disposable tray liner makes cleanup even easier.
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Brush paint around the edges first: This step is referred to as “cutting in”. Since rollers can’t get tight to edges, the first painting step is to brush along the ceiling, inside corners and moldings. Only “cut-in” on the walls you will be rolling immediately, rather than doing the entire room at this point, to avoid noticeable differences in finish. Use the least amount of paint necessary to cover the old color, and make sure to smooth out any ridges or brushstrokes before you move onto the next step.

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Apply the paint to the wall with a sweeping stroke: Start about 12″ from the bottom and 6″ from the corner and roll upward at a slight angle using light pressure. Stop a few inches from the ceiling. Then roll up and down back toward the corner to quickly spread the paint. You can leave paint buildup and roller marks at this step. Don’t worry about a perfect job yet (you’ll be smoothing it out in the next step).

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Reload the roller and repeat the process in the adjacent wall space, working back toward the painted area: Always make sure to keep a wet edge. This is crucial to all top-quality paint jobs, whether you’re enameling a door, varnishing furniture or rolling paint on a wall. The idea is to plan the sequence of work and work fast enough so that you’re always lapping newly applied paint onto paint that’s still wet. If you stop for a break in the middle of a wall, for example, and then start painting after this section has dried, you’ll likely see an overlap mark where the two areas join.

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Roll back over the entire area you’ve covered to smooth and blend the paint: Don’t reload the roller with more paint for this step. Use very light pressure. Roll up and down, from floor to ceiling and move over about three-quarters of a roller width each time so you’re always slightly overlapping the previous stroke. When you reach the corner, roll as close as you can to the adjacent wall without touching it.

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Smooth the paint along the ceiling using a long horizontal stroke without reloading the roller with paint: Get as close as you can. The “cutting in” process leaves brush marks that won’t match the roller texture on the rest of the wall. For the best-looking job, you’ll want to cover as many brush marks as possible with the roller. Do this by carefully rolling up close to inside corners, moldings and the ceiling. Face the open end of the roller toward the edge and remember not to use a roller that’s fully loaded with paint. If you are skilled enough to roll within an inch of the ceiling while rolling vertically, you can skip this step.

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Scrape excess paint from the roller before you wash it. Use your putty knife, or a special roller scraping tool with a semicircular cutout in the blade. A painter’s “5-in-1 tool” is perfect for this task.

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Wash the roller with warm water and a mild laundry detergent: Lather up the roller and scrub the mat with your fingers like you are washing a short-haired dog. The detergent will pull a lot of the paint residue out of the mat and make the next step easier.

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Rinse the roller cover until the water runs clear. A roller and paint brush spinning tool, available at hardware and paint stores, simplifies the cleaning task. Just slip the roller cover onto the spinner and repeatedly wet and spin out the roller into an empty bucket until it’s clean.

  • To minimize shedding, wrap the new roller cover with masking tape and peel it off to remove loose fibers. Repeat this a few times. You can also use a lighter to lightly burn off any “Fuzzies” that you see.
  • An easy way to keep things less messy is to take a kitchen-sized white trash bag with yellow handles (the kind that, when you pull them out, the bag closes up), turn it inside out, and then slip it over your roller tray. Tie the yellow handles around the ‘feet’ of the tray; when you’re done for the day, you can put your paint rollers in the tray and then pull the bag off of the tray, turning it right-side-in, and tie it off. If you do it well, it will keep the paint wet and you can reuse the rollers again the next day. Also means you don’t have any clean-up for the roller tray.
  • Keep a wet rag in your pocket and pick lumps off the wall as you go.
  • Strain used paint through a mesh paint strainer to remove lumps. Five-gallon size strainers are available at paint stores.
  • High-quality wool covers tend to become matted down if you apply too much pressure while painting. Rolling demands a light touch. No matter what roller cover you’re using, always let the paint do the work. Keep the roller cover loaded with paint and use only enough pressure to release and spread the paint. Pushing on the roller to squeeze out the last drop of paint will only cause problems. Start with a large “V” or “W” and fill in between. Smooth with up and down motion. Look at it in a minute or two to make certain there are no runs.
  • If you notice rollermarks (vertical paint lines) flip the roller in the other direction and re-roll it (within 10 minutes for latex).

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If you’d like help finding a new paint color for your room check out our styleIT or styleIT 3-D decorating plans.

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How to do IT: Creating a Killer Powder Room

The Powder Room: That impractical little half-bathroom off the foyer or hallway that is primarily designed to be used by people who don’t actually live in your house. The concept of the powder room conjures images of swank 1950s cocktail parties, where women would repeatedly duck off to “powder their nose” with enough talc to make an elephant sneeze. Nowadays the powder room is a staple of most middle class homes throughout North America, but despite being located in the public area of the home, it is largely (and unfortunately) ignored, at least from a decorating perspective. Here are a few great tips for making your powder room worthy of its pedigree:

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Color: Perhaps more than any other room in your home, the powder-room practically screams out for bold color. Because it’s a small room, usually out of the direct sight-line of your seating area, you can get away with a much bolder palette than you would in other rooms of the home. Rich reds, forest greens, navy blues, and even charcoal grey and black are fabulous choices. Don’t worry about dark colors making the space look too small (after all, it’s a powder room…it IS small!). As well, because humidity isn’t as much of a factor here as in regular bathrooms, textured wallpaper, dark wood panelling and cabinets, and more delicate countertop materials are also viable (and stylish) options.

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Mirrors: In keeping with the glamorous and dramatic theme, replace the standard builder-grade vanity mirror with an ornate gold, silver, or black framed mirror above the basin instead. The bigger the size the better! And for an ultra over-the-top look hang a large floor-lenth mirror horizontally spanning the entire wall to add a ton of bling and to visually double the size of the space!

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Lighting: We know that we say it all the time in regard to every room in the house, but in the powder room it’s absolutely essential: you MUST have a dimmer switch on your vanity light fixture! Nothing ruins a fabulous room faster than bad lighting, and in a glam space like a powder room bad lighting will not only make the room look lacklustre but will also be unflattering to the complexions of those using it. For dinner and cocktail parties set the level of light at 1/2 to 2/3 maximum intensity to create a moody glow.

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Artwork: As with your choice of mirrors, the artwork you display in the powder room should also be dramatic and overscaled to play up the glamorous side of you personality. Large framed portraits, landscapes, architectural images, or contemporary abstracts in bold colors are great choices. To coordinate with your wall palette choose images in which the dominant color contrasts nicely with your paint or wallpaper color.

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For custom advice on making your powder room fabulous check out the affordable range of professional decorating packages in our SERVICES page!

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How to do IT: Lighting a Room

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Lighting is one of the most important aspects of interior decorating, but it is also one of the most frequently overlooked. Everything from the size and scale of a room to the appearance of everything (and everyone!) in it can be adversely affected by poor lighting.

Ambient lighting: The first thing to consider when lighting a room is ambient lighting. This is the overall glow that provides the basic illumination for a space (like an overhead fixture, chandelier, or wall sconce). Ambient lighting is often diffused with a shade in the case of overhead lighting, or reflected off a wall or ceiling in the case of sconces. Ambient lighting is also sometimes hidden in built-in valances (sometimes seen in luxury hotels or high-end office lobbies) or along the floor perimeter (as in theatres, cinemas, and nightclubs). Your ambient lighting should be relatively even throughout the room; look at the shape of the room when deciding where to place ambient lighting to avoid odd pockets of shadow. It is also a good idea to place your ambient lights on a rheostat (dimmer switch) so you can adjust the light levels to suit the mood or occasion.

Task lighting: The second level of lighting in a room is the task lighting. This is the type of lighting is given off in areas where work must be done. Reading lamps next to an armchair, sofa, or bed, pendant lights over the work area of a kitchen island, or a desk lamp in a home office are all examples of task lighting. Because its purpose is more utilitarian than aesthetic, task lighting is often brighter and more focused than ambient lighting.

Accent lighting: The third layer of light in a room is the accent lighting. This is the lighting that adds dramatic punch to a space and make a room look “finished”. Adding accent lighting to your most important focal points will make them visually “pop”. Maybe you need a pin light to shines down on a piece of art over your mantel, or a hidden strip lighting in the to illuminate the unique architecture of your ceiling. The key to accent lighting is to keep it soft. You don’t want an overwhelming hotspot of light, just a directed glow to bring attention to that special something in your room.

Natural light: The best type of light is always natural daylight. It provides the best color-rendering, is flattering to the complexion, and provides a warm glow. The right choice of window coverings and a creative use of mirrors can help to maximize the natural light in a space. Choose window coverings such as blinds and sheers that let you diffuse the light and maintain privacy while still brightening the room. Use mirrors opposite large window and in dark hallways to help balance the light and to bounce it into darker portions of the room.

Just like choosing an outfit, your choice of lighting can make or break your room. For specific advice from our team of professionals on finding the right types of light for your space visit our SERVICES page and check out our affordable decorating packages!

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How to do IT: Creating a Wall Shadowbox

Interesting wall art can sometimes be difficult to find, especially if you’re looking for something with a personal or emotional connection.  One creative solution is to take unique objects you have lying around the house and frame them in a shadow box.  We created these interesting shadow boxes featuring vintage newspaper press templates that were found in an attic (they had been used as insulation for several decades).

Here’s how we did it:

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First, we took two ready-made shadow box kits (available at most large variety or craft stores), opened them up, and removed the backs.  Next, we took 1/2″ strips of styrofoam we had lying around and glued them to the back of the templates that we were framing.  We did this in order to create a slight shadow behind the templates to give them more depth.  We also glued velcro strips onto the back of the styrofoam pieces to use to attach the template to the felt backing of the shadow box.

Then we centered the template onto the felt backing and pressed it to make sure it was secure.

Finally, we reassembled the frame, replaced the glass, and added the hanging hardware to the back.

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Total time: 30 minutes

Total budget: $165 ($160 for the 2 shadowboxes and $5 for velcro strips and hot glue)

Total impact: Fabulous!

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For more cool decorating project ideas check out our TOOLS page!

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How to do IT: Making Toss Cushions

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Decorative toss cushions are one of easiest and most inexpensive ways to add a splash of pattern in a living room or bedroom.  And while there are many ready-made options out there to choose from (including several fabulous patterns and colors in the decorateITonline Store), basic toss cushions are also incredibly simple to make yourself in just a few easy steps:

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Materials you’ll need:

– Fabric

– A sewing machine

– Thread

– Pillow inserts

– Scissors

– An iron and ironing board

– Hand-sewing needle

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Step 1:  Choose your fabric, thread, and pillow insert

For this project we chose a gorgeous circular scrolled design in tones of cream and taupe.  The pattern repeats the same way both vertically and horizontally and has a neutral orientation so it can be placed in any direction (depending on the fabric you choose you may have to consider the pattern repeat and orientation in Step 3).  Try to choose a fabric that is mid-weight (neither too thick or too thin), and take note of the recommended cleaning process for it.  The thread, though it won’t be overly visible, should color-coordinate well with the fabric you choose.  Pillow inserts come in different sized and types of fill, so choose the one that best fits your purpose.

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Step 2: Measure your pillow insert

Lay the pillow insert flat on the table and measure the length at the seam rather than at the middle, pulling the seam taut to get an accurate measurement.

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Step 3: Measure and cut your fabric

Measure out your fabric, adding an extra 3/4″ on either side for seam allowance (1-1/2″ total).  At this point you also want to take note of the pattern: if the fabric has a repeating pattern make sure that the center of the design is aligned with the center of the area you are cutting.

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Step 4: Match up your pieces

Line up your cut pieces with the “good” sides (the sides you want to end up on the outside when the pillow is completed) facing each other.  If your pattern has a discernible vertical orientation make sure that the direction is the same for both pieces.

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Step 5: Sew

Using a straight stitch (standard width) sew three edges of the pillow, leaving a 3/4″ margin between the seam and the edge of the fabric.  On the fourth side, leave an opening large enough to feed the pillow insert through (8″-10″).  Reverse stitch over the seams on either side of the opening to provide extra reinforcement.

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Step 6: Iron

Using the steam setting, iron the fabric so that the remaining flap on the outside of your seam lays flat.  Also, iron the fabric around the opening for the pillow insert so that the crease lines up with the seams on either side of the opening.

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Step 7: Cut off corners

Cut off the excess fabric on the corners using a diagonal cut, and making sure not to cut through the seam.  This will ensure that the corners of the cover aren’t lumpy when the insert is placed inside.

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Step 8: Flip cover and stuff the insert inside

Turn the fabric inside-out so the “good” side faces outward and the seams are on the inside.  Roll up the pillow insert and push it through the opening.  Guide each of the corners of the insert into the corners of the cover, then flatten the pillow so the edges of the insert line up with the seams of the cover.

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Step 9: Sew pillow closed

Using an “invisible” stitch, hand sew the remaining opening closed and knot the end to ensure the stitching remains secure.

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Step 10: Fluff and enjoy!

Fluff up the pillow to make sure the fill is evenly distributed, place it in it’s desired location, then sit back and behold your lovely new creation.

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For more handy How-to projects and tips check out our TOOLS page!