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Updated June 19, 2012, 11:14 pm betterhomesgardens
Inspirational decorating ideas from our professionals to help you create beautiful rooms you will love with a passion without spending those big dollars.
Have you recently moved into your home and are itching to put your stamp on it, or are you simply aching to change your interior scenery? Whatever your reason for wanting to renovate or decorate, if you’re a little unsure where to start and you don’t have bundles of cash to throw at an interior decorator, let the tips and tricks the professionals use guide you.
'Divvy up a large room into separate zones, one for the family and another for private conversation. Treat this space like a mini room, decorating it with a pair of comfy chairs, a rug, a lamp and artwork. Slightly more luxurious materials than the rest of the room will cement its special status. For a coordinated look, pick materials for the whole room from a single collection. Fabrics, Beletage Collection.
The affordability of flowers and their ability to bring immediate interest and vitality to a dull room is incomparable. So, next time you’re doing the groceries, pick up a bunch of seasonal flowers.
Feature chairs are a strong trend. Highlight a shapely chair with piping and by upholstering it in a bold colour. If you’re at all hesitant, choose a shade several tones lighter than your original colour choice. Also, bear in mind that solid colour or striped fabrics are a terrific way to modernise a room featuring florals. Fabrics, Mayfair Collection.Use wallpaper like art. It’s less permanent and all you’ll need is a
roll or an extra-long offcut for a similarly framed piece. Wallpaper and fabrics, Tiku Collection.
For renovations with structural work, such as removing a wall or building an extension, have an architect and/or engineer draw up plans for approval by your local council. After choosing a builder, draw up a contract detailing all specifications. With a fixed-price contract, costs won’t blow out unless you deviate from what’s set out in the contract. If you subcontract the job, get quotes for all trades, fixtures and fittings so you can set a realistic budget.
Make stylish pendant lighting the focal point of a dining room furnished with low-key blinds and furniture. Use 2-3 pendant lights along the length of a rectangular table or a single pendant over a round table. Hang them low to create an intimate atmosphere but high enough you can converse with each other easily – 70cm above the table is about right. Blind, Luxaflex.
If you’re unsure of what colours, combos or proportions to use in a scheme, be inspired by mags, room sets in home-furnishing stores, clothing and even flowers. Play it safe and keep to three colours applied in the following proportions: Main colour, 60 per cent; intermediate colour, 30 per cent; accent, 10 per cent. Paint colours, TaubmanCreate a mood board or book. Assemble paint colours, swatches of wallpaper and fabrics, pictures of furniture and accessories, and see how they work together. Arrange the samples in the same proportion as they’d appear in your
design to ensure a realistic impression of the finished room.
Charity and used-furniture shops are the best places to look for unusual armchairs with good frames, ripe for reupholstering. Keep a lookout for unique shapely furniture, as it always looks elegant. This chair, with its gently curved seat and splayed legs, fits the bill perfectly. Colinton chair covered in Pica eau de nil woven Jacquard fabric, Laura Ashley.
Highlight architectural features such as a bay window with timber brackets (from timber fretwork specialists) and a window seat. This spot can be purely for lapping up the sun or you can use it as seating for a dining nook. Fit a lid on the window seat to make the most of the storage space beneath.
Take the guesswork – and angst – out of the equation when trying to decide which colours work together. Invest a few dollars in a pack featuring 12 suggested colour schemes. Each scheme features three perfectly coordinated colours. Perfect Yellows 12 colour schemes pack, Dulux.
Build shelves beside your fireplace. They are the perfect place to show off your favourite accessories, collectables or books. If you’d rather hide things away, add solid doors or put baskets on the shelves.
Use tricks to enhance cramped rooms. Hang an oversize mirror (from a mirror specialist) above a mantelpiece. Or simply lean it against the wall and it will make the space double in size – at least visually. If budget is an issue, buy a second-hand mirror and restore the frame with metallic paint or a metal leaf finish. Chair fabric, Tiku Collection.
As carpet forms the backdrop to your furnishings, selecting the right one is important. Classic neutrals will give you maximum flexibility. However, if you fancy something more interesting than a plain carpet but don’t want a full-on pattern, consider the understated Quarella Navarone, Feltex Classic Collection or Salinger Lerche, Feltex Reserve Selection.
Anything on three legs is hot news right now whether it be for functional or purely ornamental purposes. Invest in a stylish tripod floor or table lamp. Or, make a feature of this decorative film projector, Freedom.
Be clever with open-plan spaces to prevent them feeling cold and uninspiring. Think how you’re going to use each area and position your furniture accordingly. Zones can overlap each another or fulfil more than one function. While open to view, this entry foyer is clearly defined by the part wall and column, while the spare casual seating, situated beside the staircase, appears connected to the lounge room by use of a common colour scheme.
Add immediate character with a new open fire. Mobile and environmentally friendly, ethanol-burning fires do not require a flue or fixed pipes, making them ideal for apartments or if you want a fuss-free installation. Oxygen, EcoSmart Fires.
Mantelpieces and side tables are great for displaying decorative objects you’ve collected over time. Try to stick to a single colour or theme – say a white picture frame with white and silver accessories or a selection of candlesticks, lanterns and candelabra. To ensure every piece is shown off to its best advantage, don’t overdo it. For balance, work with just three to five pieces of different heights and proportions, which complement each other.
Always take a peek under carpet. If you discover the carpet has been concealing floorboards, rip it off and have the boards sanded and repolished to restore them to their original beauty. Any flaws and inconsistencies in the woodwork will only add to the character of the room. Fabrics, Bohemia Collection.
Make a grand statement with an elegant chaise made for laid-back lounging. Look for small details that make it special and set it apart from the mass-produced – castors for mobility is one such example. Sink down, put your feet up and relax in style. Casablanca chaise and Laos Caldero fabric, KA International.
Accessories displayed on a shelf or side table will give the finishing touches to your room. Make a statement with one unusual or sculptural piece, or group several pieces for impact. In general, you’ll find an arrangement of three has more impact than pairs.
Transform bland spaces into welcoming rooms with a single accent colour. Work from the floor up with a fluffy, tufted or patterned rug in your chosen accent colour. Scatter a few toning cushions and other accessories about. Then, for balance and to prevent the room from being bottom heavy, introduce the colour up higher with, say, a piece of artwork, a pendant shade or curtains. All items, Freedom.
The way you display your pictures, prints and photographs can give a room a unique focal point. Choose identical picture frames that pick up the colour or material of nearby furniture. This will create a visual link between the two for a harmonious effect.
Wallpaper is proving more popular than ever with subtle metallic designs taking off. If you’re not ready to commit to wallpaper on all four walls, paper the wall below chair-rail height and paint the wall above in a coordinating colour. Wallpaper, Annandale Paint & Wallpaper.
Wall-mounted plasma and LCD screens are facts of modern life. Camouflage your television among floating shelves displaying black-and-white photographs and decorative pieces.
Alter the appearance of your living room with the natural look of pre-finished engineered timber boards. They can be laid directly over a concrete slab, ceramic tiles, vinyl, particle board or old timber or plywood sub-floors. Silkwood in Jarrah, from $75/sqm, Boral.
Utilise the vacant space under stairs or a landing for storage. In many homes, the staircase is part of the living room and the area under it may be the perfect place for all your audiovisual equipment, music and movies.
If your preference is for ornate furniture, opt for a simple window treatment. These divine semi-sheer curtains are all that’s needed to complement this luxurious period chair and its matching demi-lune table. Fabrics, Romo Collection.
Don’t skimp when it comes to buying a sofa if you want it to last. Look for a classic shape, which will see you through several years. There’s no need to exactly match its cushions and accompanying seating. Instead, go for coordinating fabric patterns and bring in a statement chair to show off your flair for mixing and matching. Lantana Collection.
Scent your rooms with aromatic candles. They are magical when lit at night and the fragrance will promote a tranquil, relaxing feel – just right for a night in on your own or with friends. Platinum Hurricane Lamp, Freedom.
Use bold and subtle patterns in the same room, as long as they share a common colour. And don’t be afraid of dark colours. They work as a punctuation point and are a practical option for families, since they don’t show the dirt.Size and purpose are the two points to consider when choosing a new window dressing. If your window is small, choose a neat option such as a pleated blind – try Luxaflex Duette blinds – which will fit snugly into the frame. A large window may be better suited to shutters, which can be hinged, bi-fold or sliding. The beauty of shutters is they always look smart, even as they insulate against heat, cold, glare and noise. Newstyle Shutters, Luxaflex.
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