art: We're not talking about art that is
unusually thought-provoking. We mean art that's
literally floating out in that void somewhere
high above the sofa. Art should relate to the
furniture below it. A rule of thumb is to
separate artwork and furniture by no more than
décor: When everything matches, the room
becomes so safe that it's boring. Buying a suite
of furniture of the same design went out decades
ago. And although many fabric and wallpaper
manufacturers offer coordinated patterns to
simplify design for the do-it-yourselfer, use
those coordinates as a background for something
old, something personal, something that makes
the room your own.
covers: Armchair covers are dinosaurs --
they're akin to leaving cellophane on
lampshades. Today, fabrics can be treated for
durability and stain resistance. Whip the covers
off and take them along to remind you of the
color and pattern when shopping for other
fabrics and accessories for the room. And don't
dare put them back when you're done.
houseplants: Sure it's fine to show off your
green thumb inside the house. Just don't scatter
too many small houseplants around the room.
They'll have much more effect if you bank three
to five small plants together, or buy one
large-scale plant that makes a bold statement
(and doesn't have to be watered as often).
flowers: Silk flowers can surely be
beautiful, but they may also become dust traps.
And if the arrangement never changes, eventually
you reach the point where you don't even see it
anymore. Either update your silk designs
regularly, or make your own simple arrangements
with inexpensive fresh flowers or greenery from
accessories: We are all natural-born
collectors. The trick is realizing that every
object, gift, or family treasure need not be
displayed at once. Take care of Aunt Martha's
cranberry compote, but tuck it away until the
next family gathering. Organize accessories by
grouping collections together on a table or
shelf. Use similar objects and colors together,
and remember that using odd numbers of items
looks better to the eye.
portraits in the living room: We may be
treading on hallowed ground here, but the point
is this: Contemporary paintings of the family
can lend an imposing, elitist air to the room
where you most often receive guests. Save
portraits for the bedroom or spaces that are
reserved for family.