Having a well co-ordinated colour scheme goes a long way in making a house or a room look well, but making it feel like a home is another thing. The secret is in the detail—what is often called the finishing touches. It gives a room individuality. You don’t need a lot of time or money, just a little imagination and a sensitive approach. It is a process that’s often done after redecoration when the room itself looks new, but it is possible to improve an existing scheme.
Pictures & Mirrors
Pictures displayed in groups make a handsome feature. Small prints, paintings, or photographs hung simply on a large expanse of wall, can look best. A painting that’s isolated in the middle of a wall contributes little to the room and it won’t get the attention it deserves. Keep this treatment for very large pictures or posters, which are able to make an impression on their own and would dwarf any other painting near them. The group could be made up of a random collection of images or you could limit it to a single theme such as landscapes, portraits, flowers etc. It could consist of original paintings, prints, reproductions, or photographs. It can also be three-dimensional—you can frame a collage, a collection of eg. shells, a piece of lace, or pressed flowers eg. your wedding flowers, The colours should blend to some extend with the decor, but don’t be a slave to this, would you turn down Picasso because it was blue?
Frames should complement both the painting and the style of the room. They range from plain neutral strips of wood or metal to more decorative and stylised types. Choose the heavy and ornate for the more traditional decor and the natural wood eg. in a country cottage style. In a more traditional room, you can hang fabric pictures bows above your picture. This gives the illusion that the picture is suspended from the bow, although it is hung in the normal way and the ends of the bow hang behind the picture.
Mirrors have a magical effect on light and space. They are great in small rooms, they seem to increase their size, and in dark areas they will reflect light. The frame and the shape are as important as the mirror itself. You can fit a favourite frame with a mirror, as well as buying a ready-framed mirror. Or you could make an original frame from scratch or convert an existing frame eg. paint a cheap reproduction ornate frame in bright colours, paint a dark, heavy-looking frame in white, or glue plastic fruit and flowers on to a plain frame etc. Try to reflect plants, ornaments and attractive features when hanging a mirror or fit it behind shelves to increase the impact of their contents.
Stencilling is an inexpensive but good way to add a finishing touch to a room and it’s a simple technique to learn. You can design your own patterns, based eg. on the furnishing fabric in the room or you could choose a ready-cut design to fit in with the scheme. Plain walls, furniture, floors, soft furnishings and accessories can all be stencilled to create whatever look you want. By using the same design on walls and furniture, you can link them for an overall effect. You can also match the design to the function of the room eg. fish theme in the bathroom. Plain floorboards can look stunning with a stencilled border that complements fabric or wallpaper in the room. Simple stencils can transform ordinary accessories eg. a small paper lampshade could be decorated with a butterfly design or a white tray decorated with green trailing ivy. Stencilling can be fun in a child’s bedroom. Keep the colours bold and bright and the designs simple. Sometimes just a few well placed designs is all that’s needed; think about the finished result before you start, avoid making the room look busy with too many elaborate designs.
There is more to dressing a window, than just hanging a curtain. You can add to the overall decor with the added extras such as tiebacks, pelments, swags, trims, etc. The curtain heading also sets the style and adds to the overall effect and don’t forget what the curtain is hung on eg. stylish pole or a plain pole can be painted or decorated to match your colour scheme. It can blend in with the rest of your colour scheme or turn it into a design point.
Pelmets (Valances) have a practical purpose concealing curtain headings and tracks, but they are also decorative features, they can add elegance, charm or liveliness to a room. They can help to balance a high ceiling and link the window dressing with the room. Tiebacks may be small but they can make a big impact and they can be as creative and important to the decor as the curtain. You can use made-to-measure ones or others such as wood or metal types, or create our own design, as they are not costly to replace, you can change them to suit eg. different seasons or for a special occasion eg. tieback of fresh flowers.
Accessories such as rags, cushions, towels all add to the decor of a room. Rugs can used to relate the floor to other patterns and colours in the room. They can be bought with more adventure than a carpet, which is long-term investment and a rug can be moved around, if you feel like it. There is a wide range to choose from, which will suit most colour schemes. Choices range from Middle Eastern kelims, Indian dhurries, Chinese rugs etc; you can have them made of coir and rush to cotton, wool silk and manmade fibres etc. They can enhance a bare or carpeted floor, especially a plain one. Brighten up a fireplace, children’s room or front door with one. Small rugs can also be hung on walls as a work of art.
Cushions add more than comfort to a room, they can be used to bring together colours and patterns used in other places in that room. In a traditional setting use tapestry ruffled and quilted designs, while in a more modern one you could use square cushions and minimal trim.
When decorating the bathroom, consider the impact towels can make on the decor. In a small bathroom towels have instant effect. Choose one single colour for a unified look or a medley of hues, eg. a range of blues for a bathroom with a seaside effect.
Details add character, charm, and individuality to your home. Usually they are inexpensive and easy to change if you don’t like the results, so you can afford to be adventurous.
Mary D. Kelly