Decorating with empty picture frames can be a great way to add a little personality and interest to your decor without spending much money at all. Empty wood frames can be picked up for a great price at thrift stores and yard sales. Many people do not see the value in something that no longer has the glass with it. You can find very basic, plain wood frames as well as ornate, decorative ones. If you plan on painting the frames, they can even be plastic or metal if you like the shape or detail.
This is my favorite picture illustrating the idea of using empty frames. In this holiday display, not just one but two frames were used to hang a tiny Putz house with some greenery and gingham bow. The house would be lost in any grand display, but in this instance it really becomes highlighted.
Using empty frames on the wall adds architectural interest, much the same as molding, but without any construction involved. This is just a random collection of different sized and shaped frames in the same color, but it really draws your eye up the stairs. It is such an easy way to fill up a bare wall.
Make a big splash in the bathroom by repurposing an old dresser as a vanity. It is particularly easy to retrofit a dresser with a vessel sink—simply drill holes in the top for the drain and faucets. Be sure to use a water-resistant sealer on the wood to prevent rot and mold.
Dressed for Dinner
Dressers make ideal kitchen islands because they come with plenty of storage space and a flat surface that can be upgraded with granite or butcher block. To make your dresser even more at home in the kitchen, add storage hooks or a towel bar.
Even if the bulk of an old dresser isn’t salvageable, the drawers can always be repurposedas wall shelves. Mount the drawers with their bottoms to the wall for a shadow-box effect, or jutting out from the wall lengthwise for deeper storage.
Consider moving an old dresser outdoors to create a tiered plant display. The drawers can hold a collection of potted plants or be filled directly with soil to create a large planter—but be sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom of each drawer.
A low horizontal dresser makes a great TV console. It can be easily converted to hold your cable box and DVD player by removing the top drawer or two, and it provides plenty of places to tuck unsightly wires and cords.
Approach the Bench
An old dresser can serve as the perfect frame for a square bench. Remove all but the lowest drawer, then saw the top off the dresser, along with any internal drawer supports. Cut a thick board to size and install it above the bottom drawer to create a seat. Add a cushion and coat of paint or stain for a finishing touch.
Forget the matchy-matchy look. Decorating a room with different furniture styles, colors, and patterns is fashionable and fresh — but it can also be hard to pull off. Here are easy expert tricks for mixing antique, modern, and traditional design so that your space looks considered instead of chaotic.
In stylist Peter Frank’s quirky Hudson Valley home, an 18th-century Korean screen hangs above a sofa slipcovered in vintage French linen sheets. His advice for a successful pairing? “It all comes down to contrasts: Mix hard with soft, square with round, blocky with leggy,” he says.
OLD MEETS NEW
Though their styles are different, both types of lighting in this Las Vegas kitchen work well for their purposes. Designers Caroline Decesare and Berkley Vallone chose industrial-style hanging lamps for their modern edge — and to provide sufficient work lighting — above the two islands. Those pendants contrast with the rustic candle chandelier which softly illuminates the cozy breakfast table.
A TRADITIONAL BATHROOM WITH A TWIST
In this master bathroom designed by Paolo Moschino, a 19th-century English secretary makes a surprising focal point — and offers up plenty of storage.
CARPETS WITH CONTRAST
For maximum impact, designer Jonathan Berger put a zebra carpet runner from Manhattan Carpets next to an antique Ziegler Mahal runner in a late-19th-century townhouse in Brooklyn. The brown in the rugs temper the showstopping pink walls, painted in Benjamin Moore’s Razzle Dazzle.
A VINTAGE COUNTRY BLEND
Clad in wood from a tobacco shed, this L.A. kitchen combines a rustic look with salvaged finds, like the vintage chrome chairs that are upholstered in Brazilian cowhide. Homeowners Robbin and Hillary Hayne even chose not to match the vintage pendant lights.
MINGLING OF STYLES
A Southampton, New York, cottage mixes primitive and modern furniture. Dark, antique Indonesian window transoms hang over the white fireplace, while a Saarinen chair from Knoll softens the straight lines of 1940s French armchairs. “People get into trouble when they do too much of one thing,” says designer Vicente Wolf.
AN UNEXPECTED MIX
Primitive and cozy — but with an edge — this Spanish-style country home in California is designed by Kelley McDowell, the wife of actor Malcolm McDowell. She designed a shower door in the style of a metal casement window and chose natural Ojai river rock for the floor.
SURPRISING COLOR COMBO
In the family room of a Southampton, New York, house, designer Steven Gambrel painted walls two vivid Benjamin Moore colors — Cedar Green and Marlboro Blue — then made the effect softer by framing them in white.
Gambrel also offered up contrast in the boy’s bedroom, where he pulled up a pair of blue desk chairs — reissues of a Josef Hoffmann design — with a brown wooden desk. While the colors are different, both pieces have a useful, casual quality to them.
AN UNUSUAL UNION
The living room by designer Marshall Watson evokes a traditional mid-20th-century American sensibility but with a modern twist. The sofa’s superscaled houndstooth contrasts with the rug’s green and navy stripes, while the Lucite tables are a striking difference from the antique English coffee table.
Account for function, mood and personality in any decorating project with these pointers.
By: Shari Hiller and Matt Fox
A beautifully decorated interior not only functions well but it creates a mood or a feeling and shows off the personality of the family that lives there. It’s attention to these three important ingredients — function, mood and personality — that ensures decorating success.
Before painting and rearranging, spend some time thinking about your family and how you live. Look through magazines for inspiration and pull out ideas or rooms that appeal to you. Gather things from around the house that make you feel good and study them carefully for color cues and perhaps a clue to the mood you’re looking for in your home. This is the beginning of a well-planned and decorated living area.
As for the rest, let’s start with function.
Decorating is more than just eye appeal — it’s making a room really work for you. Here’s how to do it, element by element:
The focal point: Sometimes rooms have natural focal points (places the eyes travel to immediately upon entering a room) — a fireplace, a bay window with a view, maybe even a built-in bookcase. If the room doesn’t have a natural focal point, create one with a dynamic piece of art or a colorful area rug.
The furniture: Determine whether the furniture satisfies the functions you’ve planned for the room. If a piece isn’t working or if it’s too large or too small for the size of the room, get rid of it or trade it for something else around the house that may be more appropriate.
The lighting: Lighting should be selected for the functions of the room as well as for visual appeal. Every task will require either direct lighting from a lamp or indirect lights that simply brighten the room for conversation or TV-watching. Accent lighting — floor spots, track lighting or recessed spotlights — enhance texture, color and room details.
The furniture arrangement: Draw your room on graph paper. Measure and mark electrical outlets and switches, vents, windows and doors. Measure your furniture and place it in your floor plan. Generally, the main furniture pieces are directed toward the focal point, keeping the major traffic patterns open. Fill in with pieces you’d like to have that may or may not be available now. Be sure to balance high and low pieces as well as heavy and light ones around the room.
The mood or feeling of a room is created by your choice of colors, the style of furnishings, the amount of texture and pattern you choose and your accessories. Since there’s so much to think about when creating a mood, establishing a theme through the selection of an inspiration piece can make this portion of a decorating project much more fun and interesting. Here are the factors you need to address when setting a mood:
The inspiration piece: The easiest way by far to decorate is to start with some source of inspiration. A decorative pillow, a favorite scarf and even a magazine photo are good places to begin. Select your inspiration piece wisely, and be sure it makes you feel good when you look at it. It’s the basis for selecting your theme, colors, patterns and textures.
Theme: Analyze your inspiration piece and develop a theme name for it. For instance, a needlepoint pillow with a botanical design on a black background may inspire a title like “formal botanical garden.” Be descriptive with your theme name and all sorts of supporting ideas will come to mind. Botanical prints, striped walls, greens and floral colors, formal fabrics and furniture, dark woods and black accents all fit this particular theme.
Color cues: Color should always support the theme. Many times, the colors that are most appropriate are found in the patterns and design of your inspiration piece. Generally, it’s best to choose three colors in a room: a dominant color, used for walls, carpeting and fabric backgrounds; a secondary color, found throughout the room in fabrics and accessories; and an accent color, used sparingly to give energy and excitement to the room.
Patterns: Stripes, checks, florals and plaids are just a few of the patterns to consider as you continue supporting your theme. It’s all right to mix patterns as long as you do three things:
Keep the background color the same.
Make sure all patterns share the same colors.
Vary the scale or sizes of the patterns.
Texture: Too many smooth, shiny objects or too much nubby, rustic texture becomes tiresome. Use variety to keep the room interesting. Even a pattern can be used as texture. Many prints look dimensional and therefore add depth to a decorating scheme.
Furniture: Aside from being functional, your furniture plays an important role in supporting your theme. Some pieces may function well but their style or color may stick out like a sore thumb. Try to salvage it with slipcovers, tablecloths or paint. If it’s a lost cause, remove it from the room.
Here’s your chance to put your personal stamp on a well-planned room. Here are some strategies:
Accessorizing: Pictures, vases, pillows and area rugs are all integral parts of a great decorating plan. Generally, they should support your theme, but allow more flexibility here; an antique picture frame could add wonderful variety to a contemporary room. Accessories are located on walls, mantels, furniture, tabletops and floors; they can be paintings and photos or pillows.
Whimsy: This is optional in your decorating scheme, but it can counteract any sterile quality that may have been created by strictly following all the guidelines. A beautiful country sitting room may get some relief from a playful quilt placed over the fireplace.
The unexpected: Interest doesn’t have to be whimsical; it can simply be something unexpected in a room, like a brightly-painted ceiling.