Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Scandinavian Furniture – Style & Decorating Guide

Maximum style with minimal clutter – isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

The secret to a chic, fuss-free design is the Scandinavian design style and Scandinavian-style furniture.

When you love a room characterized by clean lines, functionality, light, space, and serenity, Scandinavian furniture is a perfect choice.

Why?

Simplicity and purpose are two of the guiding lights showcasing Scandinavian furniture and interior décor. The understated beauty of furniture pieces inspired by Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway design trends works wonderfully in any house or apartment.

It’s also one of the easiest looks to achieve for maximum impact in your home. And as a bonus, your rooms look tidy and organized, too!

Want to learn how to bring fresh Scandinavian style to your home? Read on for our décor hints and tips.

History of the Popular Scandinavian Furniture Style

The origin of Scandinavian design gives important insight into its core design characteristics.

The Scandinavian style is inseparable from the politics and identity of the Nordic countries; the high point of furniture and interior design came in the late 1930s through to the late 60s. “In 1932 Sweden’s Social Democrats came to power promising to clean up the poor living conditions endured by the working classes… their mantra, ‘better everyday living for everyone,’ became an ideological touchstone for designers and makers throughout the region,” says City A.M.

Interiors became more comfortable and functional, designed to protect from the hard weather conditions in winter, and provide economical solutions to interior design.

Since most people lived in small houses, furniture had to serve a useful purpose, and also reflect light to make the interior feel airy and cozy. Furniture was designed by considering optimal function, and developed with the needs of the Scandinavian people in mind.

In 1947 the Triennale di Milano, a design show in Milan, first showcased Scandinavian home décor and furniture.

People all over the world began to take notice.

A display of Scandinavian design traveled to the US and Canada between 1954 and 1957, further spreading Scandinavian furniture fascination.

As people in the US and the rest of Europe generally favored more ornate furniture and opulent décor at this time, the Nordic style was a breath of fresh air. The simple elegance of the furniture was accessible to all.

The popularity of the Scandinavian furniture style declined a little during the 80s and 90s, but has rebounded in recent years. The Scandi lifestyle became aspirational once more, aided by hit Scandinavian TV series, popular Scandinavian furniture stores, and even Scandinavian cooking trends.

Scandinavian furniture is on-trend right now. Here’s all you need to know about this popular style.

Standout Features of Scandinavian Style Furniture

The term “Scandinavian,” when used to describe furniture, has come to signify chic minimalism, unfussy design, and beautiful simplicity. Scandinavian furniture is characterized by:

Pure, Clean Lines

Scandinavian furniture is built using simple, clean lines that make a functional piece of furniture that doesn’t look elaborate or ornate, just like this Oslo Scandinavian Oak Large Sideboard.

Much of the furniture is made with built-in drawer handles and concealed latches that keep the finish smooth and attractive.

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Natural Materials

As Scandinavians are great outdoor-lovers, they believe in bringing a little nature indoors. Furniture is constructed from natural woods like oak, ash and pine, and other natural materials. Wood is preferred for flooring, too.

Light-Colored Wood

In Scandinavian homes, natural light is at a premium in the cold, dark winters so furniture must amplify natural light whenever possible. Scandinavian-style furniture is generally built from light, bright woods like light oak and pine that reflect light around the room, as you can see in this Oslo Scandinavian Oak Bedroom set-up:

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Wood stains and varnishes are generally clear and light in order to maintain the feeling of airiness.

High-Quality Manufacture

A room with Scandinavian furniture is all about quality over quantity. It is not about the number of pieces you have in your home, but how they work together, and the beauty they lend to the space.

Smoothly Curved Edges

The Scandinavian style of furniture is about soft, gentle curves rather than the blocky, angular style of industrial or minimalist furniture.

Curved edges to a simple, boxy shape soften the look and give it universal appeal.

Take a look at this oak TV Unit where the corners are soft and curved, and the drawer handles indented and smooth.

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How to Create the Scandinavian Look in Your Home

Freshome says; “Scandinavian homes have a pure, pared backed style that is centered around warm functionality, clean lines, flawless craftsmanship and understated elegance. The use of light is considered to be extremely important, and many Scandinavian homes are characterized by the use of earthy muted tones, honest materials and minimal ornamentation.”

Here’s how you can get the Scandinavian look in your home:

Boost the Light:

When you have large windows maximize the incoming light by choosing sheer drapes – or no drapes at all. Windows should be positioned to bring maximum illumination into the room. Capitalize on the light by choosing Scandinavian-style furniture in light wood tones. Use mirrors to reflect light and simple light fixtures that create light without cluttering the room.

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Scandi Living Room via Decoist

Use Neutral Color:

Muted neutral colors dominate a Scandi-style living room, bedroom, or dining room.

White is a great choice for its brilliant beauty that doesn’t overwhelm the room. Gray is also a good choice, and can be less harsh than white if you have a lot of light coming into the room.

If you don’t want to go completely white or gray, inject brighter touches in the form of colorful accessories, a blue rug, or patterned cushions. Keep accessories low-key, however, to keep the minimalist essence of the Scandinavian style.

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Scandi Decor via Style at Home

Make the Most of a Small Space:

Scandinavian furniture and décor are ideal for a small space. The lack of clutter and use of functional furniture makes the most of a tiny living room or bedroom.

Neutrals on the walls and a neutral-colored wood floor also help to enhance the feeling of space.

Go Easy on the Accessories:

Scandinavian style is simple, streamlined and de-cluttered. Make good use of storage space like closets and dressers to keep items tucked away, and only display what you really care about.

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Check out the look with this set of Oslo Scandinavian Oak Dining Room Furniture

Feeling inspired by the Scandinavian style? Remember our simple tips for this versatile look that’s perfect for contemporary and traditional homes alike.

12 Secrets to the Perfect Antique Oak Furniture Look (Without the Antiques)

Do you love the luxurious look of antique oak furniture?

What’s not to love? Old oak and other woods lend a touch of class to a room, creating a warm and inviting space.

But real antique furniture can be expensive, hard to find, and difficult to maintain. What do you do when the ideal antique decor look is out of reach?

Luckily there is a solution – the secret to the vintage look without the antiques.

If you love old-world charm and vintage flair, you can create the appearance of an old room with a clever mix of accessories, colors and lighting – even when your furniture is brand new. The decor doesn’t look dated, but fresh and contemporary – with well-weathered class.

Here’s how to style your room for a personalized, antique look with modern furniture.

1. Time Travel for a Gorgeous Room

When you are creating an old-style room from scratch, or updating an existing room with new furniture, it can be easy to fall into a clichéd trap. You want your room to look authentic, not shipped in from a mail order catalog.

The trick is to mix different styles of modern furniture with antique finds, and you can also effectively mix and match wood furniture finishes for a unique look. This creates a characterful look where you can showcase your individuality.

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This fresh and elegant room combines an intriguing mix of antique and modern furniture/ Image via William Waldron at My Home Ideas

2. Use Your Architectural Elements

One of the key secrets to making a modern room look older (in a good way) is to work with, or add, architectural elements that provide instant old-world appeal. Think antique pine floors, beaded-board wainscoting, and deep molding running around the walls to display art and photos.

Beams are also amazing for turning a room from modern to classic or country-cottage style. Expose the beams already in the house or install “new” old beams that are easily found in lumber stores or online.

3. Introduce Found Objects

An old-style room appears lived-in and homely.

Homes expert Bob Vila says “If you want to achieve a layered, lived-in look, then buying all your furniture at a department store in one afternoon won’t cut it. Instead, gradually acquire your pieces over time for a mismatched design. Craft fairs, antiques stores, salvage shops, art exhibits, and even Craigslist will offer unusual pieces that can infuse your home with timeless charm.”

Of course, you need a base of good quality oak furniture to form the foundation for your antique-styled room. A classic set of furniture works well alongside thrift store finds and eclectic accessories.

4. Make an Impact with Solid Wood….

The perfect antique look in a living room, dining room, or bedroom is emphatically based on wood. Solid wood is warm, nostalgic, and has a character that cannot be matched by any other furniture material. It ages over time, helping your room grow and mature with you and your family.

…..And Other Natural Materials

You can also build a luxurious old-style room by adding in other natural materials that already have the lived-in look – even when they are brand new. Stone floors provide texture and contrast to the oak furniture, while rough hessian or fiber flooring adds interest in a study or hallway.

5. Do it Yourself

The perfect antique oak furniture look isn’t about having the latest shiny accessories and must-have gadgets, so why not make some of your soft furnishings and ornaments yourself?

Easy to craft lace blinds, drapes made from reclaimed fabric, lampshades made from thrift store materials – it’s simple to find tutorials online for creating vintage-style accessories and furnishings that add the individual touch to your home.

6. Get Distressed

You’d be surprised just how effective modern distressing techniques work to create an antique oak furniture look.

New furniture pieces like these in the Bordeaux Rustic Bedroom range have been carefully and expertly “aged” to look like they have been in the family for generations. You have the best of both worlds – high-quality oak furniture with the charm of older generations.

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The Bordeaux range has nail markings and other intentional indents in the wood, carefully and artistically carried out by our expert craftsmen to age the oak and enhance the distressed feel.

Mixing these modern pieces with antique accessory finds is the perfect way to create a chic and contemporary space.

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Or go for a perfectly shabby chic alternative to dark woods. The distressed paint effect on the Etienne range makes these furniture pieces look like they came from a French chateau or country cottage.

PHOTO: LUCAS ALLEN, STYLING: ELIZABETH DEMOS

PHOTO: LUCAS ALLEN, STYLING: ELIZABETH DEMOS

7. Look After the Details

The details on your furniture make all the difference to the success of an old-style look in a newer home. Look for furniture with carefully styled finishing such as old-fashioned doorknobs and handles.

Make sure your light switches look as old-fashioned as possible. Look carefully at the faucets in your bathroom to recreate a Victorian look – it’s all in the detail.

In this design from Southern Living, a concealed a Sub-Zero refrigerator is featured with an intricately crafted stained oak panel complete with vintage icebox hardware.

8. Plan Smart for the Antique Look

Make your room look like it was styled and added-to over many years by planning your design carefully. The example of the classic style kitchen below includes wood-framed windows and wooden-plank wall boards to create an eclectic effect, with a vintage-styled sink and hardware making you think it’s a lot older than it is.

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

9. Get Your Lighting Right 

To recreate the timeless look of an old home, pay particular attention to your lighting. You may not want to live by candlelight all the time, but there are other ways you can light your home the old-fashioned way.

Vintage reproductions of gas lanterns and re-purposed lamps from your chosen era give a room character and charm.

Create a conversation piece with a new chandelier made to look like it was taken from a country manor house. Freestanding lamps are also good for making a room look cozy and old-style.

10. Use Muted Tones

Color is all-important. If you are trying to choose paint to create an old look for a newer room, Antique Homes says “homeowners have several options. The first is to simply choose what you like and forget being true to the period of the house. At the opposite end of the decision spectrum is the choice to invest in historic paint analysis and replicate the home’s original colors.”

If you want to match your furniture to a particular time period, there are paint companies that offer different collections from specific eras to help transport you back in time.

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Historic colors from Valspar Paint 

For a quick room makeover, tone it down. Earthy tones and muted shades provide a timeless look. The colors of walls, ceilings, furnishings and accessories shouldn’t overpower the room.

11. Age Your Floors

Create an old-fashioned look without the need for antiques by aging your floors. Staining or whitewashing wooden floors adds instant rustic appeal.

Show off the grain of floors like in this antiqued breakfast room with a fresh coat of varnish.

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Image via Dennis Welsh at My Home Ideas 

Or introduce reclaimed brick for a country-style antique look. Check out salvage stores and timber and building material yards for antique-style bricks or boards that give the ground you walk on that historic charm.

12. Add Antique Appliances

Go retro with throwback appliances in the kitchen or study – gadgets that have been refurbished and renovated to work well in modern times.

If you don’t want to go as far as cooking on an antique stove you can find appliances that simply look retro, or you can go for an easier option and install retro touches and antique items like a chalk blackboard in the kitchen rather than a whiteboard, or an old-style claw-foot tub in the bathroom.

By mixing and matching your new furniture with eclectic accessories and old-style lighting, you create the ideal antique oak furniture look even when your chairs, tables and bookcases are brand new. This is a look that lasts, but doesn’t appear dated. Why not give it a try?

Choosing the Best Wax, Polish & Oil for Oak Furniture

We all want to extend the life of our furniture, right?

Fortunately, quality oak furniture is an investment that can easily last a lifetime when you treat it right.

Even better, solid oak is easy to look after…just a little TLC ensures your furniture looks good as new for many years to come.

Oak furniture responds well to wax, polish, and oil. But how exactly do you pick the best waxing, polishing and oiling products for your prized pieces?

Read on to learn the tricks to keeping your oak looking its best.

All About Protecting Your Oak Furniture

Oak is one of the most attractive, durable and elegant woods you can find for furniture. As a hardwood tree, it’s strong, yet easy to work with. This is what makes it a highly popular choice for dining tables, cabinets, beds, wardrobes and more.

Protecting wood furniture typically refers to maintaining its finish. Oak furniture pieces are typically oiled, waxed or lacquered.

It’s important to find out how your furniture has been finished, so you can determine the best way to care for it.

But once you find out the finish, how do you know which product to use and when?

Wax for Solid Oak Furniture

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Waxing wood furniture takes a little elbow grease/ Image via The Family Handyman

Oak furniture that has been finished with oil or wax should be re-waxed every six months to a year, according to how much wear your furniture gets. Waxing oak wood helps to protect the grain and keep the wood from cracking.

But before you get busy with the beeswax…

Better Homes and Gardens cautions that learning how to properly wax a piece of oak furniture helps eliminate any streaks of product build-up that can result in a cloudy appearance.

To keep your oak wood looking shiny and fresh, apply wax in light layers, working with the grain and rubbing into the surface.

It’s not enough to make little movements; you need to put some effort into it, moving firmly with the grain. Leave the wax for five minutes and then wax it off again by buffing, again making firm movements with the grain of the wood.

Interiors site The Kitchn suggests you polish with a hard, carnauba wax to make it shine. Use “two of those soft, lint-free cloths: one to apply the wax and another to polish. It will take some real elbow grease, but thankfully this task only needs to be done about twice a year.”

In addition, you can use a finisher that adds an extra layer of beeswax and covers up any small scratches your furniture may have sustained.

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Buffing with wax for a lustrous finish/ Image via The Briwax Guy

Choosing Your Oak Wood Wax

Choose a hard wax product made with beeswax, carnauba wax, or a combination of the two. For example, Briwax is a multi-purpose furniture wax that is ideal for use on oak wood.

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Briwax, a popular Wood wax/ Image via Amazon

You need an oak wax that produces a lustrous finish, not simply a surface shine that dulls within a few hours, and Briwax fits the bill. You can use this and other good quality oak wax products on new oak furniture, or on old furniture you are reconditioning.

Polishing Your Oak Furniture

When your oak furniture has a glossy finish it is typically sealed with a lacquer that helps to protect the wood and maintain its shiny appeal. It is easy to care for with a little polish.

First, wiping down the surface with a damp cloth removes dirt and surface debris. You could simply stop at this point, as you will have removed the dirt that causes dullness and marks. But to really bring shine and life to your furniture, it helps to use a polish.

Choosing a Wood Polish

When choosing an oak wood polish, look for something without harsh chemicals and solvents that could damage the wood over time and affect people in the room who suffer from breathing difficulties. You should also look for a product that makes the wood smell attractive, and something that is easy to use whether you spray it or buff it on with a soft cloth.

Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner helps to preserve the finish of oak wood and contains natural oils to stop the wood from drying out.

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Polishing with an oil-based wood conditioner/ Image via ebay

Or you could go green, with a product that steers clear of toxins completely. Better Life Oak-y Dokey Wood Cleaner & Polish is naturally scented with cinnamon and lavender essential oils and is ideal for veneers, antique wood and regular oak wood furniture. The formula is hypoallergenic, making it great for allergy-sufferers, and it helps to remove dust, dirt and surface marks.

Oiling Natural Oak Furniture

Oak and wood furniture may be finished with oil, providing a glossy finish and a shiny tone. The finish of oiled oak wood lasts a long time but if the furniture begins to look a little dried-out, you should consider re-oiling it.

Re-oiling a piece of oak furniture involves taking away the existing wax layer, reapplying oil, and re-waxing the surface.

Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it really does prolong the life of the furniture and makes it gleam.

To re-oil furniture, remove the existing wax with turpentine or naphtha. Then use steel wool or sand paper to prepare the surface for the new coating of oil, working with light pressure and with the grain of the wood.

Wood Finishes Direct says that:

“If oak is being oiled it is a good idea to sand it with a sandpaper that is no finer than 150 grit. The reason for this is that the pores of the wood are more open thus allowing the oil to sink into the wood better. Better absorption equals greater protection.”

Next, apply the oil to your wood. Allow it to soak into the oak for around 15 minutes. Using a soft cotton cloth, wipe off any excess. Let the furniture set for around 24 hours and then apply wax to the surface, re-waxing as described above.

Choosing an Oil for Your Oak

The best oil for oak wood is a boiled linseed oil, a Tung oil, or a combination of both.

Boiled Linseed Oil by Furniture Clinic is one high quality product on the market, containing boiled linseed oil to form a tough and hard-wearing finish on the wood. The finish is glossy and durable, and it is safe to use on all types of oak wood apart from exterior items.

The Hope Company 100% Tung Oil is another good option. Tung oil is imported from South America and penetrates deep into the oak wood, curing the wood and providing a durable and slightly glossy finish.

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Oil your wood with a product like Tung Oil/ Image via Wal-Mart

A Word About Dusting

Once you have finished and protected your wood with oil, polish or wax, Better Homes and Gardens reminds you to not forget about dusting – “Frequent dusting removes airborne deposits that build up in a filmy layer and can scratch the surface.” Use clean, dry, soft cloths or a feather duster to remove dust but if you don’t want it to immediately resettle, slightly dampen the surface of the cloth.

Taking care of your oak furniture with a few simple steps like this ensures your beautiful tables, chairs, and cabinets give you joy for years to come.

Key Furniture Arrangement Dimensions [Infographic]

You know the feeling when you step into a room and everything just feels right?

Welcoming, cohesive, functional…

Everyone wants to create the perfect room arrangement. But not everyone wants to hire an interior decorator to do it.

So we’ve created an infographic with the tips and tricks you need to design a great room by yourself.

And if you know someone who could use this info, please share this with them (or if you have a blog of your own, grab the embed code below.)

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Download this infographic.

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28 Rules for Mixing and Matching Wood Furniture Finishes

Great news! Contrary to what you might think, the wood finishes in your home do not have to match.

Don’t worry if you have an eclectic mix of wood furniture. When done right, you can create a stunning room using a variety of wood tones, colours and styles in a way that would make an interior decorator proud.

Using a variation in patterns, textures and shades is not only an eye-catching way to decorate a living room, dining room or bedroom, it’s also a practical way to decorate.

Most people don’t buy all their furniture from one place or at one time. The unique finish is more interesting than the matchy-matchy look of the past.

Read on to learn how to properly mesh a mish-mash of wood furniture with these 28 design rules.

1. Watch for Warm or Cool

The tone of the wood furniture in your room doesn’t have to match exactly but you should look for complementary undertones.

First check if the woods are overall warm or cool in tone, and then look for a base undertone that carries throughout the different wood finishes in the room.

In this example all the woods are dark and warm in tone. They fit together despite being different. This is a good tactic to take if you are feeling unsure about mixing wood finishes. You can’t go wrong when you pick one wood tone to anchor the space.

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Warm, glowing wood finishes produce a cozy kitchen: Image via Remodelaholic

2. Stick to the Same Wood Family

Some woods are considered more formal than others. Classic oak, mahogany and cherry are formal, while pine, maple and bamboo are less formal. By sticking to the same family of woods you create cohesion – it’s an easy way to match a room.

3. Match the Grain in Rustic Woods

If you are creating a rustic-themed room and your different wood furniture pieces all have a prominent grain, keeping the grain pattern similar creates a cohesive look. An open-grained pattern is, on the whole, more casual than a fine grain.

4. Or Mix it up with Different Grains

Alternatively, you could use grain style and pattern as you would fabric pattern in a room – scatter a mixture of different grain patterns around the room to create an eclectic, eye-catching mix of colours and textures.

Just be sure to commit to one way or the other – don’t use one type of grain on nearly all pieces and have one different piece that sticks out like a sore thumb. Either go with all similar, or really mix it up thoroughly.

5. Pick a Stunning Accent Colour

Two entirely different pieces of wood furniture work effectively together when you use a brilliant shot of pink, purple, green or any other accent colour on both pieces.

This trick really helps to create a cohesive look to a dining room, or brings together two distinctive pieces for a brilliant bedroom to be proud of.

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Bold aquamarine brings together two different wood furniture pieces. Image via Minimalisti

6. Combine Styles with Confidence

When mixing and matching your décor, be aware that you can combine certain styles such as rustic distressed with the smooth, sleek lines of contemporary but that some styles don’t really mix – elaborate Victorian and casual beach house, for example.

To combine styles, check how each makes you feel and you’ll find out if they belong in the same room together.

blog-mix-match

7. Use the Rug Well

One of the trickiest aspects of balancing a dining room with a wood floor and different pieces of wood furniture is what to do with the table.

A light wood table on top of a dark wood floor can look a little jarring. Similarly, if the wood floor has a high shine and the table does not, it can also look out of place.

Use a rug under the table as a link between the two wood finishes. The idea is that the rug matches both table and floor, yet the two elements are quite different from each other.

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A well-chosen rug links two dissimilar wood choices. Image via homeskywalker

8. Keep it Simple

If you have just a few different wood finishes in your room it is easier to fashion a balanced look.

You don’t have to go crazy.

If you have many different styles and finishes to your furniture, divide them between rooms so each room has a maximum of two or three finishes each. Your rooms seem less chaotic and more balanced.

9. Create a Focal Point

Choose one standout piece of furniture to be the star in the room. Use contrasting, yet more muted, wood tones and finishes around it. The focal point draws the eye and the rest of the wood pieces complement and back up the star of the show without overpowering the scene.

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A beautiful antique sideboard takes center stage. Image via how to decorate

10. White’s Alright

If your room is full of different wood finishes, white is the calming, magical influence that draws them all together and minimizes the busyness.

What is it?

White paint, white furnishings, or white cabinets to break up the room and create a calming flow, says Apartment Therapy.

11. Balancing Act

Ensure two sides of the room are balanced with wood furniture in similar tones so you create a harmonious scene.
Different wood tones can be placed in the center of the room to provide contrast and interest.

12. Embrace Eclectic Textures

Try out a modern and fresh design for the living room with high-shine floors and rustic, distressed-style furniture.
The contrast between these two distinctive textures adds interest and a touch of style to a room.

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Simple, sleek floors contrast with the rustic details on this distressed-wood living room set. Image via Oak Furniture Company

13. Create Flow Between Rooms

If your living room is decorated in a contemporary style using a smooth, shiny wood finish and your dining room is decked out in mahogany tones, blend the two rooms together by using accessories in one room that feature the wood tone in the other.

14. Repeat a Key Accent Shade

If you have a gorgeous shade of wood that you want to showcase, repeat the accent in at least two places in the room.

Table, chairs and picture frame in a deep, welcoming cherry wood work well with the fresh white painted furniture in this cozy dining room. You can even see it appearing on the ceiling detail. Create just the right balance – don’t overload your room with the same shade or you risk moving away from the mixed-up look into something more matchy.

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Perfectly balanced. Image via Better Homes and Gardens

15. Repeat Your Accent with Accessories

If you are concerned that your room looks a little mismatched, marry the different finishes together with accessories in a key accent shade. For example, throw pillows, lamps, stools in soft pink, or rugs, paintings and vases in shades of apple green.
The accent colour appearing on several different wood finishes automatically matches them together.

16. Balance a Mish-Mash of Woods with Neutral Colour

If your room is full of different wood finishes it is a good idea to stick to a neutral palette for the walls and floors, in a natural wood shade.

For a room with a limited difference in wood finishes you can be more free with the amount of colours and textures you use in your décor, otherwise the room looks overcrowded and too busy.

17. Use Different Finishes to Update Your Look

If you used to love industrial-style contemporary furniture but now you appreciate a more rustic look, you don’t have to throw out key pieces of furniture.

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A modern bedframe is paired with country-cottage bedsides and the look is tied together with rustic bed linen, textured pillows, and a fresh coat of light paint, demonstrates Shoshana Gosselin from Houzz.

18. Create Space and Light

Mixing warm woods and dark tones with light, white wood finishes to the walls and floor makes a room look like a coastal cottage – fresh, light and airy.

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Mixing wood finishes is perfect in a beach house. Image via remodelaholic

19. Use the Floor and Furniture for Contrast

Make a dramatic impact with a dark wooden floor and light wooden furniture, or vice versa.
You don’t have to have matching furniture but follow the same rule as above – pick complementary pieces that use the same shade, tone, or wood grain.

20. Play Up the Contrast

When all the other furniture is the same shade or tone, add one highly contrasting piece to bring dramatic impact to the design of the room.

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A high-shine dining table in white looks dramatic against the dark floor and dark-toned furniture. Image via quickhomeforsale

21. Accept that it’s not the Same

When you buy different pieces of furniture from different sources you are bound to get different finishes. But some people make the mistake of trying to make each piece the same.

That’s a no-no.

It is better to not match at all than to almost-match. You are never going to get different pieces to look like they came from the same manufacturer, unless they actually did.

Embrace the difference and go for pieces that are complementary and look like a deliberate design choice.

22. Less Lacquer, More Mixing

When you avoid using heavily lacquered or shiny woods you can mix and match more comfortably. You can layer wood finishes in a more organic way, without having to worry that one shade or finish exactly matches any of the others.

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Organic is perfect when mixing wood furniture. Image via Country Living

23. Choose a Common Shape

It doesn’t mean that all your wood furniture has to be the exact same shape, but you can unify a room by choosing different finishes with the same shape theme – curvy and intricate, for example, or clean-lined and smooth.

24. Mix Painted and Natural Finishes

Create interest and depth to a room by mixing furniture pieces with a natural and a painted finish – you can even match the same finishes in a single piece of furniture, as these tables with solid oak tops and painted pine bodies show.

Mixing painted pieces and solid wood furniture turns a room into a shabby-chic type of abode, or you can use the effect to create a French farmhouse-style feel. The painted woods do not have to be in the same colour. In fact, a mixture of different shades of paint really makes a room fun, lively and unique.

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Painted wood is ideal for mixing with other wood elements. Image via Oak Furniture Company

25. Use Other Elements

An all-wood room can be a little overwhelming so take a step back and add other hard surfaces to the mix to create contrast and a sense of peace.

Choose metal, glass, acrylic, or lacquered and painted wood, as described above – this doesn’t count as wood for these purposes because you can’t see the grain.

26. A Pale Floor Acts as a Neutral

Wooden floors look natural when they are in a light shade. So long as the tone is not too orange or red, the floor will mix naturally with other wood shades.

27. Pull a Room Together Through Theme

You may have a lot of different styles of furniture and different wood finishes but if your overall look is consistent, you can use them all.

Create a country-casual room by using natural fabrics, lots of plants and natural accessories, and plain coloured upholstery.

Or, let your inner shabby-chic out with a mixture of patterns, textures and colours in your fabrics, and an eclectic mix of original accessories.

You can also go for a more neutral and modern look by using only white as an accent colour or having everything expect the furniture the same shade of coffee or beige.

It doesn’t really matter what your furniture looks like individually; the overall look will tie it all together. Just make sure everything is high quality and well cared for.

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It doesn’t matter if all your furniture is different – take a look at this country-casual living room. Image via The Inspired Room

28. Let Your Personality Shine

When it comes to decorating, there are no hard and fast rules and that goes for mixing woods. Inject your own personality into the room using your own treasured possessions and sense of style and it will work out – if you love the look, don’t analyze it. If it works, it works!

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Image via West Elm

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10 Ways to Create the Most Romantic Bedroom

When you’re looking for a little romance, surely the best place to start is in the bedroom?

Your bedroom should be the most intimate room in the house.

If your bedroom is more messy than sexy, you need to make a few changes. Create a romantic hideaway this Valentine’s Day and for the rest of the year with these dreamy bedroom tips.

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Your bedroom doesn’t have to have this romantic view… but it helps/ Image via  Homemydesign.com

1. Warm Up Your Walls with the Right Color

When choosing a romantic paint color for the bedroom, think about the “temperature” of the shade as the color you choose really makes a difference to your mood.

Warm colors are more active and stimulating, while cool colors are calming and relaxing. It depends what romance means to you – designer Brian Patrick Flynn on MyDomaine says “for a sexy or romantic bedroom, I like to stick with dark colors like olive, deep violet, navy, or charcoal.”

For others, romance means girly pink and soft, inviting pastels. Red is traditionally the color of romance. But a red room can be overpowering. In fact, a study from hotel chain Travelodge in the UK found that couples sleeping in red rooms actually make love less often than those in elegant caramel-colored bedrooms.

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Create your romantic hideaway with caramel walls/ Image via Style Motivation

When decorating your room for romance the main thing to think about is whether you and your partner love the colors. Romantic colors mean different things to different people. Make sure you choose paint colors that make you feel special.

2. Cast a Romantic Glow

According to Oprah, the right lighting in a bedroom depends on creating a soft glow across the whole room rather than “relying on the standard overhead-light-and-bedside-lamps combo.”

Employ recessed lamps in the walls, choose smaller bedside lamps and an overhead with a dimmer switch so you never have to flood the room with too much light.  Painting the inside of lamp shades a soft pink casts a rosy glow over your skin, which is very flattering in the bedroom situation.

3. Choose Candlelight for Romance

While you’re thinking about romantic lighting, candles may seem like a cliché but there is nothing better for setting the mood.

Scented candles give out beautiful, calming light as well as perfuming the room for romance. Choose candles in colors and scents to match your décor and your mood, and light them often (not just on special occasions). Just don’t put them next to those luxurious drapes….

4. Banish Work from the Bedroom

Nothing kills the romantic mood more than a beeping cell phone or an overflowing work desk located in the corner of the bedroom.

If an item of furniture or technology can be found in the office, banish it from the bedroom (or at least hide it away when it comes to relaxing time in the evening.)

5. Clear the Clutter

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A romantic room is a tidy room/ Pacific Ash Bedroom Furniture

While you’re at it, clear away everything else that doesn’t set a romantic, calming mood in the bedroom.

Tidy away the piles of bills you’ve been meaning to file, the old tennis rackets, the kids’ shoes…. Your bedroom should be your space to relax and not many people can relax with a towering pile of laundry to remind them of all the household chores still to be done.

It may not be possible to get rid of everything – if so, choose storage boxes and chests so that clutter is kept out of sight. Update your wardrobe so that clothes are neatly contained and not spilling out over the floor. Give your bedroom the once-over in honor of Valentine’s Day and keep it clean all through the year to boost your feelings of warmth and affection in the bedroom.

6. Draw the Curtains

Curtains are an often overlooked aspect of the perfect romantic bedroom.

Opt for blackout drapes so you can stay in bed all day if you want to. Or choose flowing, floor-to-ceiling curtains that create a lush, luxurious look.

Think about creating a cozy nook where you escape from the outside world (plus, you don’t want anyone looking in).

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Image via homedit

If you want a traditionally opulent, romantic bedroom you can always opt for the full canopy bed. It’s not for everyone, but there’s no denying it makes a statement.

7. And Get the Pillows Right

You can go overboard with the throw pillows and create what looks like a home store rather than a relaxing space. Rebecca Cole at Elle Décor says that “For a two-person bed, you need at most two Euro-sham-size pillows (placed against the headboard), and four sleeping pillows.”

And while you’re at it, pay attention to the bedding – a luxurious, romantic bedroom is crying out for soft, sensuous bedding. Make an effort with the covers and pillowcases to transform a so-so space into something truly special.

8. Switch on the Music

Romantic music is highly personal. Create your own soundtrack for relaxing and unwinding, and play it softly so you get in the mood for love. If you don’t like the traditional love songs, don’t play them – your bedroom is your space, and if that means heavy metal for romance, so be it!

9. Add Personal Keepsakes

You don’t invite just anyone into your bedroom so here you can display personal, romantic things that remind you of your partner – items you may not want on full view for the entire world to see.

Photos of your wedding day or your first date, framed copies of your wedding vows, special keepsakes from your vacations or honeymoon…. Make the space your own with some carefully chosen accessories.

10. And Don’t Forget to Make Your Bed

One simple thing you can do to make your bedroom more romantic is to make your bed. Every day without fail. An unmade bed implies you don’t care about the space and is decidedly unromantic. It only takes a couple of minutes and it changes your mood just looking at it.

How to Make a Room Feel Cozy: Quick, Simple, Comfy Tips

The nights are drawing in and now is the perfect time to snuggle up at home with a cup of cocoa and a great book or movie. A cozy, comfortable home is perfect at any time of the year but in the winter it’s wonderful. Cottage or townhouse, mansion or apartment – every home can benefit from a few cozy touches. Add soft layers and warm colors, comfy furniture and snuggly soft furnishings. We’ve got the secrets you need to create a warm, welcoming room in no time at all.

Wrap Up Snug

When you want to create a comforting space to snuggle up, blankets, throws and quilts must be easy to access. Piles of blankets in the bedroom and the living room help you warm up in a matter of seconds. Display colorful blankets and throws in different textures to create visual variety. Blankets and throws are ideal when you want to add a splash of color or fashionable pattern but you don’t want to commit to wallpaper or a reupholstered sofa. You could even store your blankets on an antique ladder propped against the wall for an intriguing focal point.

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Image via Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Don’t Aim for Pristine

Would you ever describe a sleek, minimalist living room as cozy? Didn’t think so. The good news about cozy homes is you don’t have to go for the show home look. Cozy homes are full of eclectic detail and personal touches that make the space look inviting and lived in. Add reclaimed, junk shop items on the walls. Hang antique lamps with dulled shades, and mix in your treasured finds from around the world. Expose rustic beams for a traditional country cottage look to the kitchen or dining room.

Pile Up the Pillows

Any chair, sofa or even bench is instantly warmed by the addition of a layer of soft, squidgy cushions. Vary the colors and the size of cushions and pillows and don’t be afraid to pile them up to create an inviting lounging space. Cushions work well on leather sofas and chairs that would otherwise seem a little cold. Velveteen, cable knits and fake fur create warm and cozy texture in the bedroom, living room or family den.

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Image via Home Zada

Layer Your Rugs

Think you can only use one rug at a time? Think again. In the ultimate cozy room, rugs are layered on top of one another for luxury and the best feeling beneath your feet. Choose rugs with contrasting textures and colors so they don’t look like they’re in a carpet salesroom.

Fill With Good Reads

Invite guests to curl up with a good book by filling bookshelves with your favorites. Books in a room immediately warm the space, make it look more interesting and inviting, and give people the opportunity to relax and unwind. Add stunning phtoography tomes to the coffee table in the living room, put your favorite short stories or poems on the bedside table in the guest room, and add much-loved cookbooks to a shelf in the kitchen.

Fire it Up

What says “cozy” more than a roaring fire on a cold winter’s day? If you’re lucky enough to have an open fire, get it cleaned and working properly and light it up for the real-flame coziness factor of 10. If you don’t have a real fire there are a variety of fake flames and ways to get the open fire look without burning anything. And according to Sarah Yang at House Beautiful, a fire in the bedroom is the ultimate cozy indulgence.

Paint Bold Walls

There must be a reason why dark-colored walls make a room seem instantly warmer and cozier. Perhaps it’s a throwback to being in the womb? Whatever the reason, painting walls a deep, bold shade ups the coziness factor in any room; kitchen to dining room, bedroom to study. Choose any shade you like from chocolate brown to sage green. Add some light-colored furniture pieces and accessories to brighten the space and prevent it from appearing overbearing.

Or Go For Intricate Wallpaper

Another wall choice is to pair highly-patterned wallpaper (or paint a pattern on the wall) with plain, cool accessories in a neutral color. The juxtaposition of patterns and pure color creates a homely feel that still looks stylish.

Highlight Your Family Photos

While modern art is cool, nothing makes a room look more welcoming than a wall full of family portraits and pictures taken on your travels. To tie different images together with a cohesive look, reprint images in black and white or sepia. Or go for an eclectic display using portraits from all points in time, mounted in a mix of antique frames.

Hang Shimmery Lights

Fairy lights and string lights aren’t just for Christmas. Turn off the main light and create a magical cozy space by draping shimmery string lights over curtains or enmeshed in lace. Use additional lamps with soft shades and bulbs with warm tones for when you want to read or see what you’re eating.

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Image via Pinterest

Winterfy Your Bed

Maxwell Ryan at Apartment Therapy says the key to creating a cozy bedroom is to switch out your bedding in the cold season to create a luxurious look and a bed that begs to be snuggled up to. Swap crisp white sheets and covers for bedding in velveteen or linen, on old-fashioned and warm flannel sheets.

Add a Splash of Warm Color

When decorating everything from walls to bookshelves, choose warm colors in the range from red through russet, brown, tangerine and soft yellow. Red is a classic cozy shade – use bold cranberry tones on the walls and in soft furnishings, or a warming orangey-red on kitchen walls.

Mix Florals

Piling up cushions and coverlets in different floral patterns creates a chintzy, cozy, country-cottage look that is feminine and welcoming. You can get a great romantic feel from a room that uses bold and intricate florals in a mish-mash of objects and soft furnishings.

Build a Reading Nook

If you’ve got a large living room, turn one corner into a snug nook with an oversized, highly-cushioned armchair, a mini table and a pile of books. Or you could add a vintage lounge chair in the bedroom to provide space to relax during the day.

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Image via homedit

Create a Curtain Wall

To instantly bring warmth and charm to a room, hang curtains all the way along one wall. You can find cheap, beautiful fabrics at places like Ikea and hook them up on a rail at the base of the ceiling. The look is cozy and entrancing. You could also break up a large bedroom by hanging a curtain divide down the center of the room to make the sleeping space intimate and inviting.

When you’re creating a cozy room, go with your heart to guide you – simple, homely touches, tactile fabrics and warm colors make all the difference to a welcoming space this winter.

How Colour Psychology Impacts Interior Design [The Definitive Guide]

Considering a new coat of paint for the living room or a change of décor in the bedroom? Your colour choice matters more than you think.

The colours in your home are so powerful they can actually influence your state of mind.

Decorating the home is often viewed purely in terms of what looks good, which colours don’t clash, and which paint looks best.

But the colours you use as paint on your walls and in your decor actually have a deep, significant effect on your mood and even your energy levels. Colour psychology says that each colour sets a mood, inspires a reaction, and conveys emotion – from the calm, traditional stance of grey to the lively and spirited hot pink.

First, you’ll learn the psychology behind all of the most popular colours, so you know how each will affect the perception and tone of your chosen room.

Next, you’ll find expert suggestions for how to design the main rooms of your home to create the proper feel and emotion that you’re trying to achieve.

So many choices!

So many choices!

What Colours Say and Mean (And How They Make You Feel)

Oscar Wilde said, “Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Think how you feel when you see a palette of greens, soft blues and earthy browns. Do you think of nature and serene days in the sun? Do you feel like slowing down? On the other hand, does red make you want to take action and get moving?

Colour Expert Leslie Harrington

Colour Expert Leslie Harrington

Colour is communication; “a universal, nonverbal language, and we all intuitively know how to speak it,” says Leslie Harrington, a noted colour expert and consultant. “What colour you paint your walls isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. It’s a tool that can be leveraged to affect emotions and behavior.

The Institute for Colour Research says that people make a snap judgment about a person, product or environment within 90 seconds of viewing and that between 62 percent and a massive 90 percent of that judgment is based on colour alone.

Paint colour is so powerful that it can influence our state of mind, and even our physiology. Click To Tweet
color chart

Click to Enlarge

Debbie Zimmer, expert in colour at the Paint Quality Institute, says “Paint colour is so powerful that it can influence our state of mind, and even our physiology. Colour psychology can help you choose paint colours that create the right mood in a room, affecting not just your own feelings, but those of everyone who enters it.

Making the right colour choice is not a decision to be taken lightly.

So next we’ll look at how to select the colour that best suits the room and creates the intended effect.

Warm and Cool Colours for Warm and Cool Moods?

Different colours will affect different individuals in certain ways depending on their upbringing, or personality. Colours may even have different contexts in cultures across the globe – for example, black can mean mourning in many countries, while white signifies death in others.

But certain colour effects have universal meaning and significance across the broad spectrum of people.

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Image via pmg

Warm” colours in the range from red through orange and yellow evoke emotions in the “warm” and hot spectrum – from coziness and comfort to anger and violence.

Cool” colours on the other side of the colour wheel from blue to green, can be calming or can bring out emotions like sadness or regret.

Let’s take a detailed look at the colours that shade your world and how they make you and your guests think and feel….

Red

“Red has guts …. deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red … to be used like gold for furnishing a house.” – Valentino

Red is a colour of extremes; there’s nothing halfway about red. It can be associated with both love and war. It is linked to anger and also conveys importance or danger – the red stop light and red warning signs are one example, the red carpet at the Oscars is another.

The effect of red is not only linked to its impact on the mind. “Red can actually physically stimulate us,” says noted colour expert Kate Smith of Sensational Colour. “It can increase our respiration and heart rate and make us feel more energized.” Some experts even say red can raise your blood pressure.

According to to the colour psychology chart referenced earlier, different shades of red evoke wildly different responses in people. Deep red is seen as rich and elegant, expensive and cultivated whereas bright red, on the other hand, conjures up a wilder image – sexy, passionate, dramatic and assertive. On the negative side, an overly bright red shade can come across as aggressive and even violent in some circumstances (obviously, the colour of blood is red…)

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A pop of shiny red certainly makes you take notice: Image from Andreas Charalambous via HGTV

How to Use Red in Your Rooms

Red can be contemporary or traditional, depending on the context of the room. Certainly an entirely red room will be a little overwhelming for most people. But use red as an accent colour, and you’re onto a winner.

The particular shade of red is also important in a room, according to HGTV’s guide to red: “Red with a touch of brown or purple will feel warmer than pure red with hints of pink. Orange-tinged reds will make you feel energized, while purple-red shades can make a space feel more intimate and quiet.” Reds with wood tones are warming, whereas red with grey and a little magenta is considered a more feminine combination. A bright red chair in a study makes the space look important. Or, a red-lacquered cupboard is a nod to Asian-style design and adds energy to the room.

Pink

“Pink isn’t just a colour, it’s an attitude!” – Miley Cyrus

What’s your first impression of pink? Generally, when used in interior design, the psychological effect of the colour pink is described as soothing and comforting. Use this effect to create a fresh, soft look for your home.

This colour has an overwhelmingly feminine aspect. And as the colour is linked to the feminine side, it is also associated with qualities that are seen as “feminine” – compassion, kindness, sensitivity etc.

Sometimes this is used for effect – the visiting team’s locker room at the University of Iowa are painted soft pink and even the toilets themselves are a dusty rose shade. But the paint job wasn’t meant to be a sexist statement. Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry read that the colour had a calming effect on people and stated that it had the effect of messing with the opposing team’s competitive ethos – he said, “When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I’ve got him. I can’t recall a coach who has stirred up a fuss about the colour and then beat us.”

VISITORS LOCKER ROOM

University of Iowa Visiting Locker Room Courtesy NBC Sports

Pink doesn’t have to mean girly and fluffy. Bright pink is also tropical and festive, while dusty pink is cozy, nostalgic and gentle. Light pink may be romantic and sentimental, youthful and summery. Different shades of pink set different tones and put you in a different mood. Sure, a fuchsia bedroom inspires playfulness and glamour, but a blush pink wall can work nicely for a cozy living room. Pink is a highly flattering colour for all skin tones, so it makes people feel good.

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Fuchsia makes a warm, dramatic impact in this teen bathroom: Image from Cindy Aplanalp via HGTV

Using Pink in the Home

Pink goes with a variety of other colours including black, gold, silver, white, chocolate brown, and mint green. Pink combined with grey warms up the neutral while remaining sophisticated.

Smith, the noted colour expert, says “pink has the tendency to go sweet and sappy quickly. So if you don’t want that romantic, girly look, keep lines simple and clean and use sophisticated fabrics.”

Painting one wall hot pink is a quick way of adding energy and vibrancy to a space, and is more suitable for an entryway or a study than a bedroom.

Orange

“Orange is very blatant and vulgar. It makes you immediately start having feelings.” – Wolf Kahn

Orange is a bold, punchy, vibrant colour. Orange is high energy and is “usually a favorite of those who like to be known for their creativity and individuality,” according to Smith. But it can also be toned down – in Smashing Magazine’s article Colour Theory for Designers, muted orange shades are linked to the earth and autumn and, “because of its association with the changing seasons, orange can represent change and movement in general.”

When orange is associated with the citrus fruit of the same name it is linked to good health andcan be seen as thirst-quenching and refreshing. Orange is less in-your-face than red and is often seen as friendlier.

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Orange chairs against a bright orange wall provide a splash of summery cheer: Image via DIY Network

How to Decorate with Orange

There are actually a wide variety of shades you can use when you are decorating with this energetic colour. DreamHomeDecorating notes that “as with other colours, the effect of the colour orange depends on its hue (yellowish or reddish), its tint (mixture with light neutrals) or its shade (mixture with darker neutrals).”

Orange blends nicely with neutrals and that coppery oranges are hot in design right now. A pale or dusty orange can be a warm, inviting colour for an entrance to welcome guests into your home.

You don’t need a lot of orange to make an impression. A few bright orange tiles in the splashbacks of the kitchen draw the eye and encourage people to feel playful and comfortable. But if you really want a lively space, decorate with pink, orange and citrus yellow for an explosion of party colour – perfect for a conservatory, modern kitchen or family room.

Yellow

“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Yellow is a uniquely bright and energizing colour. It adds energy and optimism to a room, brightening the mood of all who enter. The Pantone shade Bright Yellow is predictably described as joyful and illuminating, energetic, innovative, and lively. The shade Light Yellow is soft and sunny, sweet and easy. “Yellow activates memory, stimulates the nervous system, promotes communication and sparks creativity,” according to HGTV.

Zimmer of Paint Quality Institute agrees and tells us that yellow is a great paint colour for inside the home. In fact, studies have shown that the brain actually releases more serotonin when faced with yellow shades.

Buttery yellow makes a space look inviting. Credit Benjamin Moore

Buttery yellow makes a space look inviting. Credit Benjamin Moore

Decorating Using Yellow

Muted yellow and buttery yellow make a room feel peaceful and cozy. Yellow is a great colour for use in a room with little or no natural light – it literally makes it look like the sun is shining in your north-facing space. With it’s optimistic and happy feel, it’s a great choice for a bathroom to start the day off right. Soft or light yellow is commonly used in rooms for young children as it is a gender-neutral shade that is also cheering. Honey yellows go great with wood and provide the ideal ambiance for a country kitchen.

You’ll want to make sure it’s not too bright or too muted. So as always when selecting a paint colour, be sure use those test cans of paint and look at the yellow on your walls in the different lights of the day. Interior designer Denna McLaughlin of City Studios agrees, saying “I love kitchens painted in the warmer tones of yellow, instead of the lemony tones. The warmer tones make you want to be in the room, because they’re comfortable and welcoming.”

Green

“Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Green is reminiscent of rolling hills and grassy fields, outdoor adventures and beautiful natural vistas; it lends a calming air to any room.

Light green is calm and cool with a soothing side, while Olive Green is associated with safari and camouflage. Lime Green is seen as youthful and fresh while dark green is much more traditional, stately, and trustworthy. Bright Green and Emerald shades are associated with nature, health, balance, and the environment – these shades of green represent “new beginnings and growth” according to Colour Theory for Designers, who adds that “green has many of the same calming attributes that blue has, but it also incorporates some of the energy of yellow. In design, green can have a balancing and harmonizing effect, and is very stable. It’s appropriate for designs related to wealth, stability, renewal, and nature.”

Tips for Decorating with Green

shannon-thumbInterior designer and colour expert Shannon Kaye of HGTV says “You can decorate an entire room with greens and have contrast, drama, richness and balance. It’s so versatile. Celery green looks light and airy in a kitchen, crisp and clean in a bathroom, and relaxing and warm in a living room.”

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Green in the bedroom is calming and peaceful.

Did you know that due to evolution the human eye actually sees more shades of green than shades of any other colour. When surrounded by a green natural environment, our cave people ancestors had to be able to spot the difference in the landscape as quickly as possible in order to avoid predators. That’s why on a ‘primitive’ psychological level, the colour green tells us that we are safe.

Pale green paired with white or grey is a contemporary look, while green of any tone mixed with natural wood makes you think of organic nature and healthy living. If you’re looking for a more muted and intimate tone, evergreen or forest green work well in a study or a den. Citrus greens bring brightness and sparkle to a gloomy space.

Using green shades in the entrance hall effortlessly links the outside world with the interior. Because it is calming, green is a good colour choice for bedrooms, and since it’s the colour of many appetizing fruits and vegetables, it can even work in dining rooms.

Blue

“Blue colour is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.” – John Ruskin (Victorian Era art critic)

From the sophisticated and confident tone of teal to the high-energy vibrancy of bright blue, via the authoritative and conservative shade of deep blue or navy blue, blue is a tasteful, calming and cool colour.

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Don’t you feel more relaxed just looking at it? An all-blue sitting room calms the mind: Image via DIY Network

Blue is said to lower blood pressure, slow one’s heart rate and act as a sedative. But this colour also affects people in different ways depending on the shade.

If you want to impress people with your traditional good taste, a navy blue would be a good option. Light blue calms people down, while bright blue makes them feel more energized. But “dark blue has the opposite effect, evoking feelings of sadness. So refrain from using darker blues in your main colour scheme. Stay with the lighter shades of blue to give you and your loved ones a calm effect,” cautions Freshome.

Using Blues

Blue is an amazingly versatile colour. The effect of blue depends on the tone so make sure you really investigate the range of blues before deciding which blue tone will suit your space. Mixing greens with aqua and turquoise helps create the ultimate coastal living look, while white and bright blue are nautical and fun.

Light shades of blue can actually make a room feel larger. One clever trick – using light blue on the ceiling mimics the sky and makes the room look bigger. But if you want something more sultry, mix deep midnight blue with amethyst and emerald for a luxury boudoir bedroom.

Another trick – you can also use the colour blue to cool down a hot, sunny room. Obviously, blue doesn’t actually lower the temperature, but it makes us feel cooler.

Purple

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker (Author, The Colour Purple)

Purple is the royal colour, but it has its eccentric side that balances red’s stimulation with blue’s calm. Because of it’s “regal” association, purple can add real richness and luxury to a room. Purple is also linked to spirituality, soul-searching, creativity, wit, and expressiveness according to the colour psychology chart.

Decorating with Purple Shades

Beautiful contrasts for an elegant urban living space. Credit Benjamin Moore

Beautiful contrasts for an elegant urban living space. Credit Benjamin Moore

Purple can be in-your-face and crazy or calm and serene, depending on the tone. Lavender creates a calming effect while plum is a bold and exotic shade. If you want to make a big statement, use claret purple with black or raspberry to give a dining room a rich and indulgent feel. Or mix purple with mustard-yellow for an inviting collision of colour in the living room. Light purples are also one of the most common choices for adolescent girl’s rooms.

Neutral Colours

Neutral colours are not often the primary colour for a room but act as the backdrop. The feelings evoked by these colours are deeply affected by the other colours paired with it and the meaning of the colour changes depending on its surroundings.

Black

“Black is real sensation, even if it is produced by entire absence of light. The sensation of black is distinctly different from the lack of all sensation.” – Hermann von Helmholz (German Physicist)

Black can be bold and elegant, sophisticated, mysterious and strong – or mournful, depressing, oppressing and menacing if you get too carried away. Black absorbs light, but it can make a positive impression when used with panache.

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Back to black: Image via DIY Network

Black Décor and Style

Smashing Magazine says that “black is commonly used in edgier designs, as well as in very elegant designs. It can be conservative or modern, traditional or unconventional, depending on the colours it’s combined with.” When decorating with black you have the opportunity to create something quirky and thought-provoking, or stable and traditional depending on the accent colours you use.

DreamHomeDecorating suggests that you use black wisely, like ‘eyeliner’ for a room – on details like

  • picture frames,
  • accessories,
  • small side tables,
  • piping or similar detail in textiles (cushions, throws …)
  • an element of patterns.

If you use black in small doses, its main psychological effect will be to ‘underline’ your home’s chic sophistication.

You can also soften the psychological impact of stark black by using near-black neutrals like

  • charcoal
  • deep blue, e.g. dark indigo, Prussian blue or very dark navy blue
  • deep purple
  • very dark green
  • dark coffee browns

White

“The first of all single colours is white … We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no colour can be seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

White also has two outlooks. On the positive side white is seen as pure, pristine, clean, and innocent. It is the colour of brides and fresh snow. On the other hand, too much white can be perceived as sterile and cold. However, used properly throughout a room, it can give the illusion that the space is bigger than its physical dimensions.

White Design Notes

White in the home is often the backdrop for minimalist rooms. It is simple and clean-cut. When decorating with white remember that there are few “true” whites – you need to look at the undertone, be that blue, grey, green, or pink. Ivory is subtle and soft, with a warm side, and is associated with antiques and brides. Cream can be a more down-to-earth choice although it does have its sophisticated side.

To create a softer look in a room and avoid the dentist vibe, layer with white tints and different textures to make the room look more inviting and comfortable.

To take advantage of the psychological effects of the colour white, you don’t always need a lot of it. Just accents can lift the look and feel of a whole room, while adding a freshness and even making it feel larger.

Grey

“The fundamental grey which differentiates the masters, expresses them and is the soul of all colour.” – Odilon Redon, French Symbolist Painter

When you think of a room decorated in grey you may not have a particularly positive image, unless you are thinking of a solicitor’s office or a waiting room. Grey means responsibility, neutrality, reserved, efficiency, and restraint. Grey is responsible but it can also mean dull and detached. But look closer at grey – if you want calm sophistication, grey is your shade.

Grey Design Ideas

Grey is a perfect choice if you want to create an air of calm, understated confidence. For grey to have this psychological impact, it’s best combined with whites and other neutrals. Apart from its psychological effects, grey also has a practical property that makes it very useful for manipulating paint colours: If you are decorating with ready-mixed paints, stir a bit of grey paint into them and it will take the synthetic edge off.

Grey may be too serious for a child’s bedroom but you can layer different grey tones for a smart and stylish study or den. And don’t discount grey for the living room – this shade works well when you need an impressive neutral for bright furniture pieces. Bright red and deep grey is a statement colour scheme for a dining room, while dove grey is perfect paired with dusty pink or violet in a calm bedroom.

Just be careful not to overuse grey, or you risk making the room feel dull or moody.

Brown

Brown has a rather more positive, wholesome image than grey, seeing as it is associated with earth and nature. Earth Brown, in the earlier referenced colour psychology chart is “grounded, steady, solid, rooted [and] wholesome.” Terra Cotta and Tan are outdoorsy, ethnic, welcoming and rustic.

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Brown lends a natural air to a study or living room: Image via Better Homes and Gardens

Decorating with Brown

Match brown with feminine pinks or purples to create a soft space, and rich chocolate walls work well with neutral, bright accessories. Beige can take on the form of a cool or a warm colour depending on the other colours around it. Using natural hues and finishes, wooden furniture and floors can look very sophisticated. On the other hand, using distressed finishes or raw untreated wood and textiles in natural shades of brown can create a wonderful rustic effect.

How to Use Colour to Set the Perfect Tone for Every Room

“The power of colour is that it can completely alter your experience,” says Kaye. “You always want to ask yourself how you want to look and feel in a space.

The power of colour is that it can completely alter your experience. Click To Tweet

Considering how powerful colour can be at making you feel a certain way, it makes sense to use this to your advantage when designing the individual spaces in your home. Colour experts agree some shades work better than others for certain activities and tasks.

Think about how you will use a room. Will you be relaxing there, or working? Eating or cooking?

Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment with colour and explore the feelings you get when you put certain colours or shades in a specific space.

Need some ideas? Here are some room-by-room suggestions for a pleasant, happy home.

Colours for Living, Socializing, and Interacting

The living room or sitting room is where you get together with family and friends, where you relax after a long day at the office, or where you enjoy your hobbies like movies, crafts, or books. The living room is a shared space and reasonably public.

Reds, yellows, oranges and earth tones are ideal for the living room because they encourage conversation and bring people together. “These are colours that encourage people to sit around and talk,” reports Smith of Sensational Colour. “You feel the warmth, the connection with other people.”

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Earth tones bring people together in the living room.

A couple of big red chairs can be inviting in a living room, or red can make an interesting choice for drapery. When light comes through the window, a soft red glow makes people want to be together.

Brown, advises HGTV, makes people slow down and relax. It is a weighty, robust colour that is tied to the earth so it makes a living room feel inviting, comfortable, and secure.

Colours for an Intimate, Relaxing Bedroom

The bedroom is the place where you connect with your partner, chill out and slow down. And, most importantly, where you sleep. The bedroom is a private, intimate space.

All the soft shades of pink create a romantic setting and inspire calm. Shades of orange like apricot and terracotta inspire relaxation, and peach tones that cast a rosy glow on the skin can work well in a cozy bedroom where you want to look good and feel good, says HGTV.

On the other hand, blue can be an excellent choice in a bedroom according to Harrington – it is the direct opposite to a hue like red that actually increases your blood pressure. Blue and green is a classic combination for the bedroom as it creates a calming effect.

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A classic colour scheme for a calming bedroom. Credit

A study by hotel chain Travelodge UK revealed that the colour blue gave the best quality sleep and that yellows and greens were also seen as favorable for sleep. Reds and purples are too stimulating for sleep, while brown may create sad and depressed feelings, the study found.

Want to know the colour not to paint a nursery? The colour yellow makes babies cry according to the American Psychological Association via Painters of Louisville. Yellow may be happy but it also strains your eyes and gives little ones energy.

Not sure if purple is the right choice for your girl’s room? “Odds are, she’ll love it, and you can take comfort in purple’s proven ability to stimulate brain activity,” says Zimmer, the Paint Quality Institute colour expert.

Paint Your Kitchen WHAT Colour to Lose Weight?

Did you realize that the colour of your kitchen walls could actually be sabotaging your weight loss efforts? If you are finding it hard to drop those extra pounds, consider shopping for a new shade.

Research shows red makes you eat more and for a longer time. “Bright reds stimulate glandular activity that helps us enjoy food and tends to make us lose track of time,” reports Carlton Wagner, director of Wagner Institute for Colour Research. Instead, paint your kitchen blue. You’ll spend less time eating and the colour is said to curb the appetite.

The Psychology of Colour in Interior Design: Research shows red makes you eat more and for longer. Click To Tweet

If you have a healthy appetite and you want to stimulate it, don’t hold back with a colour like orange. HGTV says orange also adds warmth so it is a good choice for a farmhouse kitchen. On the same colour spectrum, yellow is perfect for a family kitchen, says DIY Network, because “it’s a chatty, energetic colour, great for kitchens and family conversations; it also has the ability to evoke memory and imagination.”

Yellow may be a stunner but it can be too much – “brighter French blues and sunflower yellows are a fun combination for a kitchen,” suggests Jackie Jordan, director of colour marketing at Sherwin-Williams, because “it gives you the best of both worlds; yellow gives you energy and blue balances it out.”

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White in the kitchen sets a clean backdrop for pops of colour: Image Credit

Sensational Colour looks at the power of Feng Shui combined with colour psychology for the kitchen: “Painting your kitchen white allows the colourful dishes you prepare to speak for themselves. The kitchen’s element, which is naturally Fire, (hot reds, greens and yellows) is overcome by the element Metal (represented by the stark, pure White) thus creating the best balance in this space.”

The Best Shades for Dining

Following on from the idea that painting your kitchen blue can help you lose weight, it makes sense to pay attention to the colour of your dining room walls and décor. You don’t necessarily want people to eat less here, so red would be a good option for the dining room according to Harrington’s logic above. She even goes so far to say that “if your dining room is red, people may think you are a better cook.”

Are you bold enough to pick a deep red dining room?

Are you bold enough to pick a deep red dining room?

HGTV suggests you “try a deep pink with raspberry undertones for a dining room that makes guests feel and look good in its warm, reflected light.” If you want to imitate the glow of candle-light, which makes people feel intimate and cozy, go for a straw-yellow on the walls and make sure you have dimmer switches installed. Rich purple makes your silverware and crystal shine and sparkle.

Colours for Washing and Indulging

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Greens, aqua and white make for a rejuvenating bathing experience: Image via improvenet

White has always been the top choice for the bathroom because it screams “clean!” But remember your bathroom is not only used to wash – it is increasingly a place to relax and rejuvenate. A bathroom becomes a soothing, spa-like space with the addition of calming blue-greens as well as the natural green of plants. Mixed with grey or white, green in the bathroom almost instantly calms the senses.

Harrington says “most people feel comfortable with blues and greens and turquoises because these colours give a sense of being clean and fresh — and calm.” However, spa colours only make sense if they are flattering to your skin tone and look – Smith says “when you look in the bathroom mirror, you want to look great. If you would never wear a particular colour, don’t paint your bathroom that colour. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Colour in Rooms for Working (And Working Out)

When it comes to spaces like the office or den where you need to think and be productive, blue is best for helping us think creatively, according to a University of British Columbia study. Blue encourages out-of-the-box thinking, while red “boosted performance on detail-oriented tasks such as memory retrieval and proofreading by as much as 31% compared to blue.”

Or choose green – “Green is the colour of concentration,” says Harrington. “It’s one of the best colours to be surrounded by for long periods of time.”

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Did you know green is the colour of concentration? Think about it! Image via Tagota

Red may be the ideal choice, therefore, for working out. A study from the University of Rochester found that when “humans see red, their reactions become both faster and more forceful” – ideal for lifting weights. But red can make you feel hotter – if you’re working up a sweat then blue or green may be a better option.

The right colour can make the difference between a calm or energetic vibe, classic or modern style, or setting the perfect mood for each room in your home. Choose with care and light up your life with inspiring colour!

How has colour impacted your colour choices? What does each colour make you feel? Tell us in the comments below!

Is Your Mess Causing You Stress? 10 Reasons to Get Relief (Plus Solutions!)

Chaos, confusion, disorder: Does the very thought of clutter cause that awful anxious, overwhelmed feeling? You’re not alone.

Did you know clutter is a big cause of stress? Physical clutter is mentally draining and makes it difficult to live a fun, full life. Experts say if you want to create a welcoming, relaxing home, you first need to declutter and then organize your remaining things. Here’s why a good decluttering session will help improve your health, wealth, well-being, and happiness.

1) More time: The average person can spend hours a day looking for things they can’t find at home or in the office. Think about how many minutes a day you lose when you can’t find a pen that works to write your shopping list, or the bill you need under a huge pile of paper. All those minutes add up. Plus, decluttering means cutting down the amount of stuff you have to clean, organize and look after. Imagine what you could  do with those precious extra minutes!

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Declutter your desk to always find what you are looking for: Image via i heart organizing.

2) More money: Your clutter is someone else’s treasure. Items you don’t use that sit gathering dust in the home could be sold on eBay or a garage or car boot sale for cash. Someone else enjoys them, and you can spend the money on a night out, a weekend trip, or even some new furniture for your new minimalist home.

3) Better view: Who can honestly say they prefer looking at a pile of old magazines and a drawer overflowing with mismatched socks more than a streamlined, cosy room with a few cherished items on display? A decluttered home doesn’t mean a home devoid of objects or without  the personal touch. There are many ways to display cool books, treasured objects and essentials without creating clutter, like in the below image. Less clutter equals more open space to create a focal point with your treasured possessions.

4) Less stress: Clearing away unused and unwanted objects opens up your living space and allows you room to breathe, to relax, and to unwind without the visual distraction all around you. And, again, less stuff equals less cleaning. So unless you find cleaning therapeutic, that has to be a good thing.

5) More focus and energy: Decluttering is a first step towards living in the home that inspires you and creates energy rather than depresses you and holds you back. A streamlined, simplified home helps open your mind to possibility and new experiences. Excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. It is also easier to get things done when you know where everything is, and can focus on work and family rather than things.

6) More appreciation: When you can actually see your best possessions you value them more. Hiding your favourite vase behind a stack of newspapers means the vase is forgotten. Opening up the room without clutter gives pride of place to those treasured objects.

More space to let your possessions shine:Image via Unstuff: Declutter Your Life

7) Fresh start: There’s nothing like a neat, clean space with all your books and knick-knacks sorted in their bookcases, your clothes tidied away in their closets or wardrobes and plenty of space to move around, to inspire you to start a new creative project, read the book you’ve always wanted to read, or even start a new business venture. Clutter has a way of distracting you from ideas and goals.  Without clutter you have more mental space as well as physical space.

8) Better social life: Who wants to invite people back to a house that is decorated with dusty broken plates, old clothes, and unused toys? When you declutter you reveal that gorgeous living room furniture suite, that stunning painting, and that cosy rug. You have a space you are proud of so you invite people round instead of feeling guilty or embarrassed, and that leads to a more active and enjoyable social experience.

Contemporary Oak Living Room Furniture

See the beauty of your contemporary living room more clearly

9) Better physical health: Reducing the amount of objects in a room leaves fewer places for dust to settle and the space is easier to clean and to rid of potentially harmful dust and airborne bacteria.

10) Better organization: Isn’t it easier to organize 10 pairs of shoes than 100? The best organizing system in the world will struggle to hold piles of possessions. Buy some new shelves, some new oak storage boxes or blanket boxes, and clear out your cabinets so you can organize the fewer possessions you now have.

How to Declutter Your Home

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Make your own box system for decluttering: Image via Life-Pod

Decluttering is not the same as organizing. You need to be willing to let things go in order to create space in your home and your life. There are many methods for decluttering but the simplest involves four or five boxes. The essential boxes are labelled “Keep”, “Recycle or throw away”, “Donate” and “Sell”. You may want to have a fifth box labelled “Decide later” but you really need to be disciplined in keeping this box clear or you end up with boxes of stuff you can’t quite decide about.

Move through each room and declutter shelf by shelf, cupboard by cupboard. Put items in the boxes, leaving only the things you love and need in their proper places in your home. Go through everything – the dining room, the basement, the car, the desk drawers, the wardrobes. If this seems like an impossible task, try these tips to start small and keep going; decluttering gets easier the more you do.

  • Start at floor level: If the room looks impossible to tackle, first start at floor level. Move everything off the floor into their allotted places or in the boxes.
  • Do a declutter burst: The declutter task seems like a huge one when you think about it all at once. But everyone can spend 15 minutes a day tackling one drawer, or one rack of shoes. Make a check-off chart of your progress, set a timer each day and try to do it as fast as you can. Look at what you have accomplished after 30 days and you will be amazed.
  • One year; disappear: Not used it in a year? Sell it or recycle it. Don’t think too hard about whether you will use it in the future. If you haven’t used it in a year the chances are you will not use it in the next 12 months.
  • Donate, donate, donate: If you are feeling bad when you see your stuff leaving your home, give yourself a warm glow by donating it to people who will really appreciate it and use it well.

Jump on the Clutter-Free Bandwagon

Decluttering is not about learning to live in a sparse, joyless home but the opposite – you give yourself space to enjoy the things you love and the people you love spending time with while also creating a contemporary style. You lower the burden of tidying, cleaning and organizing and you have more time to have fun, work, or be creative. It’s a liberating feeling – why not try some decluttering today?

Share your own tips below!

featured image credit

11 Secrets to Mixing & Matching Your Decor

Gone are the days when all your furniture had to match. Today, anything goes – a mix of antique and new furniture styles, much-loved favourites alongside brand new purchases, classic wood with quirky patterned leather. Mixing and matching furniture styles is fashionable, and it’s also often essential. Newly cohabiting couples combining two sets of favourite possessions, families inheriting objects, and newlyweds figuring out where to place well-intentioned gifts all create a design challenge.  The pick-and-mix look should be bohemian and stylish, not jumble sale or flea market. How do you get the eclectic furniture mix right? Here are 11 handy hints to help you combine with flair and style.

1) Colour Creates Cohesion

An inspired colour scheme can tie together furniture and objects with distinct styles and personalities. Stick to the same broad palette of colours to give your room a smart, bohemian look and you can use all your favourite furniture pieces without fear.

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A palette of soft and stylish blues, greens and creams creates harmony in this living room/ Image via The Inspired Room

2) All White is Alright

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White looks stunning against dark wood floors/ Image via Hotel Chic

Alternatively, if dreaming up a colour scheme is too much like hard work, stick to one neutral and you can combine away for a look that is perfectly matched, whatever furniture you use. White is the natural choice, or you could go with painted furniture in a soft grey/cream shade using pieces from the Cadiz Oak and Painted Pine range, for example.

 

3) Follow the 80/20 Rule

This rule goes: if 80 percent of your furniture fits into one period or style, you have free reign with the other 20 percent. So if you have mainly new oak furniture then one or two antique-style pieces in metal or a sofa in a French-country will look great. A standout antique dresser, for example, will work in an ultra-modern city apartment.

4) Mix Your Woods Well

When you are mixing wood furniture consider how “formal” each wood is when combining to best advantage. For example, cherry, classic oak and mahogany are all formal and elegant woods so they combine well together. Pine, bamboo and maple are less formal so they equally work well together. It doesn’t mean you can’t have pine with mahogany, just that it’s simpler to stick to woods in the same “family”.

Or match furniture based on the general wood colour. Most woods are classified in broad terms as brown, yellow, grey, or red. If you have a set of brown wooden tables, combine then with a sofa in the same shade of brown, and a bookcase in a different wood but the same brown shade.

loire-bedroom

Classic Loire Oak bedroom furniture mixes well with dark, elegant woods like mahogany

5) Beware! Some Styles Don’t Mix

When it comes to mixing and matching furniture, some styles need to be kept apart. For example, elaborate Victorian design and fresh, casual beach house style are the warring relations that shouldn’t be in the same room at parties. A good way of understanding this concept is to think about how each style makes you feel, and combine styles that have a similar outlook. Casual pine bedroom furniture with simplistic, minimalist wardrobe, or elaborate, intriguing Asian-style décor with a stately Victorian armoire, for example.

6) Dining Room Chairs Don’t Need to Match

One unique way to mix and match furniture styles is around the dining room table. Fit your collection of mismatched chairs around the table for a cool, bohemian look like this:

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For a truly eclectic look in the dining room, play fast and loose with your chairs/ Image via Decoholic

But if this is a little too messy for your liking, why not mix your dining room furniture in a more subtle way, using a solid oak table from one range, and chairs from another range that go together but don’t quite match.

7) Don’t Show Too Much Leg

accommodations11When collecting different furniture pieces from different eras and styles, too many different table legs or chair legs can create a cluttered look. Try to have some furniture pieces that do not have visible legs, for example a blanket box that rests on the floor or use skirting on a sofa, so that the legs you do see create cohesion.

8) Make all the Right Shapes

Combine pieces with similar shapes so that the room looks broadly uniform but is still interesting.

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For example, keep everything that has a soft curve, from the armchairs to the lampshades to the design on the wallpaper. Or have all the seating on a low level, add a low level coffee table, and coordinate with height rather than shape.

Image via Best Home Info

9) Know When Enough is Enough

When mixing together inherited furniture collections it is tempting to keep everything for its sentimental value but you’re going to run into problems with three sofas in the living room, or four coffee tables. You may have to make tough decisions when you find out how much space you have available for furniture and work out where it will fit. Choose the pieces that matter most to your family, and think about donating other pieces or giving them to other family members.

10) Give a Good Mix of Standout and Unassuming Pieces

In order to help a room look stylish and put-together, don’t overpower it with too many standout or unique pieces. You need a mix of more basic furniture shapes and styles along with a few eye-catching items – your room will look classy and not cluttered.

11) But Don’t Be Afraid of Bold Contrasts

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Be bold and individual/ Image via Houzz

Want to combine a bold aquamarine wall with your collection of white-framed art? Go for it. Set a geometric print rug on a dark wood floor? Go ahead. Don’t be afraid of the big, brash contrasts and the quirky pieces of furniture that draw the eye and combine perfectly with more neutral pieces.

Mixing and matching your furniture types gives you the freedom to create a look that is uniquely yours. And the best thing is you can easily grow and evolve the look as you acquire new pieces or re-purpose old ones into different rooms.

Have any more secrets to add? Be sure to leave a comment!