Some tips on decorating the right way

November 12, 1995|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,SUN STAFF

Here are some general guidelines gleaned from interviews with design professionals to help homeowners avoid common decorating mistakes.

* Develop a master plan, listing what colors and design elements you would like to add in each room. Also, inventory furniture, artwork and accents you like and want to keep in each room and things that can be replaced or added later. "You need a master plan so you have an overall vision of what you want and what you can work toward," said designer Richard Taylor.

* Establish a budget and know exactly how much you can afford to spend each year. Having a budget will help you establish priorities and allow you to work step by step toward completing the master plan. It will also discourage impulse buying.

* Be open-minded with your designer, if you use one. Consider doing things differently, such as using furniture in a new way. At the same time, don't accept something you're uncomfortable with, even if your designer recommends it. "If your initial gut reaction is you don't like it, chances are you won't like it later," said designer Ted Pearson.

* Beware of gimmicks, like trying to use the "hottest colors" or "this year's fabric."

* Hire a professional when you need it. Whether it's a cabinetmaker or a custom drapery maker, most people need professionals at some point to get the quality they strive for. If you decide to use a professional interior designer, interview several before making a decision.

* Be careful not to indulge in too much of a good thing. Even wallpaper can be taken to an extreme. "People start looking and think, 'Isn't this pretty. Isn't that pretty,' and pretty soon they've papered every wall in the house," says designer Phyllis Richman.

* Pay attention to scale, which can be a real design-buster when furnishings and the room dimensions are not in sync. "Lots of times things are too big or too small for a space," said Mr. Taylor. "Big oversized chairs and sofas don't work in every room."

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