In my travels and seminars, I am often asked, “What is the secret, that special magic which gives a home a “designer look?” I laugh and usually respond with – “Have you got five hours?” In truth, the secret is no secret and the answer is multiple choice, with all the options being correct. Start with creativity and knowledge of space, furniture styles, fabrics, floor coverings, window treatments, art and accessories, and you’re almost there. Sounds easy? Not at all. That’s why savvy people like you hire people like me.
It doesn't mean, however, that only designer created rooms make beautiful homes or that it is impossible to learn the designers’ “secrets.” Here’s an easy way to make your decorating plan fun and foolproof. Start from the floor up. I know – my clients too, often wonder why their first outing with me is to my favorite carpet showroom, Peykar Oriental Rugs, in Westbury, when no furniture or paint colors have been decided, but they generally become believers.
This is the thinking. An area rug whether traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between, defines pattern, color and size of seating areas. It doesn't necessarily dictate style because it’s great to mix casual and formal looks with many types of furniture. So here’s how it goes. We usually sit on a pile of rugs (my favorite office) with my floor plan designs and select the furniture layout that works best for a space. Sometimes choices are combinations of the various plans presented, but once we’re all comfortable with the general layout and the size of rugs needed, we’re ready for the fun and learning experience of seeing hundreds of styles, patterns and colors.
That’s when I usually announce, “Let the games begin”, and watch the panic set in. First timers never know how they will be able to make a choice, but quickly it becomes clear that while there may be a rug for everyone – not every rug is to their personal liking or suits the needs of their room. We start with the choices in the size we need and “run the piles” to see what draws our eye.
Carpets are usually piled on top of each other and there is no easy way to get to the bottom of the pile. Rolling back the rugs by hand, one by one, gives me a chance to explain the country of origin, style and color possibilities, and allows us to eliminate many. Going backward to actually get possible choices out onto the floor for comparison, gives everyone a chance to see what we missed, or negate some from the first round. (Peykar is so tuned in to me that they usually leave the ones I’ll never pick on the very bottom!) Rugs on vertical racks need to be put on the floor for viewing as well. Remember, if rugs are woven on a loom, color and shading can look very different from one side to the other. So look carefully at the light and dark side before you choose. By process of elimination, we then make a selection.
So, we’re getting down to the wire. Easy, done- ready to move on? Not quite. Next, the trick is to find the “go withs” or “friends“ for adjacent areas. Another panic attack, especially when I say using the same rug in a different size is a “no, no”. But, we've narrowed the field by color and style from the first choice. Since I start the selection process with the largest or oddest size rug needed and then work to the size with the most available choices, often some already selected possibilities will be chosen in the proper size, or the correct size pile will yield a good co-ordinate. Remember, area rugs can be used in conjunction with broadloom, as well.
Why should rugs in the public spaces of your home work together? Look at the layout of your rooms. Generally, entry, living room, dining room and den are open to each other, some with common walls. While we don’t want to repeat ourselves from room to room, drawing out the same color palette can help the flow and be more pleasing to the eye. Choosing paint color now becomes simpler. Find the color family that goes best with your rug selections and your personal preference. Begin there and add your accent colors (taken from the rugs) for drama and interest.
Starting from the floor up is truly the best way to keep you focused and roll out your design plan, even if budget doesn’t allow for purchasing furniture all at once. So go to it. Remember decorating can be a fun learning adventure and your quest for the beautiful home you deserve is sure to have a positive effect on your life.