Here’s a confession: I made a design blunder. Thankfully it didn’t break the bank – but it did add extra days, extra work for some nice vendors who are already swamped – and a big pile of logistical nonsense to deal with . The fateful misstep? I customized curtains for the new master bedroom at The Nest – and measured incorrectly. Luckily, the panels were too long (as opposed to too short), so it was a quick fix.
Luckily, that little mistake never has to be repeated – and with smart tips from our Huff Harrington designers, other design disasters can easily be avoided. We asked Martha Douglas Peyton and Sam Jones for their favorite go-to tips (and maybe a secret or two).
Reuse, reinvent and recycle: a Huffington favorite – don’t be afraid to paint an old piece to make it look updated and fresh. This is a great trick for inherited pieces that may not fit your style in their original state – but voila! The wonders of paint!
Flowers: fresh flowers are the easiest (and least expensive) way to transform a room and make it feel fresh. We love their gorgeous sensory effect – and it’s an easy and sneaky way to bring out an accent color in a room. (We all love Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for a great selection of blooms and buds.)
Let there be light: hanging a chandelier? Martha Douglas likes 36″ above the table as a good rule of thumb. (And my personal fave tip: don’t forget the dimmer on the chandy and anywhere else you want some nice ambiance and mood lighting.)
Low ceilings? No problem: use wallpaper on the ceiling to bring your eye up. This is such a fun way to use beautiful wallpaper without making it the main statement in the room. Added bonus: it gives the room interest and tons of personality.
Low ceilings? No problem, part two: this tried-and-true trick works every time. Hang your curtains as high as possible – even to the ceiling or crown molding if you can. The curtains draw your eye up and give the illusion of a higher ceiling. (Martha Douglas swears by this technique for shower curtains, too.)
Rules for rugs: if you’re doing an area rug in a room, try keeping a 12″ border between the rug and the wall.
Float the furniture: keep your seating arrangements intimate and inviting. No shouting across the room allowed.
Go for it! Don’t be afraid to go bold and paint one room all one color – yes, even trim, moldings, ceiling and doors. This little trick creates a gem of a room. The Huffington designers like this trick best in contained rooms where the impact is the greatest, like a dining room, library/study or powder room. If you really want to go for it, do it all in a high gloss finish. Talk about glamour!
Lamps too low? Give them an instant lift with a couple of coffee table books.
Drooping seat cushions? Sam Jones swears by this quick fix: stuff sad seat covers with a couple of standard or king bed pillows. Just wiggle them around until they’re smooth and the fluff is equally distributed. And Sam adds: “drooping duvet? Fold at the foot of the bed and hide a couple bed pillows in the fold. Instant fluff.”
Never a day goes by that we’re not texting, emailing or cornering our designers for their tips and design go-to rules of thumb. Let us know if you have a design dilemma. We’ll put the Huffington designers on it in a second!
P.S: Martha Douglas assured me that even if my curtains had been too short, we could have remedied the situation by adding a 30″ block of a complementary fabric to the bottom of the panels, like this. Phew. Designers to the rescue.