Home Decorating For Dummies
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Color, pattern, and texture are the stylistic building blocks of your home decorating palette. You use these three elements to create the style, mood, and feel of each room in your home.

Creating with color

  • Paint small spaces in whispers of a cool, light color.

  • Cover big spaces in a cozy, warm, confident color.

  • Light, cool colors make walls seem to fade away into the distance, making rooms seem spacious.

  • Dark, warm colors make walls seem to come closer.

  • For the best color schemes, pick neutral colors that you'll never grow tired of.

  • Distribute colors naturally, with dark colors on the floor, medium colors on the walls, and light colors on the ceiling. Use the law of chromatic distribution:

    1. Put neutral colors on large surfaces or objects, such as the floor and sofa.

    2. Use stronger shades in a smaller amount on smaller spaces or items, such as a short wall or a chair.

    3. Employ the strongest accent color in the smallest spaces and places.

    4. Scatter accent color around the room to make an impact.

Playing with pattern

  • Mix patterns such as checks with florals or large-scaled patterns with small-scaled patterns.

  • Not sure when enough is enough? Play it safe! Use three different patterns that contrast in scale but relate in color.

  • More is more when you confidently mix up to five patterns. To do so, let one large-scaled pattern dominate over one medium-scaled floral and another geometric, and toss in two small-scaled accent patterns (your choice of floral or geometric). Make sure the colors in the large-scaled pattern are repeated in all the others.

  • Place pattern everywhere! Put the same pattern on the walls, windows, and furnishings.

Toying with texture

  • Traditional rooms look best in refined, smooth textures.

  • Contemporary spaces need more textural interest.

  • Feminine rooms need elegant and subtle textures.

  • Masculine decor calls for nubby, tweedy, and rugged texture.

  • The more neutrally colored the room, the more important texture becomes.

  • Heavy textures "eat" space, so use them only in large or cozy rooms.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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