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1. Choosing the right fabric for your sofa

Choose a fabric based on who will be using your sofa, in which room the sofa will be used, and how the sofa will be used. Consider fabric durability if your sofa will be placed in a high-traffic area of the home. If your pets and children will also be sharing your sofa with you, consider a microfiber fabric or leather as they can with stand heavy use.

Woven patterns hold up longer than printed ones, as do higher thread counts. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric and denser fabric lasts longer.

Your fabric choice should be based on durability, color, pattern and texture. Plan before you buy.
FABRIC STYLE – Choose a fabric that is simiular in style and character to the piece that is being covered. For example, a traditional fabric would look better on a traditional style of frame.

Some fabrics appear casual, while others might look more formal. Choose a fabric to reflect your own style or theme that you want to establish throughout your home.

• Cotton: Made from the cotton plant, is soft, absorbent, and fades easily.
• Leather: Leather is four times more durable than fabric, so don't worry about having kids around it and leather furniture gets better with age. (Aniline leather is dyed in a drum, which allows the dye to completely soak through for a rich, deep color. No protective coating is added, and it's the softest and most expensive leather.)
• Linen: Made from the flax plant, linens tend to have a lot of hard plant fibers and slubs.
• Rayon: Also known as viscose, rayon is made from wood pulp and designed to be shiny like silk.
• Silk: Made from the cocoons of silk worms, silk has strong fibers and a natural shine, but can be damaged by sunlight.
• Wool: Made from animal hair, wool is warm, and not often used in upholstery.

SYNTHETIC FIBERS: Made by extruding chemicals into fiber strands. Synthetic fibers are more durable, more resistant to staining and fading than natural fibers.
• Acrylic: Very durable and often has a texture similar to wool.
• Nylon: Stain resistant and durable.
• Olefin: Durable, but can change to small balls of fluff on the surface if used in high amounts.
• Polyester: Very durable and easy to clean.
Types of fabric (there are several different ways to turn yarn into fabric)
• Knit: Not many upholstery fabrics are knit (like a sweater), but sometimes fabrics are adhered to a knit backing for stability.
• Velvet: Velvets are actually created on a loom by weaving two pieces of fabric face-to-face and then cutting them apart. This creates that luxuriously soft feel.
• Woven: Most fabrics are woven together on a loom. Some looms can create very intricate designs using multiple colors of yarn, like the Jacquard loom. There are also other looms, like the Dobby, that make simpler designs.
• Non-woven: Some fabrics (like microsuedes) are not actually woven. The micro-denier (really thin) fibers are bonded together in an irregular "tangle" of fibers (like felt). Sometimes they are then adhered to a knit backing for stability.

Consider the scale of the pattern. It should be appropriate to the size of the furniture it is covering, as well as the room size. A large bold, pattern might work better in a larger room, while a more muted or smaller one might be a better choice for a smaller space.

Color is the most important reason people choose a fabric, so make sure your color choice is appropriate for the room. For instance, it may be best to avoid a very bright color in a smaller room, especially if your sofa is also large.

Avoid light colored fabrics around children, pets or heavy use.

To strike the right mood, consider the color temperature. Since warm and cool colors affect the mood of the room, make sure you’re choosing the right fabric color for the mood you want to create (the use of dark blue or denim fabrics are perfect for the beach house).
Avoid trendy colors, unless you happen to really like them. Color trends come and go so be careful.

• Fade Resistance: Consider if your fabric is fade resistant, especially if it will be placed in a room that gets plenty of sunlight, or placed close to a window.
• Mildew Resistance: Look for fabric that is mildew resistant if you live in a humid climate that fosters mildew.
• Allergies: Consider fabric such as microfiber for certain allergies because it is lint free and does not attract dust.
• Pets: If you have pets, avoid using delicate fabric such as silk, or any fabric with lots of texture. Select pet-friendly upholstery instead.

You are making a big investment when you buy a sofa and the more planning you do the more successful the result!


2. The dining table is the centerpiece of the dining room

The look of your table is important, but making sure the table fits your space and gives you enough seating is even more critical.

Your table needs to allow the diners to seat comfortably and still leave enough room to walk around the table. The width of your table should be at least 36 inches wide so there is ample space for the place settings as well as the serving platters and bowls.

Measure your dining room. Then measure table-to-wall clearance. To allow diners to sit down and get up easily from their seats, try to leave 42” to 48" between your table and the walls. Measure table-to-furniture clearance: If there is additional furniture in the dining room, there should be a minimum of 42" from the edge of the furniture to the dining table.

Don't overcrowd your table. The table manufacturer should recommend the number of people that can comfortably be seated without touching elbows while eating. Each person needs about 2 feet of eating space. Of course, if your table allows for it, you might be able to squeeze in another seat for an occasional larger gatherings.

Round tables are great for small spaces. Round tables fit in tight spaces and have no sharp corners for people to bump in to and you can usually fit more people around the table. Pedestal tables are even better since they offer more legroom and if you add transparent acrylic chairs, it will make a small room feel more spacious.

Seating for a round table:
3' with a pedestal base seats 4
4' with legs seats 4
5' with a pedestal base seats 6
5' with legs seats 4
6' with pedestal base or legs seats 8
7' with pedestal base or legs seats 9

Large round tables can make it difficult to reach for food. Rectangular shapes seem to work better for seating very large crowds.

A rectangular table works well in a long, narrow room and it leaves more room for traffic flow. For most tables, as the table length increases the width increases as well.

Go big on the table and small on the seating when you are looking to take up less room in a space. You can even try a bench instead of chairs on one or all four sides of your table. Make sure you can push the bench or benches under the table so you can stash it away when not in use.

Like the round table, the bigger a square table is, the harder it will be to reach for food. You might be better off with a square table that comes with leaves so that you can turn the table into a rectangular shape for a dinner party.

Seating for a rectangular table:
4' long seats 4
5’ to 6' long seats 6
7' long seats 8
8’ to 9' long seats 10
10’ to 11' seats 12


3. How to choose the right window treatment

Blinds or drapes? Café curtains or shades? Your biggest priority in choosing window treatments is deciding whether you need privacy or light....or both!

Consider the investment you have in furnishings, art and carpets in your room and whether sun damage is a risk. Sheers, handkerchief linen curtains, window shades, blinds or shutters will protect your home furnishings from fading without being too intrusive. They will still allow light to come in and soften the glare during the day, and they can be adjusted to provide an element of privacy at night.

Two of the best defenses against the sun and cold weather are interlining and layering.
Interlining is a middle layer of a flannel-like fabric that is sandwiched between the decorative fabric (facing the room) and the lining fabric (facing the window). Interlining and heavier bump cloth add wonderful body to a window treatment and also reduce sun damage and fading.

Layering treatments (adding shades, drapery panels, sheers or a valance or cornice) will minimize heat loss and save energy and money. The more layers you add, the more effective your treatments will be as insulation.

If so, it can create an uncomfortable feeling in a room. Consider window treatments that will provide evening privacy — plus add color, texture and a sculptural element to the room. Lush, soft fabrics at the window can be used to balance angular shapes of furniture and carpets.

Almost any style window treatment that you like can be made to work in formal or informal rooms. For example, in a sitting room, pleated draperies under a kick pleat valance look striking and appropriately dressy. The same pleated draperies and contrast lining can be used with outdoor canvas fabrics on a sun porch, with tiebacks added. The drapery treatment will be the same — but the effect is totally different.

If you like color, there are many gorgeous hues in fabrics that will bring pizzazz to any room. If you want the window treatments to blend in with the walls and be more of a backdrop, then choose beautiful textured fabric in subtle colors that convey elegance.

A common space such as a family room or living room doesn't usually require much privacy, but depending on the number of windows, it may always need light. Natural light helps brighten a living room, so chose a beautiful semisheer fabric window treatment that offers light and subtle privacy even when it's lowered. Choose the thickness of your fabric based on the amount of light you want in the space — a thick fabric lets less light through than an ultra sheer fabric.

Bedrooms on the first floor usually need more privacy than bedrooms on the second floor, but both may require natural light. A drapery rod or track for floor-to-ceiling draperies can be installed on the wall or the ceiling, depending on what suits the room the best.

A. Blackout curtains or shades are often necessary in a TV or media room. A media room can go the extra mile in achieving total movie theater darkness by layering a Roman shade and floor-to-ceiling draperies. The more fabric you add to your windows in your theater or media room, the better the acoustics will be.
B. Getting baby to sleep in the middle of the day can prove difficult with the sun shinning in—but not with blackout shades. Have a blackout lining (a very dense fabric that light can't penetrate) sewn onto the back of any drapery fabric. For absolute darkness, install floor-to-ceiling drapes 18 inches past each side of the window. This will ensure that as little light as possible seeps in through cracks.

If you or your guests want total relaxation, which may require “sleeping in” after the sun comes up, shutters are a good choice. Bedrooms with shutters installed with solid center panels can block out all light. Shutters can be painted a bright color for high impact, but if you want a more toned-down look, paint them the same color as your walls and watch them disappear.

Whether you have a bathroom on the first floor or on the second, closely situated neighbors can require privacy. Easy-to-install roller shade is perforated, allowing light to filter through. Since window treatments at the back of tubs may be hard to reach, hardwire a roller shade so that you can conveniently manipulate it from a control panel or remote.

Many bathrooms, especially those on the first floor, need maximum privacy. A top-down/bottom-up shade allows you to walk around without being seen and still lets a lot of light in. It's constructed with a honeycomb design to keep the cold out and the heat in.

Should you have a great number of windows on or around your front door but want a little privacy, consider installing stained glass. This will turn your foyer into a focal point and prevent passersby from getting a full look into your home. A similar effect can be created with vinyl to save on cost.


4. Lighting

Chandeliers, lamps and sconces can be as creatively varied as any work of art. Chandeliers can bring instant glamour to any room and cut crystal is the most widely known material, but chandeliers can be made from wrought iron, brass, tole, wood and ceramic materials. Contemporary interiors can also be enhanced with chandeliers of steel, chrome and glass.

Lamps can be as varied as the rooms they go in. In addition to various metals, lamps can also be improvised from objects such as ceramics, sculptures, vases, boots or musical instruments. If your lamp is your art, you can place it in your room as precisely as a sculpture.

Sconces are the most versatile of lighting options and they can be used in any room. Sconces can look like artwork on a wall or they can be a discreet source for a wash of light.

Built-in lighting is artful in a different way. If the light source is hidden in the architecture, light itself becomes a design element. Light can create different moods in an area. If your room is filled with art, for example, you can highlight certain pieces of art with a splash of light and use shadows to downplay less important areas in the room.

Soft lighting focused on a comfortable seating area can be conducive to more personal or intimate conversation. A large party can be made more lively by using evenly distributed bright light that will encourage a flow of movement and lively talk. Dimmer switches add drama to any occasion by lowering light where it's not needed and brightening the areas where activity is centered.


5. A few great tips about decorating

One pair of pillows always looks skimpy. Use two pairs, in contrasting patterns, colors, and textures. Just pile on the pillows.

Small-scale furniture only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Buy a bed with a tall headboard and your bedroom will grow.

The fastest way to make over sliding closet doors is to wallpaper them. You can turn a bedroom into a office or family room in just a few hours.

Use a real rug instead of a bath mat in your bathroom. It was made to withstand a lot more wear than the occasional wet foot and your bathroom will have such a luxurious look and feel.

There's no rule that a living room has to have a sofa. You can skip the sofa and have four chairs.

White will work in every room in your house. You'll never get tired of a white living room and you can change the color of your accessories with the seasons.

You can mix styles...For an example, a four-poster bed will take the chill out of a modern bedroom.

Have lots of lighting in a room. Four lamps are better than two. You need ambient light for mood and direct light for reading.

Get rid of your traditional coffee table. The most versatile coffee table you'll ever own is an ottoman topped with a tray.

Gold is back in a big way. A few accents will warm up any room.

Plants will cheer up any room. Nothing softens a corner in a big room like a potted tree.

Mix up the seating at your dining table. Use a combination of chairs, stools and benches. Be creative!

Don't forget the closet lighting. You can also paint or paper your closet and do hang pictures in the closet for inspiration.

Don't be afraid to paint a vintage piece. Every piece of furniture can't be brown.


5. Creating a visually pleasing & functional
coffee table focal point

As a large surface that has a prominent place in many living rooms, the coffee table needs to look good while it serves its many functions. You want to accessorize it with a few items that look great and compliment the style of the room. It's not so much about the individual items you place on a table, but about the way they work together as a unit. The items should relate to each other either through color, style or theme. Try to include at least one really interesting or very unusual item. This can be a favorite statue, vase, decorative box (which could hold the remote), or even a clear bowl filled with something like seashells, pinecones, or nuts (seasonal items are always great).

It's important to find balance on your coffee table. You don't want anything huge that will overwhelm the surface, nor do you want anything too small that will get lost. It's good to vary the heights of objects, make sure that nothing is so high it obstructs anyone's view when they're sitting around the table.

Books, flowers, and a decorative object are the usual pieces you'll find on a coffee table. It's hard to go wrong with the classics. You can also use books as pedestals. A bowl full of flowers is great for a coffee table. Place it off-center and then balance it on the other side with a stack of three or five books and a decorative piece such as a seashell, sculpture, etc.

It's always nice to have a mix of items. Look at objects for their shape, size, color and texture and try to find a pleasing mix. For visual interest, pair curved items with straight, shiny with dull, textured with smooth, and hard with soft (but don't forget that they still need to relate to each other!).

Use a tray to hold smaller items. Trays are great because they add organization and focus to your coffee table.
Don't overcrowd the table. It still needs to be functional so there should be enough room to set down drinks, put up feet, or serve whatever purpose your household needs. Remember that displays are meant to enhance the look of your coffee table.


6. Decorating your bedroom

The bedroom is usually the last area a person decorates...it should be one of the first. It is the place where you start your day and finish your day, the bedroom should be stress free and relaxing.

Start by doing your research. Gather clippings from magazine photos of ideas you like. It helps to measure the room and draw the shape on a piece of paper with all doors and windows included. (It is easier to draw and erase a king-size bed than it is to move it across the room.)

Picking colors can be made easy. Find items that you love and want to include in your bedroom décor: Things such as pillows, a favorite chair, artwork or vacation pictures. Then draw inspiration from those colors. Don't be afraid to use bold, bright hues on your bedroom walls, it will make a statement. If you don’t like it, you can always change the color.

Choose three patterns to use in your bedroom. Odd numbers, especially the number three, just seem to make things work, whether you're combining colors, patterns or decorating a table top. Three is the minimum number of patterns you should use, and the key to successful mixing is to vary the scale of each pattern.

Swap out your thick, winter drapes for something a bit breezier – like voile sheers. Not only will they create a gorgeous glow, but they will also help cut the heat of direct sunlight coming through your windows.

When it’s 90 degrees outside, the last thing that you want at the end of the day is to crawl into bed under a heavy, dark comforter. Instead, capture the light and airy feel of summer with your décor. It is more relaxing to change your bedding colors to reflect the seasons..