Eclectic style suits owners on budget
Q We have recently moved into our first home and are very excited about decorating the family room.
We expect that this will be the most-used room in the house because of its location next to the kitchen and the immediate access to our backyard.
The room has medium-toned hardwood floors and the walls have a wood wainscotting (painted white) with the upper portion of the wall painted in a pale, icy blue (which almost appears white in certain light).
As we're first-time buyers, we have no real budget to speak of, and as we've discarded our battered, old college furniture with a view to starting fresh, we'll need all new furniture.
I would appreciate your recommendations for creating a cozy atmosphere for this room, including what styles we should be looking for and perhaps some tips on economizing.
A There's no real secret to decorating a room on a budget. Careful, thoughtful planning is the key to making any budget large, small or virtually non-existent go its furthest.
This means not only knowing the pieces of furniture that you need to buy, but also the style of the furniture as well as the colour palette that you will be working with before you go shopping.
The floor plan that I have drawn for your family room creates a comfortable and efficient layout for this amply sized room.
When faced with a large room and not a lot of furniture, you can make a space feel more filled up by placing the largest pieces on angles (angled furniture usually takes up more space than in a
straight, linear arrangement).
The sofa, placed across from the fireplace separates the main foot traffic area from the conversation/television-viewing area, routing traffic behind the sofa.
A sofa table will dress up the back of the couch and a couple of upholstered chairs at the breakfast bar will give some warmth and visual weight to the back of the room.
The two easy chairs adjacent to the sofa will offer comfortable seating for watching television and a large coffee table and area rug give focus to the seating area.
I have also shown the potential for a carpet runner or additional area rug that will reinforce the traffic path to the patio doors.
If it suits your needs, based on this plan, you can inventory your furniture pieces and determine which pieces you have and which you need to buy.
The costs for decorating a room like this will depend largely on the style you choose, how organized you are and how much "sweat equity" you can invest.
It is a wise idea to buy the best quality you can afford because quality pieces will stand the test of time.
For anyone starting out, an eclectic style, especially one that pulls its major influences from the past, can be the least expensive way to decorate a room since it allows mixing and matching of pieces from a variety of inexpensive sources like hand-me-downs, flea markets, garage sales and country auctions.
But your first investment should be a scrapbook where you can keep samples of wallpaper, fabric, paint chips and photographs of your newly acquired or existing pieces of furniture.
Armed with your scrapbook whenever you go shopping, a sale item that catches your eye can quickly be checked against the other colours and patterns in your room.
Using this method, you'll be able to build up an inventory of various fabrics that work in your room.
Any designer or decorator will tell you that a lick of paint is the cheapest decorating device and since you are starting with a fresh slate, I would recommend eliminating the cool blue colour in favour of neutral tones that will be more flexible when it comes to building a colour palette.
Later, when money is more available, neutral-coloured pieces can more easily be adapted to a thematic or period room.
Whether shopping at a department stores, a flea market or digging through Grandma's attic, always look for well-built pieces that have clean lines and simplicity in design because these features will make the difference between a room that appears designed and a room with a mishmash of furniture.
David Ferguson is a regular contributor to CBC Radio's Ontario Today. Write to David at: firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his website at www.creativespaceonline.com