Increase Your Design IQ
If you missed out on "Ask Muffie: Real-Life Solutions to Your Decorating Dilemmas," here's Part Two of the recap:
Q: What is the correct height for hanging a chandelier?
A: If you’re hanging the chandelier over a table, aim for 30 to 34 inches over the tabletop for an eight-foot ceiling. If your ceiling is higher than eight feet, mount the chandelier an additional three inches higher for each foot of ceiling.
If the chandelier isn’t meant to be centered over a piece of furniture, first consider your ceiling height. For example, in a living room with 11-foot ceilings, you could hang it four feet from the ceiling or as high a three feet from the ceiling. For low ceilings, think about the tallest person you know, and make sure they would be able to walk comfortably underneath the chandelier. Before hanging it, have someone stand back to see if it’s blocking anything else in the room. You want the view of the chandelier to fill empty space on the wall behind it, not block your favorite painting.
Q: There are so many rooms in my house in need of updating. Where do I begin?
A: Whether it’s a cluttered mudroom or a stressful office, start with what drives you most crazy and fix that. You’ll feel better, more motivated, and able to move on to the rest of your house. If you’re hesitant about decorating any room while you have small children, don’t be. Just invest in pillows and keep any other elements above waist level. You don’t need to be afraid of white either; that’s what Clorox is for.
Q: In rooms with high ceilings, how do I deal with all that wall space?
A: Paint the ceiling. Whatever color you have on the walls, change it a hue by adding white to the paint, and then use the new color to paint the ceiling. This brings the ceiling down and makes the space seem less endless. Art claims the extra wall space, too. Collect several inexpensive, black frames and group them together to create one enormous centerpiece that fills up the wall. Or add a big basket over the television to fill up the empty wall space (no fake flowers though!).
Q: When is it okay to use bold color?
A: Be careful with bold colors in open floor plans. If your rooms are all visible to each other, and you paint one space bright red, the red is all you’re going to see, regardless of how beautiful the rest of the house is.
Q: I have a simple bathroom with a pedestal tub. How do I make the room appear less empty and more like a part of the house?
A: If you have the space, add a small chair and cover it in a really sumptuous fabric. Put a small table or pedestal next to the tub, too. This gives you a place to rest your wine or novel, and makes the bathroom seem cozy.
Q: I have a collection of hand-blown glass balls. How can I display them so that they don’t look like Christmas ornaments?
A: Find a tall, clear vase to place them in, and put tea lights around the base to reflect the colors of the glass. If you hang them, keep them grouped close together so they look like a collection and not Christmas ornaments. To hang the glass, use clear tacks, not nails. Tacks are barely visible, and it’s easy to putty over the holes they make.
Q: Where are good places to hang mirrors?
A. A traditional location is at the entrance to your home. Another good spot is in tight spaces. The mirror will reflect the room and makes it seem bigger—just make sure it’s reflecting something interesting and not an area of the room you’d rather keep hidden. They’re great above a piece of furniture in place of artwork, too.
Q: My living room has tall ceilings and tall windows. How to I cover the windows without overwhelming the room?
A. Go simple. Choose a thin curtain rod and basic rings. For curtains, you can use a fabric that’s sheer, or if you need be able to make the room dark, back your curtains in blackout fabric. Whatever curtains you choose, be sure to back them or the sun will rot right through.
Q: For those of us who rent houses, any suggestions on inexpensive ways to spruce up or personalize a house? I’m looking for ideas that are not permanent, but still make the place feel like home.
A. Invest in something you love, but that you can take with you when you leave your rental. Art is the best way, and you can find tons of beautiful, inexpensive art on sites like eBay or etsy.com, or splurge on one piece you’ll keep forever. If your landlord allows it, paint is always a quick and easy way to revamp a space and make it your own.