• Rather than seeking to put together a whole room all at once, invest in one interesting and coveted piece of furniture, and let it set the tone for the room. As time goes on, build your furniture collection around it. Our first piece of furniture as newly weds was a solid teak bookcase with glass windowed doors and a beautiful rustic finish. At the time we didn't even have a sofa, but we fell in love with this shelf, and every time we walked into the room it felt perfect...much better than a room filled with unloved, purely functional pieces.
• Don't think of decorating your home in terms of a linear process with a start and a finish. There will always be something that needs to be fixed (and re-fixed), edited (and re-edited), so think of it as cyclical and take pride in the process.
• When in doubt, use Benjamin Moore's Linen White. Stephen Drucker of House Beautiful fame, has given this advice many a time, and for good reason. I never thought of myself as a white paint person, so I was skeptical when I first read this. But then we moved into a home where the north-facing living room was painted a cool white, and it felt chilly all the time. While I wanted to preserve the air feeling of the room, I knew that I wanted the room to feel warm and inviting. So I took Drucker's recommendation, and have since recommended it to many others who are stumped with similar dilemmas. Linen white is warm, soft, but also clean. It looks especially good when paired with medium to dark toned woods and crisp whites.
• Pick paint in terms of color flow. This doesn't mean you have to paint your home in five shades of green, but it does mean that adjoining rooms should have a good color relationship whether it be they are complementary or coordinating colors. For example, a red room adjoining a green room works because red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel, and placed together they create a pleasing contrast. However, if your looking for smooth transitions between rooms pick colors that are in the same color family— i.e. gustavian grey and french blue. (Restoration Hardware has a beautifully coordinated color palette for their line of paints. For example, any of their greens look fabulous with any of their blues, lavenders, grays, and greiges. I use their paint colors mixed in Benjamin Moore's aura paint, which is of superior quality.)
• "Have nothing in your home that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" — the golden rule of decorating by William Morris, father of the craftsman movement. He is extremely quotable, but this is one of his most popular for obvious reasons. This is not a call to minimalism per se, but if you follow this advice you will learn how to create a home that truly reflects your life, not the latest trend or the latest Pottery Barn catalog.
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