Do you use interior design so that your surroundings define who you are, or do you use interior design to express who you are? My design style is the latter - to help fashion your surroundings as a personal expression of who you are. Decorating a room to look like it was taken out of a page of a catalog results in dull and drab, lacking individuality and personal style. I take a space from dull and drab, add a touch of daring freshness and originality, and make it fab! I dare to add drama. Every home can use some drama inspired by a little innovative chic. Given the go ahead from a client, I add a dash of it to every room. I’m not talking about strobe lights, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, or overstuffed fringed furniture, just something special and unexpected.

The following analogy illustrates my point, which will help you visualize what I mean by a fresh and personal approach to design.  

Every woman has “a simple little black dress” that she learns to accessorize and beautify to make it look fresh and original (fresh and original being the operative words). Sometimes, it’s accomplished by adding a single item - a great silk scarf, diamond pin, outstanding necklace or belt.

If you care about your personal appearance, you most likely care about your home’s appearance. Decorating works on the same principles as embellishing and individualizing your little black dress. You want to furnish, accessorize, and beautify your home, to make your home look fresh and original, comfortable, and welcoming.

So just like your little black dress, you can make each room in your home exceptional by adding something unexpected – a spectacular piece of furniture, architectural detail, or extraordinary accessory.

The process is simple. It’s the hunt that’s stimulating, fun, and part of the unanticipated. You’ll know the item is right when you find that something special that makes your heart beat a little faster. 

If you want specific suggestions, READ ON! For each room in your home, pick one of the adjectives below, and focus on finding one special something that will take your home from dull and drab to fab! These are just a few of infinite possibilities.

Exotic – Add an animal skin (fake) rug to a living room, den, or library floor even if it already has a carpet. Use antlers as accessories on a shelf or coffee table. They’re naturally shed every year. Cluster lighting fixtures over a table or to brighten a dark corner (very Casablanca). Snakeskin pillows and accessories are trending now. Suzani fabrics are very exotic; use it as a throw over the end of a bed, as a bedspread, or draped over a sofa or chair. Anything with an authentic Asian influence, especially sculptures work well.

Luxurious – Add decorative wood panels to walls in dens or libraries. It doesn’t have to be the entire room. Layer striking drapery fabrics over sheers with tasseled tiebacks. Display a crystal decanter and a couple of glasses set on a beautiful tray in your bar or where you keep your liquor. Change out your bathroom windows to etched glass. Redo your closet doors using some of the stunning new sliding panels.

Romantic – Add a canopy over a bed, or drape tulle on an existing canopy bed. Use crisp white linens on beds with a pretty bedskirt. Search your second hand shops for a Victorian love seat. If it needs recovering, use fabrics of the period. Candles add romance to any room. During the summer, fill your fireplace with candles and light them! A few ruffled pillows in silk or lace look beautiful on a bed or bedside chair.

Glamour – Chintz and toile are back in style in updated interpretations. Use them on arm chairs or dining chairs. The patterns also make great wallpaper. Use a mural in your dining room that wraps around all four walls if the architecture is appropriate. Flank your fireplace with sconces, and use them in entry halls on either side of a mirror. Torchieres are very glamorous as extra lighting. 

Pop – Modern furniture designers have created some bizarre-looking yet surprisingly comfortable pieces. They’re great conversation starters so place one in a bright color in a basically monochromatic room where you entertain. If you have a large entry hall, add a roundelay. Add a touch of whimsy with unique lighting pieces. Mirrors add a pop of sparkle to a room. Be sensitive to what the mirror reflects – better a window on the other side of the room than the door to the powder room.

Elegant - Add a crystal chandelier in your bathroom over the bath tub and add a dozen or so scented columnar candles. Find an antique sconce for over the fireplace or on a small wall (place a table underneath for balance). Illuminate your artwork with art lights. Mounting them over book cases creates great atmosphere. Add sheen to your walls and ceilings by painting with gloss paint, or use foil wallpaper for a more formal look, grass cloth for informal. 

Traditional – Search Flea Markets and second hand stores for some great antiques (or excellent reproductions). They look exceptional in a minimalist contemporary space. Just be careful of the scale. A poof in an unusual fabric pattern makes a sensational statement in a traditional atmosphere. A traditional chesterfield sofa (tufted all over) in leather is regal in any design scheme especially in deep red.

Flair – Wallpaper your powder room in mica. Hang a chandelier that will bounce off the mica chips sending sparkles shooting all around the room. Paint the ceiling one of the dark hues found in the paper. Add a fireplace. You can add ventless fireplaces in any style, anywhere. Decorative screens are attractive and camouflage unattractive wall spaces. Mirrored screens add a bit of sparkle and make the room look larger.

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