DDH Decorating Ideas


Arranging Objects by marygilliatt
September 16, 2010, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Decorating, Interior Design, Living Room, Mary Gilliatt | Tags: , ,

Actually, there are two quite different schools of thought on the possession and display of objects: the school of simplicity and the school for comfortable clutter.  The offering up of one or two exquisite and interesting pieces; or an accretion of possessions and collections that is often called, rather aptly, memorabilia.

"...possessions must also be organized to display it to its best advantage." Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

The trouble about the first school is that a few beautiful or singularly interesting objects really must be beautiful or singularly interesting. Or at least made to appear so by the way they are displayed or mounted. The difficulty about the second is that the ‘clutter’ or enthusiastic accretion of possessions must also be organized to display it to its best advantage. This involves a careful assemblage of texture and shape and color not to mention placement.  For after all, what you are creating still lives in just the same way as that of a painter or a photographer.

"Very small things like decorative shells or stones or marbles can be put into large glass goblets or specimen jars and displayed on windowsills or on shelves." Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Collections of small objects should always be grouped together rather than scattered sparsely around a house or an apartment.  Very small things like decorative shells or stones or marbles can be put into large glass goblets or specimen jars and displayed on windowsills or on shelves.  Slightly larger objects, however different, should be grouped so that they have something in common such as color, national origin or period, or, alternatively, contrasted with larger, quite different things for the interest of the juxtaposition.  Add a plant for example, or a simple arrangement of flowers, or dried grasses, or a big bowl of dried lavender, or a pile of books.   If arrangements are grouped on tables that are also used for the practical dumping of drinks, food, or whatever, leave appropriate space so that the composition will not be ruined.

"Something sculptural will always add to the interest of a room." Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

If arrangements are on a glass shelf or table, lighting them from underneath with a small up light is effective.  If they are not on a transparent surface try lighting them from above with a table lamp or down light recessed into the ceiling, or a miniature spot to give extra brilliance. Interestingly, serious or at least energetic collections of quite commonplace or ordinary but unexpected objects often make for more memorable rooms than much rarer items.  Perhaps this is because one is less impressed by the effect of something one knows to be good, rare or expensive, than by something one had not much thought about before.  (For example, old irons, shoe lasts, small boxes of every sort, snuff boxes, card cases, china toast racks or tea pots or jugs, old commemoration plates, old bottles and pill boxes or jars, baskets, eighteenth and nineteenth century eye glass cases, old locks and keys and small tools, etc.)

Something sculptural, (whether it is from a young contemporary sculptor, or African or Oceanic, pre-Columbian or Oriental, classical figurative or abstract bronze, kinetic or a two-colored construction) will always add to the interest of a room. Mount small pieces on Lucite blocks. Almost all sculpture except standing pieces looks better on some sort of plinth made to scale, whether it is lacquered, painted or natural wood, marble, plaster, fiber or Plexiglass.

How do you arrange your collectibles?

Cheers,
Mary

Mary Gilliat Decor Dream Home

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Making the Most of Space by decordreamhome

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Interior Design Course

Getting the proper framework of a home is essential to any decorative scheme. It is only logical that the first thing to consider is the use, and if necessary, the visual expansion of the space at your disposal. This should be thought out before altering or installing any lighting or essential services such as heating and air conditioning, and certainly before you begin to think of styles and color schemes because all of these things will be dependant on how you decide to use and enhance your rooms.

Sensible apportioning of space clearly depends upon lifestyle. Conventional wisdom has it that open-plan or multi-functional space has much to recommend it for the single or those without kids. But a family has to balance the need for as much elbow room as possible with the equally pressing need for occasional privacy and quiet, which means different spaces for work and play, for adults and children.

This presupposes a proportion of general areas for everyone’s use with private spaces for individuals; a ration of formal space and a ration of informal. All the same it may be easier, for example, to organize so-called reception room space into one large kitchen-dining-living-working-play space with bedrooms and bathrooms off it to which people can retire to sit and read, or talk or work whenever they need to be alone.

Assuming that major structural work is out of the question, the consideration must be how to make the space work to its best advantage and seem more expansive. Careful exploration of all the possibilities within an existing building can make all the difference to its feeling of spaciousness, if not to its square footage. At a very simple level, a home that is owned as opposed to being rented, might well be improved by the elementary expedient of changing the function of various rooms, or by changing the layout. It is taken for granted in many houses, that bedrooms are upstairs and living rooms downstairs, but if the view and the light are better higher up, why not live up there and sleep below?

Again, landings and hallways and under staircase areas should be used to their maximum advantage. It is surprising how often you can fit the odd desk or table for eating, a mural, or even a piano.

Expanding Space By Furniture Arrangement

The least expensive and most obvious way to gain apparent extra space is to be rigorous about the amount and type of furniture that is used and its arrangement. Pare down as much as possible, but not to the extent that all individuality is lost in the process.

As a guide:

  • Two small sofas look neater than four club chairs.
  • Two small seating units pushed together take up less room than two individual chairs spaced apart.
  • Storage all down one wall that includes desks, cabinets for TV, DVD player, stereo equipment and space for books, CD’s, drinks etc. will be better than a hole lot of separate items.
  • Corners can be used more for cupboards, desks and shelves.
  • Built-in corner units, window seats or seats with storage under them can be tucked in wherever possible to avoid clutter.
  • Tables, occasional tables and desks made of Plexiglas or glass or surfaced in mirror look much lighter and more insubstantial than the same pieces made in wood or topped in marble.

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Interior Design Course


Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

Expanding Space with Mirrors

Mirrors will always give depth and added length and width to a room.

If it can be afforded, a mirror may be used on one whole wall, in a dark corner, or used generously from floor to ceiling and right up to a corner if the space could do with visual doubling. If you have two tall windows, you can fill the space in between with a mirror extending from the floor (or top of a baseboard) to the top of the window height. This will make an enormous difference in brightness and the illusion of space.

If you do not like the look of a plain mirror, you can always edge large pieces with lengths of picture framing proportioned to suit the size. This will not give so much of an illusion of doubled space as floor to ceiling slabs, but it will still add substantially to the feeling of generous space and light.

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Interior Design Course

Expanding Space Cosmetically

There are various simple rules for exaggerating or diminishing a given area:

  • The same floor covering running through a whole apartment or small house maximizes floor space.
  • If walls and ceilings are kept the same color as well, the space will appear to flow uninterruptedly. Even variations on the same color scheme from room to room (i.e., putty color walls and white trim in one room; white walls and putty colored trim in another and so on) will give an illusion of more space because of the continuity.
  • The lighter the floor and wall color, the bigger the room will seem. Pale colors recede; strong, intense or dark colors tend to come towards you. If a ceiling is too high for the proportions of a room, a strong color will appear to bring it down. If it is too low, a light shade or white will appear to heighten it.
  • A continuous border or band or stripe of a contrast color, or a subtly contrasted cornice or picture moulding around a room, will make a room look “finished” but spacious.
  • Shine and reflection will increase a sense of space. A matte surface will slightly diminish it.
  • An over-scale piece of furniture, large painting or mirror in a small room, contrary to convention, will actually make a small room look larger, mostly because one would not imagine a piece of this scale would fit into a small space. Equally, small living rooms can take in more furniture than you could imagine if you treat them like comfortable studies or dens.
  • Patterns with a strong directional or geometric feel appear to push out and therefore extend floors and walls. Patterned carpets or floor and wall coverings with a light ground give a feeling of depth. Patterns on a dark ground are more enclosing. If you choose an all-over motif on walls, try the same motif in a much smaller scale for curtains or shades, slipcovers and cushions. This will appear to push the walls out.
  • Take advantage of any long view to be had from a window. Window treatments or furniture should not be allowed to impede the view in any way that would prevent the eye from being drawn into the distance.

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Interior Design Course

Think consciously of creating a foreground, middle ground and background to create a sense of perspective. A mirror on a table or mantelshelf with a plant or object reflected in it; a hinged screen with a table and lamp in front of it; a window with permanently tied-back panels and a window shade used as the covering; diagonal stripes on floor. All draw the eye out or through to create the illusion of more space.

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Interior Design Course

What tips do you adhere to to make the most of your space? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt



An Eye for Detail or Finishing Touches by marygilliatt
Mary Gilliatt: An eye for Detail

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

An eye for detail is the factor that lifts competent decoration to the memorable level and, as such, it should clearly be cultivated.  It is the ability to choose, place and arrange objects in a compelling way, grouping them so that they are seen to their best advantage. It is a feel for balance; the juxtaposition of texture and color; form and scale; height and width; solidity and lightness.

Equally, it is knowing what architectural elements to use with what style; how to make subtle variations on one color; what to light or highlight and what to leave; when to spoof and when to stop. It embraces humor in decoration; the sympathetic hanging of paintings and prints, photographs or posters or any other wall decoration. It is getting curtains and tablecloths to puddle on the floor to exactly the right extent; trims to be just right along with hardware. But above all, it is the gift for making personal, idiosyncratic touches to the completed framework of a room, the feeling for detail that makes all the difference. And although some people are born with an instinctive ability to dress a room exactly so; to make whatever they do to their own environment seem interesting and out of the ordinary, this ability, like a true sense of color, can be gradually acquired with the diligent study of rooms that particularly appeal to you and with a proper analysis of why they do so.

Mary Gilliatt: An Eye for Detail

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

If well-chosen and well-cared for furniture and soft furnishings are what make a room habitable, comfortable and easy on the eye, accessories and objects are the embellishments and elements that give it personality. But for a truly personal room, the objects must be personal too; they must be liked for their own sake, thought about carefully, collected or put together for some real reason, whether sentimental or aesthetic, not just any old thing chosen quickly to fill a space, or because some particular accessory is in style at the moment.

Mary Gilliatt: An Eye for Detail

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Mary Gilliatt: An Eye for Detail

Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

A Sense of Balance

Lastly, always bear in mind the importance of balance. Repeat the same color here and there in a room. The color of a chair at one end can be repeated in a painting or pillows at the other. Colors in patterned ceramic lamp bases can be picked up in a plain ceramic lamp somewhere else. The tones in a painting can be echoed in a rug, or fabric or a particular wood or flowers. These are all small details but it is they that give the finishing touches.

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt



How to Display Art by marygilliatt
June 17, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Decorating, Interior Design, Mary Gilliatt, Rooms | Tags: , , , ,
Mary Gilliatt: How to Display Art

Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

There are varied schools on hanging art just as there are on displaying objects

On the whole they are divided into those who want to make room for their serious collections, and those who want to use their wall space to its most decorative advantage. Those of the first school are always thinking of a wall as a means to an end – a support, a background – and moving paintings around as their collections expand or contract and their interests digress.  But the second group, who are thinking more of their walls, need to find some unifying factor for their different and often less distinguished possessions.

Mary Gilliatt: How to Display Art

Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

A miscellaneous set of nondescript prints for example, can be given a unity they would otherwise lack if each one is matted with the same distinctive color – buff, or deep green, or crimson or terracotta – whatever fits in with the room – and edged with a thin strip of chrome or brass or wood. Again, an oddly assorted group of works of various subjects and sizes will have a unity of their own if they share a predominant color – all sepia tints, perhaps, or all black and white.   In any case try not to hang things too high, or too far apart.  When there is a large grouping, keep at least the central pieces at eye-level.  Vertical arrangements will make a room seem taller, just as horizontal arrangements will make them seem wider or longer.  If a wall is strongly patterned, it is best to mount prints or drawings on very deep mattes so that the subject is becalmed in an area of its own and does not get lost in the surrounding background.

Mary Gilliatt: How to Display Art

Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

Juggle different sizes of pictures around on the floor beneath the chosen wall to find an arrangement that works best with other arrangements in the room, or with the space available, and mark out the area on the wall with an impermanent marker before banging in hooks.

What are some of your favorite art-hanging tricks?

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt



Developing a Sense of Style by marygilliatt
Mary Gilliatt: Developing a Sense of Style

Mixing rustic, modern and classic is unexpected and fun. Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

A sense of style is an amalgam of two things:  first of all confidence in ones own taste and judgment and, second, knowing exactly what is suitable for a given place or situation. As Elsie de Wolfe, the famous 1920’s and 30’s decorator used to say:  “Style is… suitability, suitability, suitability…”  Meaning suitability to financial and family circumstances; to climate; to the type of home and to the area.  Of course there are occasional people who are sure enough of themselves to create some wholly unexpected interior in a wholly unexpected kind of home, but this requires rare confidence.  And confidence is exactly what we must try to develop…

Mary Gilliatt: Developing a Sense of Style

Modern art looks fresh near a traditional chaise, no? Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Some fortunate people seem to be born with an innate sense of style and suitability, whether in clothes, or the interiors of houses and apartments, or both.  Although curiously, the one does not necessarily go naturally with the other.  Most of us, however, have to work at it, just as most of us have to work on a sophisticated color sense and the knowledge of how to build up color in a room.

Mary Gilliatt: Developing a Sense of Style

Large rooms can be surprisingly cozy. Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Luckily by diligence and by cultivating the habit of really seeing what you are looking at and then analyzing why you like it or don’t like it, it is quite possible to become more comfortable and sure of one’s own tastes; to develop new ones and even to experiment here and there. Don’t you agree?

Mary Gilliatt: Developing a Sense of Style

Maybe not your first combo choice, but this works anyway. Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt



The Importance of Storage by marygilliatt
May 21, 2010, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Decorating, Interior Design, Mary Gilliatt, Rooms | Tags: , ,
Storage with mary Gilliatt

Photo: Bedrooms by Mary Gilliatt

To the dictum that you cannot be too rich or too thin I always like to add the extra phrase  ‘or have too much storage’. For one of the major problems in any home – and particularly any family home – is how to achieve the neat but adequate storage. Even just thinking of the stuff that has to be put away for the average family makes the mind boggle. Just take a look at this list:

Clothes, shoes, coats and raincoats
Cosmetics and bathroom needs
Bed linens and towels
Luggage
Cleaning equipment
Kitchen utensils, china, glass, tableware, kitchen linens
Push chairs, cots, portable cots, diapers and general baby and childCare necessities
Toys and sporting equipment like bicycles, skis, baseball, golf and tennis needs
Books, cassettes, CD’s, DVD players and DVD’s, videos, magazines and disks of all sorts
Files, personal papers, bills and receipts, stationary
Photographs, photograph albums (not always together, alas)
Brochures, newspaper cuttings, telephone books
General household paraphernalia
Musical instruments and music, and then some.

Storage with mary Gilliatt

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

However sparse possessions are to begin with they tend to grow with the years, and whether this is for ingrained reasons of thrift or prudence, security or sentimentality, lack of organization, or just  sheer laziness, is of little account.  What is of account is that storage space be given some concise thought as well as a concise budget from the beginning of any makeover, however modest.  And most especially, of course, in any room or any home that in anyway purports to be minimalist. You cannot have any sort of minimalism without the maximum amount of storage space.

Anyone planning on finding neat, good-looking and inconspicuous solutions to the stashing away of most if not all of the above (and its always wise to look ahead to children, if they are not yet in existence, or grandchildren if they are) might find that the following questions will clear the mind:

Should everything be enclosed? (Some people prefer to shut everything away). If not, what can be seen? What can be left out satisfactorily? What will look good on display apart from books, objects, clean pots and pans, casseroles and possibly clean towels on bathroom shelves (if various occupants can be trusted not to rumple them up)?

MaryGilliattLivingRoom1

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Is there anything against having the same sort of storage systems in different rooms? The advantage of this is that it provides continuity in a small space. Many ready-made systems have enough permutations to take care of all requirements.

Is a move anticipated in the next few years? (one out of five Americans, after all, are supposed to move every year). If so this will affect decisions on movable (free-standing) or built-in (fixed) storage.

Are there any specific ideas on storage in general? Can foldable clothes: shirts, sweaters, underclothes, papers or toys be stashed behind one of the wire or plastic basket systems behind doors? Or would it be preferable for them to be stowed in traditional closets, drawers, cupboards and filing systems?

What sort of storage will you require in each room? Bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, children’s rooms, studies or libraries, bathrooms and utility/laundry rooms need storage facilities as a matter of course, but where are the general impedimenta going to be kept?  Tools, luggage, sports equipment, barbecue grills, light bulbs and the household necessities that can be bought more cheaply in bulk?

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

Photo: Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style

If storage walls are decided upon as the neatest way of stashing away a multitude of disparate objects in a living room (stereo, cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, Videos, Files, papers, TV, computer, discs, stationary, books, magazines and so on) how far will this affect the proportions of the room?

If built-in cupboards and bookshelves are preferred (say in a period house), where can they be fitted-in to their best advantage? What corners and recesses could be used? Can cupboards be fitted around a window or windows in a bedroom, with a dressing table surface built-out from a window sill?  Or can closets or bookshelves be built around doors? These are often splendid ideas for saving space.

Can existing storage be improved upon in any way, or can one whole but small room be used as a spacious walk-in closet?

How much conventional storage will have to be bought and how much can be improvised? Cane baskets for drinks, for example; ordinary open shelves on brackets; cloakroom racks on wheels or castors for clothes; filing trays inside cupboards for socks, panty hose, underwear, shirts and sweaters; lidded window seats; an old bureau or desk with capacious drawers for periodicals, games, toys and papers; small, low chests of drawers which will act as Cocktail or side tables as well as storage for incidentals…

It is, of course, impossible to draw up a blueprint for successful storage which will satisfy everybody’s needs. The only certain facts are that more space should be allowed for the purpose than could possibly be imagined, and that any sort of storage should be as much sympathy with the basic proportions and feelings of the room as is tenable.

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt



Combining Texture and Pattern by marygilliatt
Mary Gilliatt Using Patter

Photo Courtesy: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

Colors are so radically changed by differences in texture and pattern that a monochromatic or one-color room can be as lively and memorable through its subtlety as a more vividly contrasting space.  Therefore, textures and pattern need to be considered as seriously and, at least in the case of textures, as evocatively, as the process of color-building.

Take textures first.  The name of a known texture immediately conjures up an almost tangible surface.  Just as thinking about one color in depth can evoke many images and variations, so too, different textures engender their own imagery.

Consider for example the following:
Brick, Denim, Linen, Satin, Burlap, Felt, Louvers, Silk, Basketwork, Glass, Matchboard, Steel, Cane, Lace, Plaster, Stone, Cashmere, Lacquer,  Plexiglass, Tapestry, Ceramic, Leather, Quilting, Tweed, Coir, Limestone, Rope, Velvet

Mary Gilliatt on Texture in Decorating

Photo Courtesy: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

Pick out some of them and imagine how they would look distributed among floors, walls ceiling, soft furnishings, and furniture.  Obviously some textures are more in keeping with each other than others.  Rough contrasts with smooth and matte with gloss.  But brick or stone or rough plaster walls look generally better contrasted with natural linen or burlap or cotton than with silk or satin.  But there are no real rules, only sensibilities.

Mary Gilliatt on Pattern in Decorating

Photo Courtesy: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

As for patterns, it used to be a convention never to mix them, as much to create harmony as to make things easier.  One good way to become more confident about mixing pattern and texture with ease is to realize the pattern in a room is formed as much by possessions as by fabrics and floor coverings. Books with their various jacket designs; the way art is arranged on walls; the placement of objects; the slats of shutters; the play of light and shade; the shapes of different pieces of furniture; the leaves and flowers of plants… All these disparate things from patterns in their own right.  When this fact is considered, one fabric, carpet or rug pattern more or less can hardly make much difference as the scale, tone and proportion are right. These last are obviously important. Large patterns that look interesting and diverting in fabric stores or furnishing departments are often more sensible for public rather than private settings, or at least large spaces unless one possesses a sure sense of scale, although it is a fact that large scale patterns and furniture used with confidence can generally make a small space seem much bigger.  Similarly, one should remember that many small patterns often meld into one color when actually used for window treatments as opposed to hanging up show lengths.

Mary Gilliatt on Pattern in Decorating

Photo Courtesy: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

A play of pattern however, can be very effective, varying as it does the whole balance of color.

  • The same design in two different colors can look interesting-in a good way. So can the same design reversed – say blue on white predominating with white on blue predominating.
  • Very similar patterns in the same colors can be used together with effect, as in window treatments and carpet, with plain painted or plain textured walls.
  • Patterns with the same feeling if not design can also be used together effectively.  Vivid striped North African or other ethnic fabrics with heavily patterned oriental rugs.  Florals of all sorts with stripes or checks.
  • Use a large pattern with a smaller pattern in the same color way.
  • Do not forget the subtle effect of sheers printed with the same pattern as the curtains, or used with an allied or more simplified design, or in toned-down versions of the same main colors.
Mary Gilliatt on Pattern in Decorating

Photo Courtesy: Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations

Lastly to mix patterns and textures together successfully, assemble as many samples of each as you can.  Juggle them around.  Think of them, as I said, in the context of existing surfaces, furniture, window treatments, upholstery, accents.  Look at them in different lights.  Then pick out two or three schemes for a final choice.  This is the most effective way to learn.

Cheers,
Mary

International Designer Mary Gilliatt