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July 1998 Issue
The Eyes Have It!
by Jenny Wojcik
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When you look around, do you see bland or beautiful? Are you afraid to do it yourself? Maybe you think it’s just too big a job or that it might cost too much. Well maybe it’s something we could help you do quickly, and for a small investment. (It never hurts to ask.) You can reach me here at Seasoned Cooking by email or you can always post a note, a question, a slap on the wrist or a compliment on our message board! I’ll be checking!

Decorating Myth # 3: "Decorate small rooms with small things." Decorating small rooms with small things does two things: it will make the room look smaller, and it will make the room look cluttered. (Cross my heart.) I know - I can almost hear you sighing out there, but decorating small rooms with miniature things just exaggerates the fact that the room is diminutive. When accessorizing and decorating a small space, use larger, but fewer objects. By doing so, you’re creating a focal point - a place for the eye to go and rest. As the focal points pull the eye to them, their size "tricks" the eye, making the space appear to be larger. (The eye says: "Large object = Large Space." Voila!)

Here’s another eye opener. The same concept applies for fabric, pillows, sheets, high-ticket furniture items, et cetera. Don’t pair a small print with another small print; it will look too busy and unkempt. Pair small prints with larger ones in the same color ways. That’s not busy, it’s beautiful. (Example: If your sofa fabric is a small pin stripe, add decorative pillows in bold patterns, such as flowers, larger stripes, and bold solids.)

The next time you’re shopping, notice the combination fabrics that designers are using for bed linens. You’ll see small patterns paired with large patterns, and bold colors against muted colors. You should also notice how the color ways are the same - the pattern is different.

Remember we talked about adding light to a room to make your rooms appear larger than they are? Try adding some plants or even small trees with up lights to the corners of your rooms. When lighting "from the floor up", the impact you make depends entirely on where you position the up light. To make a wall recede, position the up light in front of the highlighted object, casting a shadow on the back wall and the ceiling. This little trick will visually give you an extra FOOT of wall space. (A foot of wall space in a small room can make the difference between a cramped feeling and a comfortable one.)

The light reflected on an object creates shadows and texture. To cast light upward and to highlight the intricacies of an object (i.e., a palm frond’s spiked leaves) position the up light straight up and directly behind the object. You don’t want to see the source of the light, only the effect of it. This is especially helpful in rooms that have little or no architectural detail like specialty moldings, chair railings, wainscoting and so forth.

While we’re talking about tricking the eye, we should mention faux finishes. (Faux - as in looks like, but isn’t.) There are many techniques with varying results, some of which are very convincing. My best friend used a very expensive masonry tile product on her master bath floor. It’s beautiful - breathtakingly beautiful, but as I said, expensive. When she thought about what type of wall treatment she wanted in the room, she truly wanted something as unusual and spectacular as her flooring - at a more palatable price. She hired a faux painter through her decorator, who took the colors and patterns of her flooring and faux painted the walls. Granted, the painter is a professional - but I defy anyone to walk into that room and without touching the surfaces tell me where the masonry tile ends and the paint begins. It’s a fabulous look and a fabulous job. And it was accomplished with a "fool the eye' technique.

While you or I may not be able to achieve a flawless finish, the novice, with the right products, techniques and tools can achieve great results with faux painting. There are many resources available through your local home improvement center or paint store. My suggestion: pick up a how-to pamphlet or book, get some cardboard, some paint and practice, practice, practice. Try sponging (on and off), ragging (on and off), veining, marbleizing, and so on. You may find a new hobby, or a new career as a faux painter. Regardless, you’ll develop skills that will help you enhance your home by fooling the eye.

I found out a long time ago that one trick in the design trade is to include something black in your décor. It doesn’t have to be as large or grand as a grand piano; it can be a pot, a plant stand, a figurine or simply the frame on a picture. The color black - the result of combining every color - is known to anchor and balance a room. It secures the space and adds a sense of refinement. There’s a sense of drama in the color black - like tuxedos and little black dresses - and when dressing a room, it acts as the hub from which all else flows.

Myths, tricks and techniques - we’ve talked about a few of them in the last few issues. Now it’s summer, which means picnic time - time to use that outdoor furniture, pack a picnic basket, invite the neighbors over, and maybe even grill some goodies. Now that sumptuous summer is here, we should talk about our exterior surroundings as well; how we can bring the outdoors in, and how to coordinate the outdoors with the indoors. Confused? Come on back next month, and we’ll clear it up for you as we celebrate our Home Style outdoor style!



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