If you avoid common mistakes, decorating your home can and should
be a joyous, fulfilling experience, according to four area interior
decorators. The following professional designers who operate
home-based businesses shared their wisdom on mistakes they sometimes
encounter and suggested remedies: Nancy Carriveau of Nan-C Design,
Brookfield; Lise Lawson of Lawson Interior Design, Fox Point; Kelly
Neumann of Vyolette Interior Design Consulting, Milwaukee; and Kirsten
Termuehlen of French Country Pine & Design of Wauwatosa.
All four designers agree the most common mistakes homeowners make
generally result from impulsive shopping, perhaps, as Neumann cites,
"to meet a deadline for a family holiday gathering." They
purchase furnishings for an entire home or room in a rush rather than
buying for a specific area, she says. Neumann also cautions against
buying attractive catalog items that may not fit into the general
"look" both client and designer are working toward.
"People sometimes are unable to visualize the space needed and
therefore purchase furniture of inappropriate scale," Lawson
says. She advises against buying at first glance. Instead, measure the
prospective sofa, chair or table in the store and later lay out a
newspaper pattern at home for a reality check.
used color, window treatments and lighting to update a clientís
outdated dining room.
Hereís where the designersí multiple talents can shine by
helping clients to select colors that transform their own
personalities as well as enhance their homes. "Clients often want
to paint first, but painting should be the finishing touch,"
Carriveau says. "All walls need not be beige." She has
witnessed the exuberant effect of selecting bold colors on the
personalities of clients as well as their homes.
Termuehlen admits the biggest mistake she sees ó even in the most
polished homes she visits ó is "the lack of uniquely,
well-positioned and proportioned lamps." She advises installing
dimmers on any overhead lighting and directional lenses on can lights
to achieve a sense of intimacy. "Then enjoy the hunt for the lamp
and shade that complements each niche of the room."
Lack of a road map
If all this advice sounds overwhelming, relax. Help is as close as
a telephone call. The design professionals are available to help you
sort things out. Their cardinal rules are: first, to assess your
lifestyle and personality, then to determine the functions of rooms
under consideration. Next, decide on a starting point by prioritizing
ó social areas or private areas. Following these decisions, the
designer will help you select color and lighting and, finally, will
provide a "road map" to avoid the shopping pitfalls
"Itís a layering process that requires a harmonious blend of
lighting, proportion, texture, color, humor, material and line,"
Termuehlen says. "Itís like painting a canvas," she says. "Enjoy the
paced process of exploring your own likes and dislikes with a
designer, then slowly layer each room with pieces that inspire you,"
she says. "It should be an enjoyable journey of discovery with your
designer rather than a quick-fix relationship."