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Divine design
Decorating do's and don'ts to live by



A beautifully decorated space not only functions well, it sets a mood and reflects your style and personality. But homeowners often are unsure how to combine design elements that will result in a room with wow factor. Local experts weigh in on the design rules that are the foundation for any well-planned living area.


Buy what you love. Art should reflect your taste and be something that you enjoy living with everyday, says Tory Folliard, who owns Tory Folliard Gallery in the Third Ward. Fabrics and furnishings will change over the years while the art will be with you for many years.

Select art before the furnishings. Interiors are more interesting if the art doesnít match the fabrics. "Itís easier to find furnishings that go with the art than the other way around," Folliard says.

Mix it up. Donít be afraid to mix the medium, color and sizes of art in your home, Folliard says. Consider using different medium, such as paintings with works on paper, and sculpture.


Take measurements. According to Mara Wierschke, a designer with Thomasville Furniture in Brookfield, the first step in selecting the right furniture is to determine the size of your space. If you want precise dimensions, use a tape measure. Or measure your foot and then walk heel to toe across the room to get a basic estimate.

Furnish according to function. Consider how you will use a room and arrange your furniture accordingly. Create easy conversation in the living room by facing the sofa opposite a pair of comfortable chairs. In the media room, where watching TV is top priority, a sectional sofa offers flexible seating and invites lounging.

Divide and conquer. For homes with open concept layouts, proper furniture placement is essential to defining individual spaces. To divide a large space, Wierschke suggests enlisting a decorative piece like a folding screen. "You can also use area rugs to define furniture groupings," she says.

General Rules

Find a focal point. A well-designed room always has a main point of interest ó an element that is interesting and draws your eye like a fireplace or a picture window with a fabulous view. If your space is lacking a natural focal point, create one, says Marcia Klode, owner of Mille Tesori Design Studio in Thiensville. "Highlight a piece of artwork or furniture like an armoire or a flat screen TV," she says. Another option is to paint one wall in the room a contrasting color.

Embrace color. No decorating technique can transform a room as effectively as the use of color. "Color creates illusion and sets the mood," says Klode. Not bold enough to dress your walls in rich reds or vivid blues? Then keep the wall color neutral and accessorize with colorful pillows, window treatments and art.

Layer lighting. Lighting should be both functional and enhance your decorating scheme. According to Klode, a well-lit room incorporates three light sources ó overhead fixtures to brighten the space, task lighting like floor and table lamps for everyday activities, and accent lighting (wall scones, recessed spotlights, etc.) to emphasize decorative elements. m