The possibilities for unusual containers are endless. Almost anything can be turned into a container, but that doesn’t mean that everything should be. The first thing to consider is your gardening style. Do you want a plumbing fixture on your lawn? For some people this works fabulously, for others, not so much. Everything from brassieres to old computers can and have been turned into containers – and plants will grow just fine in them—but while they may be great conversation starters, many people wouldn’t want to look at them day in and day out. Also, some materials will last and look better over time than others.
Do you have any idea about what decorating style you like? It’s a simple enough question, but the answer isn’t always so easy to come up with. Of all the things that we learn while going through so many years of school, what decorating style we’d like to see in our living room or what era of furniture would best complement the layout of our bedrooms usually isn’t one of them. Go figure. Whether you’ve been to school for design or not, decorating is always a very personal process. That doesn’t change whether you’re doing it for yourself, working with a designer, or designing for someone else. When it’s your home, everything hinges on what you like and in the end only you can say whether the result is something that you’ll be happy living with. It’s always easy to tell whether or not you like something but sometimes it can be very difficult to say for sure what you like or why. That’s one of the reasons why designers emphasize an understanding of different styles when approaching a project.
It’s not that these are hard and fast categories that you have to fit into, but if you can identify the one or two that most strike your fancy, you’ll have a great starting point for filling in the rest of your look. Here’s a short guide from About.com that will steer you to some of the best quizzes and resources to help you determine your favorite decorating style.
Connect to the links here and answer some simple questions. Before you know it, you’ll get information on your decorating style, based on your answers. What could be easier? Use these sources as a guide to creating the interior that reflects your personality.
Then you can really call your house or apartment a home!
- Better Homes and Gardens has a simple color quiz using attitudes about color to help zero in on your decorating style. You won’t have to wait for results, and you’ll get information about what the answers say about you.
- Take a Home Decorating Quiz from Houzz to get style hints as you decide on the style that you like best.
- Check out more Decorating, Design, and Style Quizzes. They are a great way to help you define home furnishings you love so you can create your perfect home.
- And if you’d like to go a little deeper with a bit more research, check out this list of the Best Design Books of 2016
Take the quizzes and print out any quiz results that best fit your style, and keep them in your decorating file for future reference!
In the last few years, the popularity of container gardening has soared, and for good reason. Containers are easy to maintain (almost no weeding!) and because you are controlling the quality of the soil, water and food for your plants, it is easier to create a great growing environment. Container gardening has become an art as well a hobby and by thinking outside the pot, you can have great fun, save money and create gardens that will attract attention and be custom made to fit your style and even your color scheme.
Start in your house. It may surprise you how many things you already own that can easily be made into great containers. On old colander, oatmeal tin or Clementine orange box all make wonderful choices. Buckets, little red wagons, old kids toys or even a chipped soup bowl or a beat up basket all can be easily transformed into a pretty pot. Once you’ve checked your house, move on to yard sales and second hand stores.
Look at things with an eye for interest, durability and scale. Also, the kitchen departments of discount and Dollar stores can turn up some interesting and inexpensive finds.
Growing Meyer lemon trees in garden pots is hugely rewarding. Not only are they prolific fruit producers, the blossoms of Meyer lemon trees are incredibly fragrant and beautiful. The Meyer lemon fruit is also sweeter than the fruit of other lemons and even their thin skin is tasty and great for cooking.
Though Meyer lemon trees are naturally shrub-like, they can also be pruned into tree form. When planted in the ground, they can grow up to 8-10 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide.
When grown in garden pots, depending on the size of the pot, your plant will probably be smaller.
With their growing popularity, Meyer lemon trees are pretty easy to find in local nurseries or online.
What Meyer lemon trees like:
- Full sun
- Protection from the wind
- High quality potting soil
- A large pot with good drainage
- Consistent watering – soil should be damp not wet
- Regular feeding (except during the heart of winter) with either all-purpose or high nitrogen fertilizer
- Temperatures between 50-80°F though they will survive down to 32°F
What Meyer lemon trees don’t like:
- Wet feet (too much water will kill them)
- Freezing temperatures
- Not enough or too much fertilizer
- Not enough light
- Strong winds
All citrus trees love sun – the more the better. They are happiest in temperatures between 50-80 °F. That means, unless you live in USDA zones 9-11, you’ll want to bring your Meyer lemon tree inside when temperatures start regularly dipping below 50°F. In spring, if you live in a cold climate bring your tree outside when nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50. It’s a good idea to slowly acclimate any plant to outdoor conditions by hardening it off.
Once it is used to being outdoors, place it in a sunny area, protected from the wind.
Feeding: During the growing season, spring to fall, feed your citrus plant regularly with either a high nitrogen fertilizer or a slow release all-purpose fertilizer. Citrus trees also respond well to additional foliar feeding with a liquid fertilizer like compost tea or liquid kelp of fish emulsion.
Watering: Proper watering is one of the keys to growing any citrus plant, but particularly those grown in pots. The aim is to keep the soil moist but not wet. Stick your finger into the soil, at least up to the second knuckle. If you feel dampness at your fingertip, wait to water. If it feels dry, water your plant until you see it run out of the bottom of the pot. If your plant is indoors, particularly in winter when the heat is on, misting the leaves with water can help keep your lemon tree happy. It’s also a good idea to use pot feet , so your citrus tree doesn’t sit in water.
Harvesting: If you keep your lemon tree indoors for the winter, your fruit can take up to a year to ripen.
Because citrus fruit will only continue to ripen while it is still on the tree, make sure to wait until it’s ripe before picking. Meyer lemons, when ripe will be an egg yolk-y yellow and will be slightly soft to the touch. Use a knife or scissor to cut off the fruit so you don’t risk damaging the plant by pulling off a larger piece than intended.
One of the primary design considerations for any garden – especially a garden carved out of a barren, hardscaped area – is how you plan to use the space. Defining the purpose for the garden will drive design and plant choices.
- Do you want to entertain friends or is the area to be a private refuge?
- Would you like an edible garden from which to cook outdoors or inside
- Do you simply want to block out the neighbors?
- How important – or an impediment – is the view?
- Are there obstructions that cannot be overlooked, such as an air conditioner or gutters?
- What are the size limitations of the area?
You can delineate garden rooms in even the smallest of terraces or balconies. For example,
- Freestanding vertically planted walls, fencing, or trellises can be used to separate one area from another
- Obelisks, furniture, and rugs might divide garden areas
- Tile or stone paths can send you in a new direction
Your responses to these questions will drive your design decisions. If you want the area to simply be a place to sit with coffee before work, you’ll want to focus on necessities – a chair, a table, and a few plants in containers to soften the hardscape. On the other hand, if your intention is to mimic a larger, on-the-ground ground garden, you’ll want to create different rooms, delineate movement
Once you have the shell of your room just the way you want it, it’s time to think about what finishing touches you’ll add. You have painted the walls, put up the window treatments, moved the furniture around, and cleaned up the mess. But why doesn’t the room look finished even though you think that the job of redecorating your room is done.
It just doesn’t look finished! What to do? Read on.
Once you have the shell of your room just the way you want it, you’re not done with the job.
There are lots of finishing touches that you can add to make the room look finished and welcoming. Some decorators feel that decorating a room or home should always be a work in progress.
Whether it takes a week, a month, or a whole lifetime, finding just the right finishing touches for a room is really the fun part of decorating.
You’ll be adding the jewelry to the room, the personality that makes the room reflect who you are, what your interests are, and where you’ve been.
Get some ideas from our list of finishing touches for decorating a room. Remember, you may never be finished, but you’ll have fun along the way.
- Plants and Flowers
It’s amazing what a quick transformation can be made with fresh plants and flowers. You don’t need to find something dramatic and expensive. A simple plant potted in a decorative pot set on a coffee table, bookshelf, on top of a cabinet, almost anywhere, adds life and color instantly. Be sure to keep fresh plants shiny and dusted. You might even want to have two plants for each location, one for display, one “on the mend.” If a plant gets scraggly or droopy, get rid of it! You might nurse it back to health, but not in your living space! If you just don’t have time to tend plants or if your room is dark, find some new artificial plants. These work great for out-of-reach spaces. But be sure to keep them dusted and perky, too.
- Expand on a Theme
Everyone has a special interest. Traveling, sports, pets, flowers, children, and even a favorite book or movie can all provide focus for a room and offer ideas for adding finishing touches. By choosing a theme for your room, you’ll know what to zero in on and be able to select accessories, art, and colors to expand and enrich the theme.
In fact, balance in a room is as much about emotion as it is about good design. Good design balance gives off feelings of stability and wellness. More specifically, balance is a part of the design that invokes a feeling of wellness in a room. Nothing feels weird, lopsided or unstable.
So how does one achieve good design balance in a room? Creating a balanced and harmonious space depends on three things: furniture and decor placement, use of color and texture, and the scale and proportion of furnishings and decor.
Below are tips for creating a balanced room.
Furniture & Decor Placement
1) Vary the heights.
A room where all the furnishings or decor are the same height will lack interest. When you place your furniture into your room, put tall pieces next to short pieces. If your sofa has a low back, add a piece of furniture that is tall like an armoire or bookshelf. The same rule works with small decor. With small decor, use the ratio of 3:1. For example, three vases of varying heights grouped together and balanced by a single larger decor object on the opposite side of the mantel or shelf make a striking design.
2) Balance your heavy or bold pieces.
Imagine a seesaw in your room. If one side gets weighed down with heavy furnishings or decor, your room will feel off balance. Add something on the other side to put the eye over and around the room. For example, if one wall has a tall bookshelf and tons of wall decor, make sure you balance that wall with something tall or bold on the opposite side of the room. If you have a heavy sofa against one wall, pair the wall opposite the sofa with another foundational piece of furniture.
3) Less is best.
Don’t set up an obstacle path with your furnishings and don’t cram a room too full of small decor objects. A room needs “breathing space.” (FYI – the most common mistake amateurs make is to add in too much small decor.)
Use of Color & Texture
1) Don’t match but blend.
One sign of an amateur decorator is a room where everything matches perfectly … too perfectly. Don’t go for perfection but strive for ambiance. For example, balance a bold color with a large pattern that blends but doesn’t match exactly, or balance a bright warm color with a textured cool color. Or choose colors that are the same hue but vary in intensity and scatter them evenly around your room.
2) Play up contrasts.
Homes look professionally designed when new elements are mixed with old, smooth contrasts with rough, polished is balanced with nubby. You get the idea.
3) Spread the wealth.
Don’t make one side of the room color heavy or only use a color only once in a room. Choose two to three main colors for your room palette, and then be sure to spread these colors throughout your space. This will carry the eye throughout the room and keep things interesting.
Small bathroom design has to be smart bathroom design because there is possibly no other room that needs to function as well as a bathroom. After all, one isn’t required to cook or entertain, but one certainly needs to bathe!
There are certain rules to decorating a small bath, but in the right space, rules can be broken. May these inspirational small bathroom photos, along with decorating ideas and tips for small baths, help you create a bathroom that functions and looks as grand as a large one.
I know the rule – one should always stick with light colors in small spaces – but dark colors are where the drama is. The great thing about dark colors in bathrooms is that white fixtures and/or light colored tile can provide a nice balance for darker walls, so oftentimes one can get away with a bolder color scheme.
This bathroom featured on Lowe’s came in on the budget at less than $3000. That’s much lower than most bathroom remodels.
The contemporary pebble tile flooring and the sophisticated color scheme is nicely balanced by a more traditional-style pedestal sink and lighting fixture.
Design Sponge featured this tiny, cottage style bath that got a big facelift with a bright, fresh color palette. Again, not a color scheme typically advised for small spaces, but it works with this owner’s unique style and really helped to brighten up this bath’s dark, outdated space.
If you want to go with a bright color scheme in your bath, tread carefully. This works because it flows with the color scheme throughout the rest of the house and matches the homeowner eclectic style.
If you like bright colors but are unsure about the all-over color, consider going with white or light walls and using bright colors as accents.
DON’T choose the paint color first. Paint is available in thousands of colors and can easily be changed. In most cases it should be one of the last things you do.
DO choose your most expensive or favorite item and decorate around it.
DON’T use an area rug that is too small. This is the number one mistake people make when decorating living rooms.
DO make sure that all the pieces of furniture fit on the rug. Ideally all four legs of major pieces should be on it, but if this simply isn’t possible make sure to fit at least the front legs on the rug (the back legs can be off). But all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug whenever possible.
DON’T push all the furniture against the walls.
DO pull the furniture away from the walls when possible in order to create intimate conversation areas.
DON’T hang artwork too high. People have a tendency to hang art closer to the ceiling than it should be. This goes for every room in the house.
DO hang artwork at eye-level. Obviously this varies from person to person, so use your judgment. But it’s better to err on the side of lower rather than higher.
DON’T ignore the importance of dimmer switches. Each and every light in a living room should have a dimmer switch on it.
DO have a mix of overhead, ambient and task lighting. Use table lamps, floor lamps, sconces – whatever you like. Just be sure to use a mix. It will provide more light as well as make the room and everyone in it look better.
DON’T use too many throw pillows. Throw pillows are great decorative accents but don’t use so many that you have to move them all off the couch before you sit down.
DO use pillows thoughtfully. Choose a few that enhance the piece of furniture and overall look of the room. And don’t be afraid to invest in some high-quality pillows. They’re small but they have a big impact.
DON’T be afraid to mix high items with low. There are a lot of great ways to save, and there are some times when you should splurge.
DO buy the best quality sofa you can afford. A sofa is a big investment and you want it to last. Remember, a sofa of average quality should last at least 10 years while a high-end sofa should last up to 25.
DON’T be afraid to decorate with patterns. They add life and character to a space.
DO follow the basic rules of decorating with patterns. The ideal number to use in a single room is three. Mix the scale using one large, one medium, and one small (or some other combination of the three).
DON’T let anyone else tell you how you should or shouldn’t decorate. It’s your home and it needs to be right for you.
Not everyone has the time to go to school to learn the basics of decorating. And depending on what you’d like to do as a decorator, not everyone has the need. But for those of us who have the eye, but not necessarily the know-how to design the interiors that we’d love to live in, there are numerous online resources that can give you more than enough information to get you on your way. With these great online sources, anyone can learn about the basics of decorating while finding wonderful inspiration for their first design project.
If you have no clue about choosing furniture, selecting color, or what style of decorating you like, help is at your fingertips.
If you know just what you like but not how to bring the look to your home, you’ll find photos, tutorials, and helpful advice about decorating for just the right look.
Sitting at your computer, you’ll find loads of information without ever setting foot inside a classroom.
Whether you need ideas, color suggestions, or instructions on ways to do things, just get “web surfing.”
- About.com’s site for Interior Decorating
Of course, we think you’re already at the first stop. Here at About.com’s site for Interior Decorating we’ve tried to put together a lot of information to answer just about every question you might have. And we add more information all the time. But if you’re not finding what you need, check out some of these other sites.
- About.com Style Guides
Our own site has a section on Style Guides for Home Interiors. Learn what goes into making a comfortable Shabby Chic® bedroom or a French Country dining room. You’ll have fun deciding what style you like and learn how to bring the different elements into your rooms on any budget.
- About.com site for Furniture
One of the main elements of interior decorating is Furniture and Fred Albert has articles about arranging furniture, choosing good design, and finding great pieces on a budget, among many others.
With so many people working from home these days, a home office has become an essential space in many homes. The guest room may be replaced by a work-at-home spot, and it’s important that all the elements contribute to a productive time.
Not everyone has a big budget for outfitting a home office and few people can pay to have a professional space planner come into their home to design an efficient home office space.
There are lots of ways to create a good space for working at home without spending a fortune. We’ll give you some ideas, and you can go from there. You may end up feeling a great sense of accomplishment after turning some wasted space into an efficient stay-at-home office.
- Define Your SpaceIf you’re lucky enough to have a separate room for your home office, the task won’t be so hard. The key to a good home office is to make use of whatever space you have, whether it’s a stair landing, a small closet, a spare room, or an unused corner of the living room. For greatest efficiency, find a space that can be dedicated to a home office area. You’ll be able to work more professionally if you don’t have to move papers off your desk to change diapers!
- Create a PlanIt might be tempting to just move the pieces around until the space works. But if you spend some time actually measuring your space, creating a floor plan (small as it might be), measuring your furniture, and thinking it through, the final result will be much more satisfactory.
- What Can You Do Yourself?Whatever work you can do yourself will save you money! Your home office space is probably not going to be too big, so consider painting the walls yourself. Adding a fresh, lively color or a sedate, calming color will set the tone for your work space. And if you’re not a pro at painting, never fear. Most of the space will be covered up with furniture anyway. If you’re feeling really creative, stencil a border around the desk. Or wallpaper one wall to define the space.
- What Do You Already Have?Can you move furniture or accessories from one part of the house to your new home office? If you don’t have to buy some pieces, you’ll save a lot! Is there a comfortable chair in the guest room? Do you have some pictures tucked away in a closet that would be inspiring and decorative on the walls of your work space? Look around to see what you can use in your new home office.
- Build a DeskDid I lose you here? My office is on a large landing between my first and second floors. I placed filing cabinets on each side of the space and put a board across them. Voilà! Instant desk. Of course, I spent some time staining the board, put molding on the edge, and painted the file cabinets a color close to the stained board. But the space if filled and holds everything I need it to.
- What Else Can You Make?Think of other ways you can use inexpensive materials to create shelves, filing systems, in-and-out boxes. Use a decorative flower pot to hold pencils and scissors. Buy several multi-level shoe shelves to put on top of the desk to hold a printer, some paper, or books.
As you plan you home office space, think of all the ways you can save money. There will be plenty of ways to spend it!
- Shop Around for BargainsYou’d be amazed what you can find at garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops, and thrift stores. It seems that people are always getting rid of book shelves and desks, and you might find just what you need. Clean off the pieces, sand them down, and paint all the items the same color. It will look as though you bought them to match. If you don’t want any hand-me-downs, keep your eye open for furniture sales or check web sources.
- Be Willing to Take Used FurnitureVisit professional offices to see if they are renovating. Quality hotels redecorate guest rooms every 4 or 5 years. Maybe you could buy a used desk or chair there. Does your own company have any extra furniture that’s not being used, since people are working at home? Ask neighbors to let you know if they’re getting rid of things.
Look for a used furniture store or a furniture rental store. They often have pieces they’re willing to sell. Be ready to do some fixing when you take the pieces home. Check to see if your community has a store that sells used office furniture exclusively. When you go shopping for furniture, be sure to take your measurements with you. It would be a shame to get a great price on a great desk, only to find that it doesn’t fit in your space.
- Buy New at Bargain PricesDiscount stores, home centers, furniture outlets, lighting showrooms, and home decorating centers offer an amazing assortment of items at deeply-discounted prices. You might be surprised to find a beautiful desk next to factory second towels. And everything is at prices you’ll love!
By combining personal taste, unlimited resources, and individual style, you can achieve an interesting decorating look for almost any room. But there are some things you should just never do.
We’ve put together a list of the top things you should never do when decorating a room, whether it’s in a casual decor, a traditional setting, or in a child’s room. Are you guilty?
- Choose Furniture That Doesn’t Fit
You wouldn’t wear clothes in a size that’s baggy or skin tight, so why would you choose furniture that doesn’t fit in your room? Before you shop for furniture, whether you’re buying new or at a garage sale, measure your space, think about where you’re going to put the piece, and write down notes. Resist the temptation to buy a too-big sofa, thinking you can put it on an angle if it doesn’t fit. Write down the measurements an stick to it.It’s just as bad to buy pieces that are too small, thinking you can add more pieces to fill the space. Plan out your arrangement, think it over, and then find the pieces that are just right.
- Use Too Many Patterns and Prints
Don’t pick up just any fabric or piece of furniture you like, thinking you can work around it. Plan your color scheme, select a main pattern, then find coordinating stripes, small prints, and plaids that enhance your choice.Follow the Rule of 3: Select one main pattern, usually a large print. Then find one small, coordinating print and one stripe or plaid. Then call it quits. If you need another fabric, think about using a solid-colored texture or interesting weave instead of another pattern or print.
- Float a Rug in the Middle of the Room
The elements in a room should be connected, both visibly and physically. A rug on the floor adds color and a connecton between pieces of furniture. The rug should be tucked under the front legs of chairs, sofas, and tables.A rug placed in the middle of a room, unanchored, poses a safety hazard. It would be easy to trip on an edge or corner of the rug or slip and slide if the rug moves.
- Push All the Furniture Up Against the Wall
You may think that a room will look larger if the middle of the floor is open, without furniture. But the opposite is true. Unless you’re going to have a dancing party in the middle of your room, move the furniture into groupings in the center.Arrange a sofa with a table behind it, away from the wall with a walking space behind. Show off the back of the sofa and arrange decorative items and a lamp for reading behind it. Move chairs out of corners and you’ll have a more open, airy look in your room.