Is your theme extreme?

A few weeks back I discussed the idea of “less is more” in relation to furniture. I’d like to expand on that principle and apply it to a whole room. More times than not I have a client that has chosen a theme for a room and has taken it to extreme! Don’t get me wrong, I love a theme in a room but there has to be a stopping point. Just because you love purple doesn’t mean every wall, every piece of trim, the pillows, the accessories, etc. need  to be purple. Or, just because you love leopard print doesn’t mean that every time you see it in a new accessory you have to buy it and add it to your room.

Just as it’s important not to stuff a room with furniture, it’s equally as important to not go overboard with a theme. Many think that by adding to a theme the room looks more pulled together, actually, the opposite is true. Going extreme on a theme will look messy, incoherent and cluttered.

How to know if your theme has gone extreme

1. When someone comes into your home they say something like “Wow, you like frogs!” (or whatever your theme is)

2. Every time you are out you pick up something new that corresponds with your theme, and have for years!

3. There’s no place left to put anything in your room. At every turn there is a theme related item.

4. Friends and family keep buying you gifts that go with your theme.

The Right Dimension

To make each room comfortable without wasting space, here are some rules of thumb you can follow for various clearances and dimensions to use in different rooms.

Dining room – if no one needs to pass behind a person seated at the table, the table can be placed 32″ from the wall to the edge of the table. If it is necessary to be able to pass the seated diner, 36″ will be enough room to edge behind, while 44″ will allow enough room to walk behind. To calculate what size dining table to purchase, consider a minimum width of 24″ per seated diner at the table.

Bedroom – allow a minimum of 15″ on either side of the bed for making it and a minimum of 36″ of clearance from the foot of the bed to the wall or furniture piece on the wall across from the foot of the bed. If you have a room with twin beds be sure to leave a minimum of 30″ between beds.

Living Room – the coffee table should be placed 12″ in front of the couch. For heavy traffic to pass behind a couch allow for 36″ of clear space to do so. About 36″ is required for a person to extend their legs in front of them while seated.

Home Office – Position the working side of a desk 36″ from the wall or other furniture piece so that the desk chair can move around with ease. The same goes for the front side of the desk to a wall or furniture piece if placing guest chairs in front of a desk for clients to sit.

Breathe easy, easy

Have you been thinking about “going green” but aren’t sure where to start? Next time you want to paint a room in your home consider a low or no VOC paint. It’s an easy place to start, and an easy way to start eliminating offgassing chemicals from your home.

VOCs are Volitile Oragnic Compounds emited as gases and include a variety of chemicals which can have short term and long term health effects such as  respiratory, skin, and eye irritation; headaches; nausea; muscle weakness; and more serious ailments and diseases, according to the EPA

To get you started, here’s a list of companies that are now carrying low or no VOC paints (clicking titles will open link in new window or tab)

Pittsburgh Paints

Benjamin Moore

Sherwin Williams

Dutch Boy



Take a look at eartheasy for a more in depth look and other brands!

Less is More!

Sometimes less really is more! I’ve noticed in many homes that people have this tendency to stuff all kinds of furniture into rooms. It seems to have happened gradually, a simple living room set will turn into a living room set plus some extra chairs that were found at a tag-sale, then comes a desk, a piano and the room fills and fills and fills. Most of the time my clients’ response is, well we have it, we have to use is!

If you feel like your rooms are getting smaller, take a look around and see how much furniture is in there. Think about what you use the room for and exactly what furniture is needed to achieve that function. For example, you probably don’t need a desk in your dining room.

After you’ve decided what you must have in the space, eliminate the furniture that doesn’t follow the room’s function. Now, consider how the remaining furniture is arranged. Sometimes just changing around a few pieces will give your room a better feel.

Keeping additional seating in a living room if you entertain frequently is OK. Instead of trying to work it into the main living room furniture, think about making a separate, intimate seating area in front or near the fireplace for example, so that you can use it when you want to read a book on a chilly winter night, but also can easily be incorporated into the rest of the furniture when entertaining and more seating is needed.

It is also OK to part with furniture! Many don’t like the thought of just getting rid of their furniture, but if it’s not helping to create a nice, relaxing environment, it’s time to let it go. Keep the things that are meaningful to you and functional in the space, and put the rest in the summer tag-sale!

Accent Color

You’ve finally selected a room color, you march confidently towards the clerk at the paint counter, you unflinchingly hold your color swatch high and proudly call out “One gallon of Cranberry Zing, please!!” Less amused is the clerk who replies “what finish?” Drat, you were so close. What finish? You know there’s probably a right answer but it escapes you now…

Never fear! The answer is here!

Flat – This has no sheen. It is best for a ceiling because it is not reflective. In most cases you do not want a reflective ceiling. Also, in not having any sheen to it, the appearance of dings or dents in the surface will be minimized. The downside is, it does not wipe clean as easily as a paint with a higher sheen to it, however, how dirty does your ceiling really get?

Eggshell – This is my personal favorite for walls. This has a small amount of sheen giving the paint a little more depth and richness. It is easier to clean than a flat finish and because the sheen isn’t too much, imperfections on the wall will not show as much as would with a glossier finish.

Satin – has a smooth, velvety shine when dried. Is okay for walls, but since it is slightly reflective, imperfections will show much more than with Eggshell. It is easy to wipe clean and is durable.

Semi Gloss – A great choice for window and door trim because of it’s easy to keep clean and because it reflects some light, it helps to make the trim work stand out nicely from the walls. It is also more durable than the aforementioned which is important for areas around windows and doors.

High Gloss – not usually recommended for interior walls because it is reflective and any imperfections will show, and will also appear magnified. However, Gloss can be nice when painted on furniture pieces, decorative elements or accessories. If you want a very reflective surface, try an oil-based high gloss paint. High gloss paints allows for a very durable, easy to clean surface.