Blog created by interior decorator Peggy Clarke to help create homes that reflect the people who live there and how they (want to) live. Blending spirituality with the art of interior design, Clarke aims to help people who want to create harmonious spaces for balanced living.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What About the Walls?

Try not to fill wall space with cheap (albeit not necessarily inexpensive) paintings. Walls are often the last piece of the house to get our attention, and go neglected for years. Let go of traditional ideas like hanging a mirror over the mantle or rectangular print over the couch. Try making your walls as fascinating as you are. Here are some ideas..

This is a hand painted silver on canvas piece at Pier 1 for $350.
Great for a contemporary home.

This handcrafted copper mirror is really a fabulous price at $70.
Available at

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade market that seeks to sell wares from small villages globally.
This Coiled Bamboo Wall Hanging was made by Vietnamese street children
and is only $28 nearly all of which goes back to the artists.

I’m not a fan of candles as home decoration, but this sconce is interesting.
It’s an antique roof tile formed over the artisans thigh. Available for $30 from Wisteria.

These shift key prints from Graninroad aren’t cheap, but they create an interesting focal point. They're between $120 and $160 each.

There are some inexpensive things you can do on your walls. Unfortunately, I don’t have great pictures, but try some of these things:

1. Pick a few leaves from a green plant- or one that’s changing colors- and spray it with a plant preserver that can be found in any craft store and frame it.
2. Pick up some antique tin ceiling squares. Using chair rail molding, create a square on the wall, paint it inside and hang the tiles.
3. Frame and hang your children’s paintings.
4. Purchase a piece of vintage fabric or a remnant from a good upholstery store and frame it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Few Secrets

I often see on the covers of shelter magazines things like "learn designer secrets" as if there's a class every designer has to take right before graduation where we're given the 5 things we can never reveal to anyone outside the field. The truth is, whenever I read these "secrets" I think either that 1) most people already know that or 2) I disagree altogether. I recently read one of these "secrets"; it was that this designer never buys sheets with less than 750 thread count. My first thought is that most people know that the higher the thread count the softer the sheet (ie, this isn't a secret) and my second thought is that this designer hasn't discovered the joy of jersey t-sheets.

Regardless of my little "there are no secrets" tirade, I actually know some of the key reasons designer rooms look better than rooms not done by a designer. Today I'm going to tell you what those things are.

A. If you want your room to look "designer finished" do the entire room at once. Most people create a room piece by piece which gives the room a disjointed feeling. Often people find a piece they like- a sofa or rug, for instance- and buy it. A few months (or years- you know who you are) later they find another piece they like. The pieces don't necessarily relate well to each other, and even if they do, it can take a long time to finish the room. There's good reason to do things this way, but ultimately people find themselves unhappy with the room. If you have a room you want to change, may I suggest you make all your decisions at once- how many pieces will there be, what are you doing with the windows, etc.- and then purchase those things at whatever pace you'd like. In other words, have a plan.

B. Speaking of plans, one of the best things a designer does is draws a floor plan. It's not hard to do, and makes a real difference in the finished product. Grab yourself a piece of graph paper, take a tape measure and measure the room. Figure out a scale (standard would be 1'=1/4") and translate that to paper. Then, as you look for furniture, get the measurements and draw them on your floor plan. This will help you know in advance how much space a piece will take and how it relates to the rest of the room. Just to help, let me tell you that you want between 18 and 24 inches between the coffee table and couch.

C. Don't fight the design of your house. If you've bought a home built in the Arts and Crafts style, don't purchase contemporary furniture. It's not going to work and you'll wonder for years why you can't make the space feel right. Let the house dictate your style.

D. The last reason a designer house looks finished and falls together better than one not done by a designer is that...Designers don't take pictures of houses that don't work. In fact, one of the things every designer learns in design school is not to take a job that won't reflect well on you. (This isn't advice I follow, but it's fairly standard in the design world. I've had clients rejected by designers who simply didn't think the finished product would look good enough for them to associate themselves with the project.) But even if they take the job, they don't lay claim to any room of which they aren't completely proud. (I have less shame than that of course. You want a pool table in the middle of the living room? Fine. You want to paint the dining room hunter green? OK. Will I take pictures. Yup. Will I show them? Maybe not.)

Now go; get started on your fabulous designer quality rooms!