I hope you all had a marvelous and joyful holiday! I certainly did. We took a road trip to New Jersey to be with my son and his family for Christmas. Trips like this are always full of inspiration and ideas, and this trip was loaded with them. I will share some ideas as those subjects arise. As promised, this article is dedicated to adding some punch back into rooms now void of holiday happiness.
The Power of the Pillow
Add a dose of delight and a burst of color, pattern and texture by placing pillows on the sofa and the backs of chairs. When it comes to decorative pillows, the most common mishaps I see are pillows in inappropriate fabrics and pillows that are too small. Goodness, gorgeous, if you are going to go to the effort of spending your hard-earned money and the task of selecting pillows for their power, you better let us see them!
In my professional opinion, any sofa on the planet can handle a 20”x 20” pillow! Wonderful decorative pillows are easy to locate these days, my gosh the grocery store even stocks them! Study your sofa and chairs and ponder what exactly is your goal—to add a splash of color, take the attention away from a sofa that is not your favorite, or add some pattern and excitement to a plain sofa. Once you determine what your goal is, then you can start the search, ready and focused!
Throw on a Throw
It’s time for your sofa to go undercover! Throws that have been neatly rolled and tucked into baskets or bins can now make their big debut! Drum roll, please! Unfold those beauties and place them over the back of the sofa! Stack pillows in front of the throw, and these two small changes give you an entirely new look for the largest piece of upholstery in your room!
If you don’t have a throw that produces that amazing change, look to after-Christmas sales. You’re likely to find one or two at much better prices. L.L. Bean and Pendleton, for example, have fabulous washable wool plaids throws with fringe. Overstock.com had some amazing washable plaid microfiber ones as well. This is where specialty design shops shine, so don’t forget to investigate those as well as the department stores.
What happens if you sit in your PJs and shop and shop and still nothing makes you shout “eureka.” Guess what? It’s time to make your own throw! Don’t worry, though, I have a little trick for you that I’ve done again and again. With my method, you will not only own a custom throw, but you can use it as a tablecloth, a throw for the end of your bed and, ladies, even as a shawl! This is a project that is so worthwhile that it will make you do cartwheels in your front yard. (Call me prior to the performance so I can bring the lawn chairs and popcorn!)
Page 2 of 4 - To get started, make a trip to a fabric store that carries wonderful wools. When shopping at fabric stores, take the arm covers from a chair or sofa, or a really good photo of the upholstery fabric, so you can coordinate your new throw into the room’s design. You can also shop online where you’ll find some great sites with fabric by the yard; make sure to get samples so you can feel the fabric and check the color. Also, confirm that the fabric will unravel so you can create a fringed edge; most fabric stores will give you a sample to test.
Most wools come in 54” width or even 60” width. To make a square throw, simply buy the same length as the width. For a 60” wide wool, for example, purchase 60” or 1 2/3 yards. If you want a longer throw, 72” or 2 yards is about as long as I would go. Now, settle in with your favorite TV show or movie, put a trashcan at your feet and start unraveling one side at a time. I have found that if you cut the two selveged edges, you will be much more successful in the unravel process. What heck are the selveged edges!! The selvedge refers to the edge of fabric as it comes off the bolt. This area of the fabric is usually a bound edge that does not fray or unravel. As the fabric is rolled onto the tube they are the edges that are the edges of the tube. I hope you understand now! Merely cut along the binding and the fabric will unravel just like the other two sides.
As you unravel, decide how deep do you want the fringe to be; 2” to 3” is a really nice length. If you have a sewing machine, stitch along the top of the fringe to stop it from further unraveling to complete the throw. You can use this same idea in a very casual room with polar fleece, which is too relaxed for a living room. Follow the same method on determining yardage as with the wool. As for the fringe, use extremely sharp short scissors and cut close together to create a fringe with a professional appearance.
Now, gorgeous, aren’t you so proud of your new throw? I know! I am proud as punch of you, too! Want to take this beauty one step further to pure wonder? Monogram it! Or have “Warm” or “Undercover” or “Mine” embroidered on a corner. How brilliant! Select a thread color that really stands out, such as canary yellow on forest green!
Special Touches for Tissue Boxes
With the exception of the dining room, a tissue box should be in every room in your house! (Nobody enjoys the background noise of nose blowing while dining on lobster bisque.) I find that the boxes tissues come in are instant death to a good design. (There, I’ve said it. I am a confirmed tissue box snob!) I know this seems strange, but I have some very strange design idiosyncrasies!
Page 3 of 4 - What you need are tissue box covers. These can be wonderful little works of art that house this much-needed necessity! On a side table, all you need is a great lamp, spectacular tissue box and one other little treasure and there you go—instant accessorized side table. Place a tissue box on a stack of books on the coffee table, and don’t forget bathroom and kitchen counters as well as the bedside table. So where does one find these little darlings of the nose world? Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, specialty design shops and, of course, online. I have even decoupaged ugly plastic ones I picked up at garage sales or secondhand shops. Try covering them with wallpaper, wrapping paper, copies of family photos or even fabric. It is fun to do, and suddenly you have a great usable home accessory.
Rotate Your Art
Make like a museum and move your art around! The wreath over the fireplace is gone, so try that stunning piece of art from over your bed above the fireplace. Plus, this gives you the chance to clean the glass to a brilliant shine and give the frame a good dusting. Maybe there is a color you are trying to introduce into the family room with the new pillows and throw. Art from another room may help you achieve that goal without spending a dime! An additional advantage of moving your artworks is that suddenly you enjoy them again and remember why you purchased them in the first place.
A Wonderful Window Valance
I have saved my last special room changer for the end! A no-sew valance for the window! You can even use one in conjunction with wood or metal blinds—now we’re talking! This wonderful treatment is accomplished with just napkins and a tablecloth, believe it or not. Take a look at the photo to see how the top treatment is completed—talk about the ability to change whenever the mood strikes you!
So, what do you need to create your own masterpiece? Large wood cabinet knobs, pegs to attached the knobs to, and rubber bands. The pegs are positioned outside the corners of the window and the cloth is swaged over the pegs; allow the cloth to dip into the window to soften the hardness of the blinds. Open the napkins and secure them over the wooden knobs with rubber bands. So easy and so incredible delightful! Use this in your family room, the window over the kitchen sink or even in a rather casual dining room or breakfast room.
The possibilities are endless, as are your choices in napkins and tablecloths! If you adore the retro appeal of the 1950s, track down some appealing napkins and tablecloths from that crazy cool period! Or, if your taste travels more along the clean sleek lines of contemporary, opt for an assortment of solid colors and maybe even mix it up a bit by using napkins of different hues. I invite you to give this tempting idea a go and send me a photo! Can you visualize the multitude of changes this will allow you to make on a sweeeet budget!
Page 4 of 4 - As you may have noticed, I think a home should never be finished. It should be like we are, always evolving, and endlessly adding comfort, magic and interest into our lives. This week, take a moment to ponder how thankful you are to have a home. All of us witnessed the devastation created by Hurricane Sandy. If you have a roof over your head, then you are truly blessed. “Home sweet home.” Could there be any more delicious words?!
I will leave you with some very wise words from a woman I adored, respected and loved—my Mom! “Three big belly laughs are needed daily!” Laugh loud and hardy this week, and enjoy your home!
I will visit with you next week!
Jan Colvin has been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). She accredits her mother Pat Robinson and Lucille Chase for her intense interest and love for design.
She has taught interior design at the college level and operated her private design business since 2001. Today she spends a majority of her time completing her new book which will be available in the first quarter of 2013. After many years in the traditional interior design profession, "I found that the educational aspect is far more satisfying for me personally.”
Jan welcomes questions, which will be answered in her columns. Send your questions to: email@example.com