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7 Important Home Decor & Decorating Rules Everyone Should Know
by Susan Welch Heeney, ASID

So you have decided to finally tackle that home decor makeover in your home without the help of a professional designer or decorator? Is it possible to do a fabulous job on your own? Of course it is, but only if you follow your gut instinct and don't be afraid to take a few chances.

There are also a few things that you should keep in mind when beginning your decorating project:

1. Most of us have not lived our entire life surrounded by stunning design.
We all have that beloved piece of furniture that has been with us from the beginning of time. It is not beautiful, but like our much loved mixed breed dog, it has a charm that only we can appreciate, we love it desperately and will not be separated from it. And, it is very important that you do not replace it - that piece of furniture is a very important part of who you are.

2. Family heirlooms, (even if the Antique Road Show might beg to differ), handed down to us, are not ours to get rid of.
There is no way you want to get rid of Grandma's favorite wood rocker. It's as dear to you as she was, but, you just wish it had a little more style, or blended with your other decor a little better. It can and it will. You can throw a pillow on it that pulls in the fabrics and colors in the rest of the rooms decor. If the shape of the back is just not working, purchase a fabulous throw and drape it over the back of the rocker and over one arm. Your Grandma would be proud and not only have you made the rocker blend with the room better, you have made it so much more cozy for relaxing in!

3. Don't set your sights for a room that looks like one in the latest issue of a home decorating magazine. It doesn't really look like that either.
Anytime you are drooling over a room you see in a decorating magazine, and feel your life is not complete because you will never have a room that looks like that - think again. The owners of that room wish it looked like that too. Just image what goes on when a room is photographed for a magazine. It has been scrubbed, polished, sofas have been moved that now block the path of travel, accent lighting is on the floor just on the other side of that chair, elaborate flowers have been brought in, and we can't forget about the wonderful things that editors can do with a Photoshop application to correct anything that missed their eye when the photo was taken. Picture that room 1 week later. The owners have relaxed, newspapers are on the floor, borrowed accessories have been returned to their rightful owners, and the cat hair is back on the sofa. So remember, you can't live your life in the rooms that are in decorating magazines - nobody can.

4. The more advanced we get with technology, the more things you have to go wrong - so, just be prepared.
Believe it or not, a model will get an occasional blemish just like the girl next door, and that high tech dishwasher will break down just like a low tech one. And be forewarned, you may not even be able to turn on that expansive home theater system until you get tech support. The moral here is: Just because you paid high dollar for something that doesn't mean that all your troubles are over. Things break, technology is confusing, don't cry over spilled milk, etc, etc.

5. It's fun to read about the new color trends each year, but unless you are just decorating your first place, you'll kill yourself trying to follow them.
I adore the new color combination for decorating rooms in all the magazines -its a soft ice blue with rich chocolate brown. Yeah, you love it too! And even though I just reupholstered all my living room furniture this year, I couldn't indulge in this sophisticated color scheme because my husband wouldn't hear of replacing the rug, draperies, throw pillows, and I have to admit the color coordinated dog bed in the corner. Color schemes in rooms are a complicated thing, and if you do decide to go to the opposite side of the color spectrum, be prepared for the domino effect it will have on the existing decor and furniture in the room. If it's time to update everything in the room - you're in luck - if it's not, then just wait, your color scheme will be coming up again someday.

6. Your place can never look like your single sisters place, but you also have that fabulous husband that she doesn't have.
Remember when your sister got the new Barbie doll before you? Remember that weird feeling you felt that later you could identify as your first pang of envy? You're all grown up, but when you visit your single sisters place and you discover that she just acquired (you purchase Barbie dolls, but you acquire art) a stunning painting and hung it over a new soft-as-butter leather sofa, that funny feeling comes over you. It continues as you look around the room and notice the lack of Notre Dame banners on the wall and no golf clubs leaning in the corner. Time for Therapy 101 - don't forget you got the Barbie Dream House the next week, and you now have the real live Ken. Let her eat cake!

7. Decorate with the things you and your family love - things that actually mean something to you. Nobody else can do that!
Whether it's an apartment, condo, or a house on a corner lot, our homes are our quite spot in a world that is getting louder and more hectic by the minute. We deserve to surround ourselves with familiar, comfortable things. Go ahead and redecorate, but remember to have fun with it and keep these 7 bits of advice in mind. And, yes, you can make decorating decisions for your own house. Nobody knows what you like as well as you do.

Susan Welch Heeney, ASID is an interior designer in Nashville, TN. She has been a frequent guest on HGTV and a guest speaker on home decor and decorating all over the country.
She is President of Decorating Studio, LLC. Contact Susan

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