Traditional Style Decorating


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The term "traditional" in decorating means something different to everyone. Traditional is formal, semi-formal, or casual; it is usually not too cluttered or ornate, with clean lines in some areas and soft rounded spaces in others for balance. Some texture, on the windows, walls and a floor, depending on tastes, makes the space welcoming and liveable. What can make your home special, is how these basics are translated and incorporated with your accumulated treasures.

Take a thorough look around your home and make note of special objects either displayed or packed in closets over the years. "You bought them for a reason," says Judy Alto of One Day Interior Makeovers in Crofton, Maryland. Was it the colour or a memory that precipitated the purchase? Whatever the motivation, having collectibles scattered over the house may water down the effect of your treasures.

But your collection of treasures may have something in common. Pay close attention to some of their predominant colours, themes and materials. You may dislike the colour red; but after making a few notes, it may be that many of your fondest possessions are accented with this colour. Perhaps the items aren't fire red, but have dark red or burgundy incorporated into them. Look again at the cover of that antique book or the still life hanging in the guestroom. How about the old lamp from Uncle Henry's estate-the same red?

You can bring these red hues together with small, simple decorating projects such as painting odd frames you've collected at yard sales or strategically placing botanical prints or the art that you brought back from a trip. Focusing on one particular colour, such as red, and using it to accent other pieces, can tie in items you already own.

Some items in your home may even be a collection of sorts. Someone in the family may play golf or baseball and has accumulated a number of items representing either activity.

Maybe there's a piece of art or memorabilia in the den, another in the living room and still more in the kitchen and bedrooms. You may unconsciously have scattered around your home a theme that can be centralized, then expanded upon-and, with today's decorating options, brought up to date.

Many interior designers suggest looking at your belongings with new eyes and then beginning to redecorate with what you already own without spending a fortune. Consider that plaid sofa, once perfect for an apartment, and now sitting in the TV room. It doesn't seem to fit anywhere and is out-dated. A new sofa, or expensive reupholstering, is not the only solution. Look again to colour. Is there a colour in that plaid that can be emphasized? Placing a wallpaper border around the room with a smaller scale of the plaid, or using a check, will draw out the preferred colour. Add a small area rug, some new solid coloured pillows or a blanket throw and everything can be brought up to date.

Wallpaper and borders today also offer easy redecorating solutions. If you're "wallpaper-challenged," start with a small area or one solid wall with no cutting or corners; or use a simple ceiling border in the laundry room or a floor border for a child's room. Accent borders by hanging a long shelf along a wall, either above or below the border, to showcase your treasures. Be sure to choose a pattern that will highlight the collected treasures, not overpower them.

When you've decided on a wall covering to accent your treasures, the key to hanging it-and preparing for easy removal later on - is preparation. First, read the enclosed instructions; this only takes a moment and can save hours of frustration. Clean the walls thoroughly of dust and grease. Always use a primer to help the paper to move during installation without tearing. A primer makes later removal easier without the need for steam machines or scraping and patching. If moisture is a problem (think bathrooms and laundry rooms) consider a primer with mildew control. Most wallpaper borders today are pre-pasted and can be soaked in the kitchen or bathroom sink. For larger rolls, just soak them in the bathtub. In a couple of years, when you are ready for a change, the paper can be easily peeled off and you can start anew.

Don't be afraid of design patterns and colour; try to work with what you already have. Think beyond patterns if you are afraid of making a mistake and work only with the colour. If you want to call someone's attention to a smooth navy leather chair or a modern sofa with clean lines, put some contrast into the room; a wall covering can give the vignette softness and texture. Add an area rug with a rich pattern and the cold bareness of your beautiful furniture has been warmed several degrees. Today's large foyer or entryway does well with a faux finish wallpaper and keeps the traditional look without overpowering the senses when the space is entered. It also is less expensive and more durable than a painted faux. Accessorize with a small rug and welcoming flowers on a side table. Later, a border can be added at the ceiling or midpoint. The thing to remember is that anyone can redecorate a home without large-scale reconstruction or an interior designer.

When it comes to wall covering, what confuses most homeowners is the sheer number on the market. Jura Koncius of The Washington Post recently noted that "sorting through those tens of thousands of patterns in unwieldy sample books has always been one of the stumbling blocks" of home decoration. Today, you can surf the Internet for online sites or bring home a CD-ROM with a company's entire library of collections. Chesapeake Wall coverings, for example, offers a wide range of options with borders and coordinating side walls in their newest collection, Family and Friends. Highlights of the collection include the "down home" flavours of the dye-cut gingerman border that can be used alone or in combination with another shelf border featuring baskets with ribbons and bottles of button and spools. English Garden, a beautiful work of art by Lena Liu, has also been converted to a 27-inch floor border. Courtesy of ARA

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