So you're looking to give your flat a new spin? If you thought a new haircut could give your life that fresh coat of paint (pun fully intended) it needed, just imagine what a new living space could do for your attitude and lifestyle.
Whether you're moving into a new apartment or refurnishing, you want to make sure the final outcome leaves you wanting to invite your buddies over and impress anyone that stops by to visit.
If you're going to make the effort, it's important that you go the whole nine yards and don't look like a clueless fool when talking to furniture store salespeople; you know, kind of the way most women feel when they take their car to a mechanic.
You may have just learned the basics of business casual where your wardrobe is concerned, but there's no better time to familiarize yourself with the different decorating concepts available to you -- if you want to open your door to others with pride.
Keep in mind that while you can't really make exceptions and show up in jeans if your office dress code is "executive," you can mix and match some of the concepts of design if you want to tailor the decor to your personal style.
Below you'll find some guidelines of interior decorating, but you need not adhere to them to a tee, so don't be afraid to mix it up in terms of furniture, decorative pieces and even color.
To facilitate your experience, let's split interior decorating into two broad sections: traditional and contemporary. Traditional
This can be taken as literally as you like; traditional decor uses architectural elements such as moldings, columns and other such details, in order to enhance the richness of any room. And there is no trick here -- by traditional, it's unlikely that you'll see many modern pieces in the room.
A traditionally decorated room can be characterized as heavy and rich, in terms of material and color. So you'll notice dark-colored wood such as mahogany, and rich colors like burgundy, forest green, yellow, and shades of beige. There will certainly be no shortage of color as a lot of the furniture is upholstered with fabrics like wool and chintz (a printed and glazed cotton fabric, usually of bright colors), in different patterns.
With traditional decorating, you can mix and match a variety of patterns when it comes to furniture, drapes and carpeting, as long as color coordination comes into play. And speaking of carpets, you'll see a lot of colorful carpeting in a traditionally styled room.
As for furniture, a traditional room is usually filled with everything from wooden decorative pieces and sturdy couches (with thick arms and legs), to a lot of antiques and artwork.
By definition, contemporary style is basically just that: whatever is considered modern "today." It encompasses all styles that are trendy at the given time and can be divided into four different categories. Minimalist
The trendiest decorating tendency today is minimalist, or if you want to be really pretentious, the "epuré look." If you frequent the local trendy restaurants, especially the Japanese ones, you'll notice that they're no-nonsense, and really take the whole "less is more" concept to extremes.
More for the minimalist or retro dude in you
While there is a huge difference between commercial and residential decor and design, the residential minimalist look is influenced by Zen -- mostly white walls and furniture, and very straight, defined lines where layout and furniture are concerned. White is the way to go for chairs, lampshades and even carpets (if you have any).
This decor does not call for upholstered furniture, but rather furniture made of "natural" material like canvas, real leather (no pleather or nylon please) and suede. If you're a stickler for cleanliness, you might not want white couches and chairs, but you can settle for shades of beige or cream, or even brown and tan.
Opt for a couch and coffee table with small stainless steel legs, or even a wooden coffee table. Buyer beware: if you are buying a wooden decorative piece or coffee table, try to find one made from wenge wood (pronounced "wen-gee," the "g" is hard), that is, if you really want to go all the way with the minimalist theme.
If you want to add some "Zen" touches to your minimalist pad, forget the plants; opt for a glass vase filled with stones or lucky bamboo sticks, green apples in a bowl, or grass in wooden pots. Yes, you read correctly: grass (no, your Chia pet will not do the trick).
Retro means retrospective, and should not be confused with "reproduction", so in order to pull off retro decor, you'll need to use authentic pieces from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Yes, it's time to pull out your parents' furniture or what you had during your childhood, and return to that era -- finding a lamp that claims to be "retro" at Ikea just won't cut it.
As opposed to traditional decor, there are no frills and architectural details found in a retro room, which means no moldings or columns. Keep things light by getting your hands on plastic chairs and tables, and don't be afraid to stick a vinyl couch in the corner either.
In addition to plastic furniture and decorative pieces, look for nickel lamps, tables and stands to complete the authentic retro theme.
Colors such as orange and mint green (otherwise known as chartreuse) rule, and furniture is characterized by straight lines or round edges. Shabby chic
Whereas retro is defined as retrospective, shabby chic is characterized by restoration. This theme features a combination of accessories, decorative pieces and furniture, which somehow fuse together to create a "tacky yet chic" final image. If you're not sure how to combine different concepts to conceive a final look, just claim it's eclectic.
This is your chance to use that cool lamp you found at a sale, place your brown shaggy carpet under a brass coffee table, and stare at your childhood jukebox in the corner of the room.
Industrial decor is primarily used in lofts, which have gained in popularity among bachelor and newlywed circles. The industrial look is all about unfinished materials, cement, stainless steel, glass, and exposed structural columns.
The trick to decorating them is not doing much at all, and aiming to retain the lofty theme.
what's your pleasure?
Whichever style you do choose to go with, remember that these are not strict decorating "bibles," which dictate how to rearrange your place. Take these different decorating styles as a form of inspiration and go crazy. Remember; this is your pad, so make of it what you wish and be proud to call it your own.