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Today's homes are much different than they were 55 years ago.  Once rooms were single-purpose, a defined set of spaces inside a larger space. Now, architecture is more open, rooms are multi-purpose, and spaces are less defined.  It can be difficult at times to know what to place where, and how to arrange items in the space that is your home.  The knowledgeable staff at Whitlock's can help you with this.

The Design Guide is where you can find suggestions on how to decorate the rooms in your home, find out about furniture construction, and get helpful hints and tips on interior design.  Each section highlights a different subject, and new tips and articles will be added periodically.  And of course, you can always come in the store and get valuable help on your interior decorating decisions.

Ways to pick the styles that are best for you

There are many different styles of furniture to choose from, and there are many ways to come up what is best for your needs.

Planning is first required to decide what is best;  the ultimate goal should be the integration of basic requirements for an efficient and attractive home.  You need to consider the functional needs, how economical it is, incorporation of beauty, and individuality.

Choosing a style is not an easy thing.  One of the best ways to go about it is to look at a lot of other homes and rooms, look at pictures, magazines, books on interior decorating, and any other visual source to get an idea of what you would like.  Coming into a store with a good theme for a room is much better than just browsing for particular pieces you like.

Information on how to arrange space in your rooms

Space is perhaps the most important part of domestic architecture.  Well-planned and well-organized space makes for a smooth working home.  Walls are erected and defined in your home, this space can be articulated to create a functional and livable environment for the occupants, your family.

Arrange space so the eye can easily travel throughout a room to outside areas like a garden, terrace, or view.

Employ unobtrusive patterns and textures. Use few pieces of furniture, ones that are lightly scaled and placed close to walls.

Employ colors that are light in value, muted, and cool and that blend with each other.  This treatment can visually increase space.

Use artificial lighting around the perimeter of the room both on the ceiling and with uplighters on the floor.  This treatment enhances a small space, giving the illusion of depth.

Employ wall-to-wall floor treatment and ceiling-to-floor window treatment.  Consider simple window treatment that omits heavy draperies, shutters, shades, or blinds.

Create the illusion of more space with the use of mirrors throughout the room.

Explore the possibilities of open planning, a projecting window, or skylight.

Select furnishings with a "see-through" look, like pieces with clear glass, plastic, or caning components.  Avoid furniture with bases that are flush with the floor.  Instead, select furniture that is up off the floor supported by legs or pedestals.

Keep rooms free of clutter, with an occasional empty corner.  Do not cover every flat surface with accessories and items.

How to choose colors for your home

Perhaps one of the most significant things to remember about color is that a color is not important in itself.  What is really important is what happens when different colors are brought together.  We perceive a color not alone, but in relation to the colors around it.

There are many different color schemes you can use for your rooms, including monochromatic, achromatic, neutral, analogous, the many types of complementary, or tetrad. 

Monochromatic uses a single hue with a range of different values.  Fabrics, woods, and stones are often used to break up the monotony and add variance. 

Achromatic color schemes are basically monochromatic in nature but use only black and white, no hues, to create their environment.  Small amounts of hue are used as accents to enhance the achromatic approach.  It is often enriched by using interesting textures and patterns.

Neutral schemes employ colors that fall midway between warm and cool colors.  These can be categorized as a type of monochromatic scheme.  Neutral schemes can be employed as tints, tones, shades, or any combination of those three.  Like achromatic, small furnishings or items can be of a stronger chroma to create accents.

Analogous, adjacent or related color schemes are produced by any segment of colors that are in juxtaposition on the color wheel.  For instance, yellow is the common factor in orange and green.  The scheme in this case would include orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow-green, and green.  Harmony is easily established in this scheme.  Generally, one dominant color should be present.

Complementary color schemes include contrasting complementary, direct compliment, split compliment, triad compliment, double compliment, and alternate compliment.  These are probably the most widely used of all color schemes because they have more variety.  They use colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, and include warm and cool colors together.  A base color is always used to set the mood.

Tetrad schemes combine any four hues that are equidistant on the color wheel.  An example is the combination of orange, yellow-green, blue, and red-violet.  This grouping of unexpected colors can add excitement and variety to your decor.

The color schemes we choose should result in a livable area appropriate for the particular function of the room and the people who use it.

How to select materials like wood and fabric

Selecting woods, fabrics, stones, metals, and any other kind of material for your decorating and furnishings is much like selecting the colors.  Many of the same rules can be applied, but materials can provide much more versatility and variation.

Problems can often be solved through the skillful use of fabric and other materials, with unlimited possibilities.  A well chosen fabric or material can:

  • Lighten or darken a room.
  • Emphasize or conceal walls, windows, or furnishings.
  • Set the mood of a room--give it a feeling of formality or informality through the use of color, pattern, and texture.
  • Bring harmony and unity to a room where furnishings previously seemed unrelated by repeated use of the same materials.
  • Provide balance to a room.
  • Change the apparent size and proportion of a room.

Tips and tricks on interior decorating

Here are some questions and answers about interior decorating that most people find themselves asking.  We often get these questions on the showroom floor, so I compiled a few that I thought were most important.  I will add more questions and answers as I receive them.

Q. I would like to add some bold color to my white walled room but it is small, and I am afraid painting the walls will make my room look even smaller and closed-in.  What can I do?
A. Why not paint one accent wall?  It will give you the bold color you want, without closing in the room.

Q. How can I make inexpensive but custom-looking window treatments?
A. I suggest buying a wooden pole at your home supply store, which they can cut to any size.  A good size is 2" to 3" longer than your window is wide.  Also purchase some finals that screw into the ends, and the necessary mounting hardware to affix it above your window.  Stain or paint your pole as desired, screw in your ends, and drape the fabric of your choice around the pole, letting it puddle on the floor at both ends.  No sewing required!

Q. How far down should my chandelier hang over my dining room table?
A. A good height is 30" to 36" above the table top.  This is the accepted "pleasing" height.

Q. I have an older house and it's pretty dark in my den.  I have dark wood paneling on the walls and small windows.  How can I make it brighter?
A. I suggest that you paint your paneling a light color.  Make windows look larger by placing treatments high above them and wide on the sides, with minimal coverage on the window itself.  Extend the apparent width of windows by putting side panels on the outsides of windows, touching the sides of the windows slightly.

Q. What do I look for to find a chair or recliner that fits me personally?
A. When you sit in the chair, make sure your feet touch the ground and your knees bend at the end of the seat cushion.  Make sure the chair is not thrusting you too far back or too far forward.  Sit in the chair for a few minutes to get a good feel for it.

Articles about interior decoration

Good design has no absolute formula.  However, the successful employment of aesthetic principles—scale and proportion, rhythm, balance, harmony, and emphasis—will enhance the effect and provide a good basis for decisions.

Whatever the design, the basic intention should be to enrich people's lives and enhance the human experience.  Good design is a long-term investment, and although at times expensive, it is often worth the cost.

This section will include various articles on good design that will be posted and updated periodically, along with some associated links.

Definitions of furniture terms

Armoire - A tall cabinet with two doors, usually for the bedroom.

Ball and Claw - Eagle's claw clutching a pearl, used heavily in 18th century.

Cabriole Leg - Curved leg with a rounded knee, used heavily in the 18th century.

Chifforobe - A large piece of furniture normally used in the bedroom.  It has many drawers on either side of a large opening, usually for a television.

Chippendale - Well-known English designer.  Opted for straight legs instead of curved.

Corner blocks - Blocks of wood that are placed at major joints in a furniture frame.  Usually glued and screwed in place.

Distressing - Wood that is purposely marred to give a rustic look or the appearance of great age.

Dovetail Joint - Flaring mortise and tenon joint used for joining boards at their ends.

Dowel Joint - A joint made by gluing wooden pegs into cooresponding holes in two pieces of wood.

Dust Board - Flat, thin wood used to separate a drawer from the ones above and below it.

Early American - Furniture style used by settlers in the 1600's.

Empire - Uses classic motifs from Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

Federal - Elegant classic furniture prevalent between 1781 and 1830.

Georgian - Furniture made during the reign of King George of England.

Hardwood - Wood derived from angiosperms (broad-leaved trees such as oaks, beech, maple, mahogany, and walnut).  The category consists of some woods that are actually much softer than "softwoods".

High-pressure laminates - Synthetic sheet surfacings that are bonded to a core material.  Laminates offer heat, soil, and stain resistance, can can be grain and color matched to any wood.

Louis XIV - Furniture period known for its grandiose, gilded, and baroque qualities.

Louis XV - Furniture with rococo, delicately curved styles.

Louis XVI - Furniture known for its straight lines and classic motifs.
Mission - Simple, dark furniture named for its origin with Spanish missions in early California history.

Patina - The soft mellow finish found on furniture and metal.  A true patina is caused by age and use.

Provincial - Furniture made in the provinces that copied styles of the sophisticated cities.

Queen Anne - Period of graceful, flowing furniture.

Victorian - Stiff, formal, and ornate furniture.

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