How to best decorate your home

When decorating or refreshing your home, there are a lot of ways to do it, and professional designers have some very useful tips.

A grouping of pictures needs something to “anchor” it like a table, settee or console. The length and width determines the dimensions of the display. The rule of thumb is the top of the highest frame should be approximately seven feet from the floor and the lowest frame should be five to six inches above the furniture. The mid-point of the arrangement should be at eye level. The outer edges of the collection (width-wise) can extend three to six inches beyond the sides of the anchor piece.

Interior designers recommend mixing square and rectangular frames or artwork of like size. The key is having one piece of artwork that is about 30% larger than the rest to “ground” the display. Another suggestion is to have a composite of different types of art pieces (e.g., photos, oil or watercolor paintings, etc.) or different dimensions or views and style or color of frames.

A closely positioned display of pictures or art draws attention. Such a display is of items only few inches apart and can really bring a room to life.

When decorating a living or family room, you should choose a carpet that covers close to 60% of the floor. It is best to leave a border of one foot around the room. If a sofa or couch is low or has a skirt, its legs should be off the carpet. Artwork above the sofa should not exceed two-thirds its width; the midpoint of the art piece should be centered and 60 inches from the floor. Lastly, the bottom part of the piece should be eight to 10 inches above the back of the sofa.

The sofa also determines the size of the coffee table. It is recommended that the coffee table be two-thirds as wide as the sofa and two inches below the seating cushions (about 14-16 inches high). A recommended distance between the table and seats is 18 inches. Side tables should be about the same height as or a few inches shorter than sofa arms.

When decorating the dining room, the size of the table should enable each person to have two feet. The table should be centered unless the room is very large. In that case, the table may be placed near a wall to provide a more intimate dining experience.

According to decorating professionals, there should be at least two feet between a wall and a pushed-out chair. A chandelier or light fixture should allow at least three feet above the center of the dining room table, enabling guests to see each other.

As far as bedrooms go, an ideal size headboard is four feet tall so it can be seen with pillows. A headboard that is higher can make a low ceiling appear lower. A higher headboard in a high-ceiling room requires other furniture pieces to be of similar scale to keep the room balanced. Above the headboard, the artwork should occupy no less than two-thirds of the wall space and should not extend beyond the headboard.

Nightstands or bedside tables should be approximately two feet tall and a couple of inches lower than a made bed. The tables don’t have to be the same, but should be of similar height. Bedroom lamps should be approximately 24 to 27 inches high. The lamps should be similar or the same to pull everything together.


Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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