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Decorating Tips

In the sea of media out there about decorating and re-decorating, designing, construction and destruction, everyone in a household has their own opinion. Here’s how to avoid trouble:

Stick with your redecorating vision
If you have a clear concept, bolt the door to outside opinions

Lynda Reeves, Times Colonist
Saturday, August 25, 2007

Design by committee never works. You need one person — you –with a clear vision of what you want and strong ideas on how to get there. It’s fine to ask for opinions from people whose taste you trust, but even then you have to be willing to make the final decision all by yourself.

Usually, your first impulse is your best test. It might take courage to stick with it, especially when you’re challenged.

I remember the time a girlfriend redid the principal bedroom in her Westmount house. She was so determined to avoid unwanted input that she bolted the door to all but her carpenters and painters. Eventually, months later it was “unveiled” for an astonished husband.

Throughout the process, she had insisted that they camp in the guestroom. At the time I thought she was being overly strict. Now I think she was just plain wise.

It took me months to get a clear decorating concept for the TV room on my main floor. When it came, it was a zinger. Key to the scheme are two amazing Moooi black leather Smoke lounge chairs that are a play on Victorian carved armchairs. They are absolutely perfect for the look I am after, and unique among armchairs. Witty, fun and clearly not authentic Victorian, they add a graceful silhouette and make an edgy fashion statement.

Along the way, I made the fatal mistake of trying the odd piece of furniture under consideration, including one of the Moooi chairs, in front of both family and houseguests.

“Just about the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” was one kind remark. “You must be kidding,” was another.

One houseguest, a regular who happens to hate change, remarked that the chair was fine, but not if you wanted to be comfortable. Not a good recommendation for chair, is it?

I got so desperate for affirmation that I invited our dog to give it a try. He jumped up on the seat and right off again, casting a clear “nay” vote with his body language.

But then, just as I was getting really upset, another houseguest (an Englishman with impeccable taste) was found spontaneously sitting in the chair, happy as can be. So there.

The truth is, the chairs are great and perfectly comfortable. They just are not the huge, overstuffed, boat-like chairs that family members never want to part with, no matter how worn and tattered.

Besides, I have a vision for that room and the chairs are part of it. I should never have invited opinion, or exposed bits and pieces, until the room was entirely finished.

The same thing goes for when you try to paint a room a strong colour. Without the new drapes hung to block harsh sun, the proper lighting in place, and the art on the walls, it’s impossible to understand how successful the colour you have chosen will be as a backdrop. For the moment, it’s just a screaming swath of colour, there to be criticized.

This reminds me of the time that a friend was installing a new custom hand-painted kitchen in her home. Her husband remarked — part way through — that it looked like it was made of plastic and came from Wal-Mart. No offence to Wal-Mart. Great store, but not known for hand- painted, custom wood kitchens, I don’t think.

In the end, the kitchen was gorgeous and everyone loved it. Moral of the story: Keep the faith, stay true to your vision and bolt the door.

Lynda Reeves is the host of House and Home Television with Lynda Reeves. which airs weekdays on Global Television.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007