LOOK carefully at the room, which you intend doing over. Cannot you, unaided, find out why all of your efforts, some of them expensive ones, have failed to make it attractive?
You say that the moment you enter your room you have an impression of confused disorder pervading the whole plaque. Has the mantel too many things on it, and are these objects placed without any plan as to orderly, balanced arrangement? This is true in most cases where the general impression made by a room is one of disorder. Perhaps your mantel ornaments are neither beautiful nor interesting, and are unrelated in shape and color to the other decorative objects in the room.
Until amateur decorators learn to make the mantels in their rooms the keynote of their decorative schemes, it is wise not to experiment beyond the rule of three ornaments. These must be absolutely in character with the other furnishings. That is, your Colonial room is not the place for French ornaments, nor your French room the place for Colonial ornaments and clock, unless you have made yourself so familiar with the characteristics of the styles that you. Recognize related periods and can therefore combine them. In a room with very inexpensive furniture and hangings use equally inexpensive ornaments. In every case harmony is beauty.
Suppose you continue the analysis of your room by asking yourself if it has too many things in it to be “restful”? Have you, perhaps, used furniture, which does not go together as to shapes, color of woods or the materials used as upholstery? Have you too many “spots” in the room? By which we mean, are there too many figured materials with different designs and colors, used as hangings and for furniture coverings? Is your figured material, chintz, cretonnes or brocade, all of one design and coloring, but have you used too much of it, so that the effect is confused and un-restful?
Have you figured and several-colored wallpaper and a chintz with different design and cpk oring? This is a mistake. It is possible to get wallpapers and chintzes to match if you insist on everything being figured. But remember that you’re figured hangings will look their best with plain walls and only one or two pieces of furniture covered with the chintz or brocade.
Is your room small and have you made the woodwork a sharp contrast in color to your walls? You will find that in any room, to paint the woodwork the same color as walls adds immensely to the appearance of its size.
If the thing that you object to in your room furnished with attractive up-to-date furnishings is shiny black walnut wood-work, of the days of our grandmothers, have some one sand-paper the whole of it and you will be amazed by the result. Under that varnished finish is a charming, dull, sable-brown.
Is it possible that your room, which is puzzling you, so would look better if there were no pictures at all on the walls? Is your room really wrong or are you ill and for that reason unfit to judge fairly? There are, no doubt, moods in which, for example, bare walls rest the nerves. There are other moods, which find one grateful for the diversion of pictures. These are points to have in mind when arranging rooms for those who are kept to the house by illness.
Are your large pieces of furniture so placed as to give the appearance of balance to your room? And have you provided yourself with a sufficient number of easily moved pieces such as small tables and chairs, so as to form “groups” which suggest that human beings are expected to live in and enjoy this room!
Is your desk where the light comes over your left shoulder to the page you are writing? Are the lights in the room where they will be of most use? Can you enjoy your open-fire and at the same time have a good light to read by? If you play cards can you light the table and also the hands of each player? Has your room for informal use books and enough of them! Books and an open-fire are the ideal foundation for a home-like room.
If the room under consideration is a bedroom, and you do not want to modify its character, have you provided not only a bed but also a sofa of some kind on which to rest during the day?
Is the “cold” atmosphere of this room you want to alter due to the lack of a few bright flowers? Do you love music and have you many musical friends and yet does your home lack a piano? If you are really a lover of music a piano is as much a part of your home as your desk is a natural feature in your sitting room.
See to it that your home, your rooms each one of them expresses the tastes of the family. This is how you make ” atmosphere.” It is wise to furnish slowly. Haste is responsible for most mistakes. Begin by owning good shapes and color-combinations, and as you can afford it, discard your things of no intrinsic value for beautiful shapes and colors with value.