Smooth Sailing

Sailing takes me away and away we sailed on the America 2.0 for a sunset cruise; the largest sailing ship that I have ever seen in the Key West harbor. The America 2.0 is usually in New York this time of year but New York was not receiving her into the harbors so she stayed and sailed the salty seas of our southernmost paradise. The sound of the sails catching the wind meant we were sailing like our forefathers before us. Actually, as passengers, were watching sailing happen all around us! There are so many cables and cords to pull that if I was involved all the cords would be in knots. As I stared into the horizon watching the suns decent into the thin blue line my mind wondered to the world of decorating. The principles that I have used throughout my 17 years of decorating stand the test the time because they were given to us by the great architects of design; the Greeks and The Romans. So let’s take a peek into a Lantana living room to see how applying principles from the past allowed the homeowners to sail smoothly through their room makeover, somewhere in the heart of The Villages.

• Dining Room and EmphasisAfter is Dramatic and Balanced.
Emphasis is a text book word for focal point. We need a focal point because it is natural. The eye naturally moves toward mass (focal point) and since this is a natural function of the eye, designers work with it, not against it. Every room must have a focal point. The focal point has to be strong such as the largest wall or an architectural detail, like a fireplace. However, in the Lantana dining room the two walls in the room are the same size. We always hang mirrors opposing sliders to catch light, so we know in the dining room that the back wall would have two mirrors. Often, I am asked, “Can a mirror be too big?” The answer is no because it is a mirror and therefore reflective. The two mirrors that we installed in the dining room look like two windows. The second wall of the Lantana needed some dramatic art to balance against the mirrors and the large canvas that was hung across from the dining room. We hung two large water colors by Gene Rizzo that make a dramatic statement and look good with the large mirrors.

• Scale and proportion
The wall across from the dining room in a Lantana is tough because it is a long wall that is connected to the living room. I treat it as two walls. The before picture shows that the homeowners had a china hutch, a mini bar and a TV console on the same wall and that was too many little pieces on the same wall. I moved the bar to the foyer because when the bar is closed it looks like an entry way table. Since the bar was really just storage there was really no reason not to move it to the foyer. The homeowners sold the china hutch and purchased a long crème colored buffet to place across from the dining room table. We hung a very large canvas above the buffet to complement the two large bird pictures in the dining room. We hung four candle sconces from PB on the large blank space between the buffet and the TV. Finally, we tucked a chair in near the sconces and angled it in toward the room to round out the seating area for the living room. The long wall no longer looked like a wall of furniture but two different rooms in one space.

• Balance
Balance is equilibrium in a space. A well balance room will not feel like a ship listing to one side because the furniture is so heavy on one side and light on the other. I always suggest larger items and less of them to make a balance in the space. We definitely applied that principle to the dining room! All the new pieces are large but the room looks lighter visually. The new chandelier is larger than the old one but looks better. The new chandelier is a large orb that creates a visual presence but does not take up visual space. This works because the orb is open and does not interfere with the new light from the mirrors.

• Rhythm
Rhythm is what makes the eye move through the space. Designers accomplish this with the regular reoccurrence of an accent color. One color or in this case two, standing out as an accent and found throughout the room at regular intervals like the beat in a song creates a connection for the eye to follow. The look of a room can feel instantly pulled together when all the fabrics are in play. They are having what I call a “visual conversation” with each other and the common ground is color. To accomplish this goal in the space we added the green and blue colors to the room. The new and larger 8’x10’ rug has both blue and green colors with touches of browns and greys. The color of the blue accent wall is repeated in the living room rug and it can be found in all of the new the art. The green tones are a secondary accent color and can be found on the dining room chairs and in artwork. Also, the new lamps are green and the new pillows have both blue and green in the pattern.

• Harmony
Harmony is accomplished by unity and creates smooth sailing. When all the above principles are working together the finished product should be a harmonious blend of all the beautiful things you selected.

P.S. –Attention all club presidents! We give free decorating seminars. It is lots of fun and very informative. Call and schedule your club today. Also, we are on-line check out our web-site at and you can always e-mail us at or Call Ruth your full service decorator at 352-804-2056.

Before and After Pics Below