Q: I love the way carpets and rugs soften a space, but I’m not sure how to use one in my living room. Does the carpet go under the furniture or stop at the edge? And is there a general guide to how big a carpet should be in relation to the room size?
A : Carpets and other soft furnishings are crucial in infusing a space with cosiness and texture. As Hadi Nishaburi of carpet specialist Jehan Gallery puts it: “A rug in any room defines a space. In the living room, its main role is to bring the furnishings together, create harmony in the space and, in doing so, build the desired ambience. A rug helps to demarcate an area and emphasise the importance of that space, too.” He says there are no fixed rules to determine the size of your carpet or rug. “Proportion is key. The design and colour of the rug plays a part, too. Decide if the rug is to be the focal point or just serve as a complement to the design of the room. “If it’s the focal piece, it can be of any size within the confines of the living set, going slightly under some pieces or beyond the living set.” Placing the edge of the rug underneath your sofa, for example, hides the edge from view and creates the illusion of a bigger space. “As a complementary piece, the rug should not fight for attention and it should be just slightly under the general living set’s size. It should help the living set create a sense of space and not make the room look cluttered,” says Hadi.
Q: My sofa, TV console and dining set are all in, but some how my living room still feels like a furniture warehouse. What ’s missing?
A : Assembling all the basic furniture pieces for your home does not guarantee a warm, lived-in feeling. Keep in mind that the largest surfaces in any home are the walls and floors, and these areas can make your space look painfully bare in the “just-moved-in” period. To create that lived-in look, you need to add lots of textural interest, a stronger colour scheme, and pieces of art. Start from the floor up – add a big carpet in a strong colour and a deep shag pile. This will not only add texture but visually “tie together” the loose living room furniture. Next, add large, plush cushions to the sofa for depth and a bit of contrast colour. To dress up the blank walls, look for a big painting to place behind the sofa to anchor the scene. You can find a wide variety of elegant, well-priced contemporary artworks, imaginatively framed and ready to hang, from trendy stores such as Crate & Barrel. Lastly, add some personality to your space with groupings of family photographs on the walls, and neat displays of your favourite objects and your kids’ creative works on the TV console and sideboards.
Q: The door to the bomb shelter is facing the living area – it ’s such an eyesore. How can I disguise it?
A :There are many ways to hide the bomb shelter door. They range from cheap and easy ideas such as hanging a textile artwork over it, to resurfacing the door with chic, expensive panelling to make it “vanish” into the surrounding wall panels.
Q: I know mirrors make a space look larger, but having too many of them can look tacky. How do I incorporate them into my home?
A : A strategically placed mirror can do wonders to enhance a space, but a mirror in the wrong place can kill the look of your decor. For dark and narrow hallways or corridors, a large mirror along one wall, or a tall mirror at the end of a long space, opens up the confined area considerably. They can also be used to reflect light into a darker space. You can create a focal point at the corner of two walls, such as in your wardrobe area, with a tall mirror. A more casual and modern way to display a tall mirror is to simply lean it against the wall. In the living area, use mirrors on one wall to reflect decor items such as your dining room’s pendant lights, a piece of art, or even a nice view. Don’t use them to reflect unflattering images such as messy or awkward spaces. Framing a mirror in the same way you’d frame an artwork gives it more presence. Now for the don’ts. Don’t place two mirrors opposite each other; this will only create a confusing space. You can also follow the fengshui rule of not placing a mirror where you will catch your reflection when you wake up. Lastly, avoid placing a mirror on the ceiling.
Q: What is the right allowance of space to leave bet ween the back of my sofa and a piece of art?
A : There are some factors to consider when hanging art, especially when there are pieces of furniture around it. For art hung above your sofa, make sure that the artwork “easily clears the heads of those seated, so guests will feel comfortable enough to lean back and relax without fear of hitting the frame,” says Alexandra Mytton-Mills, the creative director of frame shop The Frame Society. She adds: “Artworks are usually hung at eye level, which is between 1.6m and 1.65m from the floor to the middle of the artwork. This increases the maximum visual enjoyment you get from the piece, without having to tilt your head to look up at it. “This, however, can be adjusted if you want to create a more intimate area with lower seating, for example, so that the art really becomes part of the space.”
Q: Decals seem to be a very quick and easy way to decorate a bare wall. There are so many designs available – are smaller repeated motifs nicer or one big mural? I don ’t want to spend the whole day putting them up, either. And how do I maintain them?
A : Wall decals are indeed a fast decorating fix for bare walls, and if you get tired of the design after a few years, it’s easy to just remove them! But there are so many fabulous designs available; we understand that it might be difficult to make a choice. Carmen Tang of Mr Fox Creative Loft uses wall decals for her interior projects and provides some tips on selecting them: “The size of the decal really depends on the objective of your space. As a designer, my rule of thumb is to always ‘go big or go home’. I’ll customise bold and original wall decals for my clients for that dramatic interior statement. “However, if your aim is not to create a feature wall, but to complement other highlights in your space – such as designer furniture or a painting – then it makes sense to opt for smaller decals that will serve as a great backdrop without overpowering the ‘star’ of the room.” Readymade wall decals are meant to be DIY projects, with enclosed instructions that make them easy to apply and remove. Large customised ones are slightly trickier as they require professionals to get the job done, says Carmen. Decals are also easy to maintain. She advises wiping with a slightly damp cloth and soapy water to remove dirt, dust, or other substances that may end up on your decals. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning agents which may damage the material.