Your Guide to Creating Beautiful Spaces, FAST!
February 24, 2003
THE MISSION...DecoDreams is the home-decorating-made-
easy.com e-zine that delivers interior decorating tips,
ideas, and solutions to enhance all rooms of your home.
Staying on top of what's hot in decorating has never been
so easy or fun!
DON'T FORGET Your Friends!...If you like DecoDreams, please
do a friend and me a huge favor and "pass it along"...
...or ask them to subscribe by visiting
Home Decorating Made Easy.com
Diversity of creative ideas has always been the hallmark
of home decorating. That's why I've asked designer,
artist, educator and writer, Marney Makridakis, to share
her own unique brand of decorating advice in our "Ask the
Decorator" column. I think you'll enjoy her wit and
Submit your questions to Marney by clicking here.
> TABLE OF CONTENTS
o Featured Article
1) Creative Decorating For Open Floor Plans -
Conquering The Great Divide
o Turning Ideas Into Action!
1) The Deco Zone
- Move That Furniture Away From The Walls!
2) Ask the Decorator
- The DecoDiva Talks About Glass Cube Walls &
o Today's Quote
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NEWS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I know, I know....for those of you who have been waiting
and wondering patiently about when or if DecoDreams was
ever going to be issued....you can now relax. I sincerely
apologize for the delay, but I've been busy trying to
wrap up a few exciting projects that are comining SOON to
Home Decorating Made Easy.
I won't go into details about them in this issue because
I know you're itching for some good decorating advice.
So, without further ado, let's dive in...:-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FEATURED ARTICLE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Conquering the Great Divide -
Working With Open Floor Plans
Architectural Digest reports that the vast majority of
new home constructions - regardless of their size - are
featuring open floor plans.
Furthermore, many homeowners are opting to tear down
existing walls to create large open spaces. Why is the
style so popular? And what is the best way to decorate
An open floor plan is one in which one large room
without hallways takes the place of two or more smaller
The term "open floor plan" can refer to a variety of
o A wide open loft space
o A small studio apartment
o A large room that serves as the living
dining room, and family room
o A single purpose room (such as a living
family room, or study) that the homeowner
split or section off
Open floor plans are popular because they provide a lot
of natural light and create a crisp, clean look. They
have an airy, open feeling that lends itself to a
relaxing, comfortable lifestyle.
They work well in any style home - from traditional to
casual - and promote a feeling of family closeness.
My ranch style home with its 17
feet ceilings (in certain areas)
uses an open floor plan for the
living room and kitchen areas.
Home Decorating Made Easy
to see how nicely one area flows
to the other.
Many people enjoy breaking up a single room into
"inner rooms" in order to promote a sense of harmony,
balance, flow, and organization.
This means that even if an open floor plan wasn't part
of your home's original design, you can create one! A
room that feels disconnected and disorganized is an
The challenges of decorating open floor plans are the
same, whether you're decorating a large, sprawling
room or a tiny one-room apartment. But with some
careful planning and creative thinking, it's possible
to create spaces that are beautiful and practical.
Open floor plans can present some logistical and
Logistically, they can be a problem because of the
lack of privacy, storage options, and adequate space
to move around in.
Design-wise, they can be frustrating if you are
limited by exposed elements in the room, such as
stairways, doors, and kitchen appliances.
It also can be difficult to create a cozy, warm
atmosphere in an open floor plan. That's because it's
hard to master the right balance of furniture and
accessories to make the room feel open but not empty
and full but not crowded.
Furthermore, open floor plans can be oddly-shaped,
which makes furniture placement tricky.
Like an artist facing a blank canvas, many people
stare at their open-plan room and have no idea where
to start. Open floor plans throw them outside the
comfort zone of the conventional "4 walls for 1
purpose" approach to decorating.
But, all is not lost. If you are struggling with your
open floor plan, here are two simple steps to help
you face the challenge with confidence:
Step 1: Just the tasks, ma'am! No matter what size
room you have, the best way to arrange it is by making
a list of tasks performed in the room. Then follow
with design choices to emphasize the difference
between specific task areas.
After determining the separate tasks, figure out the
best placement for each one within the open space.
Start by picking the most important task first, and
select its location. For example, you might say "I
really want the breakfast nook to get the morning
light from the east window". Great idea! Now, build
up the room's arrangement from there.
Select the next most important task and repeat the
Step 2: Divide and Conquer. The next step is to
determine how you will create definition between task
One way to define your task areas is to use various
objects as literal dividers. Select your dividers
according to your design and lifestyle priorities.
For example, choose screens and partitions if you
Consider installing shelf units and shelved partitions
for additional storage options if there is little wall
Or, use sheer curtains and glass brick walls to divide
spaces while allowing light to flow through the room.
However, you don't need free-standing structures or
curtains to define a room's task areas...
Two very simple ways to divide and define a room
include using area rugs or slightly contrasting colors
of wall paint.
To create a sense of flow, organization, and openness
in your open floor plan, just follow the above steps
and ideas, and you can't go wrong! :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Deco Zone
(Note: In this ongoing column, we'll take selected concepts
from the Featured Article and tell you how to apply them
for fast, on-the-spot decorating.)
Today, we'll take a peek into Stacy's home. Let's see how
we can guide her out of her decorating nightmare and
into...The Deco Zone.
Stacy has a medium-sized room that doubles as a living room
and family den.
To fulfill both purposes, she divided the room down the
middle, placing her living room furniture and accessories
on one side of the room, and her den furniture and
accessories on the other side of the room.
Most of the furniture is placed right up against the wall,
because she wanted the room to appear larger. But instead,
the room feels disconnected and lifeless.
To bring Stacy into The Deco Zone, the first thing to do is
convince her to move that furniture away from the walls.
Her intent was to achieve a greater sense of space by
opening up the center of the room, but it actually ended up
having the OPPOSITE effect.
To create a sense of space, you want the focus to be on the
center of the room, not on its edges.
The most important change will be to divide the room into
several smaller "inner rooms" that are happily integrated
among one another, rather than two sharply separated rooms.
Stacy started with a living room on one side and a dining
room on the other.
In The Deco Zone, she finds herself enjoying a free-flowing
space that includes...a play area for the kids...a TV area
with an entertainment center...and a game table that also
is appropriate for casual dining.
She can also create a private sunny reading nook, a more
formal sitting space for group interaction, and a music
corner with a piano and several chairs.
The new approach is more balanced visually, and is far more
convenient for her family's day-to-day activities.
An appealing color scheme pulls the entire room together,
making it clear that this is one, expansive room, rather
than two separate rooms that were unfortunately crammed
into a single space.
Area rugs, free-standing shelf units, and a folding screen
ensure that each task area is well-defined, yet enlivened.
Enjoy The Deco Zone, Stacy!
Ask the Decorator
DecoDiva, Marney Makridakis, Answers Your Decorating
Q. I've heard that glass cube walls and windows are back
"in" and I was thinking of installing a glass cube wall to
section off my kitchen from my dining area (which really
are in the same room). I checked into custom jobs and they
were so expensive - is there any way to save money? And how
tall should the wall be?
A. It's true. Glass cube walls (most commonly referred
to as glass brick or glass block walls) have made a
They are a very effective room divider because they
instantly brighten up any room by gently spreading the
existing light throughout the space. Yet, they function
well as a solid dividing structure.
A wall that is about 4 feet tall is ideal for the purpose
you suggest. It is high enough to make a noticeable
impression in the room, but low enough so that the wall's
top edge can be functional.
It could serve as a telephone table, an informal serving
table, or provide an attractive display area for
I suggest using "10 inch square blocks" and building a wall
that is 5 blocks high. The width of the wall will depend on
your specific space and your preference.
To make sure that your new glass brick wall will work in
your lifestyle, place and/or stack chairs, bookcases, or
other furniture pieces to simulate the height, width, and
depth of the envisioned structure.
Leave these odd furniture pieces in place for a few days,
and see if there are any problems as your family navigates
around them. If necessary, you can alter the number of
bricks you use.
The cheapest way to install a glass brick wall is to do it
yourself with an installation kit available at home
improvement stores or from a specialty supplier, such as
Ask for a woodglass installation kit, which is not only
the least expensive installation technique, it is also the
easiest to use.
It is the least durable but is perfectly suitable for
indoor decorative use.
While mortar and silicone installations require special
putty and ahesives, woodglass is a quick and easy dry
installation process which uses a wooden framework in which
plastic gaskets hold the blocks in place.
Using a kit, you could complete a 4 x 6 foot wall in a
Good luck...and enjoy your new glass brick wall!
***************** TODAY'S QUOTE ***************************
"A good home must be made, not bought."
Joyce Maynard, "Domestic Affairs"
Wishing you all the best,
Michael J. Holland - President
Home Decorating Made Easy
Copyright © 2003