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HOME DECOR ADVICE: Simple design solutions

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Clever interior styling tricks can solve a variety of problems from how to hang art attractively to dealing with neighbours’ noise

EXPERT: International interior designer Keira St Claire-Bowery

Q I’m nervous to hang art or framed photography and then not like where I placed it. I could take it down, patch the walls and start all over, but is there a formula for deciding what art will look good where?

A There’s an easy way to think things out before putting nails in your walls. Measure your art and create templates using craft paper. Then, using masking tape, experiment with different configurations.

Q I have moved into an apartment where the walls are very thin. Although I am quiet, neighbours have complained about noise from my flat, and I can often hear them. Apart from rugs, are there ways to minimise sound without major construction?

Rugs can help soften noise in an apartment with thin walls. Picture: Supplied

A Interior design plays a significant role in sound insulation. Fabric absorbs sound. Incorporating fabric, upholstery and other textiles wherever possible in your apartment will reduce noise transmission.

Step 1 is using area rugs, runners and floor mats. You can also layer area rugs – they look great and add insulation.

Step 2 is incorporating window treatments – the thicker and denser the material, like velvet, the better.

Step 3 is to get an upholstered headboard. Think of all the areas in the flat where you might add fabrics. Bookshelves against shared walls will help. You could even add fabric backs to the shelves for an extra layer of sound insulation (and an amazing visual pop).

Q I’m looking at rugs for my living room but can’t figure out which size to get. Are there rules to go by?

A The size of your rug visually determines the size of your room. The larger and more area the rug covers, the larger your room will appear. All legs of your furniture should be on the rug, or all legs half on and half off. If you have a decorative area rug that you want to use but it is too small, layering is an option. For example, use a sisal rug and layer your decorative rug on top to maintain the appearance of a larger room.

Q We have just bought a home, and one room has wood-panelled walls that I hate. Our style is transitional, leaning toward contemporary. We love natural sunlight, calming and sophisticated colours, clean lines and minimal frills. We are not ready to invest in remodelling. Is there anything I can do to change the walls or at least minimise the wood look?

A Your predicament presents a great opportunity to create a striking and unique aesthetic. Because you want to make the space feel brighter, I would paint the panelling. Select a light colour, such as an off-white or pale blue, in a satin or semi-gloss lacquer finish. 

Q How do you feel about blending hardware and plumbing finishes (for example gold and silver tones)?

A I love mixing finishes but don’t pick more than two. Black and oil-rubbed finishes are great neutral bases and mix well with most other finishes. You can mix chrome with black, bronze with stainless steel or nickel, or nickel and gold with silver leaf. These are all great when mixing finishes. 

The Washington Post

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