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You Can Decorate With the Stars

Ever watch a TV show, and think, "Wow, I wish my living room looked like that!" In fact, some starry-eyed homeowners try to make that wish come true. They hire the same decorators that design the sets for major TV shows. But it's not necessary to start with the same ingredients--a multi-million dollar budget and professional set designers--to design your home. Set designers use some of the successful principles; some are just common sense.

1 - Identifying the Way Your Space Will Be Used
Before you even get started, keep in mind how the room will be used. That will set the tone for the mood you are trying to achieve. For a den or sitting room that requires warmth, the two key factors are color and comfort - warm colors such as red tones, bronzes, yellows or golds - or "cushiony" pillows and soft upholstery. Lighting is also a key element to establishing mood. Softer lighting is for warmth, brighter for contemporary, active spaces such as the kitchen.

2 - Surround Yourself with Your Favorite Things
Don't choose a fabric, piece of furniture, or other element just because you saw it on TV or in a design catalog. If it's not inviting even to you, then something needs to change. One set designer is a flea market hound. Sometimes flea market finds are diamonds-in-the-rough that can be refinished or recovered.

3 - Don't Get Stuck in a Rut
Keep moving furniture around and changing color, fabrics and patterns. There's no single formula or theme that's right, so don't allow yourself to get bored. Try moving the sofa away from the wall or changing floor and wall coverings, for example. And don't be afraid to slap some color on the wall. Beige and white are not your only choices.

4 - Start With Color
One way to start is by gathering color or fabric samples according to a three-part color formula involving a main color, a neutral color, and one or two accent colors. A neutral is generally considered to be a white, off-white, gray, tan or taupe color, but greens can also be neutrals. Accents add pizzazz. Any color can be an accent color. With a dark or bright main color, even white can be an accent.

5 - Try Interesting Themes
Sometimes a unique look or theme can unify and simplify your choice of colors and materials. The "Lodge Look" for example involves the basic elements of natural, native woods like pine or oak, fabrics with a Native American or hand loomed look, and accessories and art that complement a sort of "frontier" ambiance. Along with the natural browns, tans or reds, any darker, richer toned color, such as dark green, blue, bronze will suit the Lodge Look.