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Decorating decisions for today's living and dining rooms are rooted first in our lifestyles. How the room is going to be used will govern everything from the type and style of furnishings, window treatments and lighting, to the colors on the wall. No matter what your situation, formal or casual, open concept or divided spaces, bestselling author and dynamic TV host Debbie Travis offers enduring styles with 60 stunning projects that will transform your living and dining spaces into the favorite rooms in your home.
Debbie Travis is the coauthor of the award-winning Debbie Travis' Painted House, Debbie Travis' Decorating Solutions, and Debbie Travis' Weekend Projects. Her internationally acclaimed television series, The Painted House (www.paintedhouse.com), airs in more than fifty countries around the world, including the United States. She lives in Canada.
Barbara Dingle is a former magazine editor and coauthor of Debbie Travis' previous books. She writes in the decorating and design fields.
Decorating today is not just about style, it's about lifestyle—your lifestyle. It's about how you live, the people with whom you live, and the colors, textures, and patterns that you love; a look that makes you smile each time you enter the front door; and a place where your family and friends are comfortable.
Traditionally, a home was divided into a series of rooms, each with its own purpose. But the diverse needs of today's homeowners have had a profound impact on home design, altering not only the layout of the rooms but also the way we use them.
No other rooms in the house have evolved as dramatically as the living room and the dining room. Often reserved only for guests, they have always been the most underused rooms in the home, but now that role has changed. The design of modern homes has been revolutionized to capitalize on the practical use of more limited space. But many of these layout changes, such as combined living and dining areas or barrier-free open-concept plans, create major decorating challenges. If the kitchen is small, the dining area is used not just for special occasions but for every meal. Whether used for work or for celebration, the dining room is where some of our happiest memories are created. Homes with large eat-in kitchens may eliminate the need for a separate dining room, except for more formal feast days and important occasions. The space can still be used to great advantage, however, as the size of the dining table makes it an obvious choice for other tasks, such as home or office work, or spreading out a project. Domestic life has become less formal, and the living room has become exactly that—a space to live in, where the whole family gathers after a busy day to watch television, work at the computer, and play games. But it is still the room that asserts our style and the way we live, the place we use for entertaining friends.
Living and dining rooms are public rooms; they are on show to your visitors in a way that is either informal or more structured. They are the perfect places to display what you hold dear, and how you like to spend your free time. A favorite collection of dishes, frames, or wooden sculptures; the art on the wall; a handmade quilt thrown over a comfy couch; an easy chair with a perfectly poised reading lamp; or a music system with just the right speakers—all are clues to what is important to you. And because you have chosen to put these accoutrements in the open living areas of your home, your guests can share and enjoy them as well. They become a very personal and welcome gesture.
We all go through many stages in our lifetime, and what may be perfectly suitable for us in our twenties when we are just starting out will soon change as we share our living space with a partner and then children. More time passes and the family structure changes again, perhaps with the addition of elderly parents to our home and the departure of grown children. Our lifestyles are in continual flux, and thus so are the ways we use our home space.
Decorating decisions for today's living and dining rooms are rooted first in our needs. Ask yourself what these rooms mean to you right now. Do you want a living room where you can relax and recharge by yourself, or a place where the whole family gathers? Is the living room furniture comfortable? Is there something interesting to look at when you sit in different areas? Is there a good reading light? Have you planned any ambient lighting? Can you view artwork easily? Are there tables nearby on which to place a drink or a snack plate?
Is the dining room reserved for parties and celebrations, or is it your everyday eating area? Dining rooms are marvelous spaces to use drama, but make sure there's enough light to see your dinner and enough padding on the seats to withstand a leisurely feast. The table is the focus of the dining room, but a rich wall finish and lighting details will help you enhance the mood.
In an open-concept design, the living and dining rooms are combined and become the central focus of the home, often used more for informal relaxing than for formal parties. The challenge is how to visually separate this large space and create a cozy, more intimate atmosphere.
How the room is going to be used will govern everything else, from the type and style of furnishings to the colors on the wall. So think about your plan and then write it down. It's your mission statement, and all your decorating decisions revolve around what you want that space to do.
If you are just starting out, it is a good idea to have a long-term plan for some of the decisions you will have to make. It is easy to apply a fresh coat of paint, but furnishings such as a white couch or a glass-top coffee table may not be practical when children come along, and these are expensive to replace.
There has never been a better, more exciting time to design and decorate a room. We are no longer dictated to by strict rules, a particular style, or a correct color. Today's home decorating emulates the fashion industry—anything goes! Mass media, the Internet, and knowledge of and influences from different cultures have created a global village of products, designs, and styles that are accessible and readily available to everyone. Paint manufacturers have produced lines in every possible shade and finish. Hardware stores have become design centers with easy-to-use materials and tools, all designed to help you personalize your home, and there seems to be a never-ending variety of furnishings, accessories, and fabrics.
The freedom to choose from such a broad spectrum of styles and products can create its own design dilemma. It forces you to think about what you really like instead of what's popular at the moment. But it's a wonderful feeling to create something that nourishes your spirit, which is what home is all about.
Buy Debbie Travis' Painted House Living and Dining Rooms: 60 Stylish Projects to Transform Your Home by Debbie Travis from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780609805503 & 0609805509
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