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roomplanners OCTOBER 2010

decomposed faceless scaly

scary rooms

is there one in your home? (and how to fix it!)


‌ its many moods frightfully good Halloween treats plus terror-ific dinner ideas‌ if you dare!

taking cues from the season Nature may be getting ready for a good long sleep about now. But ironically, inside our homes, Fall inspires new life. After a season of beach days and BBQs, it’s comforting to nestle inside, surrounded by autumn colors, favorite textures, comfort foods and prospects of holidays to come. For this issue, we used the Fall season to inspire a fresh look at our homes. First, we took the liberty of using Halloween as an excuse to highlight three decorating mistakes that haunt rooms more than any other. Whether decomposed, faceless or scaly, our scary room design criteria will help you understand why some rooms don’t feel right…. and what you can do to fix them. We analyze eight rooms to see what makes them a little scary (or a lot). We hope you agree that the fix can be pretty easy! We also hope our case studies will help you take the toil and trouble out of reshaping your rooms to something you like better.

Loreen Epp President, RoomPlanners Inc.

Changing leaves, zesty pumpkins and other ripened fruits and vegetables inspire our article on the color orange. This favorite Fall hue really does makes a better-than-expected choice for interiors!

Finally, we dare you to try some of our scary Halloween treats. From desserts to full-course menus, we hope you’ll get a laugh… if not a taste... at everyday, simple ingredients transformed into frightfully tasty treats. Whether or not you count the days until the holidays, your next ski vacation or the first opportunity to stack the fireplace full of wood logs… we hope you’ll let Fall inspire some new possibilities for your home.

on the cover Fall colors inspire this warm, charming kitchen. Like a ripe garden, earthy yellows, greens and oranges add warmth and a one-of-a-kind quality to even the simplest kitchen. This feast-inspiring color scheme speaks comfort food—and it’s sure to warm our home as much as entice our appetite.

about roomplanners is committed to making professional quality interior design easier and more affordable. We invite you to visit our web site to browse hundreds of rooms for ideas, rate your own rooms or to take our survey to identify your environmental personality profile. We offer a variety of free home decorating articles, a no-fail paint color selection system and an array of RoomCues™... concise, practical guides to help you pull together a look you love. Find us online at: roomplanners

All written information herein is copyright ©2010 Room Planners Incorporated. All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without written permission from Room Planners Inc..


dining rooms go elegant & casual If you’re not sitting down to a formal dinner as much as you used to, you’re not alone. In fact, casual dining is a growing trend in dining room furniture these days. Casual dining doesn’t mean you don’t cook up a storm or don’t have friends over for beef bourguignon. It just means you don’t get worked up over it. You’re also perfectly ok dispensing with fancy china. In fact, you may or may not own any. If a more casual lifestyle sounds right for you, but you’re not ready to give up a little sophistication and elegance at mealtime, it is possible to bridge the two! Along with the right new dining room furniture, a few simple tips can help you perfectly blend refined and relaxed styles. For more ideas on how to do this, check out Hooker Furniture’s blog (Oct. 7th and 13th). Their handsome new Legends dining room (right) illustrates the trend.


which bed type is searched most? If you’ve been shopping for new bedroom furniture recently, you’ll notice nearly every new collection comes with an assortment of bed options. Sleigh beds and poster beds are no longer relocated to 18th century styles. A modern collection is as likely to have a sleigh bed as a platform bed. New hybrid styles are mixing chaise longue headboards with platform-style footboards. Storage is being integrated into almost any style. We thought it’d be interesting to see which bed styles are getting the most monthly online searches these days. Then we compared bed styles most searched in the U.S. versus those searched around the world. Did you know, for example, that Americans are more likely than the rest of the world to search for platform beds, canopy beds and Murphy beds… but less likely to search for sofa beds and leather beds? Below, see how your preferences align with what others are looking for! -create-a-casually-elegant-dining-room-part-1/

more free home decor tips! A new online magazine is available from furniture giant, Ashley Furniture. The company is offering the magazine free every month, along with tips on how to use furniture and furnishings to create the looks you love and key home furnishing trends to look out for. To subscribe, simply sign up on their web site at

Type of Bed

Global % of U.S. % of Searches Total Searches Total

Bunk bed





Platform bed





Sofa bed





Canopy bed





Sleigh bed





Storage bed





Metal bed





Poster bed





Murphy bed





Leather bed





Futon bed





Panel bed





Upholstered bed






1,921,800 100.0 1,342,700 100.0 3

cast a haunting spell on even the most stylish furniture or magnificent architecture. So here they are… the scariest room types of all and how to avoid them.

scary room is there a

in your home? You don’t need to see ghosts or hear voices to live with a scary room. Scary rooms don’t just appear at night or at the onset of a serious thunder storm. They can haunt us day and night, in good weather or bad. They go well beyond creaky floorboards, drawn shower

curtains and kitchen knives in unexpected places.

eerie as Halloween night itself.

In fact, it’s usually easier to define scary rooms more in terms of what they’re not. That’s because something doesn’t feel right about them. Something’s missing, out of place, out of sync… causing an uneasiness that’s as unsettling and

And so, in honor of the scariest time of year we could think of, we present the three room types that are scariest of all. Some rooms suffer from all three of these maladies, others just one or two. But any one of these maladies may

The Decomposed Room Scary rooms often have a dismembered or disjointed quality. Items that are similar in look or function, are spread evenly around a room rather than grouped together. Pictures are hung anywhere rather than closely aligned with furniture. Sofas and chairs are lined up along walls rather than grouped together to create an inviting conversation area. Decomposition is common in large rooms where there’s pressure to ’fill space’. But it’s just as likely to occur in small rooms where furnishings are scattered too randomly around a room. But the fix is easy. Simply bring furniture closer together and anchor it with rugs, accents and pictures. You can then leave the rest of the room empty and it’ll look just fine!

The Faceless Room You don’t need to be a headless horseman to suffer an identity crisis. A room without a style, or point of view can be as faceless as a phantom at the Opera or a horse rider from Sleepy Hollow who lost his head. 4

A faceless room occurs when furnishing styles, colors or patterns are combined without enough regard to compatibility. Without a definable style or attitude to furnishing selections, a room can feel a bit like a skeleton—all bones with no flesh to fill in the physical features that create differentiation or personality. The fix? Find a style you like and stick with it! Choose items that share a similar style type, color palette or texture.

from scary to sensational similar rooms… a world of difference We’ve contrasted two living rooms to illustrate common problems found in scary rooms! Both rooms have a nice sense of style. But Room #1 is decomposed and scaly, while Room #2 is well-composed and scaled to perfection! Here’s what’s scary and sensational in these two similarly-styled rooms. 

The Scaly Room Rough, dry textures can be irritating enough. But a scaly room has more to do with proportion problems, or too much contrast in size between items. A coffee table that’s too small for the sofa, a picture that’s too large for the cabinet under it, a window that’s too small for the room... all add up to a sizable issue. Fixing a scaly room means balancing the objects on either side of it - the same way you’d balance weight on a boat or plane. That doesn’t mean everything has to be the same size… large items can be balanced with a collection of smaller items. The perceived size of an item can also be adjusted with simple tricks. Long or wide curtains make a toosmall window look bigger. A rug makes a too-small table look more substantial. A too-big piece of furniture looks smaller when the wall behind it is painted a similar color.

placed on either side of a straight line). The distance between them make this a less intimate seating arrangement - plus there’s no good position to watch the TV! Placing chairs and seats at right angles to each other, like they are in Room #2, feels much more intimate and composed.

in Room #1, the seats are placed in galley style (seats



steals the focus of the room... in comparison to the lush window wall in Room #2. The small TV or picture looks lost on the large wall and would look better grouped with other small items, anchored to a piece of furniture or concealed behind a wall of curtains. Walls look best when they draw attention to furniture or a fabulous view.

in Room #1, a small wall-mounted TV 

in Room #1, the coffee table is too small. Compare it against the more substantial table in Room #2. An Lshaped seating arrangement also allows for a square table that feels in scale with the sofa.

In Room #1, the color of the walls isn‟t repeated anywhere else - adding to the decomposed look. In Room #2, the sofa’s color is repeated in curtains and artwork.

in Room #1, each piece of furniture looks separated by space rather than linked together. In Room #2, the area rug, tables and lamp pull the seating together, creating a tighter, inviting composition. 5

scary rooms (...and how to fix them!) THE FIX!

A hunter-colored sectional mixes with dark woods in this living room. But despite the rich furniture finishes and colors, the room feels bland and lifeless. Why? Because rich furniture requires an equally rich backdrop. Too many white and off-white colors and too little detail are too strong a contrast to the furniture, making the room look faceless—like it’s struggling with it’s style identity. In addition, the set of matching pictures are separated—one on either side of the window, add a decomposed quality (...pairs of pictures are meant to be hung together). Finally, plants placed in places where they couldn’t possibly survive (under a table and inside a bookcase) adds to the disjointed, unnatural look.

Add more color to the walls—choose a color that‟s in the pillows.

Hang curtains on the window; choose a rich color and texture inspired by the toss pillows or upholstery.

Hang the matching pictures together; stack them on one side of the window.

Add an area rug that complements the upholstery colors and walls - it‟ll anchor the sectional and soften it‟s too-stark contrast with the carpet.

Stack books, baskets and brass or leather accents on shelves instead of so many plants. 6


Things started out well here. The saddle-colored leather sofas are bulky and earthy enough to work with the heavy stone fireplace. The coffee table is a little too classic for the hearty upholstery, but its bulky scale and dark color make it almost work. But things deteriorate quickly with the contemporary bar stool. It causes us to question the room’s style identity, creating a faceless, inconsistent point of view. The bare white trim on the windows looks a little modern for the rustic fireplace... exaggerated with the lack of curtains or blinds.

Add an area rug to anchor the seating area. Use a strong color or texture to balance the fireplace.

Move the end table to the other side of the sofa (between the sofas); use a rustic, bulkier lamp.

Pull the sofa grouping away from the wall so it‟s closer to the fireplace.

Lower the mirror so it hangs just above the dado. Or use it as a floor mirror: turn it vertically and lean it against the wall, partly behind the sofa.

Choose bar stools in a more casual style. 7

The L-shaped seating group keeps the room from looking decomposed. But the end table next to the window is an awkward appendage—and the lamp on top of it too small and delicate. The over-sized mirror that presides over the room is weighty enough to balance the stone fireplace and it works with the table. But it’s too dressy, a little too large and hung a little too high to look like it belongs to the seating group.


If you’ve ever bemoaned the fact that your house is too small, take heart. A large house can be as challenging as a small one. Having to raise your voice to be heard by guests sitting in the same room is only slightly less scary than the money you’ll have to fork out to furnish that big room! The badly decomposed living room above is typical of big living rooms. The furniture is spread out to fill the space, with nothing the right distance from anything. Intimate conversation… or a feeling of warmth... won’t happen here.

Pull the furniture into the center of the room. Use the extra space to create a walkway around the furniture rather than in front of it.

Place the furniture in an L-shaped or U-shaped seating cluster; use the area rug to visually pull it together.

Use end tables to fill in the corners between sofas and chairs.

Get comfortable with empty wall space! Use large artwork or no artwork. The seating area alone can be the center of attention, with the area around it left bare.


Move the pictures on the wall closer together and hang them lower—they‟ll look like they belong to the sofa rather than floating awkwardly above it.  Add a larger lamp between the sofa and loveseat.  Pull the round ottoman closer to the sofa and add an area rug underneath to visually hold the pieces together.

At first glance, this living room is rather stylish. The color palette is urban and chic. The furniture is well-chosen; the pillows well-placed. But something’s not working. The lamp is scaly (out of proportion with the rest of the furniture) and the artwork is decomposed… it’s forcing us to look at each of the pictures as separate and apart from each other and the seating composition. 8


It’s hardly the scariest room we’ve seen, but something isn’t working here. The furniture is stylish and the ceiling light fixture is a perfect choice. The hardwood floors are well maintained and the color scheme is pleasant. So what’s wrong?

Lower the light fixture to 36” above the table—it‟ll reinforce the table composition rather than drawing our eye to the ceiling.

Add an area rug under the table. With the lowered light fixture, it‟ll help „anchor‟ the table.

Move the cabinet to the right or left wall and stack both pictures and the silver candle stands above it.

Hang floor-to ceiling curtains across the entire window wall for a clean, elegant backdrop.

Center the bench under the windows. 9

The room isn’t completely faceless—the point of view is clearly contemporary. though the candelabra on the cabinet is too fancy and competes with the chandelier for our attention. But the biggest problem here a decomposed feeling. All three walls don’t seem to hang together. The window wall is more of a distraction than a backdrop. A matching set of pictures are split between opposite walls (not good!), the cabinet between the windows looks cramped and plants are placed too randomly on both sides of the room.


Lower the tall picture above the cabinet so it „belongs‟ to the flower and lamp composition.

Cluster the smallest wall pictures together as their own group, or group them with larger pictures. 

Remove or lower objects that are within 12” of the ceiling. They draw our eye up rather than into the room.

A cluttered, well-filled cottage style can be endearing and charming. But the pictures are a problem in this living room, as they often are in decomposed rooms. Even in a cottageinspired rooms, pictures looks best when they ’belong’ to something. The picture hung above the cabinet is too high, the picture hung to the side of the fireplace is hardly in a position to be viewed and other pictures are too randomly placed.


We’ve got a seriously decomposed room here. The furniture, fabrics and artwork are consistent in style and well chosen, but their placement makes them a liability. The lack of a headboard make the problem worse—there’s nothing to anchor or draw attention to the bed. The stark contrast of modern white walls and floors against rich furnishings makes the dismembered quality of this room even more obvious.

Add a headboard to anchor the bed and create a feature wall.

Angle an area rug under the bed.

Hang the large picture to the right side of the bed, connected with the night stand & lamp.

Lean the smaller picture above a night stand or cabinet.

Cluster 2 of the pillows on the left side of the window seat.

Move the large plant next to the night stand; remove the plant on top of it. 10


Paint the chairs a milky white finish. Or sand down the black paint a little to create a weathered finish.

Replace the wall mirrors with a collage of pictures. Add frames in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles—hang them close together for a cluttered, English Cottage look.

Replace the wall mirrors with a set of botanical prints or watercolors in whitewashed frames.

Add a painted country buffet cabinet on the wall.

Layer light cotton or soft sheer drapes over the mini-blinds.

Ok, it’s not a train wreck. The simplicity of this rustic dining room is refreshing. Miniblinds inside painted window frames have a quaint charm and who can argue with Windsor chairs for a casual dining room? . But this room is struggling a little with its identity. It’s not entirely faceless, but its face, or point of view, isn’t convincing. The layered, lacey tablecloth and white painted trim is too delicate for the black painted chairs. The brass-framed mirrors work with the lacey tablecloth but are too elegant for the rustic Windsor chairs. The random placement of the mirrors on the wall look decomposed. They’re not connected to anything, too small to matter and more distracting than charming.



manyof moods

orange The color of sunrise and sunset, of zesty tropical fruit, spices, fall leaves and the earth itself… orange has a version for everyone.

It‟s not the first color we think of for interiors. Maybe that stems from orange’s long association with fast-food restaurants, modern fashions, 1970’s flower power and shag rugs that, yes, had to be raked.

itself, orange has a variety of moods. In its deepest versions, orange becomes brown.

But orange has many faces. Made up of both red and yellow, it claims traits of both these warm, attentiongetting colors.

By it’s very nature, and in it’s purest form, orange feels extroverted, happy and friendly. But deeper and duller versions of orange add maturity and warmth. It’s these complex tones that are among the most welcoming colors we can add to our homes.

The color of sunrise and sunset, of zesty tropical fruit, spices, fall vegetables, dry leaves and the earth

Fall-inspired versions of orange are most popular for interiors. Toned-down from bright, attention-

Given its association with food, orange is a favorite for dining rooms. In it’s richest, zestiest hues, it’s believed to enhance taste and improve digestion.

As a rule, the brighter the orange used, the more modern, youthful and energetic a room feels. Deep oranges feels exotic or established. Light or pastel oranges feel soft and feminine. Dull or faded oranges feel sophisticated, organic or nostalgic.

Orange works well with other warm colors; red and yellow in particular. Its complementary color, blue, brings out its intensity and truest character. It pairs up with black at Halloween for a knock-out duo that’s memorable and striking.

People who prefer orange over other colors tend to be optimistic, energetic and adventurous. They’re prone to choose rooms that are physically comfortable, fun or sensuous over rooms that are steeped in history, nostalgic or ultra efficient.

getting oranges, these earthy hues feels spicy, delicious and warm.



Use bright orange in small areas. It‟s best suited to strong shapes and sharp angles, but always in moderation. Use bright orange with other warm colors to avoid too much contrast. Reds and yellows help tone down its brightness. Use deep or dull orange on larger areas—and with any variety of cool or warm colors. Equally deep blues, greens and yellows will brighten each other. Use orange to draw attention to important areas. Use it on the wall behind the bed to anchor the sleeping area. Or place large furniture in front of it to moderate its strength. Use brighter orange where you don‟t have to look at it for long periods… a front entrance, hallway, or wall behind large furniture. Pair the orange you choose with colors that have a similar brightness or dullness.

how to pick the perfect orange! Decide on the effect you want in your room. Here’s a simple way to choose the orange that’s right for you. Decide on how you want your room to feel, then look for an orange that creates that kind of feeling. Here are three ways to think about this color, with the corresponding effects!

warm or cool?

light or dark?

bright or dull?

Warm oranges have yellow undertones; they feel earthy and relaxed.

Light oranges have white undertones; they feel cool, sweet, young and feminine.

Bright oranges look clean and clear; they feel youthful, modern and dynamic.

Cool oranges are still warm in spirit. But with red undertones; they feel substantial and mature.

Dark oranges have black undertones; they feel oldfashioned and established.

Dull oranges look gray or faded; they feel complex, nostalgic and weathered.






dull 13


Varsity, Lea Furniture

for interiors. pick your



Behr 270D-5

From the modern palette, tangerine is friendly, energetic and fun. It’s fresh, youthful and looks best with modern furniture, white and synthetic hues.


Behr 210C-3

From the couture palette, coral feels feminine, delicate, summery, fresh and soft. It works best with fancy, carved or shapely furniture, delicate silk, floral bouquet patterns, embroidered textures and other pastel-like colors inspired by fruit and flowers.

Waverly Place, Hooker Furniture


Behr 200F-6

From the traditional palette, brick feels old-fashioned, reliable, mature and intellectual. It works best with stately, well-detailed furniture, burnished leathers, plaid, tapestry and other deep, mature colors.

Attic Heirlooms, Broyhill Furniture

iced tea

Behr 240D-5


Behr 200D-6

From the country palette, tomato and iced tea are warm, friendly, aromatic and earthy. They work best next to rustic pine or oak furniture, cotton, rag rugs, folk art and other colors inspired by the rural lifestyle. 14

Tribeca, American Drew Furniture


Behr 760A-3

From the chic palette, champagne is sophisticated and sultry, dramatic, stylish and sophisticated. Light, dull and cool, it feels sophisticated next to contemporary, art deco furniture. Mix with white, black and other cool, chic neutral colors.


Behr 260F-4

From the romantic palette, terracotta is complex and moody, genteel, generous, smooth and quiet. It looks best next to weathered antiques, shabby chic furniture, romantic floral patterns, botanical prints and other nostalgic colors that look weathered by time.

Hills of Tuscany, Thomasville


Behr 260D-5

From the classic palette, amber is distinct, regal, robust and timeless. It works best with Louis Philippe furniture, velvet, damask, stripes and diamond patterns. Mix with jewel tones such as emerald, saffron, black or other colors from the classic palette.


Behr 230D-6

From the global palette, paprika is zesty, aromatic, spicy, fascinating and abundant. Warm and deep, it works best next to heavily carved or rustic furniture, ethnic prints, folk arts, hand-crafted artifacts and other colors inspired by spices and vegetable dyes. 15

Dinner is served … if you dare! MAINS 

Worms and eyeballs spaghetti & meatballs  Witch’s fingers & slime sauce - chicken strips & ranch dressing dyed green

Barbequed bat wings - chicken wings 

Witches’ brew & Dracula diggers chili & tortilla chips SIDES

frightfully good ideas

 

Need some inspiration? Check out our menu for a terror-ific Halloween dinner your ghosts and goblins will love!

Maggots - rice

Rotting teeth - corn 

for Halloween!

Want to create a terror-ific atmosphere at your Halloween dinner table this fall? Unleash your imagination and stir up little home-brewed ambiance by simply renaming your favorite foods.

Grass & weeds with sliced toadstools & witch’s teeth salad greens with mushrooms & sunflower seeds

Lizards’ tongues sautéed red pepper strips or carrot sticks DESSERTS

Shrunken heads baked apples  Ghosts - white chocolate-covered bananas

 

Pond scum - Jello with gummi worms Bones - bone-shaped meringue cookies BEVERAGE 

Swamp water lemonade concentrate, lemonlime pop & lime sherbet 16

These dessert ideas will help set the tone for your fright-night menu. If you wish, let everyone carve their own “shrunken head” dessert or dress their own “ghost”.

shrunken apple heads

banana ghosts

(Makes 6 servings)

(Makes 6 ghosts)

3 medium baking apples (e.g. Empire, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Honeycrisp) Lemon juice 5 tbsp (75 mL) packed brown sugar 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter or margarine, melted 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon Vanilla ice cream Chopped nuts (optional)

3 bananas 6 popsicle sticks 6 oz (200 g) white chocolate or white chocolate candy melts, coarsely chopped, or white chocolate chips 12 chocolate chips

Wash apples. Cut in half lengthwise; remove cores. Brush cut sides of apples with lemon juice. Carve eyes, nose and mouth on peel side of apple halves. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Brush mixture over face sides of apples. In a greased or sprayed baking dish, place apples, cut side down. Pour any remaining brown sugar/butter mixture over apples. Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 10 minutes. Spoon sauce in bottom of baking dish over apples. Continue baking until apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. To serve, place one or two scoops of ice cream in 6 dessert bowls. Drizzle sauce over top. Place a warm apple head in each bowl. Sprinkle chopped nuts over ice cream, if desired.

Peel bananas; remove any stringy fibers. Cut bananas in half widthwise. Push a popsicle stick into each half through the cut end. Cover each banana with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 3 hours. Place white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat on High (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Continue heating, 30 seconds at a time, until white chocolate is mostly melted but a few pieces remain. Stir to melt remaining white chocolate. Spread or spoon white chocolate over frozen banana halves. Press chocolate chips in place for eyes. Set banana ghosts on a waxed paper-covered plate and place in the freezer until serving time.

cooking quarters

Wendi Hiebert is a home economist and food writer, living in Kitchener, Ontario. For more of her recipes, visit www.CookingQuarters.


RoomPlanners magazine - Oct '10  

room design ideas, home decor tips, style trends and recipes. THIS MONTH: Scary Rooms! Three common decorating mistakes and how to fix them,...

RoomPlanners magazine - Oct '10  

room design ideas, home decor tips, style trends and recipes. THIS MONTH: Scary Rooms! Three common decorating mistakes and how to fix them,...