The Class – Chapter 8

by Heather J. Paper

by Heather J. Paper

In Heather J. Paper’s book, she titled the last Chapter “Finishing Touches” and covered a few different topics of which, I will touch upon today but also add a couple of extra things we learned in class.


I know we did a whole chapter on color but I wanted to bring up a few things I did not mention before:


This is from Young House Love. They have a great website. Click on the picture to read more about their creativity.

  • If you are struggling for inspiration in your home, look to the outside. Think of the house, from the outside, and its surroundings as a stage for what someone will see when they come into your home. I think this is a great idea but I also find this challenging. I grew up in the West, I live in an old Southern city with a surfer hamlet down the road, and my house is a ranch style with brick and diagonally placed brown boards covering it. Please tell me how all of those things should come together?
  • Not sure about color? Look to your closet. You probably wear colors you like. Look to the palette behind your closet doors for suggestions.
  • Once you select your colors, you might find you need to narrow your choices! It is a good idea to have a similar color scheme throughout your home. To achieve this, select three or four colors and use varying shades and tints of those colors throughout your home.
  • If you are wondering what is a tint and what is a shade, you are not alone – I did too! Tint is a color with white added, while a shade is a color with black added.

Arranging Furniture

Click the picture to read more.

  • Provide enough seating for the people in your home.
  • Try to arrange furniture around the TV so that no one has to walk in front of it.
  • Major walkways or pathways through furniture should be three feet to four feet wide. This makes it easy for your guest to navigate an unfamiliar area.
  • Minor walkways, or those used mostly by family members, can be less.
  • Try and arrange furniture around a focal point and in eight foot conversation circles.
  • Coffee or cocktail tables are typically 16 inches to 18 inches tall. To spice things up, try 23 inches.
  • End tables work best if they are the same height, or a few inches higher than the arm of the chair or sofa it is placed near. This has become interesting in my living room as my couch’s arms are almost as tall as the back of the couch. There is nothing worse than trying to find a place to set your cup and the end table is a foot lower than the arm of the couch. 
  • If you have the space and can put a table behind your sofa, it should be the same height as the back of the sofa or a few inches taller.
  • Mix different woods and styles of furniture in a room. You don’t have to buy the entire suite of furniture at Rooms to Go.
  • Totally stumped on how to arrange stuff, think outside the box and angle some pieces of furniture. It might surprise you how it opens up a room.


Click on the picture to see more.

Click on the picture to see more.

  • Make your accessories speak. Not literally but they mean more if they say something about you and the people living in the house. Gather these things over time. You will find that they tell meaningful stories about you and your family.
  • Do you like to collect pieces? So do I. I have always wondered how to display them. Suggestion here – group them together. Scattering them around the room does not show the collection off to its best potential.
  • Another question for you, do you have several items on top of a dresser, table, etc? Take a look at those items when you are next at home and see if your eye divides the group. If it does, chances are you have an even number of items. Try grouping in odd numbers. Instead of dividing the items, your eye might actually “see” the items.
  • Adding to that, yes, a lamp counts as an accessory in a group of items.
  • How about hanging your collection on the wall? Items should be about two inches apart. This apparently includes groups of artwork, pictures, etc. My hallway family photo album seriously violates this. Now when I walk by it, all I see are pictures floating away from one another.
  • Quick and dirty suggestions on artwork: frame and matting should match the picture, not room; hang it so when you typically view the picture, your eye sees slightly above center; if hanging in stairway, your shoulder becomes your eye; no family photographs hung on walls in living and dining rooms; instead try for fish, fowl, flowers, etc; finally, artwork over sofa should be about eight inches above the back of the couch.
  • Mirrors – any of you have one hanging anywhere in your house? What does it reflect? If it is over the mantle and reflects the fan and light kit, you might want to consider moving it. Remember, the reflection is basically a picture. What picture do you want your mirror to reflect?
  • More on the mantle: matching candlesticks on either side or maybe some other matching item? Try breaking it up and have only one candle stick and a new item on the other side.
  • Last and most important to take away from the advice offered in Paper’s book and this class – buy what you like. Don’t worry about the color or whether other people like it. If you like it, you will find a place for it. You live there, not everyone else.

I hope y’all have enjoyed the decorating class and that you have a great weekend!


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