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Four touches that go a long way

by MARY CAROL GARRITY Scripps Howard News Service, marycarol@nellhills.com on April 28, 2013 3:40 AM

Those of us who love interior decorating are passionate about creating an environment in our homes that is warm and welcoming, fills our senses and reflects who we are. Even though my personal decorating style is ever-evolving, there are a few cornerstones of the look I love.

Here are four simple techniques I use. I hope they will inspire you, too.

Tuck natural objects into displays

I am not an outdoorsy girl. You won’t find me backpacking in the mountains or kayaking down a river. But spending a quiet moment in my courtyard fills me with peace and inspiration. So I always weave pieces of the natural world into my year-round decorating. I like how this little nod to nature gives my decor a natural, organic feel.

One of my favorite icons is a bird’s nest. So I use lots of faux and real nests in my own decorating. Sometimes you’ll find them perched discreetly in the branches of a floral arrangement on my table, or on top of a candlestick on my mantel. Another thought: Placing little faux nests under cloches on place settings of a dining table decorated for spring entertaining.

Or welcome Mother Nature into your decor by using flowers in decorating. A messy bouquet of faux tulips doesn’t feel fixed and fussy. You could replicate the look with just about anything in your garden: branches of forsythia, dogwood or red buds, a compote holding a tight mound of hyacinths or hydrangeas, or a cluster of little vases that each contains a single daffodil.

Weaving natural elements into your decor doesn’t need to take much time. For one stunning centerpiece, we just ringed a lovely blue-and-white jar with a fern wreath. The wreath adds color and a bit of wild excitement to a very elegant tablescape.

I am crazy about moss balls right now. These cuties are organic and earthy, yet structural, giving a tableau a pop of bright color and an injection of fun. Plus, they are foolproof to use. Just toss a jumble into a cachepot and stick it on a table for a quick display. Or crown a cluster of little urns with an assortment of moss balls. Group them together on a tray, and you’ve got a killer display in minutes.

Add layers for visual interest

Couple several decorative elements together to create one harmonious, intricate scene. The number of layers is up to you. One place to bring in beautiful layers is on your sofa. Toss a summer quilt over the back or arm for added texture and pattern. Then, accessorize with an intriguing mix of pillows.

The most striking bedding ensembles are those that are rich with layers. Fresh white sheets covered with a duvet, capped by a contrasting quilt folded at the bottom, are the foundation. The finish is an eye-catching assortment of pillows, starting with a line of Euro shams at the back, fronted by standard pillows, then a sprinkling of special shapes, like neck rolls and lumbar pillows and squares.

Work in whimsy

Sometimes, we just take ourselves a little too seriously, don’t we? One way to lighten our mood, and the look of home decor, is to tuck in whimsical objects that make us smile. The bar in a good friend’s formal living room is very elegant, until you look a bit closer. The feet of the fancy silver tray holding the bar service are just that — feet! They look like little human digits, holding the tray aloft. What a hoot! I also get a kick out of a planter of the garden goddess, with plants growing out of her head, making one crazy hair-do. Some mornings, I swear my hair looks the same!

I really like to decorate with figurines. Depending upon their size, you can weave them into grand or petite displays, using them as the focal point or as a little surprise to reward the careful viewer.

Find creative uses for decorative elements

One favorite plan of attack is to use accents in unusual ways to solve daily decorating dilemmas, like how to keep your books from falling over in your bookcase. Since my home is filled to the brim with Dan’s stacks and stacks of books, I’ve had plenty of practice finding items to use as interesting bookends, turning what could be an eyesore into a fetching display. Consider using a lamp and an architectural element to sandwich a stack of books. Presto! A layered display.

The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com.

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