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When it comes to home decorating, you need to consider more than just colours and accessories; you also need to consider your furniture layout, which can have a huge impact on the overall mood.

Janet Stone, of J.L.S. Design in Port Perry, Ontario, describes the perfect layout as appealing to both function and harmony. “Traffic flow is essential,” she says. “A good practical furniture layout will dictate how people move about each room and into other spaces in the home. If this is not harmonious, then the whole home will feel disjointed.”

To create a functional space, Stone recommends de-cluttering as the first – and most important – step. “Nothing eats up valuable real estate in a room than having too much furniture and accessories,” she warns. “Using a few well-chosen furniture pieces and accessories will greatly maximize the space.”

But de-cluttering can mean more than just removing unnecessary items. It can also mean ensuring your furniture and accessories fit the scale of the room – both in size and in style. Rosemary Valeriani, of SoHome Interior Decorating in Ottawa, says that the most common error she sees in home decorating is that people often don’t know how their furniture best fits into their space. “Often, pieces are not to scale, colours are not coordinating and the room becomes very cluttered and has no style or flow,” she says. “Furniture that is too big for the room will make it look cluttered and will be difficult to move around. Pieces that are too small will make the room feel cold and empty.”

To create the right mood with your furniture layout, determine what you want your focal point to be. Stone says that the many people make the mistake of simply lining furniture up along the walls, leaving a large empty space in the middle of the room, with no focal point. “Every room needs a focal point from which to lay a furniture plan. Build out from there.”

You also have to determine what tone and message you want the room to convey – and use your furniture to express that. “Four chairs facing each other in a circle in front of a fireplace says, ‘Come in, sit down, relax and have a great conversation,’” says Stone. “A wing chair or chaise lounge in a corner with a small table and lamp suggests a quiet retreat after a busy day.”

It’s only after your layout has been established that you should move onto other décor plans, such as accessories and paint, to build upon that overall mood. In fact, Valeriani warns that paint should be the last thing you consider. “It is easier to find a paint colour that will coordinate with your furniture and accessories than the opposite,” she says. “Most people want to paint before they move in or before they have purchased any furniture. The wall colour you choose may look great in the empty room until you add the furniture and find that the colour is off.”

And if you do run into a snag like that, don’t be afraid to change and play and, above all, let your personality shine through. “When it comes to furniture layouts, there are rules to follow in design and you have to know when to break them,” says Stone.

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