Monthly Archives: May 2011

Upgrade your Real Space!

For the new season, we will be offering a new feature to the Real Spaces viewer, called Upgrade your Real Space. If you have a room or space that needs upgrading, send in your home videos for a chance to win a makeover! Viewers will then be given the chance to text to vote for their favorite space to be remodeled.  Stay tuned for more info on this great new feature of Real Spaces.


How to Hang Art at the Right Height

One of my pet peeves is art hung too high on a wall and, unfortunately, it happens all too often.  I know you’ve seen it too, the wall art requiring you to tilt your head back to look up at it or the piece that floats so high above the sofa that it has no relationship to the furniture or the rest of the room.   The following photos illustrate my point:

Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.
Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.



Art should be only about 10" from the back of the sofa instead of way up on the wall.
Art should be only about 8″ from the back of the love seat instead of way up on the wall. Art on the left near the window is also above eye level. Take a look clear into the back room and you’ll see still another way-too-high piece of art.



Art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at eye level.
Look up – this art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at viewable eye level.



Whose Eye Level?

Many of you have probably heard the rule about hanging art at “eye level.”  Hmmm, but if you’re 5’5″ tall and living with someone who is 6’4″ (hope you don’t mind my using you as an example, Terrie!), whose eye level do you use?  A simple rule of thumb for hanging art is to place the centerpoint of the art at 60″ to 63″ above the floor.  From there you can adjust accordingly for the overall height of the ceiling or height of the furniture over which the art will hang.  This measurement provides a great base-line starting point and a good foundation for staying away from the too-high syndrome.

To find the centerpoint of the art piece measure the full height of the piece (if framed include the frame in the measurement) and divide by 2.  Then measure the full width of the piece and divide by 2.  The point at which these measurements intersect is the centerpoint of the art piece.

Arranging More Than One Art Piece

If you plan to hang a grouping lay all of the items out on the floor and move them around until you find a desireable arrangement or make cut-to-size paper shapes of each item and use painter’s tape to post them on the wall.   Once you’ve figured out the format for your grouping,  find the centerpoint by measuring the height and width of the overall arrangement, treating it as if it were a single piece.   Use the centerpoint of the entire grouping as your starting point for hanging the arrangement and build out from it.


Use cut-to-size templates or your art with painter's tape to experiment with placement.  Photo
Use cut-to-size templates of your art with painter’s tape to experiment with placement. Photo



Hanging Height

After determining your art’s centerpoint you must figure out where to to place the hanger so the art’s centerpoint ends up at the correct height.  If your art has picture wire installed on the back, pull up on the center of the wire and measure how high the wire peaks from the centerpoint of your art piece.   If the wire peaks 4″ above the centerpoint of the art then add 4″ to your 60″ eye level height for a total of 64″.  On the wall where you want your art installed measure up from the floor and put a light pencil mark at 64″.  This is the point at which you place the hook portion of your picture hanger. Tip: If you have a large or heavy piece of art you may want to use two hangers instead of one for added safety and stability.  To do this hold the wire in two places (separated by about half the width of the art) to find how high the wire peaks, add the peak measurement to the 60″ eye level height and place your two hanger hooks at these points.

If your art piece has two loops or hanging bars instead of wire, measure their height and distance left or right from the art’s centerpoint.   Then mark these points up and over from the 60″ eye level mark and place the hangers accordingly.  Double check to make certain both hooks are the same height by using a level.

Measure Twice Hang Once

A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art - use it often!
A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art – use it often!


You’ve heard the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”  Good advice for carpenters and seamstresses – and adaptable to hanging art as “measure twice, nail once.”  A tape measure like the one pictured above helps you save your walls from endless holes by measuring before nailing:

  • Measure your art vertically and horizontally and divide each measurement by 2 in order to find its centerpoint
  • Measure 60″ from the floor up the wall for placement of your art centerpoint and lightly mark the spot with pencil or chalk
  • Measure the hanging wire peak, or the location of loops or bars on the back of your art, and mark them lightly on the wall in relation to your art centerpoint mark
  • Nail your picture hanger so the hook(s) is on the designated marks you made after measuring

Here’s to hanging your art and enjoying the view without a crick in your neck!  You’re on your way to conquering one of the biggest decorating mistakes.

Now that we’ve discussed the right height for hanging art, in tomorrow’s post I’ll continue the discussion with where to hang your art.  Be sure to check back or, better yet, sign up for a free e-mail subscription and the post will be delivered to your inbox!



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How-To Accessorize a Side Table Perfectly.

All of us enjoy accessorizing – it’s the fun part of the decorating process.  We get to shop for all those charming, shiny, silly, beautiful things that we just can’t say no to.  While the shopping may happen throughout the project, when you finally get to put them in place it generally means the project is done and that’s such a relief.  Until you actually place all your carefully chosen doodads and realize……..the room doesn’t look quite right – it doesn’t look polished and perfect.

Don’t go into a tail spin yet.  Like just about everything else in design, good accessorizing can be learned.  Follow a few simple guidelines and soon your rooms will look like you hired a professional.

A side table: BEFORE

A side table: BEFORE


Here’s an example of a typical home side table (minus the clutter of letters and newspapers…..keep the clutter put away so your tablescape shines).  You need a lamp but it’s blocking a lot of the picture; you love candles; the clock is helpful and functional and then the little round box was a gift.  Each piece on it’s own is attractive and meaningful, but as an appealing tablescape, something is definitely missing.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.


This second picture makes a few changes and a stronger statement.  The lamp is moved off center, closer to the seating and doesn’t block so much of the picture.  The fact that it slightly overlaps the frame of the picture serves to connect the art to the table.  A red vase is added to bring the color of the art down to the tabletop but more importantly to bridge the height difference between the lamp and all the shorter elements.  All the various elements are clustered together to form a more cohesive statement.

Final tablescape: After

Final tablescape: After


The final tablescape is a balance of color, size, interest and function.  I added a silk orchid for a touch of softness and life.  It was a little too short so I raised it with a couple of books.  I filled in the empty wall space created by moving the lamp with a dimensional small piece of art – again providing a connection between the tabletop and larger art.  The clock (the functional item) is still front and center so you can easily see the time, the sentimental box is readily visible and there’s still plenty of room to put a drink.


Tablescapes can evolve over time as you travel, go shopping or receive gifts, and these pictures show how that can happen.  Keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Connect the tabletop to the wall or furniture piece behind it by placing a large enough piece to connect the elements and anchor the tablescape.
  • Create interest by varying the textures (honeycomb candle against a smooth ceramic vase).
  • Vary the heights but keep them connected by generally graduating from shortest in front to tallest in back.
  • Add a touch of greenery or flowers to the tablescape to provide a softer element.
  • Leave enough empty space on the table for it to remain functional.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.  It’s certainly easy enough to move things around and rearrange.  Bring in accessories from other rooms of the house and try them on your tabletop.
  • Create a tablescape then leave it alone and live with it for a couple of days.  If it still doesn’t feel right, change the elements around.

As a designer I love to accessorize, just like you do.  I’ll scour the showrooms, stores and internet looking for the perfect “jewelry” to finish a room.  I’ll find ways to incorporate the owners’ favorite things into my plan.  You too can have that designer look with a little practice and help from me.

Have an decorating dilemma?  Contact me – I’d love to help solve it.  Did you find this article helpful?  Susbscribe and get more great tips and,



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Terra Caribbean Joins the Real Spaces family!

One of the Caribbean’s leading Real Estate Agencies has just joined the Real Spaces family. Terra Caribbean, carries premium properties in many caribbean countries including Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. This addition will guratee that persons seeking premium properties for rent or sale in residential and or commercial categories can now browse select properties from this agency.

Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming season of Real Spaces!

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Did you know that as a Real Spaces customer you will be put directly in touch with one of four dedicated Mortgage officers to help you with the financial aspects of purchasing your home or property. When you send in your email request on amy property you are interested in, we forward that email to one of four officers that work with Real Spaces.

These Mortgage officers will assist you identify the budget you should work with and then we source the home style you want, in the area you desire, at the property value your income allows. So, Real Spaces will take care of your every need in securing your property.

As the only Real Estate service in Trinidad and Tobago that offers this service, its no wonder that we are the fastest growing Real Estate resource in T&T!

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5 Small-Room Rules to Break

By Susan Kleinman


Rule to Break: Paint Small Spaces White
When decorator Nick Olsen moved into his 525-square-foot studio in New York City, the walls were painted white, in keeping with small-space convention. “But the place just looked gray and dingy,” says Olsen. And so, rather than just slapping on a newer, brighter coat of white, he painted the apartment’s main room Oregano Green (Benjamin Moore 2147-10), in an oil-based metal enamel, to resemble lacquer.

“Although the apartment is small,” says Olsen, “it’s actually rather grand with 12-foot ceilings, huge windows and a high-relief fireplace. So I felt it would be a shame to tone it down with a pale color or white.” For even more impact, he painted the doors glossy black and the trim white, and added a deep teal velvet sofa. Olsen didn’t shy away from bright color in the 35- (yes, 35!) square-foot kitchen either, wallpapering the fridge in a bright spring pattern and painting the walls and the ceiling Sea Mist Green (Benjamin Moore #2041-50). “To make color work in a really tiny room like this kitchen,” Olsen suggests, “paint the walls and ceilings the same color so you’re eye doesn’t stop at the ceiling line.”


Rule to Break: Stay Away From Lots of Patterns

Solids, tone-on-tone textures and small prints can make a room feel larger by making it seem calmer. Sometimes, however, calm can be, well, boring. But there’s no chance of dozing off in this dressing room designed by April Sheldon. With its bright red chinoiserie wallpaper and zebra-patterned rug, the space is vibrant and lively. And rather than make the nine-and-a-half by 10-and-a-half foot space feel even smaller, says Sheldon, the patterns actually enlarge the space.

“I think big bold prints on the walls and lots of pattern in a small space really distract you from the size of the area,” says the San Francisco-based designer. “The room takes on the feeling of a walk-in art piece.”

Of course, not every mix of patterns will work well in a small space. The key, says Sheldon, is to make sure that the scale of the pattern varies. “If the scale of the wallpaper and the rug had been the same, it would have been overwhelming.” But because the wallpaper’s pattern is much smaller, the room looks – and feels – comfortable, rather than cramped.


Rule to Break: Keep Knick-Knacks to a Minimum

Small, spare space; sleek, empty surfaces. It’s a great look for a trendy hotel room, says New York-based designer Alan Tanksley, but at home, even the smallest space benefits mightily from the addition of favorite objects and collections.

Although the main living space in Tanksley’s own studio apartment is just 400 square feet, it provides several of what the designer calls “visual destinations” – arrangements of interesting objects carefully placed on shelves and tabletops to attract the eye. Among his favorite arrangements is a collection of white objects from several centuries and many countries, grouped together on an antique roll-top desk. “Although they’re made of different materials,” he says, “the objects harmonize because they are a single color.”

Which is not to say that colorful objects can’t work well in a small space, too; it’s just a matter of editing. “Always remember that you need a place for the eye to rest,” says Tanksley. “It’s better to group a large number of like objects together than to scatter them on every tabletop throughout the room.”

Rule to Break: Very Small Rooms Demand Very Small Furniture

While small furniture leaves more room for walking around in a small space, miniscule couches and chairs are rarely comfortable. So rather than place two pokey little loveseats in this 7×12-foot sitting room, designer Amie Weitzman built large seating banquettes into the blue-tweed-upholstered walls.

“This room is part of a guest suite,” explains Weitzman, “So comfort was really the top priority.” The sofas are deep enough to sink into and large enough to flop onto, “and building them right into the wall,” Weitzman says, “buys you a few extra inches of floor space.”

Even if you are using freestanding pieces in a small room, you can go with substantial furniture. “The one thing to make sure of,” says Weiztman, “is that if you need to, you can walk around the furniture comfortably.”


Rule to Break: Hang Lots of Mirrors to Visually Expand a Space

True, mirrors reflect light, which can make a little space look brighter. And yes, mirrors will reflect the depth of the space to the opposite wall, making the room appear larger. But do you really want to look at a reflection of a blank wall – or stare at the same painting in duplicate?

“Sometimes,” says New York-based designer Roderick N. Shade, “a room is so small that even if you mirrored every surface and every piece of furniture, you would just have a small mirrored room.”

So, instead of turning your small space into a hall of mirrors, why not just accept its petite dimensions – and then line the walls with art and objects that you really love, as Elizabeth Blitzer did in the dining area of her 625-square-foot New York condo. “There really is nothing wrong with a small room,” says Roderick Shade. “So sometimes it’s best not to try and make it feel bigger. Just make it the best small room possible.”


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Chic, Cheap Bathroom Makeover Tips!

If you feel like unleashing your creative potential this weekend, point your palette toward the bathroom. It’s the room where you can finish a project in a weekend and still have money left over to get takeout while you’re waiting for the paint or polyurethane to dry.

“The beauty of a bathroom is that it’s small,” says Gary Foreman, publisher of The Dollar Stretcher. “So if you’ve never sponge painted before, you can try it for an hour or two and if don’t like it, what have you wasted? You can paint over it the next day. If you’re in the mood to be creative design-wise, there’s no better room than the bathroom.”

Fun Looks Under $100

If you like the look of old fashioned tin ceilings, then you’ll love the Norwall Traditional Ceiling Tile Paintable Wallpaper $12 for 56 sq. ft. roll at Lowe’s). “It’s a textured wallpaper that looks like embossed white plaster,” says designer Audra Kennedy, of Audra Kennedy Designs in Huntsville, Ala.

Kennedy helped a friend apply it under the chair rail of a bathroom in an 80-year-old house. “We painted it and created this beautiful wainscoting. It looks fantastic and we put the wallpaper up in one morning.”

Paint and regular wallpaper (make sure it’s pre-pasted) can also dramatically change the look of a bathroom, says Kennedy. She put up grey diamond patterned wallpaper with a white background in a bathroom that had dark aqua tiles on the floor and shower. In 1970s houses with outlandish tile colors, “You need to do something interesting on the walls to draw the eye up,” says Kennedy.

When painting the walls of your bathroom, use bold, deep colors, suggests Kathy Wilson, editor of “Carry color onto the ceiling to keep it from looking broken up,” says Wilson.

Tired of your vinyl flooring? Paint it! Make sure to prime it first with a specialty primer and then consider creating a tile pattern or using stencils for a border. Follow with four to six coats of polyurethane, which essentially serves as a coat of plastic. Here’s another creative, and really economical, idea from Kathy Wilson: tear off irregular size pieces from brown paper bags, glue them to the floor and top with four to six coats of polyurethane. “It looks like leather or stone,” says Wilson. “You can also stain it different colors.”

Need artwork? Many designers suggest framing prints (from books, magazines or garden catalogues) that won’t ruin your budget if they get damp. In a children’s bathroom, hang kids’ artwork. Another great place to look for framed prints, including ones with a bathroom theme, is

In a bathroom, artwork can also be practical. For a wide selection of machine washable, whimsical hand-painted canvas shower curtains, many of which are under $100, go to

Go Custom

Custom-made shower curtains by designers can cost more than $250, but if you pick out the fabric yourself, take your own measurements and hire a local seamstress to do the hemming, you can save a lot of money, says Kennedy.

Give your bathroom some texture by adding beadboard or wainscoting to one or all of the walls. The price will vary depending on how many tools you already own, says Kennedy. You can buy primed beadboard at Lowe’s, which also offers instructions for installation.

Big Updates, Small Price Tag

Choose a striking cotton or polyester fabric and get a custom-made shower curtain (about $250 for labor and fabric) and a matching valance (about $100). Keep in mind, says Kathy Iven, of Fabric Farms Interiors in Hilliard, Ohio, indoor-outdoor fabrics are becoming much more stylish and they won’t attract mold or mildew. (See or for great selections). Spend whatever you have left on beautiful hardware.

If you’re tired of your vanity countertop but can’t afford to replace it, consider resurfacing the top. Granitclad has half the thickness of a granite bathroom countertop and a fiberglass backing so it can flex without cracking. Find a fabricator to come in, measure your countertop, and cut out a replacement that goes directly over the old top. It costs about $45 per sq. ft. so a three foot long vanity could be resurfaced for $300. For more information, go to

Even if you’ve only got one weekend’s worth of time and a small amount of money, you can turn your bathroom into a stand-out room by Sunday night.


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