• Casual Home Decorating

    Have you ever gone into a home where everything seemed so perfect and formal that you were afraid to sit down? If that look isn't for you, then you want to think about how to make your living area warm, comfortable, and inviting. Decorating your home in a casual style says to visitors (and to you and your family), "Come in, sit down! Make yourself at home. We're glad to have you and we hope you'll stay awhile."

    The first rule of casual home decorating is simple. That's right. Keep it simple. The more ornate and complicated the decorations, the more chance that your living area will look like a showpiece rather than an area meant to be lived it. Simple colors and fabrics for the couch and chairs will make them look more like something to be sat in than looked at in awe. If the colors are neutral (tan, gray, beige, off-white) or darker, the guests will be less worried about dirtying the fabric and spoiling the perfection.

    The floors also should be simple. If you have wood floors, don't keep them highly polished or guests might be afraid to walk on them. If you have carpet, again, choose neutral or dark colors to keep people from worrying about getting it dirty.

    Now, all this doesn't mean that your home has to lack decoration. In fact, if the living area is too sparsely decorated, it won't seem inviting at all. Keep it simple, but not spare. At the same time, choose your decorations with comfort and coziness in mind. Don't seek out decorations that are overly fancy, obviously expensive, or easily broken. Simple pictures of country scenes can set the mood. Boxes, baskets, bird houses, and silk plants (not too fancy!) can add some of the accents you desire and make the house into home.

    The second rule of casual is keep it comfortable. Overstuffed chairs and sofas just beg to be sat in. Soft textures on the fabrics will both look and feel more comfortable. A foot rest is a must. Nothing says comfort like a good place to put up your feet and sit a spell. Lots of pillows for the couch can also add to the look and feel of comfort. But remember the first simple rule. Don't make these pillows too ornate or decorative, or guests will be afraid to rearrange them as back support and arm rests. The carpet also should be soft but not too plush or deep. It should be comfortable underfoot.

    Another rule to keep in mind is keep it horizontal. It may seem strange, but high backs on chairs and couches can make a room seem forbidding and overly formal. A long, low sofa can do wonders for putting everyone at ease and making them feel they've come to a place where they can relax.

    Don't be afraid of things that look old and worn. That's part of the casual look. It conveys the message to guests that this is a place that's lived in, not looked at. You can even seek out such items at garage sales and flea markets. With a little work, you'll find furniture and decorations that are clearly used but still have a lot of miles left in them. This is perfect for a casual home decorating look.

    As you gather these items together or consider new ones, keep this question in mind. How would this make me feel if I saw it in someone else's home? Would it make me feel as though I needed to watch my step, sit carefully, and leave early? Or would it make me feel as though this was a home that welcomed me and wanted me to stay?