Layer Your TableclothsTurn an old flea-market table into an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind focal point by layering the top with contrasting table cloths. Choose cloths of the same fabric and style, but different patterns. This table, for example, is covered with two country-style cotton cloths. Use the larger cloth to set a background on the bottom, as this checkered cloth does.Then place a smaller, more decorative cloth on top. Try Mixing ChairsFor a cozy setting, mix the seating. Here, clean-lined classics--a built-in bench, a bow-back Windsor chair, and a web-seated Shaker high chair--combine to produce the look of a room that has evolved gently over time, a look that says "welcome home."Romance with CandlesOne pair of candlesticks makes a good centerpiece,but several pairs are even better. If they're similar in style and share the same materials, you can increase the display's drama without creating visual cacophony. Here,symmetrically balanced grouping conveys a feeling of formality. To create this kind of balance, imagine a line down the center of the arrangement, then make sure the items on either side are mirror images in size, shape, and visual weight. Naturally Gorgeous CenterpiecesCreate your own one-of-a-kind cornucopia using colorful but ordinary fruits and vegetables. Start in the middle with luscious apples, oranges, and tomatoes displayed on a cake stand for height. Working down and out from there, pile apples,kumquats, pears, or whatever else you like into vintage-style baskets, grouping like colors together for high impact. For a special touch, create your own organic vases by removing seeds and pulp from squashes and filling them with flowers. Select a Simple PaletteAvoid pattern clutter--but not pattern coziness--with simple palettes. Stick with a classic blue and white scheme to easily mix a variety of prints for a personal, evolved look. Then, perk tradition with easy touches. Cushy pads with floppy ties add pretty comfort to bow-back Windsor chairs. Lighten Up with ChecksThe surprise of a picnic check on a chair with formal airs eases this dining room's stiffness. The print works because the crisp geometric pattern actually enhances the chair's gentle curves. When deciding what prints your furniture, windows, or walls should wear, consider that:
Make the Most of Small SpaceThoughtful planning in even the tiniest kitchen can result in a stylish eating area. This mini-bar, for example, is tucked between two pantries. Its elements are all small in scale, from the narrow vertical wall lights to the circular tabletop to the tall bar stools. In addition to scale, all elements are linked stylistically--each is a good example of the sleek-lined Art Deco style.Play with Color
- The scale of a print should correspond with the size of the element it is dressing. Ask yourself if the size of the motif is such that it can be centered and repeated.
- The intensity of color in a pattern can affect how you see a space. Use bolder prints to make a room appear smaller, and airier miniprints to enlarge it.
If you're nervous about directing a whole room's cast of colors, experiment with the bright hues of low-ticket items--supermarket produce, import-store tableware, and napkins tossed over tension rods--to learn what colors appeal to you and to each other. Helpful tip: Mix colors of similar intensity.