Ask a Pro

Q: How do I take care of wood furniture?


A: It’s important to remember that the wood used for your furniture pieces was designed and manufactured and was once part of a living, breathing tree. Before it’s created into the beautiful piece you’ve just purchased, the wood was first carefully dried, typically in a kiln. This is done so that excess moisture can be removed. It’s important that the wood retains some moisture so that it can easily adapt to the relative indoor humidity of your home.

In winter months, when your heating system is much more active, the wood in your furniture tends to lose moisture and shrink just slightly. And, during summer months, or rainy times, when humidity is high, moisture is absorbed into the wood from the air. That’s why you may notice that the halves of the extension table in your dining room part slightly during dry cold winters – or that the doors on your cabinets tend to stick on rainy summer days.

For the best protection of your fine wood furniture try to keep the relative humidity of your home at about 25 to 35 percent. Also, it’s important that you avoid placing furniture in front of radiators, heating vents or fireplaces. And don’t forget, that natural sunlight can be very cruel to your furniture’s finish.

Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s directions for details on how best to care for your new furniture pieces. I suggest that my clients keep these instructions filed away for future reference. Manufacturer recommendations may suggest a special brand of wax, and it’s important that it be applied as directed. In between any special applications, frequent dusting is advisable. Use a soft cloth that has been slightly moistened to prevent a buildup of dust.Care for your wood furniture properly, and someday it may become a most treasured heirloom!

Q: What is the best way to hang pictures or arrange them on the walls?


A: Here are some tips on arranging your artwork with an aesthetic eye.

Hang picture at eye level.  

In a living room, pictures should be hung so that people sitting in the room may view them while seated. A large picture behind the sofa may end up being as little as four inches from the top of the sofa and it often looks best when displayed alone because it serves as the room’s focal point.

Effective picture groupings.

Smaller pictures become more effective when grouped together as opposed to being scattered all over the wall. Balance and spacing are important when arranging artwork.  Pieces should be of similar visual weight as nearby furniture. A rule of thumb is that the space between two pictures should be less than the width of a single picture.

Hang artwork right – the first time!

If you’re apprehensive about hammering nails into your walls, cut pieces of paper into the size of your pictures. You can even mark the placement of the hooks using this technique. Then arrange them by taping them on the wall until you are happy with the results. Once you are satisfied, mark where the hooks will go with a pencil, going right through the paper, and proceed to hang your artwork.

The type of artwork you use will depend on your personal preferences and your budget. It can be simple prints, needlework, limited edition prints or original art. Of course, the more valuable the piece, the more important its place should be.

Give Lori a call at 701-220-8493 for help beautifully arranging your photos and artwork!

Q: How to design a smaller space?


A: When working with a small space, color and lighting are essential. Lighter shades create the illusion of a larger area. They reflect and maximize the way light moves around the room. Some designers avoid dark colors in small spaces. They absorb light and can make the walls feel closed in. Or, to someone who loves color, they can add coziness to a room. Dark colors and patterns in a small space can be very dramatic, if applied properly. Imagine a small powder room with a dark patterned wallpaper. You add in proper lighting and ‘ta da’, your guests will be so impressed!

Small spaces can be intimidating to handle; especially when you’re going for a total redesign. If the idea of revamping your home on your own seems out of reach, contact Lori Malloy for assistance.

Q: How to create a color palette?


A: Creating a color palette from scratch is a joy. What actually happens most of the time is homeowners have existing hard finishes such as tile, stone or countertops that need to be worked into the design. These finishes can be a bit bossy. They will dictate your color palette. How do you proceed?

Step 1. Identify the existing color in your hard finishes.

Step 2. Select an inspirational fabric, rug or art piece that not only relates to the existing finishes but introduces the new colors you would like to include in your design. This will become the jumping-off point of your palette.

Step 3. Repeat all of the dominant colors in large, medium and small doses of pattern, texture and finishes.

Step 4. Last, but not least, it’s critical that you take into account how the new color palette for this room relates to the rest of your home. Color continuity is key to creating an overall design for your home.

Give Decorating Den Interiors a call at 701-220-8493 and visit with Lori about creating a color palette for your home.

Q: Drapery, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


A: Nothing adds more drama and function to your room than a beautifully designed window treatment. After your shades have been installed there’s still an opportunity for creating style and function with added drapery. Let me count the ways:

  1. Drapery can lower fuel bills by providing insulation from hot, damaging summer sun and winter’s chilly drafts.
  2. Drapery can enhance a lovely view, or disguise an unpleasant view.
  3. Stationary panels can be used to correct the size, placement, and mismatched shapes of windows in a room.
  4. When drapery is installed, rooms will have a cozy and finished feel.
  5. Drapery fabric is also good at dampening inside and outside noise; creating a calming environment in your home.

Whether you choose to make your windows a focal point or an inconspicuous background, remember that each window in your home serves a functional, as well as design, purpose. Give Lori at Decorating Den Interiors a call to see how you can love drapery too!

Q: Did you know your area rug can have an impact on the overall design scheme?


A: A beautifully designed area rug could easily become the focal point of your room. Area rugs are artwork on your floor. They are one of today’s most popular accessories for your home. You can express your individuality, bring character into a room and provide each room a featured conversation piece.

Beautiful rugs highlight a specific furniture grouping or when they are placed over hardwood floors they help with sound and provide room warmth. A homeowner can also visually modify the shape of a room by changing the shape of an area rug. Square, oval, round, rectangular, and free-form designs all add so much depth and texture to the room’s decor.

There are many styles and materials of area rugs available from wool, synthetic, oriental to hooked tapestry designs. Decorating Den Interiors and Lori Malloy will find the perfect rug for your lifestyle.

Q: How to design your master bedroom?


A: Much more than just the place you sleep, today’s master bedroom should function as a truly personal in-home retreat. The private nature of this room invites the indulgence of sumptuous fabrics and personal style preferences.

Filling its role as the room’s focal point, the bed should be a strong statement in the room while imparting an ambience of luxury and leisure to the homeowners. Nothing says custom grandeur more than exquisite bed coverings with lavish accent pillows. And contrary to what every “bed-in-a-bag retailer” would have us believe, beds with varying frames, box springs, and mattresses are not standard sizes. Custom design includes custom fitting.

Possibly more than any other area of the home, window treatments here need to be both beautiful and functional. Styles, fabrics, trim, hardware, and fabrication techniques can vary tremendously to satisfy both function and beauty. A small love seat or chaise positioned at the foot of the bed can serve a dual role as a comfy nest for reading and as a rest for folding back the bed cover at night.

Side tables for the bed are growing even larger to provide storage and space for the user’s accessories. The bedside tables needn’t be identical, but should reflect the personal needs of the individual sleeper. In fact, current styles don’t call for the traditional “bedroom set” at all, but invite creativity and better functionality with individual pieces that work well together.

Deep, rich wall colors and papers create a sense of tranquility as well as a hint of drama in a bedroom. A large, custom framed floor-length mirror can add interest. Lighting must also be carefully selected. Let Decorating Den Interiors help you to make your master bedroom personal, cozy and functional. You’ll find yourself retreating there more often than ever before!