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The Art of Scale In Home Decorating

1/14/2015 12:00:00 AM

NEWSDAY - Home and Garden/Lifestyle
By Stacey Altherr

Even the most beautiful chandelier or expensive area rug can look awkward if not placed correctly, and creative artwork will look odd if not displayed with thought in a home, local designers say.

A well-decorated room depends on how and where each of its elements are arranged, with scale and placement of furniture, lighting, artwork and rugs giving a room the right flow.

Though interior design is both intuitive and a learned skill, there are some rules of thumb. "I'm a big believer in guidelines," says Kelly Dall, a Greenlawn-based interior decorator, "but I don't think it's hard and fast. It's your home."

For instance, says Dall, members of her family are in the 6-foot-tall range, so she tends to hang lighting fixtures higher than standard height.

Using templates to figure out how and where to place furniture can help a person judge proportion, says Mindy Miles Greenberg, owner of Encore Decor Interior Design, with offices in Great Neck and Manhattan.

I'm famous for appearing at people's homes with plastic party tablecloths, cut to the size of the sofa, light fixture, et cetera, before we purchase these big-ticket items," she says.


Area rugs can connect different parts of a room, but there are guidelines on where to place them and what size they should be.

"A pet peeve I have is when rugs are too small for a room," notes designer Eileen Kathryn Boyd of Huntington.

"If it is slightly oversized, it will actually make the room look bigger," she says.

Designers agree on one thing: Make sure you have enough room to pull out dining room chairs without them falling off the edge of the rug. Give at least 24 inches around the table for the chairs, but if you have more room, 36 inches is even better, says decorator Kelly Dall.

"Having the chair at the edge of the rug is uncomfortable," says Mindy Miles Greenberg of Encore Decor Interior Design. It's all right to go with the largest rug the dining room allows.

There should be about 30 inches from the wall to the chairs for good flow around the table, says Adrienne Kessel, a Port Jefferson interior designer.?In any room, try to keep 12 to 18 inches of exposed floor between the wall and the edge of the rug when using an area carpet on a larger scale, Dall adds.


Lighting may be the unsung hero of the decorating world. If it casts too many shadows, it can make a room look ghostly. If there is too much direct light, a space can feel clinical.

"Good lighting is essential in all rooms," says designer Adrienne Kessel. Deciding what type of lighting to use depends on the room. Do you need task lighting, for reading or kitchen work? Or are you decorating a living room where mood lighting is what is called for?

In a dining room, the light fixture should shine down on the table and be 30 to 34 inches above its surface, says designer Thérèse Pomerenk of Kings Park, who adds that the width of the fixture should be about 1 foot less than the width of the table. If too small or too large, a chandelier will look out of proportion with the rest of the room, designers say.

There are exceptions. In a Cove Neck dining room designed by Huntington decorator Eileen Kathryn Boyd, pictured below and on the cover, the chandelier is large and hung higher to "fill the air space over the table," she says.


The placement of furniture can be complicated and vary according to room size, window arrangements and the layout, but there are a few rules that can help make a room more visually pleasing.

One is the "two-thirds rule," Kings Park designer Thérèse Pomerenk says. A coffee table should be about two-thirds the length of the sofa in front of which it sits. A rug that is in front of the sofa can follow that rule, too.

Flow around the room is also important. Leave enough space between chairs, tables and other furnishings to allow free movement. For instance, position the coffee table about 18 inches away from the sofa, allowing room to get up and walk around the table easily, Pomerenk says.


''People have a tendency to hang their artwork too high," points out Port Jefferson designer Adrienne Kessel. As a single item, artwork should be hung at eye level at its midpoint, about 56 to 60 inches off the floor and about 4 to 8 inches above the top of a sofa or console, says decorator Kelly Dall, who also emphasizes the importance of negative space.

At a Centerport home she designed, two framed images of a horse's head - each 32 by 54 inches, with 2 inches between them - hang on a large wall. About 7 feet of unadorned space separates them from another piece of art: a framed Hermès scarf that had belonged to the homeowner's mother. The idea, Dall says, is to allow each element to shine.

"The eye needs a place to rest," Dall says.

Small items of artwork scattered on a wall can be distracting, but how to display those things you love?

For either hanging art or for placing favorite items on a table or dresser, designers think in odd numbers of three, five or nine. Pairs or sets of four work also, if the pieces are identical or go together, as in one photo divided into separate pieces. Kessel says she often takes her pictures and puts them in similar frames to give a sense of unity. Use items of different heights and textures on tabletops for visual appeal, she says.

As for mirrors, designer Mindy Miles Greenberg says she likes to match the height to other decor. If there are sconces hung 30 inches above a server, for instance, she will align the center of the mirror to the sconces.


Room Makeover: Living Room Goes From Bare to Bold

1/17/2013 12:00:00 AM


Lorraine and Tom O’Keefe of Oyster Bay were starting from scratch when they finally decided to furnish their living room, which lacked even a chair. “We knew we didn’t want a television in there, but weren’t sure about what we did want,” says Lorraine, a physical therapist.

The family turned to designer Kelly Dall of Kelly Dall Interior Design of Huntington. “It was a very linear room, so I wanted to add as many nonlinear elements as I could,” says Dall. In addition to accenting the room with bold, formal trim, she added lush fabrics and a gas fireplace. The room’s colors are neutral; Dall chose to layer texture to give the room more interest.

TOTAL COST OF LIVING ROOM: $40,428 (includes $1,500 fee from Dall). — Sylvia E. King-Cohen


Newsday Home and Garden: Using Feng Shui to Redesign a Foyer

3/19/2010 12:00:00 AM


After two years in their Greenlawn house, designer Kelly Dall of Initial Designs Inc. decided that the foyer and second-floor landing of the home she shares with husband, John, and their three children didn't adequately reflect her design style or her adherence to feng shui. Dall explained that, in feng shui terms, a cluttered foyer and landing could lead to a cluttered career. The principles of feng shui don't have to overwhelm good decor, Dall says. Here's how she pulled together an area that she says encourages health and well-being while still making a style statement. TOTAL: $16,661 (Dall's usual fee for a makeover of this type would be $500.) - Sylvia E. King-Cohen

BEFORE. "The foyer is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, so it was important that it make a statement," says Kelly Dall, 43. In feng shui, "the foyer represents the front center quadrant of the ba gua.
Within the home this area represents the homeowner's career, the ear and kidney within the body."

AFTER. In Dall's foyer, the focal color for feng shui is black and the element is water. Dall brought in these aspect in an understated manner by framing photos of moving water in black. She also used black in the carpet.
On the landing, where yellow is the color for health, she incorporated yellow accent pillows and gold.
STAIR RUNNER, $3,500. From Stark Carpet, a designer-only source, purchased through Initial Designs.
PAINT, $2,958. Paint was three gallons of Ralph Lauren Hutchinson ($128) from Benjamin Moore purchased at Aboff's Paint & Wallcoverings in Huntington and three gallons of Hollandlac Fine Paints of Europe white high-gloss oil paint ($330) from Willis Paint in Roslyn. Work ($2,500) was done by Bill Peer Painting of Huntington.
HAND-BEADED PEACOCK TAPESTRY, existing. This was purchased in Singapore while Kelly and John Dall were on vacation.
BRONZE BUDDHA, existing. From IFI Auction, Stamford, Conn.
THREE-LEGGED ENTRY TABLE, existing. Purchased at the now-defunct Bombay and Co. in Huntington (March 2010) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara


A New Dining Room For the Holidays

10/22/2009 12:00:00 AM


Lloyd Harbor homeowners Scott and Bernadette Van Son and their two children -- ages 5 and 4 -- have an extra reason to look forward to the holidays this year -- a new dining room. The room had a makeover under the eye and hand of Kelly Dall of Initial Designs of Huntington. "The goal was a high-end look on a low-cost budget," says Dall. Total $7,166. -- Sylvia E. King-Cohen

The kitchen-dining room of Scott and Bernadette Van Son of Lloyd Harbor before its makeover. Credit: Handout

The change from the austere kitchen-dining room is dramatic. The paint is the hue Hutchinson from Ralph Lauren, but the paint is an identical color from Benjamin Moore. "I like the Rallph Lauren colors, but the Benjamin Moore paint covers better" designer Kelly Dall says. Paint was $130 from Aboff's in Huntington, labor was $500 by contractor Alex Armonas Development Corp., Oyster Bay Cove. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The Van Son's had the buffet and mirror, but the three lanterns in the center were gifts from the designer. The lamps that coordinate with the chandelier and the wall paper were $520 from IFI, an auction house in Stamford, Conn. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

This is the wallpaper pattern in the dining room. "Even in a small space, you can use wallpaper, as long as the pattern repeats at least twice," says designer Kelly Dall of Initial Designs of Huntington. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

These three lanterns werea gift to the homeowners from the designer Kelly Dall of Initial Designs of Huntington. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The chandelier is a main attraction in the dining room. Purchased from Troy Lighting through Initial Designs of Huntington for $890. The piece is Scott Van Son's favorite in the room. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The soft light of early fall is made more appealing by the windows in the dining room. (September 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The window treatments give the room a glow brightening the dark furniture. "Since there wasn't a privacy issue, thee isn't a need to have curtains closed, says designer Kelly Dall. She used dummy panels that frame, rather than cover, the window. "We were able to save abuot $1,200 in fabric, labor and hardware," she says. Fabric: $325 from East Coast Fabrics; labor $250, through Kelly Dall, Interior Designs; hardware $535 from Restoration Hardware in Garden City. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

A lamp on the buffet warms the newly renovated diningin room of Scoot and Bernadette Van Son. (October 2009) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa


Makeover: Living Room, Greenlawn, Ny, $16,687

6/3/2009 12:00:00 AM


When designer Kelly Dall, husband John, 45, and their three children moved from a house on the beach to their home in Greenlawn two years ago, Dall wanted a living room that was both elegant and inviting. She achieved the look by mixing old and new, traditional and transitional. "If you use all of one style, the room will look dated more quickly," says Dall, 42, principal designer and owner of Initial Designs Inc. in Huntington. Here's how she did it. CHAIRS (2) and COUCH, existingPAINTING, $720 (includes three cans at $40 each) Ceiling is a Benjamin Moore custom mix of 3/4-gallon 1646 Blue Lace and 1/4-gallon white, and walls are Benjamin Moore Waterbury Cream. Painted by Bill Peer Painting of Halesite

LANDSCAPE ARTWORK, $129 (includes framing) This inexpensive art was enhanced by the ornate frame. From Classic Galleries, Huntington

THREE-SHADE LAMP, $69 At first, Dall wasn't sure it would work in the room, but "I saw it and just had to have it." From HomeGoods, Commack

VASES, $60 (for both) From HomeGoods and the Lenox Outlet in Riverhead

TEA TRAY TABLE, $330 She found this antique on eBay. The top tray lifts off for serving.

WOOL AREA RUG $5,400 From Initial Designs

WINDOW TREATMENTS, $1,200 (for two) Designed by Dall, fabric from Kravet Fabrics in Bethpage, fabrication through Initial Designs ACCENT PILLOWS, $700 From Initial Designs

CUSHION FOR WINDOW SEAT, $2,500 Fabric is Marquie de Cuevas-Bleu, from Clarence House Fabrics in Manhattan.

ANTIQUE-LOOK GLASS LAMP, $189 From trade-only source Curry & Co., through Initial Designs

GLASS CANDLE HOLDERS, $120 (for three) From Pottery Barn Outlet in Riverhead

SQUARE END TABLE, $499 Dall likes mixing the room's table shapes to add interest. From Theodore Alexander, a trade-only source FLORAL ARRANGEMENT, $200 Designed by Dall, fabricated by Main Street Nursery in Huntington

WOOD- and LEATHER-INLAY COFFEE TABLE, $432 From IFI Auction Depot, Stamford, Conn.

ACCESSORIES, $140 From Accessories of Drexel Heritage of Farmingdale and the Potting Shed in Huntington

POINTER ARTWORK, $1,100 From Classic Galleries

WALL SCONCES, $2,700 (for two) "I like candles throughout the room," Dall says of the tapers she lights almost daily. "But I use colors similar to the wall, so you notice the sconces and not the candle." From Friedman Bros., a trade-only source, through Initial Designs

PORCELAIN-TOPPED TRAY TABLE, $199 From The Import Company, a trade-only source, available through Initial Designs

BUDDHA STATUE, existing Purchased at an auction

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