Readers' Favorite: Decorating Ideas
Personalize a Lampshade
With just a bit of rope cord, fringe, or ribbon, a plain lampshade becomes enchantingly distinctive. Apply fabric glue to back of trim, and secure to shade, smoothing as you go. If needed, fold over edge to create a hem, and glue.
Bring Outdoor Furniture Inside
Old-time metal garden furniture and plant stands can be as charming and functional in the home as they are outside. This garden chair becomes a sitting spot in front of a vanity while the plant stand holds bath accoutrements.
Enliven Small Spaces
Vintage wallpaper is ideal for enhancing household nooks that are frequently overlooked, such as closets, alcoves, and shelves. The lively patterns are usually available in a limited number of rolls, but you need only a modest amount to make a big statement.
Hang It with Ribbon
Using ribbon to highlight a mirror, frame, or platter brings a sense of both grandeur and playfulness to a room. Ribbon also offers a subtle way to bring color into a space. Choose one to fit the setting: satin for a formal room, say, or grosgrain for a casual spot.
Make a Simple Arrangement
When it comes to displaying lush, dome-shaped blooms -- dahlias, garden roses, gardenias, camellias, or the peonies shown here -- less is often more. Float a few big blossoms in a generous-sized bowl or single ones in smaller vessels. Cut the stems at a slant, about an inch below the bloom, just before floating in tepid water.
Add a Detail
Twill tape typically has a functional use, as reinforcement on seams. But colorful bands of it can also be used on almost any fabric as ornamentation.
Paint It White
They may seem as different as night and day, but white or black paint -- applied to all of the furniture in one room -- can reinvent a space. The colors unite mismatched pieces that otherwise can't live together in harmoniously. Both shades take the focus away from surface imperfections, making furnishings notable for their forms. Painting items white instantly cleans them up and lightens a room.
Paint It Black
Black paint lends a polished look.
Beautify a Bulletin Board
Who knew that bulletin boards could be bright spots? To make a custom one, you'll need a Homasote board cut to fit a painted wooden frame.
Decorate with Nature
Even when you are relaxing at home, you can still be surrounded by nature. This beachy bookend can be made from a large shell such as a conch, tun, or whelk.
Discover Faux Bois
Martha loves faux bois, which is French for false wood -- a fitting name for items that appear plucked from the forest but are actually made of cast stone, cast iron, or cement, or are painted to have a woodsy look. Although earthy and rustic, faux bois makes a splendid match for polished pieces. For instance, a pail made of concrete is dainty enough to hold a lady's slipper orchid.
Make a Creative Centerpiece
A magnificent table can be fashioned with one (or several) of the simplest items: a cake stand. The pretty pedestals raise decorations and sweets high, elevating offerings in every sense. The displays here -- small stands atop large ones -- show off pots (actually teacups and votive holders) of miniature African violets and stacks of cookies whose ribbons repeat the colors of the flowers.
Know Your Pillows
A pillow's shape, fabric, and adornment speak volumes. Rich fabrics, such as silk and velvet, and fancy tassel trims say elegant and refined. Solid colors or stripes, as well as streamlined shapes, say sophisticated and modern. Delicate patterns with ruffles and folds say old-fashioned charm. Whatever the room, you can always redirect the conversation, swapping covers and cases for new styles.
Use Picture Rails
Your walls needn't be marked with nail holes to hang your favorite grouping of framed work. When you install a picture rail -- a strip of molding from which hooks and pictures can be hung -- you can carefully display your artwork in a variety of compelling ways. The rails are available at most lumberyards and home centers. A crisscross pattern of cord, used here to show off nineteenth-century seaweed prints, is quite complex-looking but not difficult to re-create: Start with the bottom row, then work your way up.
Display a Collection
A group of dishes, compotes, pitchers, or any other small treasures you've acquired over the years needn't be set behind glass panels or hidden behind sideboard and hutch doors. Given an open platform -- such as a bookshelf -- these pretty wares can serve as a decorative focal point in a room. Here, Martha's collection of Paris porcelain is simultaneously shown off and protected by velvet-covered shelves, whose deep color sets off the silhouettes of the pieces.