Little details that save time and mistakes

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • February 3, 2018

When it comes to creating a happy home, it’s the little things that matter.

Like coming up with a plan before you make purchases. Establishing a realistic budget. Deciding if you want to go it alone or call a professional for help.  Determining what’s most important at this particular stage of your life.

Once these decisions are made and you have a plan, it’s time to get down to those little details that can make all the difference. How to hang artwork. What kind of sofa to purchase. Deciding what size rug you need for your living room. How to arrange furniture to make the most of your space. Where to put the flat screen TV. How to hang a chandelier.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I get lots of the same questions from clients. I decided to put some of these little details together to help with your home decorating. Keep in mind, there are exceptions to everything. But if you get some of the little things just right, everything else falls in place.

Happy decorating!

It’s all in the details. Drapes hung high and to the floor, carefully measured chandelier in proportion to the table and furniture placed on a large rug make for a cohesive and pretty dining room.  Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

It’s all in the details. Drapes hung high and to the floor, carefully measured chandelier in proportion to the table and furniture placed on a large rug make for a cohesive and pretty dining room.  Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Rugs. Don’t order a rug that’s too small.  For example, you don’t want it floating under your coffee table. In a living room, the rug defines the conversation area and it should be large enough so at least the front legs of the furniture are on it. In the bedroom, the rug should be anchored at the foot of the bed, not the top. You want to feel the rug on your feet when you get out of bed. And for a dining room: everything (table and chairs) go on the rug.

Paint measurement. One gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet of wall. And yes, you need two coats to do a professional job.

Ceilings. Unless you have a perfect ceiling without any flaws (no one does!), use a flat finish.

Chandelier. Hang a chandelier approximately 30 to 34 inches over a table with an eight-foot ceiling height. If your ceiling is higher than eight feet, mount the chandelier an additional three inches higher for each foot of ceiling. And the size of the chandelier is one-half to three-quarters the width of your table.

Flat screen TV.  Should be placed at eye level in relation to the viewing position. The distance from the TV to the seating area should be one and a half times the size of the screen. No closer.

Drapes. Hang them high. As high as possible to give the room height. When ordering fabric or panels, always order at least two and a half times the width of the window. As far as the length: always to the floor with a one inch break unless you want puddling (you don’t!).

Single piece of artwork. This always works: When hanging a single piece, the center should be 57 inches above the floor.  You will need to do some math. Most art is too high so be aware of this common mistake.

Mirrors. Don’t hang a mirror between two windows. And please, don’t hang a mirror in every room.

Sofa. This is my favorite. Depending upon the room, a 90-inch sofa is the standard size. This is an investment piece and you should put as much into the purchase as your budget allows. Look for: eight-way hand-tied springs and don’t allow the sales person to talk you out of this tip. Also make sure the frame is a hardwood, not plywood. When it comes to fabric: go for quality. You don’t want to have to reupholster in two years.

Furniture arrangement. If possible, don’t smash it against the walls! In a jam on this on? Pull it out a few inches. The best arrangement is the U-shaped conversation area. If possible, avoid the L-shaped configuration.

Pillow fight. For a bed: no more than six. Any more is just silly.

Paint guide. Flat for ceilings. Eggshell for bedroom/living/dining. Satin for laundry/bath/hallways/kitchen. Semi gloss for trim/moldings/cabinets/doors/woodwork. Gloss for furniture if you want a lacquered look. Of course, there are exceptions but this is a general guideline.

White walls. If you are going for this popular trend, you will need artwork. Otherwise, you will be living in a white box.

Kitchen backsplash. A solid color is always best. And don’t skimp on this one: cover as much of the wall as budget allows.

Shower door.  Go for the solid glass door (not frosted). It makes the room look larger.

Entry. The entry sets the tone for any home. And if you don’t have a real entry, establish one with a large piece of art or a photo on canvas.

Small spaces.  It’s a fact: A small space will look smaller with tiny, scaled down furnishings. Instead, go with regular sizes with a slimmer profile.


Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit