Getting advice and tips for decorating your home are one of the frequently asked questions that readers write to me about.
Instead of replying to each reader separately as I have been doing for years, I am going to start answering some of the questions in a series called: Tips for Decorating Your Home.
Every now and then, I will create posts around the questions I receive. You will be able to find the posts under the category: Decorating Tips & Tricks
The tips will be simple, yet helpful decorating ideas that will help you become a better home decorator.
To start the series, I decided to share one home decorating tip that I know many who are decorating their home, don’t do when they are finishing a project, styling a table, or painting a piece of furniture.
Not doing this one simple thing, can make or break the way anything you do to your home will end up looking.
Tips For Decorating Your Home: Tweaking
As I mentioned above, I receive a lot of questions on a weekly basis. How to paint questions are the number one, followed by where I bought something. The third most asked question is similar to this one…
“You make everything look so nice. When I try it, decorating my mantel, hanging a curtain or even placing a pillow on my sofa, it never looks the way yours does. What am I doing wrong?”
My answer: You probably aren’t doing anything wrong, but more like forgetting to do one last step in the project that is more intuitive and is usually not written as a step in most project how-to instructions.
What is this last intuitive step when you make something or decorate your home?
It is tweaking!
What Is Tweaking?
Tweaking when you are decorating something is more about the pretty and making what you own, style or create look better. It is a way to improve something by making fine adjustments to it.
If you look at what you have styled, arranged or made and don’t like what you see, your first instinct is that you think you have failed and toss the project aside.
In defeat, you claim you wasted time and money and have no skills.
Instead of going down this path… stop to take a second look at your project to see what it needs – a minor “tweak” may be all.
Tweaking is something you should do to everything. Once you get into the habit of doing it, everything you make or style will look better. You will hear others say...”wow, you have an eye for that, it looks great”.
For me, tweaking is when I am finishing a project or arranging items on a surface like a table, sideboard or mantel, I make sure I like it by standing back to look at what I did from a distance and at different angles.
This way I can see it with new eyes and figure out what it may need to look better. I make the adjustments, step back again and repeat this process until I like what I see.
You can also take a photo with your phone to get a different perspective of what you are working on. Seeing the photo can be very helpful in what needs to be done to make it better.
If I hadn’t learned to tweak, a builder boring chandelier in my previous house would have never became one of my favorite light fixtures.
When I redid this table, after putting a first coat of paint on it, the color was not coming out as planned. I made a few bold tweaks of adding black to the blue paint I was using to get the color as I imagined it. I am never afraid to tweak it by adding another color to get the color I want.
If I didn’t tweak the color, I wouldn’t like what I was making and the project would be a fail. Instead, I learned to not be afraid to make adjustments. Doing this and learning from what works and what doesn’t is how you hone your “designer’s eye over time.
How-to Lessons In Tweaking When Decorating
Tweaking is knowing you have to spend a little more time with a project to get it just right for your needs and style. You play around and experiment with the object(s) until it does.
Don’t give up on a project before you consider what could make it better. Then don’t be afraid to do it.
Example of Simple Tweaking
From reader, Joan L. – When I tie a bow for a wreath or a gift using ribbon, it always looks lopsided or inside out. Always!!! Help.
Tying ribbon into a nice looking bow is a great example of how tweaking can make it better. When a bow comes out lopsided, all it needs is a little adjusting.
The loops need to be pulled into oval shapes, or shortened in size. Doing this is done by pulling and twisting each part of the bow into place and then pulling the ribbon in the center knot until it looks better.
Don’t settle for “just completed”, unless of course you love what you see. Before anything will really look good, you need to tweak it – push, pull, wrap, move, mix, cut and dab until you like what you see.
If you have ever asked me questions about some of the projects I share on the blog, in my answer to you, I always include, I do it until I like what I see. This is tweaking. Some may call it an eye for design, but it’s just taking the time to study it to make it better.
Another Way to Look at Tweaking
Another way to look a tweaking is when you are cooking a recipe and it doesn’t come out the way you envisioned. Don’t let it become a failure, tweak it to make it better… maybe add some spices, a cup of wine or a garnish that you think will bring out the flavor.
Your tweaks may become part of the recipe after doing this.
Or when you are getting dressed in the morning and nothing looks right. Don’t keep tossing outfits on the bed, instead choose one, then tweak it to make it look better on you.
It could be as simple as removing the belt that comes with the dress and changing it out for a colorful ribbon that you tie loosely around your waist.
When decorating a mantel, tweaking is when you don’t just arrange items along the length of it and call it done.
Tweaking is when you take the time to really look at what you are working on and then make adjustments, even if it takes away from your initial idea.
Step back, look at it from different angles and assess. Could the arrangement look more balanced if you move one item to the right and another to the left? Add a new layer to the mix or color.
Tweaking is easy and doesn’t cost anything, it is just a second look, a tug, a little push of an item to one side to get it looking just as you envisioned it should.
When you tweak you don’t settle for just OK or good. When you take the time to tweak, everything you make, style and create will look better.
The next time you make or arrange something and think you are finished, step back, take another look. When hanging curtains or drapes, after hanging them fuss with the way the fabric falls and figure out a way to train the fabric to stay in place. Are the pleats even? Keep tweaking until they lay nicely.
If your styling and decorating efforts are not making you smile, make adjustments until you like what you see.
After a while, tweaking will become second-nature to you and you will begin to hear from others…
“You have an eye for that… Every time I try, it never comes out.”
Now you can share this decorating tip with them… I tweaked it!
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