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Category:  Decorating

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Five Easy Tricks for Handling Problem Rooms

Pamela Cole Harris

Do you have a room that's just too much? Too long? Too narrow? Too tall? You can camouflage that problem space with a few visual tricks!

1. Is your room too long? Divide it! Create two or more separate groupings in the room. Have an area for conversation, one for music, or one for media viewing. The possibilities are endless! Use area rugs to define each space and tie the whole design together. Dark colors on the short walls at either end of the long space will make them appear to advance and shorten the space visually.

2. Is your room too narrow? Arrange your furniture on the diagonal to fool the eye! Linear elements such as art, shelves or rugs should be placed on the short wall to add visual width. Painting the longest walls a cool color which will make them appear to recede can trick the eye and visually widen the space.

3. Is your ceiling too low? Add height to your room with tall, vertical elements, such as bookcases. Long curtains which drape on the floor can also add visual height, as will tall lamps or torchieres. Painting the ceiling a light, cool color (which appears to recede) will make the room seem brighter and more open.

4. Is your room too tall? Lower the ceiling by incorporating more horizontal lines in the room. Shelves, art and crown moldings are just a few of the elements that can lower the height of the room. Another way to lower the room is to install molding or chair rails one half to three quarters of the way up the walls. This trick visually shortens the room. Painting the ceiling a dark, warm color will also shorten the visual space.

5. Is your room too big? Divide it into more intimate areas! Grouping a couple of chairs with a loveseat, two chairs and a small table, a sofa and chair, or other similar arrangements will make the room seem cozy. Warm colors advance visually, so painting the room a warm color will make the room seem more intimate.

Whatever problem your room has, a combination of color and line can make a huge difference in the way the eye perceives the space. Now, if only I could make my hips recede!

Pamela Cole Harris is a writer, eco-decorator and author of "100+ Wildly Imaginative Ways to Make Your Own Coffee Table - a Handbook for Creatively Deficient Decorators." Visit her website, for her unique decorating and remodeling style (and a free newsletter!) Or for unique content for your website, writte especially for your keywords and audience, visit


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