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The keys for harmony at home with decor


Published: 09/10/2012

by Kimberley Seldon

Drop by my house any Monday during weekly piano lessons and you'll discover (popular song lyrics aside) that ebony and ivory do not always live side by side in perfect harmony.

While most of us accept that mastering a great tune requires patience, practice, and instruction, when it comes to decorating we somehow believe we should know how to do it instinctively. Of course, that just isn't the case.

Although most can pull together a room that looks fairly good, for a home to be truly satisfying it must also possess the intangible quality of harmony, resulting from order, balance, and a pleasing sense of personal comfort.

Here's how to strike a harmonious chord at home.


Address all senses. Sensual fabrics such as chenille and velvet are inviting to touch. A water fountain or soft music provides pleasing background noise. Scented candles or fragrant plants such as jasmine fill the room with seductive perfume.

Honour the presence of emptiness. An ancient metaphysical law says: If you want more abundance in life, create a vacuum in order to receive it. Leave a wall temptingly blank (one day you may find the perfect painting but there's no rush); keep a gorgeous table bare in order to appreciate its intrinsic beauty.

Balance is essential. In order to achieve physical and emotional stability, and an effortless flow of energy within your home's interior, consider balancing several elements.

1. Scale and proportion (sizes of individual items in relation to one another). A baby grand piano has tremendous visual weight while a glass side table has very little. Balance occurs when the visual weight on one side of the room roughly equals the visual weight on the other side of the room. Visually balancing a baby grand piano requires several objects; a sofa, a carpet, a coffee table, and two side tables.

2. Mass and void (furniture and objects in relation to empty spaces). An object of beauty, whether it's a sofa or a vase, is best appreciated when it has empty space surrounding it. Try editing your rooms so you can fully appreciate individual objects.

3. Colour and temperature contrasts (cool colours such as blue and green in relation to warm colours such as yellow, orange and red). A room that has a warm colour palette is more harmonious when there are cool colours to balance it; several leafy green plants or a series of blue vases are all that's required.

Tap into nature. Position furniture with views to the exterior and include interior organic elements such as water fountains, live plants, and natural materials such as wood, bamboo, and linen.

Display personal history. Collections are the personality of a room. A series of seashells tells guests of your passion for beach vacations and reminds you of the more meaningful story -- how your children passed a rainy day on the beach collecting shells. Displays needn't be elaborate to be effective; line seashells along the edge of a shelf, group them in a glass bowl, or disperse them on a side table with photos in-between.

Make comfort a priority. Soft, plush seating is inviting to curl up in, curved furnishings soften angular architecture, the addition of a reading lamp turns an underused chair into a reading corner, and a well-placed ottoman can be enjoyed at the end of a busy day.

Create a place to be happy alone. In Meditations on Design, author John Wheatman suggests setting aside a place in which to be happy alone. We all need a spot where we can curl up alone at night and not feel lonely. If space is limited, adopt a corner of the room where an armchair, small bookcase, and a reading lamp will encourage contented reflection.

Home Digest's Home Decor columnist Kimberley Seldon is an internationally known designer and writer, as well as host of Design for Living with Kimberley Seldon on Toronto One television and a regular guest on City TV's CityLine. For more information, visit

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