TIPS Archive 011

Adding Detail to a Room

Reprinted from Miniature Collector, October, 2003, by Suzanne Crowley

  • Layer, layer, layer! One of the common mistakes with early roomboxes is that there is not enough detail. Unless you are doing an art gallery or period room, minimalist is not that interesting in miniature.
  • Add potted plants and greenery to a room. Plants infuse a room with instant life.
  • Upgrade furniture where you can or invest in one collectible, finely made piece of furniture. The addition of a few nice pieces can totally transform your look.
  • Tell a story about your room. Are the occupants about to go on a trip? Add luggage, travel brochures and designer shopping bags. Has your imaginary owner just left the room? Add a plate of cookies, a candy dish or a folded newspaper.
  • Add a rug to anchor the room. It’s amazing how a pretty rug can infuse a room with drama.
  • Reupholster out-of-scale or tired-looking pieces.
  • Fix poorly done work. Don’t be embarrassed. We have all come a long way! Examples of poorly done work include messy upholstering, bad mitring or trim, pillows that are not quite square, glue spots. Some mistakes are easily fixed. Remember the old saying, “When an architect makes a mistake, he plants ivy!” You can always add trim or rosettes to cover up something. Don’t let any mistake catch the viewer’s eye.
  • Pull the eye up in a room. Layer and stack paintings. Stacks of two or three are nice. Another common mistake is a painting that is too small over a couch or fireplace. Replace it with a larger painting or add brackets on either side with an element on top.
  • Drape a handmade throw over a bench or sofa. Cut a rectangle our of a complementary fabric and fringe the edge.
  • Add more decorative pillows. Handmade or purchased pillows always add richness to a room. Sometimes pulling a darker colour into a room by using pillows adds punch. 
  • Pull in another accent colour. Use black or a minor colour from fabric or other elements in the room.
  • Remember the rule of odds in decorating. Odd numbers of things are more interesting to the eye than even numbers of things. This works especially well when arranging accessories. Sometimes a really large object such as a lamp works as a neutral and doesn’t count in the tableau.
  • Vary your heights. This applies to accessories, furniture placement and wall decoration. 
  • Edit with a careful eye. Take out what does not work. 
  • Do the spindly leg check. Are there too many brown legs showing in your room? Replace a table with a skirted one. Or replace a coffee table with an ottoman. Exception: dining rooms, where there will always be a lot of spindly legs.
  • Scale up and plump up the pieces. If you have too many delicate pieces in the room, replace them with something plumper and more substantial.
  • Add detail to a plain door by upgrading the doorknob and putting a decoration with trim or a painting over the door. Remember, you always want to try to pull the eye upward.
  • Add some very fine detail in an accessory. One nicely done artisan piece will go a long way.
  • Add trim to pillows and chairs. Vary the colours, style and texture. Stock up on tiny trims so you have plenty from which to choose. 
  • Paint gold or black details on a piece of furniture.
  • Add fringe around a sofa or to curtains. Small fringe is available on the market or make your own from grosgrain ribbon. Just cut off the bottom end of the ribbon, and pull the threads off until you achieve the look you want.