Home Decor Cheat Sheets

I get a lot of design books in my mailbox, many of which aren’t too relevant to my coverage, but this one—with its cartoon-like illustrations—was intriguing:


The title doesn’t lie—there are dozens of cheat sheets in here for every room in the house. They even have tips on what kinds of house plants to buy depending on the amount of light a certain room gets.

The book’s definitions for modern, transitional and classic are fairly simplistic: Modern furniture is generally done in lighter woods, metals or molded plastics, as they explain it, while classic furniture has dark woods and heavy fabrics. One of my favorite looks is an antique chair frame upholstered in a whimsical, modern fabric, but I digress.

The book’s real strength is in arming you with the information you need to go shop for a couch or a rug without wondering if it will fit in your door or look right in your room.

We’ve been shopping for a coffee table recently, and this advice is really handy:


I was also considering replacing the ugly bathroom lights above the powder-room mirror. I was looking at more attractive versions of the same type of light, until I saw this:



“The trick for the best, most flattering light is to put sconces on either side of the mirror, positioning the bottom of the shade or sconce at your eye level, or around 65 inches from the floor.”


OK, looks like we’re in the market for sconces now!

Here’s a similar illustration for how to choose the right rug size:


“If you can afford it, the best-looking rug is big enough to extend 1 foot past the back legs of each seating element.”



Designers who are reading this are probably like, “DUH…” but this little paperback is so handy to have on hand for almost anything you want to do in almost any room of the house. It even goes through the process of painting a paneled door, and the proper lingo for the various types of wall trims, from base cap to baseboard to base shoe—who knew?

Another one of my favorite sections is the spread on gallery wall layouts. They also teach you how to hang several different-sized pictures next to each other. Hint: you don’t line up the frames.


The book can also get rather nit-picky, down to how you should organize the pillows on your bed (which I find hilarious):


But the technical rundowns are excellent, like how many yards of fabric you need for a Chesterfield sofa measuring 6, 7 or 9 feet vs. a camelback sofa of those same measurements, or a club chair vs. a slipper chair. So helpful! Other primers include the anatomy of a table lamp; a review of screws and nails; an explanation of proportion and scale when pairing furniture; and a sofa-style glossary.

After all, the introduction says, “searching [online] for a ‘tight-back Lawson’ will get your much better results than just searching ‘sofa.’ ”

My copy of this book is already dog-eared in multiple chapters. It’s such a great resource for small home improvements and purchases when you don’t necessarily need a designer. You get get the Cheat Sheets right here. Happy decorating!


  1. I want to make sure that I get my home decorated properly. I didn’t realize that there were so many things to think about! I’ll make sure my coffee table is the proper height.