The Game-Changing Trick To Discover What’s Wrong with Your Decorating

before and after photos

before and after photos

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I am big on before and after photos. But you may not realize the surprising reason WHY taking these photos of your interior is so important!

The Decorologist

Obviously, taking before and after photos gives you a basis of comparison when you’ve made some improvements in a room. Here’s the “before” of the living room attached to the recent kitchen remodel we posted about here.

before

Viewing the before and after photos of a room from the same angle helps you better see the improvement after your design is executed. Here’s the “after” from the same angle:

after

But there’s more to it than that – viewing before and after photos of your room enables for you to look at it in 2D, rather than 3D. And that’s when you can see issues you may not recognize when standing or walking through the space.

You know that feeling when you know there’s something wrong with the room, but you just can’t put your finger on it? Many of my clients say just that: “I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with the space. Something’s off, it doesn’t feel right, but I have no idea why it isn’t working!” Taking photos (especially when facing the focal point of the room) can reveal an imbalance of decor or color, and can help you see what may need correction.

After the completion of this project, I took this photo facing the fireplace. When I got home and uploaded the photos to my computer, what was WRONG hit me in the face. Are you seeing it???

First, let’s talk about what is right with the room. The seating arrangement is centered on the fireplace, the pair of chairs counterbalance the sofa, and the blues and yellows are well dispersed. We selected the furnishings several years ago when the homeowner lived in a previous home. Oh, and are you noticing how fabulous that fireplace looks?? I had an artist selectively darken pieces of the painted fireplace brick to give it back some dimension. You can do something similar with this product!

However, it is immediately obvious to me that the curtains on the window create a lopsidedness when compared to the french door on the right, which looks bare in comparison. I immediately texted my client and suggested she hang an additional pair of curtains over the door. Yes, you can hang curtains on either side of a french door! Just push them out to where they sit over the trim and the wall space outside the door, and they won’t impede passage out the door. Here’s the result:

before and after photos of window treatment for french door

Nothing’s ever perfect, and there are always things to improve – like getting a larger rug and moving the curtain rod up a bit on the left. But the additional pair of curtains really do make the room appear more balanced and welcoming. The before and after photos prove it!

Next time you are trying to figure out how to improve your own rooms, take a few photos. The most important shots to take are facing the focal point of the room (in this case, the fireplace) and from the entry of the room. Analyzing the rooms in 2D may be exactly what you need to figure out what improvements need to be made!

Here’s a shot from the kitchen where you can see the placement of the television:

Has taking photos ever helped you figure out what’s needed to solve your design dilemmas? Leave a comment if you always take before/after photos when decorating or designing a space. If you missed the amazing kitchen remodel that’s adjacent to this living room, you can check it out here!

 

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Deb Heemskerk
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Deb Heemskerk

Where is the TV in the after? That’s a real problem in the real world.

Nancy
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Nancy

Another technique to discover the “something” that’s not working in a room, wall grouping, flower arrangement, etc. is to look at the mirror image. Works every time.

xuan li
Guest
xuan li

yes, my answer was the curtain on right side. I would prefer to not use curtain at all or a simple plain white one so they dont compete with the beautiful fireplace, cuz there are plenty of color and pattern in this space. of course everyone has their own preference :). thanks for sharing

Gina Newell
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Gina Newell

You know when a room just doesn’t feel right. During my last staging, I noticed I should have hung something on an opposite wall but not another a piece of wall art. I returned later that day and hung a starburst mirror from my inventory that was just what was needed. I can then sleep at night.

Penny
Guest
Penny

Kristie — Just curious as to why you wouldn’t flip the couch and the chairs? I was always taught that the sofa (being the widest thing in most rooms) was best associated/balanced with the “longest wall” of a room (even though it is not sitting immediately against the wall). I would think that a reversed arrangement would not “block” the view to the kitchen and dining area as much. Fung shui so to speak. To my eye, the sofa would then add more weight to that side of the room because now looks a little unbalanced. Just a thought —… Read more »

Cherie
Guest
Cherie

This is a fun blog. I’d like to add another suggestion. Many years ago my parents did oil painting and became quite good. One way they could tell if a painting was balanced in shapes and color tone was to turn the painting upside down. By looking at it that way, colors and shapes didn’t look as familiar to the eye. You would then focus more on just the colors and shapes and balance, etc.. Mistakes would often jump right out. I have found this to be true in decorating as well. Take a picture of a room, turn it… Read more »

Sandy
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Sandy

This suggestion is also interesting because that’s how the earliest photographers (or modern enthusiasts with vintage cameras) composed – with the image upside down on the view screen on back of a large-format view camera.

Lara
Guest
Lara

The room does look so much better with the curtains but little confused about your French Door comment since that doesn’t appear to be a French Door. (?) But no matter – the result of this room is much improved by the curtains on that side. I personally like the curtains and don’t think they compete with the fireplace. Fireplace treatment is beautiful. So many great ideas in this room.

Jennifer Schweidel
Guest
Jennifer Schweidel

I noticed the curtain issue immediately, and I love colorful curtains. These are so pretty. I cannot seem to get my own living room right. I have a window on either side of the fireplace that would look lovely with matching curtains but the left window is right up next to the built in bookcase leaving no room for a curtain to hang without blocking light or the bookcase. The wall looks bare on the right hand window. Maybe I will order this fireplace treatment to spruce it up a bit. Right now it’s all shiny white painted brick. Any… Read more »

Marilee E Tice
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Marilee E Tice

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! I always encourage those I am teaching to quilt to view their fabric choices together in person and in a picture. Same thing! Awesome!

Margaret
Guest
Margaret

Looks great. Love the soothing colors. And the furniture and tv placement is spot on.

pattimeade
Member
pattimeade

I saw the imbalance of the curtain/non-curtain immediately – balance and repetition are so important to any room. I agree also with your thoughts on the size of the area rug – it is too small. I think what you accomplished with the kitchen, opening it up to the family room, is incredible – what a difference. Also, when looking at before and after pictures, you realize the homeowners had positioned their furniture in such a way as to make the family room just one big walkway into the kitchen – not cohesive or welcoming in any way. By opening… Read more »

Leslie Carothers
Guest
Leslie Carothers

Hi Kristie ~

I noticed the windows right away, as well. They look so much better now with matching curtains. And thanks for the great tip about taking photos from the focal point of the room. That’s a really good idea.

Janet
Guest

Hi Kristie,
Beautiful job! Yes, I immediately saw the curtain issue 🙂 Rooms usually appear more cluttered in pictures than in person since everything is presented to the eye at once, but it’s a great tool to check the balance of weight and color! Excellent tips!

Sheri Bruneau
Guest
Sheri Bruneau

This is such great advice that I never thought of. Thank you for walking us through this.

Sheri Bruneau
Guest
Sheri Bruneau

This is such a great tip/advice. Thank you for sharing this tip!

Mary Ann Benoit
Guest

Excellent article. I often take photos when doing home staging consultations for the very reason of seeing in 2D what the problems might be that you are not noticing and how to stage a room to get great photos for a listing.

Price Style and Design Leslie Price
Guest

I agree that a picture can tell a thousand words!

Jill Laine
Guest

Great point to take photos! In a way it’s like having another set of eyes to view the space. Sometimes walking away for a day helps me too, so that I can look at it again with a fresh perspective.