Would you love to have a study in your home that's both welcoming and hardworking? Mary Carol Garrity, Scripps Howard News Service
Ready to study? Perhaps your home isn't outfitted with a study. No problem. You can easily carve one out from a little-used room. Spare bedrooms, formal living rooms and dining rooms and extra spaces in the basement make great studies. Maybe your home already has a study that you never use. Chances are that's because the space isn't designed in a way that suits your purposes, or its decor is pushing you away instead of welcoming you in.
No matter where it is, the key to making your study successful is to define how you want to use it. Will this be a home office? A music room? A place to read? Will you entertain here, or is it a private space for your family?
Furnish with care: Once you determine how you want to use your study, be thoughtful about what furniture goes in it. Our study is the spot where Dan and I have our morning coffee, go through the mail and read. So we knew we needed comfortable seating, a few side tables to hold reading lamps and a bookcase to store a few of Dan's books. I chose a chocolate leather sofa, then covered the seat cushions with fabric slipcovers because I love the look of leather but don't like how it feels to sit on.
If your room is small, give the illusion of more space. Select smaller-scale furnishings, a settee or love seat instead of a sofa. Pick furniture with exposed legs to avoid visual barriers. Opt for pieces with two purposes, like an ottoman that serves as a coffee table and provides extra seating.
Select a palette: The color palette plays a big role in the room's success. You want this space to be welcoming and comfortable, and you want it to reflect your family's personality.
If you want the mood of your study to be tranquil and serene, fill it with whisper-soft colors like white, cream or gray. For invigorating color, lots of young families now are doing their studies in apple green and persimmon. Yellow and gray is also a hot color combination this season.
Bring out your personality with accents: Finish your study by adding a few carefully chosen accents. Showcase treasures you've brought back from vacation, like an African mask or conch shell. Display a few pieces of your favorite collections. And, by all means, include lots of family photos showing you and your loved ones living and loving life.
Mary Carol Garrity has three home-furnishings stores and is the author of several books on home decorating.