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FURNITURE: GET THE RIGHT FIT

Do you ever think that your furniture and the rooms in your home are conspiring against you? Most homes are filled with furnishing challenges: You can't squeeze all the pieces you need into a room; every door seems to swing the wrong way; or your space is a long rectangle that resembles a railroad car more than a living room. Fear not! There are ways to deal with these dilemmas.

Take measurements

The first step in arranging a space is determining its size. Use a tape measure to get the dimensions of a room. Or try this quick tip: Measure your foot and then walk heel to toe across the room. It's an easy way to estimate the basic size. If you're running out the door to the furniture store, at least walk across the room and count your footsteps. Most feet are somewhere in the 10- to 12-inch range. Counting your footsteps will give you a rough measurement before you shop.

Always check the dimensions of the hallways, stairs and door widths leading to the space. This is the eternal challenge for the homeowner. Choosing a piece of furniture that can't fit through the doors is disheartening, to say the least.

Estimate volume

Objects are like people: They have the same physical characteristics as we do. All objects have a height, a depth and a width. For added visual interest, "people" your room with varying furniture of varying characteristics. If you are going for a serene, unchallenging area for rest or recovery, keep the furnishing volumes in a room similar.

It's all a matter of scale

The size of pieces relative to one another and the size of the space is their scale. Again, similarly scaled pieces are more calming when used together, but a nice balance of pieces creates a harmonious atmosphere, using the differing physical qualities of height, depth and width throughout the room. When furnishings are out of scale - say, the rug is too small for the space or one piece of furniture is really gargantuan - you'll notice that it just won't feel comfortable or right.

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