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Freeze frame

As I passed through my foyer on the way to the family room, I glanced right, and saw a perfectly framed "snapshot" of my dining room. It was a picture I would "like" on Instagram, eye-catching, well balanced, full of color, fun. It occurred to me that especially today's world, where smartphones with their brilliant cameras let us take fabulous images, and social media platforms encourage us to post away, that home decorating is a lot like pulling together the perfect series of images that reflect you, who you are, and how you live. Disclaimer: I took these photos, and my decorating skills far exceed my photography ....

Let's break it down.

Focus: In any room there should be several key areas of focus. Inevitably, depending on where you're standing in the space, you'll notice one before another, but everywhere the eye naturally lands it should find an interesting resting place. In a family room, maybe it's the fireplace area, a quiet reading corner, a well-arranged console table, a mass lounge area. In a kitchen it might be a dining table. It answers the question, "What do you want me to look at first?"

Composition: That focus isn't operating in isolation, though. All around it should be elements that help complete the total picture. In the case of the fireplace, this includes mantel decor, artwork, structural objects, etc. For the dining table, it means the chairs surrounding it, a centerpiece, perhaps linens, lighting above it.

Color: No filters available here so you have to create the effect. Is there a pop of color? More than one that work together to create the look you love? Or, is there the deliberate absence of color generating a mood? Texture matters too. Do you have variation in your "picture" through

warm nubby fabrics, shiny metallic elements, sharp sculptural pieces?

Light: We'd never post an over or under-exposed photo, but we often forget about this important piece in decorating. Layers of lighting are decor's equivalent to the filters of Instagram. Overhead, task, accent, and natural light all come together to make a space functional and create a mood.

With that in mind, take a walk around your home. When you look through the doorway, do you see a "snapshot" you like? When you enter the room, is it chaos? Or does your eye gravitate toward several well-curated groupings that aren't just functional, but also make you happy. If the answer's "yes," wonderful. If not, take a few minutes to intentionally arrange just one "picture." It

might be as simple as realizing the stack of magazines accumulating since the holidays detracts from your pretty little reading nook. Or you may find a neglected corner that's begging for a little love in the form of a throw pillow, piece of art, or simple bright candy dish. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed dish of M&Ms ...

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