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Expert advice: a decorator's advice for planning your space 

Decorator and and home stager Charlotte Skiba reminds us that Pinterest is pretty, but it’s not real life.

click to enlarge Skiba says the finishing touch for any room is giving it a lived in look with accessories. - DYLAN CHEW
  • Skiba says the finishing touch for any room is giving it a lived in look with accessories.
  • DYLAN CHEW

Charlotte Skiba of Charlotte Interiors has a home decor Pinterest board just like any average daydreamer. The certified decorator and home stager loves using the site whenever she starts a new project. "Modern can mean totally different things, so it gives me a way to see what the client likes," she says. But once you've loaded a board with pins, the show is far from over. Here, Skiba shares tips on what to do next.

Her secret first step

Never overlook furniture layout, Skiba says. "I always start with a floor plan, with getting a good idea of the space. Even if it's just quick sketching, lay out where you want to put your chairs, your sofa. Another trick is to take painter's tape and tape out your furniture before you buy it. Then you can actually see it on the floor before you go ahead and make that big purchase."

Her biggest decor don't

"Matchy-matchy furniture, like bedroom sets or living room sets. It looks like someone looked in the Sears catalogue and just purchased everything from that one little set. I like to mix and match pieces. I think it gives it more authentic design feel," Skiba says, shading your grandma's decorating skills.

Avoid the dreaded catalogue look by blending styles and textures between your sofa and chairs. "It keeps it from being boring, you get a little more personality."

How she finishes a room

"Accessories—pillows, throws, things like that—those are what really finish off a room and give it that kind of lived-in look, but with design. A lot of people skip that part and just get the main things and then are like 'Why isn't my room pulled together?'" Skiba says. The solution? "Pulling a colour out of your drapes and putting that into an accessory—that's what pulls it all together." Her typical finishers include mix-and-match throw pillows, art that highlights a colour in the room and plants for texture.

Don't forget to chill

"I also think it's important for people to note, when they look at Pinterest or magazines and feel they want their house to look like an image, a lot of what they're seeing is styled professionally just for the photograph," says Skiba. "That's not how people actually live."

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