THE LIVING ROOM
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Ellen DeGeneres is really into home décor. If her HGTV show, Ellen's Design Challenge, and just-launched line of home furnishings aren't evidence enough, you might also consider that she has bought and renovated a whopping seven homes over the last 25 years. In her new book, Home ($25; amazon.com), the comedian and talk show host shares various nuggets of design wisdom she's learned throughout the process. The 304-page tome features beautiful images of DeGeneres's past and present properties, along with numbered lists denoting what each one taught her. We got a sneak peek of the Tuscan-style villa she shares with wife Portia de Rossi in Santa Barbara, Calif.—a place DeGeneres calls their "forever house." Click through above to take a mini tour of the space, and read on below for the nine decorating lessons she learned along the way.
1. I love plants and always plant according to the local climate. I'd never plant a rose garden if I lived in a desert. It's always fun working with local and native plants. If you live in a drier climate, drought-tolerant plants like succulents are available in a huge range of sizes and shapes. The sculptural forms can be amazing, and the flowers even more impressive. You'll get the most out of nature if you plant in harmony with it.
2. Always decorate within the style of a house. You can have accents that act in contrast, but the bulk of what you use will flatter your home better if it's consistent with its style. If you have a stone house, you may need heavier, more substantial furniture. If you have a wood house with old floors, you might want delicate furniture with a softer look. If you have a modern or contemporary structure, architectural furniture might flatter it best.
3. When putting a room together, I like to sit in every chair or stand in every corner and make sure there is something beautiful to look at. And by that I mean a mirror. No! I'm kidding around!
4. Candlelight and scent do wonders for any environment. Burning scented candles or incense in a bowl of sand is a nice way to create a mood.
5. If you're using area rugs, always make sure they are large enough to fill the primary use area of a room. Rugs that are too small can throw off the proportion and disrupt the flow of a space.
6. Every room needs more than one light source. Lighting can be harsh or insufficient if you just rely on ceiling lighting. I like soft, even lighting, and I think floor and table lamps are essential to creating the right mood.
7. I think just about anything can become a flower vase. If you have any old wood vessel, antique vase, metal cylinder, etc., it can be used to hold flowers. If it doesn't hold water, just pick a glass that can fit inside and you'll have something unique and personal in your home to display flowers or branches.
8. If you live in the right climate and you have some good flat land, gravel or decomposed granite is a nice warm and organic way to address a driveway, courtyard, or entry instead of pavement. It's often more reasonable and less toxic as well.
9. Always know what you want before you open the refrigerator door. It's random, but you'll thank me later.