Dining room table

The Dining Room Table That Fits

When shopping for dining room tables, it's easy to get caught in the bigger-is-better trap: The larger the table, the more people you can invite over for Thanksgiving. What's really worth keeping in mind, though, is how large you can go before you force your guests to suck in their stomachs and shuffle against the wall to get to their seats. Interior designer Shoshana Gosselin recommends choosing a 36-inch wide table—giving you enough space for your place settings, silverware and that peony tablescape—and leaving a 42-inch clearance between the chairs and the wall so that everyone can move around easily. If you're on the fence about a certain size, try folding a bed sheet to the table's dimensions and placing it on the floor of the room. That will give you a good feel for how much space the table will really take up.

Color swatches

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The Daring Color Combination That Works

If there's one thing most pulled-together women have in common, it's an uncanny knack for choosing bold colors that make guests wonder, "How did you know those would work so well together?" They save the neutral tones for the sofa, since most own theirs for 10 years or longer, and test out the brightest colors on their living room chairs or throw pillows, says Emmy-winning designer Kim Myles. Once you've chosen that shade, search online for an image of the color wheel and find the shade that's directly opposite of it. That's the most complementary color for the rug, Myles says, as long as you make it a lighter, more muted tone (like a pale, seashore-blue rug and coral throw pillows, for example).

Persian carpet

The Grown-Up Rug That Ties Everything Together

It's tempting to stick to buying the least expensive rugs possible—after all, you will be walking all over it, and spills are inevitable—but consider this: Few things cover as much square footage, so a rug that resembles bowling-alley carpeting will only make the whole room look chintzier. Look for a size that's longer than the sofa and covers about two-thirds of the floor, so that the front legs of all of the furniture can rest on the rug, if not all four. And, if you need a style that's easy to clean, try a flat-weave style, like RH Rugs' Moroccan Tile or Pinstripe designs.

Wire rack for laundry room

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The Organizational Lifesaver That Only You Know About

Clutter-free tabletops and corners are one of the clearest signals that you've got your life (mostly) together, but keeping them this way isn't easy. That's why you need a few behind-the-scenes organizers to give rarely used gadgets and spare throw blankets a permanent home. A metal baker's rack is just the right size to fit in just about any hallway or linen closet, says Kate Payne, author of The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen, and it's a fraction of the cost of built-in shelves. Plus, when you do open the closet, the simple metal frame will seem like a nod to industrial style, especially if your home has a few exposed Edison bulb lamps or Bertoia-esque wire chairs.

Tea cup and teapot display

The "This Is Me" Item That Shows You Know Who You Are

We all want our homes to express who we truly are, but often, that quirky velvet chair or those Empire State Building prints from your trip to New York can easily snowball into a room full of knick-knacks. Often, just one or two items with a lot of character make the biggest impact. That could mean turning a drum into a side table, like Home Made Simple designers did for one jazz aficionado—or simply turning a collection into a centerpiece, like this globetrotter has done with her display of teapots and cups from around the world. Clustering them together helps them make a statement; they seem artfully arranged, not carelessly strewn around the house.

Full-length mirror

The Mirror That's Exactly the Right Height

"This shirt is how sheer?" This horrifying moment in the office bathroom should really only happen once in your life, which is why a full-length mirror is a must-have. Before you choose the hanging height, switch into heels—if you hang it at eye level when you're wearing sneakers, you're likely to hang it a little too low (and nobody likes crouching to see the top of her head while getting ready for a night out).

Oversize curtains

The Curtains That Skim the Ceiling and Floor

We've all heard that the closer the curtains are to the ceiling, the taller your walls seem, but the big error people make is sticking with a 64- or 72-inch length. The curtains dangle above the floor, making your walls look even shorter (so much for fighting with that curtain rod). That's why Myles recommends looking for ones that are 96 inches long, which work in most homes. A little "puddling," or extra fabric resting on the ground, is better than coming up short, because it's visual of the curtain stretching from the floor to the ceiling that makes the walls appear taller.