All off: If you have a smaller space, you might choose a smaller rug, and then you’d leave all four feet of your furniture off of it. Houzz adds, “You don’t want to pick too small a rug, though, or it may look insignificant, like an afterthought.”
Once you have a focal point, a center point helps balance the room. Apartment Therapy explains:
Walker points out that this is just a basic rule, and it might not work in every instance. But if this grouping doesn’t look right to you, go with your gut. The goal here is to make sure everything isn’t uniform, and by extension, boring.
As seen above, mirrors can also be used to make a small space feel larger. For larger rooms, or any room with a more limited amount of natural light, mirrors placed directly across from the windows, will add instant light. Decorative mirrors can also be used in lieu of art to fill empty wall space. Large or small, mirrors add light and dimension to your living space.
“If punk rock has taught me anything, it’s to do everything yourself. All of my favorite interior designers were self-taught.”—Max Humphrey
2. Use decorative mirrors to add instant light to your living space.
Lighting could be a whole post in itself, but here’s what you should consider when you don’t know much about it. First, learn the three basic types of lighting:
Beyond these basics, you’ll probably also want to make your home look like your own. We’ve got some tips on how to do that, too. These guidelines help you get started, but you should adjust your decorating according to your own tastes and preferences. Use these rules to get started, but don’t be afraid to break them and go with your instincts if something feels right to you.
It helps to have groupings of objects in varying heights, shapes and textures. At the same time, there should be something similar about them. This advice seems to contradict itself, but the point is, there should be something that groups your items together, but also something about each of them that is slightly different.
There’s nothing wrong with placing family heirlooms alongside your modern couch. All good interior decorators will tell you that the most important aspect to decorating your home is that it reflects who you are, your personality and your style. The antique Chippendale desk that was your grandfather’s tells a story. It tells the story of your past. The modern couch you fell in love with and simply had to purchase also tells a story, your present story, and there is no reason why the present and past can’t co-exist beautifully together. The same can be said for art. Now you might not want to place a painting by Salvador Dali on the same wall next to a Monet, but there’s no reason why they can’t be in the same room together. With fabrics whether it be furniture, rugs or pillows, varied colors and patterns can bring warmth and texture into your living space.
In writing, sentences often contain extra words that without, the sentence would sound just fine. Train yourself to look for those moments in your own home. Is there a narrow wall with a small blot of art that when taken down, would still look like a fine wall? Is there a tabletop with a fledgling vignette that would look just as spectacular if cleared off?
“Get creative when thinking about form and function. A client in a traditional Georgian home needed it to work for her modern way of entertaining. We opted for an asymmetrical, organic space that encourages guests to float through the room while engaged in conversation.” —Kate Coughlin
The struggle of finding room for all your stuff is real. Whether you live in a studio apartment or want to get more out of a small room, these small space design ideas will save your life. After all, no one ever complained about having too much space.
“Buy one good piece of furniture every year, and in five years, you’ll have five pieces. Everything else may change, but these will remain constant.”—Jeffrey Bilhuber
“Black works with any style. The misconception is that dark colors make spaces feel smaller; they actually recede.”—Carrie Fundings Land
“Actually use your beautiful things! I have a chocolate lab and white furniture in my living room. It took some training, but now he knows the furniture is off limits.”—Lindsey Lane
“Don’t settle. If you have your heart set on a piece, don’t try to find something similar just to save money. Chances are, you’ll never be completely satisfied with the substitute (or its quality).”—Brian Watford
Add a day bed and watch your bedroom double in size. If you don’t have a designated guest room, this could also come in handy in your living room.
More: 10 Small Coffee Tables That Work In Even The Tiniest Homes
“Pull floor patterns from ancient buildings. One inspired the checkerboard pattern of the marble floors in my Los Angeles home.”—Nate Berkus
Front on: Many designers choose to just put the two front feet on the rug. This can tie everything together and create a feeling of openness.
The center point is the core of your room’s layout. It doesn’t have to be the exact middle of the room, although that’s the case in many homes. The center point of a living room is where the coffee table or center table will sit, with seating arranged around it.
It may seem counterintuitive, but outfitting a small space with just a few large-scale pieces (rather than a mishmash of pint-size furniture) can actually make it feel grander.
Exploit the often under-utilized space between the tops of furniture and a room’s ceiling with hanging or high-mounted elements. Take bookcases and cabinets all the way up — it’ll make the room feel higher.
“Faux paint, lush lacquer, or wallpaper on a ceiling will garner that ‘Wow’ response.” —Leslie May
Tear down walls, enlarge windows, or swap solid doors for glass to open up views and connect adjacent spaces.
“I love to use wallpaper in mundane spaces. Hallways, pantries, powder rooms—all become moments of joy and funkiness. Areas of transition can be places you enjoy spending time in.”—Fawn Galli
“Choosing the right light bulb is very important. LED bulbs are energy efficient, and they can look great.”—Paloma Contreras
Bespoke built-ins, storage nooks, and furniture tailored to your exact needs can utilize every available sliver of space. When they’re part of the walls, you don’t lose nearly as much valuable square footage.
“Don’t be afraid of dark. I used this rich Benjamin Moore Midnight Blue on an accent wall—darker than I’d ever dared. It made the whole space come to life.” —Jean Larette
Decorating with negative space can be a bit complicated, but there are a few ways anyone can do it:
1. Paint smaller rooms in softer, lighter colors to help make the room feel larger.
To clarify, it’s not just about looking for places where you can remove things. It’s about looking for spots that look great even when they’re empty. It’s also about considering the function of the empty spaces between subjects.
Add plants to your living space. Add them to every room, small or large, few or many. Plants are an inexpensive means to accessorizing your space and adding color and texture. Not only are plants beautiful but many can clean household air and balance humidity. They can absorb pollutants and remove harmful gases from the air. No home should be without these wonderful greens!
“Every house should have a great bar. It is the central point of a party, and if you entertain a lot, it will be celebrated, so put some thought into it.”—Jordana Joseph
Think about all the things you do in a space±work, sleep, relax, eat—and then establish separate zones for those activities. You can create “rooms” with a curtain, a strategically-placed table and chair, or paint, as seen in this apartment, where purple walls signal an entryway.
Once you find the focal point, decorate around it. Use its main color in elements throughout the rest of the room. In the above example, the focal point—the fireplace—is white. The red walls make its color stand out, and the white candles, orchid and vases all around the room compliment the fireplace.
“Make sure you’re having fun. What’s more fun than making your own home more beautiful.”—Eche Martinez
Some people have a natural eye for design, but if you’re more in the camp of those who can’t do anything without consulting Pinterest board upon Pinterest board before making any major changes, we feel you. We’d love to have an interior designer on speed dial before deciding exactly where and how hang to hang that sweet new wall art we bought on a whim, but until we win the lottery, we’ll have to settle for trusting our guts, and taking plenty of design tips where we can get them. We’ve compiled some secrets straight from the pros to help you with all your decorating needs.
Pieces that can serve multiple purposes are key: Find a table that can function as a desk and a dining table, get a deep sofa that can double as a guest bed, or buy cubes that serve as a coffee table and bonus seats when guests are over.
Whether you’ve just moved or are looking for a quick, little home pick-me-up, or perhaps something more significant, there are some well-known interior design tricks that designers employ that you too can easily do with minimal effort and cost. Sometimes the smallest things make the greatest impact. It could be the addition of a mirror, a painting, a lamp or even a plant. Maybe you want to soften your walls, brighten a room, or add some warmth to your living space. Take a look at these clever design tips and see how they can inspire you!
What inspired you? Personally, I’m just mad about these animal hide rugs that seem to be all the rage lately. The question is, do I go for the cow or the zebra? Or both, and just say that I live in a barn!
You might already be familiar with the rule of thirds for photography. Designing with odd numbers as a foundation can create harmony and visual interest, explains designer Cecilia Walker:
Photos by Wicker Paradise, Davi Alexandre, Kristin Wong, PoshSurfside.com, lilapants, Cherie Priest, Emily May, Mueble de España, and Rodney.
“The splurge everyone should make is a fabulous master bathroom. I used hand-painted porcelain sinks in mine.”—Todd Richesin
Calm, even-toned rooms fool the eye into thinking they’re more spacious than they are. Make sure to add subtle patterns and textures to keep the space from falling flat.
The living room above is a great example of how to maximize a small living space. A room of this size has the tendency to seem cramped, but the large windows, light colored walls and ample use of mirrors not only reflect the natural light pouring in from the doors and the windows but the use of mirrors also gives the optical illusion of space, making the room seem larger than it actually is. Conversely, darker colors will make a room feel smaller. Even with the abundance of natural light and the strategic placement of the mirrors, this room in a darker shade would have a more boxed-in feel to it.
Some people are born with a great eye for decorating or design. Others learn the skill and are able to apply it successfully. And then there are the rest of us. If you don’t have much of a knack for design, a few basic techniques can go a long way.
It’s the oldest design trick in the book: Mirrors will make your space feel larger, lighter, and airier.
“In the master suite, decor can deviate from the common areas and really reflect your personality.”—Ali Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta
“Look up! We use ceilings a lot. Through them, we define the lines and beauty of a space.”—Julio Salcedo
“Wicker is an element I love for its texture and versatility. Wicker baskets are so functional for storage, but a wicker animal brings a sense of whimsy.” —Amy Berry
You don’t have to display everything. After all, nothing makes a room feel smaller than clutter.
“The most important first step in design is a good floor plan.”—Jessica Helgerson
Throw rugs give warmth and can add great texture, color and personality to your living space. Hardwood floors are beautiful and easy to maintain but they lack the comfort that carpeted floors offer, especially in the cooler months. Area rugs can add fun and functionality to your living space. Use several of varying patterns and fabrics together to showcase your character. Or add several rugs of the same pattern and fabric, or different textures but the same color. The possibilities are endless. You can change your area rugs to reflect the seasons using warmer tones and fabrics for cooler months and lighter ones for the warmer days of the year. There are many lovely cotton, washable area rugs which are ideal for those homes with children. There really is no reason why a home with young children cannot also be a stylish one.
“Follow your gut. If you have to talk yourself into liking something, you probably don’t.”—Olivia Erwin
We all have items in our possession, probably packed up in boxes somewhere and haven’t given them a second glance. Your home needs some accessories. Instead of running to the store, take a good look at what you already have. Trays, wooden, acrylic, metal or silver can be placed on top of luggage racks, tea carts, trunks, bedside tables and coffee tables for extra texture and dimension. Arrange candles on them, frames or pile books on top of them. Plates can be hung to create wonderful wall art. Art from children’s books can be framed and hung in nurseries, children’s rooms or their bathrooms. You will be amazed at what you can do with what you already have!
3. Mix it up. Mix up patterns and textures. Mix up old and new, expensive and inexpensive.
“Use tall pieces in a low-height room. Short furnishings would make the ceiling feel that much lower to the ground.” —Jason Oliver Nixon
These decorating rules and principles are simple enough that most anyone can apply them. Your home might not look like a West Elm catalogue, but it’ll look presentable.
Slip covers often get a bad rap but they are truly wonderful things. They can serve as a means of changing your furniture’s look to reflect the seasons. These easily removed coverings allow you to have a sophisticated look without constantly worrying about people dirtying or spilling on your furniture. Slip covers are ideal for rooms used frequently by children. Above the white slip-covered couches gives the air of a casual, comfortable, easy yet sophisticated elegance.
Choose furnishings that offer maximum functionality in minimal square footage. For example, use two small round tables instead of one big coffee table. They’re better for traffic flow and easier to move.
The basic idea of the rule is that details and objects that are arranged or grouped in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered pairings.
“When clients want a quick, impactful update, I recommend the pieces that take up the most surface area, like rugs, paint color, or window treatments.”—Tina Ramchandani
All on: If a rug is big enough, you can put all legs of your furniture on top of it. But you should leave 12-18″ of floor surface on all four sides of the rug, says decorating site Houzz.
Small round tables aren’t just for breakfast nooks. Ditch the giant dining table and give yourself some extra space by opting for a small, round dining table instead.
You can also frame it. In the photo, the vases, windows and sofas serve this purpose. A fireplace is easy to frame, as it usually comes with a mantle. You can add decor on or above the mantle. If your focal point is a large window with a view, you might arrange your furniture to frame it. If it’s a large mirror or an interesting piece of artwork, you might frame it with two smaller elements on either side, like this:
Kitchens are meant to be warm and inviting. We spend much of our time in them whether it be for preparing meals, serving meals or entertaining. A hanging pot rack is useful elegance. Kitchens are meant to feel as though they are in constant use and a hanging pot rack certainly makes one feel this way. In addition to looking so wonderful, (there are many sizes and styles available) additional cupboard space below is now freed up to store other items. Seldom has anyone complained of having too much storage.
If you’re lost with how to start decorating a room, finding its focal point is a good start. Many rooms have built-in focal points: a large window with a view, for example, or a fireplace. If your room doesn’t have a built-in focal point, here are some tips and options for creating one:
When it comes to hanging curtains or arranging furniture, most of us just eyeball it as we go. But there are specific measurements for decorating that make a room look better. Here are a few general measurements to keep in mind:
Look at the image above as an example. Three vases, all different heights. The main materials are similar—wicker and glass. But there are subtle differences in elements—sand, water, and the texture of the limes.
Adding different types lighting can give your room dimension. Start with ambient lighting in each room, then consider how you can use task and accent lighting. Real Simple has some specific tips on how to do this in each room.
Think you have no room for an office? Think again. A mounted wall desk takes up way less room—and you can even mount shelves above it for even more storage space.
Wicker baskets are an economical and elegant way to add storage to any room. Baskets can be used to store and display books, architectural and decor magazines, toys, towels and blankets to name a few. Place a couple of small wicker baskets on the counter-tops in your kitchen to beautifully display and store your fruit and vegetables.
A room’s focal point is its most emphasized feature. It’s the thing your eyes are naturally drawn to when you walk into the room. And everything around the focal point compliments it.
“Old and new belong together. A mix of modern pieces and antiques never tires.”—Caleb Anderson
“Art, art, art! Start young and buy the best you can afford. Its ability to transform a room is unlike any other design tool.”—Jean Liu
“Never underestimate the power of paint. You don’t have to break the bank to achieve a new look. A fresh coat in a vibrant color takes an old piece of furniture or empty white room and gives it new life.”—Chauncey Boothby
“In an open seating plan, always use a well-proportioned statement coffee table to ground the arrangement and give it a sense of place.”—Sean Michael
“My clients ask about the most important pieces to invest in: I believe in upholstery and art! They help anchor a room.”—Ashley Darryl
This instant pop of color will brighten and re-energize any room! It’s amazing how something so simple as a coat of colorful paint can instantly energize and transform your space. This built-in bookcase would be simple and ordinary without the bright blue interior. Perhaps the simplest and most inexpensive way to transform a boring space is to apply a coat of paint somewhere unexpected. Bookcases are an ideal place to start because you don’t need to paint a large area. Other fun places to add a pop of color include painting fireplace mantels, the insides of closets, hallways and ceilings.
Again, most all of these sources add one big caveat: don’t be afraid to break these rules. They don’t always work, but they’re good guidelines to follow.
Embrace the small space and turn it into a jewel box. Statement wallpaper and a unique light fixture dress up this powder room.
A media console is the biggest space waster in a small living room. Mount your TV on the wall or above a fireplace and you’ll regain necessary floor space.
“Great art and fabulous antiques only get better with age. It’s better to cry once and have a forever piece.”—Chandos Dodson Epley
“Update your light switches! Elegant controls add a spectacular element to an older home or character to a new one.” —Courtney Hill
“When you’re given a dark space that doesn’t have great light, create your own light. In this kitchen, we used Sherwin-Williams’s sunny Energetic Orange, and it turned out just fabulous— so cheerful.”—Matthew Boland
“Classics never go out of style. I hesitated about doing a white kitchen in my own house, thinking I’d been there, done that. But I’m so glad I did. I will never tire of it.”—Alexandra Kaehler
Sometimes, less is more. In design, the negative space is the area that’s not taken up by any subject. Most commonly, this is the white area on your walls. Its tempting to fill every space with a subject, but sometimes, the negative space speaks for itself. Apartment Therapy explains: