Just because your designer of choice lives in another city doesn’t mean you can’t work together. Services like Homepolish and Decorist, among others, make it easy to find decorators across the country, while Allison Harlow of Curio Design Studio uses Skype to work with clients virtually.
This living room was blessed with original Beaux-Arts plasterwork and parquet, but you can still recreate a French-inspired room at home with a linen-covered bergères and a Louis XVI side table. Vintage curtains and a crystal chandelier complete it.
Nothing says nautical more than blue, but it can get way too monochromatic, fast. Use varying shades of blue (and even some touches of green) to keep your space more intriguing.
$6,950, Pair of French Louis XVI Style 1870s Wingback Bergères Chairs with Upholstery, 1stdibs
If you truly love something, you’ll want to put it on display. “Use and enjoy your antiques and unique finds, especially in a utilitarian room like the bathroom,” advises designer Bunny Williams.
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Taking the plunge on a strong hue can be intimidating, but the best way is to dive in head first. “One of the most successful strategies is to paint a strong color on everything, from the baseboard and crown molding to the walls,” says Garrow Kedigian, a designer based in New York. “It works well because it’s not contrasted against a different trim color.”
Kitchens with floor-to-ceiling cabinets can look dark, but here’s how to fool the eye: Designer Caitlin Moran will paint the ceiling a slightly paler version of the walls, so the room seems brighter even with just a few windows.
Kate Reynolds, co-owner of Studio Four NYC, believes in pairing big-ticket items with budget finds. “I think a room balances out better when you have different levels of price and craftsmanship,” she says. “It helps you notice the statement piece more.”
Sure, your eyes may want the most modern, chic couch in the showroom. But your back may not. “In my experience, it’s really better to test out seating and take the time to look at the dimensions,” says Sharon Blaustein. If you’re tall, for instance, you might want to opt for a depth of between 40 to 42 inches for a sofa (rather than the standard depth of 36 inches).
To soften the modern edge of stainless steel, decorator Alisa Bloom put a traditional spin on the kitchen cabinetry of her 1920s Chicago penthouse with brass inlays. With the help of a local hardware maker, she even designed her own hinges and drawer pulls. “I would never go into a store and just buy something,” she says. “It’s all about the process and the hunt.”
In Josh Groban’s “The Great Comet” dressing room, interior designer Mike Harrison selected this constellation artwork as a clear focal point for the room. “I loved this piece for its dimensions and colors, but also as a tip of the hat to the ‘Comet’ influences that I know were of importance to Josh,” says Harrison. “I was searching for artwork that would tie together all of Josh’s design sensibilities.”
This floor is covered in 10 different vintage Moroccan rugs for an inviting feel. To recreate the look, make sure you choose all comfy, durable fabrics.
Looking at your home from a holistic perspective—seeing how each room works in balance against the others—can help craft a welcome variety in your spaces, like this emerald and charcoal dining room that adds a touch of formality to an otherwise contemporary Los Angeles home.
The best way to balance out sleek lines and contemporary furniture is by adding a few unique natural elements, from drift wood to greenery. “I don’t like to look around a house and not see touches from the outdoors,” interior designer Tamara Magel says.
The eclectic mix of vintage armchairs, a blue-glass mirror, and a glass-topped rattan side table is total ’70s vibes. With a style like this, the bolder, the better.
Want to make a variety of bright colors cohesive? Think about how you would arrange a flower bouquet, as Sasha Bikoff did in this SoHo apartment. “The same can apply to a space, but you need to find a connection,” she says. “Here, that connection is the fabric on the dining room chairs, which showcases colors also found throughout the room.”
Faux fur has quickly become a luxurious way to add a bit of depth and variety to a space. “When we use faux fur, we’re looking for some really luscious texture in the room,” says Erin Gates. “If you look at a space and everything is neat, tidy and clean, you want something that’s sumptuous and cozy. It’ll really elevate the space.”
Shop a similar look: orange pillows ($18 for two, amazon.com), tan pillows ($40 for two, amazon.com)
Neutral decor can be interesting — just include a variety of materials. “I used a range — from fine-gauge and open-weave linen, to raw silk and taffeta, to cotton velvet and distressed velvet,” says California-based designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano. “Not only that, there’s also the contrast of matte sheens that absorb the light, and lustrous sheens that reflect it.”
Art director Vivia Horn’s zen upstate New York home makes use of an unexpected gift to give her traditional kitchen a dose of fun. This breakfast table made of a refurbished hibachi—a present from the late wrestler and Benihana restaurateur Rocky Aoki.
Shop a similar look: green bedding ($96, amazon.com), sheer curtains ($11, amazon.com)
If the size of the space mandates where the furniture goes, think about the pieces strategically. For example, if a bed has to go against a window wall, choose a headboard that still lets sunlight in, like this Florida bedroom by Todd Romano.
Lacking on space? Permission to forgo the traditional coffee table/sofa setup. A fireside table is the coziest spot for reading or a casual dinner.
Cleaning up clutter can be a good thing, but there’s one thing hosts should never stow away. “Show, don’t tell, what you’re serving with a well-appointed bar,” says Bunny Williams. “Guests feel more at home when they can help themselves.”
“For classic side panels, you really have to go all the way to the floor,” designer Scot Meacham Wood says. “If you’re looking at ready-made drapes, make sure that they touch the floor, even if you have to buy the next size up and have them hemmed.”
Here’s how you get paneling when your house has none. Red leather nailhead trimming creates the look of wall paneling in this living room.
The ultimate bohemian formula: bold wallpaper, patterned pillows, a sheepskin rug, and greenery. Now go and live your best boho life.
Dining room benches might not be conventional, but they sure are cozy. “You automatically feel more friendly when you’re sharing a seat,” points out designer Thom Filicia. “It could quickly become corporate if you were looking at a room full of chairs.” Vicente Wolf, also a designer, agrees on mixing it up: “You wouldn’t have eight identical chairs in your living area.”
Too many chair and table legs can make a room “nervous,” advises Warner. A skirted piece or two will make the space more grounded, and provide additional storage like in this office designed by Miles Redd.
A pine mantel frames the cozy hearth in this farmhouse living room. Along with apron sinks, Windsor chairs, and tin sconces, an assortment of baskets ups the home’s rural charm.
It’s what happens when you create a jungle inside a bungalow. No, we’re not just trying to make fetch happen here.
$1,688, Interlude Home Lestari Petrified Wood Side Tale, Houzz
One pair of pillows always looks skimpy, says Melissa Warner, a California-based designer. Use two pairs, in contrasting patterns, colors, and textures. De Bastiani agrees: “I don’t do dinky accents…small pillows look like something that came with the furniture.”
It’s exactly what Jenny Cipoletti, founder of fashion, beauty and travel blog Margo & Me, did in her decidedly Parisian office (which is actually in West Hollywood). “Just like when you walk into a cafe in Paris, and you see all the details and the golds, silvers and light blush tones, all of these elements in this space really sing to me,” says Cipoletti. This lets you travel to your favorite destination without stepping outside.
$375, Arturo 8-Light Rectangular Chandelier, Ballard Designs
Most people opt for a frosted glass or an opaque curtain for extra privacy, but there’s something to be said for transparency. Glass shower doors, like in this guest bathroom by designer Amy Meier, add instant square footage. To complete the illusion, run the floor tiles straight into the stall. “It makes the room feel larger,” adds designer Alla Akimova. “If I had changed materials, it would have interrupted the space.”
“Decorative finishes, like glazes, will warm houses next year,” says Doug Wilson, a designer on the upcoming Trading Spaces reboot. Here, a charcoal gray trim breaks up the white, but doesn’t stray too far for conservative tastes.
You might think of straw as an outdoor textile, but it’ll look just as good indoors. “Straw, jute, rush — natural materials and neutral tones are they always chic,” says Braff. “They’re the white T-shirt of interior design.”
When renovating a building that already has plenty of character, like this 1920s Spanish Colonial home in Los Angeles, it’s all about striking the balance between what you add and what you leave. “We wanted to make it feel more holistic while still honoring its heritage,” designer Steven Johanknecht says of the decision to keep the original hand-carved ceiling beams and wrought-iron chandeliers while removing mismatched materials from previous renovations.
An understated palette means you can focus on incredible interior architecture and dramatic statement pieces. Can we talk about those beams, please?
You spend a lot of time in your living room, so it not only needs to look great, but it needs to be functional and comfortable. Blending all three things can be tricky, but we’ve got plenty of ideas to inspire you. Need ideas for other areas too? Our bedroom and bathroom galleries will get you ready for a full house reno!
“Window trim is an often-overlooked opportunity to make a statement,” says designer Meg Braff. Jeffrey Bilhuber agrees. “I often end up painting them green, to blend in with the landscape,” the eclectic decorator says. “Or sometimes I paint them pitch black, so the muntins practically disappear in the evening.”
$225, Safavieh Adirondack Round Area Rug, Bed, Bath & Beyond
25 Cozy Fall Decorating Ideas to Delight Your Inner Homebody
Who says backsplashes are just for your kitchen? Try tiling your fireplace — blue and white if it’s a beach house, obvi.
If Chip and Joanna Gaines have convinced you that your abode needs shiplap, you’re usually best off installing the boards horizontally rather than vertically. “It can really expand a space, making it feel larger than vertical boards can,” says Jason Arnold. “Horizontal boards also feel more contemporary.” Vertical boards, however, can be ideal for rooms with high ceilings.
“I love to see the layers of time and renovations,” says California-based interior designer Patrick Printy. “To me, it deepens the effect.” Achieving a sense of harmony that feels organic is key.
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For a head-to-toe makeover, the first step is creating a palette. “I come up with a basic color scheme for the whole house, and then I take that from room to room,” reveals Gary McBournie, a designer based in Boston. “It plays itself out in different ways in different rooms.”
Instead of fighting against rusticity, embracing the natural character of a home can create a natural richness in the space.”My father found artisans to decorate the bathroom in red limestone, a typical Rajasthani material,” Siddharth Kasliwal, heir to India’s famed Munnu the Gem Palace, explained of the former-cowshed-turned-home he inherited from his father. “All the other elements—the brass sink and hardware, the mirror— are vintage or antique.”
Shiplap over a fireplace and built-in bookshelves feels cozy and inviting. Beach vibes for days.
This rustic great room was built to resemble a converted barn. And those windows, though.
Matching can be so overrated — and expensive. Look online (and in thrift shops) for beautiful sets of antique china and silver flatware, recommends Williams. You’ll save money and the place settings will feel more special to guests than brand-new ones.
For the perfect color family, mix one batch of paint 50% lighter than the base and another 150% darker. “That’s a failsafe method for striping a wall,” says Mary Douglas Drysdale, who designed this bold blue kitchen. “It’s also a very architectural way of using color.”
It’s easy to gravitate toward the usual suspects like wood and leather when trying to craft a textured living space, but branch outside of your comfort zone. Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe recommends drawing from your own personal style, especially the articles of clothing and patterns you’re attracted to.
Yellow upholstery will make sure your living room is always sunny, no matter what the weather is outside. Keep the rest of the room white and it’ll feel even brighter.
Metallic finishes already add plenty of sparkle, but the sheen will make a bigger impact in a variety of colors. “I don’t know why people don’t mix gold with silver more often — they look so smart together,” says designer John De Bastiani. “The key is to use a lot of both; you can’t be shy with one or the other.”
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“Create strong verticals and avoid the horizontal,” recommends designer Todd Romano. “I adore large mirrors because they add scale to a room. I also kept the furniture low-slung, so the rooms seem taller.”
Lavender walls help this otherwise busy living room feel calm. Chinese ancestral paintings hang over the sofa, framed by ginger jars on wall brackets, and the sofa is upholstered in an overscale ikat.
Dark beams add contrast to high and light ceilings. Add a gothic-inspired chandelier to ground it even more.
To up farmhouse vibes, install shiplap. Joanna Gaines would totally approve.
Shop a similar look: dark paint ($20, amazon.com), light paint ($45, amazon.com)
“Bringing a touch of the Old World into the mix creates a home that will never feel dated,” designer Alex Papachristidis explains of the art-studded Manhattan apartment he designed for a family friend. For example, the silver leaf–and–rock crystal chandelier from Liz O’Brien that he hung in the otherwise modern dining room.
When Lee Cavanaugh and Sarah DePalo of Cullman & Kravis make their yearly trip to the Paris flea, they send finds home in a group container to keep costs down.
To avoid being locked into a single style, lighting designer Lindsey Adelman switches up the fixtures in her Park Slope home on a regular basis. “It’s part of my creative process,” she explains, “I love to see things in context, in real life—to live with them.”
Allow your space to continuously change—as your life does. “Remember that your home should always be evolving, just as you are,” says Kelly Framel, creative director, stylist and founder of online magazine The Glamourai. “I am constantly picking up new treasures on my travels. Your nest should always be a place of comfort and inspiration, and it’s a constant work in progress.”
Shop a similar look: gold lamp ($60, amazon.com), silver vase ($20, amazon.com)
Though the walls and floors in this cottage are neutral, patterned chairs give it a pop. Bright pillows on the sofa add to the tropical feel.
Small living spaces don’t have to feel cramped. “See how these living room chairs have smallish arms,” says designer Elizabeth Pyne. “Most of their square footage is given to the seat, so you can curl up in them. They feel luxurious and roomy even though they’re not big.”
$3,295, Rococo Iron & Crystal Chandelier, Restoration Hardware
Elegant furniture juxtaposed with exposed brick walls feels cool and lived-in. Add statement art to break them up.
Allowing unique items to dictate some design decisions can lead to unexpectedly beautiful results. On the hallways leading into this Art Deco Chicago apartment, dramatic doors and paneling were inspired by a special stack of uncommon lumber. “There was a guy out in Oregon who had a barn full of exotic wood and everything was marked ‘NFS,’ as in Not For Sale,” architect Phillip Liederbach recalls with a laugh. “It gave us a responsibility to elevate it. We obsessed over it.”
Don’t postpone a makeover because of naturally messy kids. “Put your money into a comfortable, well-made sofa that you’ll have forever,” advises Krista Ewart, a designer based in California. “You don’t have to deny yourself that expensive designer fabric you love — just put it on something small, like a pillow.”
Instead of hanging a painting on a bare wall, accent it with a rich, velvet curtain background. “Curtains just create a great, calming energy in which you feel very shrouded and comforted, making for a luxurious and restful environment,” says Framel. “And being able to put a really great pop of artwork in front of that textural colored backdrop has a lot of impact.”
This is not the time for e-shopping, people. “It’s just so hard to tell on a computer screen what the color really looks like,” Arnold says. “You might think it looks red, but in reality, it’s watermelon pink.” Not to mention the texture of the rug may be totally different than what you were expecting.
The mosaic Moroccan tiles are the focal point of this blue-and-white living room. They add an exotic touch to a beach house.
You know those people who seem to have great taste without even trying? You’re about to be one of them. Here, top designers share the best insider tips and tricks in the business.
Raw-poplar walls give the feel of “a fisherman’s shack.” We’re forever on island time.
Eye-catching tile can make a statement in the kitchen as well as in the bathroom. Cover as much of the wall as the budget allows, recommends designer Angie Hranowsky. Matthew Quinn, also a designer, agrees: “It feels more like a French bistro this way,” he says of this blue-gray backdrop.
If you’ve got tall ceilings, you need a statement chandelier. This modern chandelier picks up the gold accents in the room.
You don’t need to go bright in order to create visual impact in a room. “[My wife] wanted to dial it back into her aesthetic, away from the color,” says David Kaihoi of the 400-square foot New York studio he renovated for his family. “I agreed, but suggested we do that with texture and pattern.”
Mirrored panels like the ones lining this alcove can be elegant — but don’t just slap them up, designer Jan Showers warns. Large sheets of mirror will look commercial, so try a sectioned pattern in the traditional French style instead.
Looking beyond the traditional with wallcoverings can create a truly standout design presence. “I do think I might have scared [architect Ken Linsteadt] a little bit when I announced I was planning to install two levels of green floral fabric on the walls of the grand salon,” says Ken Fulk of his Sonoma Valley lakeside retreat, yet the fabric gives the high walls a richness that wallpaper alone might not have achieved.
$5,400, John Stuart Clingman for Widdicomb Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs, 1stdibs
An L-shaped couch not only looks cool, but it makes a corner living area way more functional. To make it stand out even more, choose a bright color.
Shop a similar look: wooden bar stools ($125 for two, amazon.com)
A temporary space can look beautiful, even with a small budget. “We are so used to having painters sand for ages to produce mirror-smooth walls, but I wasn’t about to spend the money to do that in a rental,” says designer Max Sinsteden of his bright green entryway. “It turns out the irregular surface just sparkles all the more.”
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Rather than art, a high-impact wallpaper can give a subdued room some wow-factor. The 19th century wallcovering from this luxe Milan apartment was purchased at auction in France and adapted to the room. “We created the missing parts, the plinth and the ceiling frame, to depict an Italian capriccio, a fantastical and bucolic landscape with architectural features,” Laura Sartori Rimini of Studio Peregalli says.
Create a cozy cottage feel with an intimate grouping of furniture. Also, this vintage root table is everything our wood coffee tables aspire to be.
Think red, white, and blue feels too patriotic? Not when it’s paired with geometric lamps and a neutral, patterned rug.
“I don’t think it will last too long, but the look of velvet is a big trend,” says TV personality and designer on the new season of Trading Spaces, Sabrina Soto. She embraced this material by buying a deep blue velvet couch for her formal living room, but if you want a safer choice, go with a soft gray.
This living room is simple, clean-lined, and inviting, with a little bit of glamour and a lot of comfort. To highlight the architectural details, the moldings are painted in high-gloss white.
Whether you’re decorating your first home or your fifth, great design is in the details. We’ve consulted top designers and scoured our archives to find the best ideas for every room in the house.
Instead of meshing a color scheme with a sense of place, designer Irakli Zaria used rich gold and turquoise as an antidote to gloomy London days in this chic pied-a-terre. “In a place where there are such cloudy skies, it makes no sense to have a gray interior,” he said.
“I’m really into saturated color with white to balance it out so it doesn’t feel over-whelming,” says Joanna Gaines, the star of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and mastermind behind Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Paint in partnership with Kilz. Having trouble picking out a bold color? Gaines recommends green, because it’s found in nature and timeless.
When hanging mirrors, think carefully about what they’ll will reflect, advises Showers. You want to pick up a great scene, like a pretty chandelier.
The trompe l’oeil paintings, such as the scrolls that frame the windows in this living room, help break up large walls. You don’t have to worry about hanging art in this space.
Make what’s old new again by invigorating antique pieces with colorful fabric from the 21st century. Take, for example, the two 18th-century French bergère chairs here, upholstered in a hot pink Maharam fabric. “Maharam is a very modern, contemporary fabric company, with velvets that are really bright in color,” says Bikoff. “That color was such a pop of freshness and youthfulness on these old chairs.”
It’s counterintuitive, but the trick to pattern is to use more. “It’s all about symmetry,” reveals Meg Braff. She uses prints in pairs, so that there is the same textile on one side of the room as on the other. “It’s comforting to the eye — you don’t have to ‘work’ to take it in,” she adds.
“You mix things up with old and new,” suggests textiles and interior designer Kathryn M. Ireland, as she did in the living room of her Santa Monica home; a room where the furnishings include 17th-century French chairs, an 18th-century Mexican console, and a cocktail table from her furniture line.
A pendant lamp adds to the jewel-box effect of this lush living room. Even though they used contrasting colors, the darker tones keep it from feeling too bold.
Add vibrant color without it overpowering your room by painting bookshelves. It’ll accent the room, but not be the focus of the room.
“A lot of people love the idea of really simple, modern living—it’s appealing, it’s nice and it seems serene,” says Erika Yeaman, a Homepolish designer and owner of YES Associates. “But the reality of maintaining that is a little tricker. Mixing Scandinavian design with bohemian style warms it up and makes it feel more homey and attainable.”