Timeless advice on accents, window treatments, finding the right-sized rug and more.
1. Keep investment pieces neutral
Stick to creams, beiges and greys for your sofa and headboard. Get trendy with less expensive items, like pillows and accessories.
2. Use dimmer switches
Add dimmers to light switches wherever you can to soften a room’s mood with the flip of a — well, you know.
3. Accent with pillows
Mix different-sized prints and patterns in your colour scheme. It’s a simple way to pull a room together.
4. Avoid impulse buys
Before shopping, map out your room in advance?—?colour palette, materials, mood?—?to avoid spending money on items that don’t fit.
5. Store odds and ends on trays
Place a tray on a coffee table or sofa to corral smaller items, like books, magazines and remote controls.
6. Hang art like a pro
Hanging art too high is a common design error. Ideally, the piece’s centre should sit 57 to 60 inches above the floor.
7. Use the 3-to-6-inch rule
Mounting art above furniture? Leave three to six inches of wall space above a sofa or headboard.
8. Frame wisely
As a general rule, use a thick frame for large art and a thin frame for small pieces.
9. Hang textiles too
Hang a quilt or a textile on your walls (instead of art) for added warmth and texture.
10. Choose your paint colour last
Match your paint to your furniture — not the other way around. And don’t be afraid of glossy paint: Multiple coats make for a super-shiny, lacquered look.
11. Paint trim the same colour as walls
Whether you’re using a light or dark colour, this trick minimizes contrast and makes a room feel larger. (Bonus: It’s also right on trend.)
12. Use paint to expand a room’s dimensions
Make a small room feel larger by painting the walls and the ceiling the same colour. Also consider adding a chair rail, then paint the top half of the wall a lighter shade than the bottom.
13. Be bold with wallpaper
Small spaces, like entryways, are good spots to experiment with eye-catching wallpaper or bright graphic paint.
14. Invest in good light switches and plates
Outdated hardware can stick out like a sore thumb, especially against wallpaper. Contemporary or vintage switches and plates are inexpensive design upgrades.
15. Work with negative space
Don’t try to fill every inch of your walls. Empty spots impart calmness and allow other design elements to pop.
16. Create a look with books
Stack them on a stool, fan them out on a coffee table or display on a console. Books add colour, texture and substance to a room while injecting it with your personality.
17. Layer your lighting
The most interesting rooms combine ambient, task and accent lighting.
18. Add texture with a stunning table lamp
Place them on side tables, entryway consoles and desks.
19. Manipulate light with mirrors
Add mirrors to reflect light. They give a room a certain sparkle and a bright, open feeling.
20. Try a low-hanging pendant light
Forgo the typical table lamp for a ceiling-hung light. (This is a great fix if your ceiling lacks a hard-wired connection.)
21. Use symmetry
Quickly pull together a room by placing a pair of matching lamps on nightstands, opposing end tables, console tables or behind a sofa.
22. Centre your bed
If possible, position your bed so it can be boarded from either side. It will make the room feel balanced.
23. Make your headboard a focal point
In addition to making a bedroom look finished, the headboard is a handy fixture to base your decorating scheme around.
24. Pay attention to scale
One art piece alone couldn’t anchor the wall pictured above, but four fill up the space nicely.
25. Change your space with the seasons
Bust out heavier blankets and rugs for fall, and cycle in warmer fabrics and colours.
26. Emphasize specific features
This could be a mantelpiece, a framed view out of a window, a piece of art, a statement light or even a kitchen range. Place your emphasis on this area and make other parts of the room supporting players.
27. Consider a statement rug
Allow a beautifully patterned rug to be the starting point for your decorating scheme. It’s a quick way to establish a colour palette and a mood for your room.
28. Move seating away from the walls
Assemble pieces around a coffee table to create an intimate conversation area. Situating a console table behind a sofa is another way to lend a room some breathing space.
29. Beware of
Nautical references, like anchors and seashells, are great in small doses, but going too strong with one particular theme will make your room look clichéd.
30. Choose appropriately sized rugs
At least two of your sofa’s feet and two of your lounge chair’s feet should touch your living room rug. In a dining room, all of your chair legs should fit on the rug when the chairs are pulled out from the table.
31. Match your dining room table to its chairs
Most tables stand between 29 to 30 inches in height. If yours is taller or shorter, seek out chairs that are proportional so that eating isn’t uncomfortable.
32. Create an everyday centrepiece
Simplify your decor by committing to a default look for your dining room table. Consider items like statement candlesticks, decorative bowls and beautiful runners.
33. Hang curtains at the right height
Curtain rods should be mounted at least four inches above a window frame. And make small windows look bigger by extending your curtain rods. (For a standard window, extend your curtain rods approximately 10 inches beyond the frame. For an especially small window, extend the rod even further on either side.)
34. Mix window treatments
When the sun shines through an unlined curtain, the colour of the fabric can infuse your room, affecting your paint colour and the overall feel. Layer textured blinds (like bamboo or a roller shade) with curtains to achieve a rich look.
35. Mind your curtain panels
For a single curtain panel, multiply the width of the window by two. For a fuller look, multiply the width by three.
36. Consider your sightlines
A house’s design should flow from one room to the next. Think about views through doorways or, in an open-concept space, from room to room to make sure they work as a whole.
37. Buy yourself flowers
Greenery is the cheapest, easiest way to add colour and life to a room.
38. Group objects in odd numbers
When creating a vignette, group items in threes, fives or sevens. (Trust —?they will look better.)
39. Edit your collectibles
If a piece doesn’t fit, find another home for it — or put it away until you find the right spot.
40. Remember: You can always change your mind
Made a design mistake? Don’t linger in regret: paint it, sell it, re-do it and move on!