Design choices can be so overwhelming that having a basic list of the things a room needs is a great place to start. I've compiled these tips to help guide you in making home decorating decisions for just about any room.
One of my most favourite things about decorating or creating, in general, is that you can make something your own. I love to learn the rules and then love breaking them to suit my own personal style. So I encourage you to do the same, work with them and if you're just not feeling it then challenge those rules!
HOME DECORATING TIP #1 | ARTWORK / WALL DECOR
Many people have a difficult time selecting artwork. I usually base my choices on:
- The feel I want the room to have – calming, energetic etc.
- The colours within the room and
- Most importantly, my overall gut feeling
An old interior design theory is that every wall should have something on it (terrible for minimalists!) however personally I don't find that necessary.
Gallery walls have been very popular in recent times although there has been a shift to larger single pieces lately. Oversized artworks look amazing and on their own are a real statement piece. I prefer to keep family photographs to a minimum in bedrooms but pics of you and your partner can work well especially if you're going for a romantic vibe. Mirrors and shelving are also great options to use as wall decor.
HOME DECORATING TIP #2 | A FLOOR RUG
Anybody else notice how many people on Instagram have floor rugs in their bathrooms? Not daggy nana bath mats… actual living room rugs. I love seeing unexpected items in a room so at the moment I'm challenging myself to put a rug in the strangest location I can think of!
Don't have a large room? The floor rug doesn't have to be large, place a cute circular rug under an armchair or a narrow runner across a door or windows.
When selecting a rug consider:
- The size of the area. Typically if in doubt, “go bigger” is the rule with rugs! The best choice is always to fit the furniture on the rug, however, sourcing such large rugs can be difficult and costly. For some great ideas on rug selection and tips on faking it if you can't buy the biggest option, read How to Choose the Right Rug Size.
- The type of traffic it will get or who will be utilising it. Think about using a patterned rug if it's likely to get a little messy.
- The room's overall style. This could determine the pile, colour, size, plain or pattern etc.
- Cleaning and maintenance. Uh. Not my favourite thing but this also lends to the point about traffic. We want your rug looking pretty as long as possible.
- Cost. Always… cost.
HOME DECORATING TIP #3 | LIGHTING
This does seem a little obvious right? But I mean actually consider the lighting – what do you do in the room and what areas of the room will you need to light up over others?
I always try to incorporate at least one lamp in basically every room. Or in the case of bathrooms or even laundries, practical task lighting combined with a lovely pendant. With the exception of a toilet, it's uncommon for a room to require only one light source.
The main forms of lighting include:
- Ambient lighting. Usually the first consideration for a room, separate to the task lighting. Some common types include track lighting, chandeliers, pendants and wall lights.
- Task lighting. Some common types include desk lamps, floor lamps, under-cabinet lights, pendants and track lighting.
- Accent lighting. Typically used to highlight an element in a room. Some common types include wall lights, recessed and landscape lighting.
HOME DECORATING TIP #4 | COHESIVE COLOUR PALETTE
Whilst the colour palette isn't a decor item (as with the aforementioned), it's still a very important aspect of every room. The topic alone could be written about for days.
- Pick a colour scheme that inspires you, one that you're naturally attracted to.
- Think about the function of the space and what you would like people to feel when they walk in. Cool, calm, energetic, cosy?
- Try the ratio of 60% for a dominant colour (e.g. walls), 30% for a secondary colour (e.g. couch) and 10% as an accent colour (those gorgeous accessories). Using this ratio and sticking to three colours also lends to the Rule of Thirds, a guideline used by many designers, photographers and creators in general (if I had a dollar for every time I heard this trick?!).
- Look to your wardrobe for inspiration, the colours you find in here are typically those that you are drawn to (and look good in!).
Word of warning though, professionals will advise – don't get too caught up in the exact colour of paint straight away. With all of the possible mixes available it's so much easier to match a paint colour to a floor rug, piece of art or another statement piece in your room than having to match your decorator accents to your walls. So have an idea but find those other items first.
HOME DECORATING TIP #5 | WINDOW TREATMENTS
I know you're totally gorgeous and all but… no, your neighbours don't want to see what you're doing every minute of every day!
In terms of practicality window coverings can offer the following:
- A cheap way to help keep out the heat and the cold which in turn helps to reduce your environmental footprint (always a great thing).
- Reduce sound.
- Allow for adjusting the light levels e.g. to limit glare on your TV and other devices.
Curtains and some blinds will soften the room and are a great way to bring in texture (see Tip #6 below)
The placement of your curtains can also have an effect on the overall appearance of the room. A well known visual trick is to hang curtains higher above the window to give the appearance of a taller ceiling height (vertical). Stretching curtains beyond the window either side helps give the appearance of a wider room (horizontal).
HOME DECORATING TIP #6 | TEXTURE
Texture is one of those little secrets that helps to make a room feel complete. Even when you remove the colour from a room, a successful neutral room is so because of layers of texture. The key is to find a balanced mix of multiple texture types.
To get you thinking about where to find texture, here are a few suggestions:
- Timber and woodgrain
- Wainscoting and panelling
- Architectural elements (beams, molding etc)
- Metal, bling and mirrors
- Fur (as I'm an animal lover my preference is definitely faux)
- Wallpaper and wall textures
- Many different fabrics and textiles such as velvet, jute, linen, lace, knit etc.
Now you're thinking, ways in which you can incorporate texture include via:
BONUS DECOR ITEMS EVERY ROOM SHOULD HAVE FOR SUCCESS
Yeah! Who doesn't love an unexpected bonus?! This article covers physical items such as furniture and decorator accents. But a truly successful room has something only you got girlfriend…
HOME DECORATING TIP #7 | YOUR PERSONALITY
I touched on this a little at the beginning of the article. A room will not pull together unless it has the owner's personality injected into it. I mean… display homes and hotels are nice but spend a little time in them and they're just not home are they?
It could be something such as a couple of family photo frames, art, something historic, a momento or curio of sentimental value. Often these pieces can be a great source of inspiration for decorating the room in the first place.
Personal items look really good when placed in vignettes. What are vignettes you ask? They're small displays of items you often see in places such as table tops, buffets and bookshelves. Whenever creating a vignette arrangement I always like to include accessories of various heights and some sort of plant or flower.
I would love to add a bunch more things that can really help to pull a room together. However, the aim of this post is to stick to the basics by providing some general home decorating tips.
You can check out the extended version, which details Secrets to Styling a Cosy Home Interior. It'll expand on what we spoke about today and have some additional tips on decorating.
Until then, what is the most important aspect of decorating a room to you? Listed here or otherwise?