Written by Jaymi Naciri
Pulling together a flawless home isn’t easy. But you don’t need to be an expert (or hire one) to create an inviting space – you just need to follow a few expert rules.
Heed these designer tips to get a designer look that Freshome says is “fabulous and functional, all at the same time,” in your home.
1. Pick the perfect paint color
2. Decide your room’s purpose
If you have a great room, it may serve several different needs. But in other spaces, choosing a single purpose is key. “If you’ve got the space, try to narrow things down and let the room’s real purpose decide the décor,” said designer Katie Leavy of Capital Design in Washington, D.C. on HGTV. “Decide, for example, if your room will be a living room that you’ll entertain in on just a few occasions or a family room you’re going to use every day. A room’s purpose should be one of the strongest cues for the decor.”
3. Pay attention to lighting
Have you ever noticed how well-lit the rooms are when you tour a model home? That’s – literally – by design. Different types of lighting are layered into spaces to create an ambient feel. If your rooms are too dark or you’re not accentuating focus areas, give your lighting plan another look. And don’t forget to put everything on dimmers. Being able to adjust the amount of lighting is key!
4. Add in some texture
“Equally as important to color, is texture. A room at first glance can seem like a single color scheme, but if you look closely you will notice shades within the same color and plenty of texture via fabrics/textiles,” said Freshome. “An all-white room may have linen draperies, a plush velvet chair, shiny silk cushions, rattan chairs and woven baskets, and a nubby cotton sofa with a faux fur blanket tossed on the side. All of these elements add texture and please the eye, creating a warm, rich environment.”
High ceilings are a much-desired feature, but if your home hasn’t been blessed with them, you can still fake it with a few clever tricks. “If your ceilings are on the low side, paint them white to make the room feel less claustrophobic,” said This Old House. Hanging curtains at a taller height than the windows “can trick your eye into thinking the room is taller. Love patterned panels? Try vertical stripes; the lines visually elongate your walls. Leaning a large mirror against a wall can also make a room seem taller.”
If the coffee table in your living room is simply a utilitarian piece to rest a drink or a pair of tired feet, you may not have thought about how you can style it to look designer-ready. The right mix of items can make it a focal point in your home and give it the appearance a pro lent a hand.
“When designing the top of your coffee table, start with something large and wonderful in the middle: a floral in an interesting pot, a huge bowl (maybe filled with sea urchins or something else interesting),” said Elle Decor. “Then build out from that: stacks of art books, candles, sculpture or pottery. Make it interesting and change it regularly.”
7. Make a good first impression
Getting the outside of your home right can also be tricky, and a big spend on landscaping may not be your priority. But one simple step can make a big difference, and make you smile every time you drive by. “If you want your house to make a great first impression, paint the front door a fun, glossy hue,” said This Old House. “Red is a lucky color in many cultures,” Lara Allen-Brett, a New Jersey-based stager, told them. “A red door meant ‘welcome’ to weary travelers in early America, and on churches it represents a safe haven. Two other hues gaining favor: orange and yellow, according to San Francisco-based stager Christopher Breining,” they said.
8. Mix and match different styles
Rarely do you see a room that’s designed in one consistent style – or one era, for that matter – from top to bottom. The best designer rooms mix and match, showcasing modern elements next to heirlooms to creating interesting, inviting spaces.” Don’t be afraid to mix and match your favorite styles within one room. Think a modern lamp with a vintage sideboard,” said Style Me Pretty.
Focus on your walls to take a good space and make it great. “Art is a great go-to for giving your space a more luxurious, unique feel,” said HGTV. “A lot of people are intimidated by art because it can be so expensive. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on art.” Online sites like Art.com, flea markets, or even places like IKEA and World Market can be treasure troves for great art pieces.
Don’t forget to also hang that art at the right height. “Galleries and museums hang artwork so that the midline (center) of each piece is 57 inches to 60 inches from the floor,” said Houzz. “(The average human eye level is 57 inches.) And you should do the same.”
10. Add in a little bit of you
If you play by the rules, you may end up with a nicely pulled together space, but it can also be boring. Don’t forget to add in a little bit of you so the home reflects your style, too.
“Personality is what makes a space great. Make your own statement and have fun. The more you try, the more you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Houzz. “Incorporate unexpected elements for drama. The unconventional ottoman seats, library-style bookshelves and oversize chandelier here are all unexpected in a conventional living room, but the result has charisma. Eschew expected pieces and interpretations if you want a room that will really wow.”
But, while you’re being bold, remember not to go too far. Going crazy with a theme or displaying an inordinate amount of collectibles can make a space look crowded or overworked.