Moms are great for teaching us the important things in life… and even a little bit about adulting. But we’ll bet Mom didn’t mention much about home decor (mine sure didn’t). Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
1. Take Your Time
Decorating doesn’t have to mean outfitting the entire room (or home) with items found in one mad shopping spree. Take your time: buy pieces as you can afford them and let your “collection” of furnishings and decor pieces grow naturally. Think about it: the furnishings you remember in the home of your childhood weren’t added all at once. It’s not a race. The goal is to decorate the space with a look you find enjoyable, comfy and inviting. After all, you may own these belongings for a long time.
2. Skip the “Furniture Suites”
We’ve all seen those ads selling entire living-room sets that give you the best bang for your buck. Sure, the price may sound good considering the number of pieces in the set, but in many cases, the quality is lacking. Even more so, do you really need eight pieces of furniture for one room? So much matching furniture in one space – even a large space – is overwhelming and takes over as the focal point of the room.
Side note: if you are already the proud owner of a furniture suite, feel free to move some of the pieces to another room to break up the look.
3. Furniture Doesn’t Have to Match
This goes right along with our advice on saying “adios” to those furniture suites. Many interior designers and home stagers feel that matching furniture sets can make a room look too stuffy or formal – even in the bedroom, where furniture sets are common. Eclectic items that complement each other make the space feel more comfortable and inviting. Don’t be afraid to mix metal accents with wood furniture to create a rustic or industrial look. You can even incorporate high-end pieces with Ikea hacks to create a space as unique as you are.
4. Yard-Sale Finds Are Fair Game
Yard sales, some thrift stores and even the Habitat for Humanity ReStore are great places to shop for quality used furniture and decorative accents. Old wooden dressers, tables and benches that have lasted several generations can easily last for several more. Look for pieces in relatively good shape and items that will also look good when repainted. That plain, boxy dresser may not look like much now, but with a fresh coat of chalk paint and wax, it can look like it came right from a high-end furniture store. Look for unembellished, simple furniture so you can customize is to your decor style.
Before buying desks or dressers, check the drawers to ensure they open and close properly. Dovetailed drawers are an excellent choice because the sides and front practically stay together without glue. Make sure to check the bottoms of the drawers to ensure they aren’t warped or falling out. Solid wood drawer bottoms are common in a lot of older pieces and they’ll hold a lot more weight than flimsy laminated drawers found in some inexpensive furniture.
5. Alterations Are Allowed
So you found a few cute throw pillows on sale… but they’re sort of plain. Guess what? You can decorate them, even if they’re new. No one ever said you had to leave items the way they looked when you bought them. And no one ever said you couldn’t replicate those high-end items you love by making them yourself – for a lot less money. Decorate pillows by painting on them with fabric paint and a brush, or by using stencils or strips of tape to create more specific, repeatable designs.
Customization isn’t limited to pillows, either. Do it to roll-up window shades, the drawers of a dresser or even the legs of unmatched furniture to give the pieces a more unified, cohesive look. You – yes, you – are the master of your own rock-star decorating style. You can do it!
6. Make Your Own Decor From Scratch
Interior decorating means whatever you want it to – and it doesn’t mean that every piece has to come from a store or catalog, either. Feel free to make your own home decor pieces. Craft your own cafe curtains from old coffee or flour sacks. Create custom wall art panels by wrapping insulating foam board, art canvas or foam-core board with pieces of fabric, gift wrap style (no one will even know the fabric is stapled, taped or pinned to the back). You can even make your own chic industrial/rustic bookshelf from reclaimed lumber, pipes and pipe flanges, customized to any size that suits your home.
7. Don’t Forget About Your Housemates
If you share your home with a partner, spouse or sibling, consider their stylistic sensibilities too. Even if you love the look, Mr. Macho may not enjoy or appreciate a shabby chic room full of pink floral prints and frilly things. Likewise, the kids deserve to be kids and to have rooms that look like children’s rooms. Allow older children the chance to give input on the look of their rooms; after all this is their personal space, their place of respite from the rest of the world.
8. You Can Paint the Ceiling (or Even the Floor)
If you own the home, guess what? You can paint ANY surface in the space – even the ceiling or floor. The ceiling doesn’t have to be white. Let the room’s shape, style and theme dictate the color for the ceiling. In some cases, a yellow and white striped ceiling will actually look good, given the colors in the rest of the room.
Painting a floor is a good idea when the current flooring is damaged or has been painted previously. You don’t even have to stick with one solid color; create your own stenciled or hand-painted design to add some zing to the space. If you aren’t sure where to start, paint companies offer tutorials about how to paint floors of all compositions, too. Just pick the preparation and painting instructions listed for the type of flooring in the room and you’re good to go.
And there you have it – a handful of tricks to keep your dwelling decked out, whether you’re moving into your first place or your fourth.