People often ask me how I design a space or where do I find pieces to make a space feel cohesive, etc. Today, I’m going to share my top 10 tips for achieving the look of a ‘designed’ space that will also fit your personality and needs. These are by no means ‘rules’, but rather helpful advice and things I personally do when decorating.
1. Come up with a plan first. Decide what your style is or what you like and what you want the room to look like. I follow many other decorating bloggers and designers for inspiration. I also have stacks of decorating and diy magazines along with books from some of my favorite designers. However, you dont have to buy your own set of books or magazines because the internet is such a great tool. Pinterest alone, has a huge selection of, well everything. Search for rooms decorated in your favorite color or style or by your favorite designer and save those pictures to your Pinterest boards. You can also write down what you want to achieve so that you can stay on task.
2. Try to use what you already have or buy thrift. It’s not cheap to buy new furniture for a space. If what you have is in good condition, use it. If you don’t necessarily like the way it looks, use a little sweat equity and give it a fresh coat of paint or stain. You could even paint or stain all your mismatched furniture the same color, if you like. If it’s a couch or chair, you can get covers in a new color. Renovating old pieces gives you a chance to make it something specific to your taste and you save money in the long run. I have things that I have painted several times to suit different spaces. I have painted beds, mirrors, frames, furniture, you name it. Get creative and use some muscle to rework your favorite pieces. Saving some money here will allow you to splurge on that one piece you really want later.
Here are a few pieces that I have renovated.
3. Don’t buy all your furniture and accessories from the same place. A lot of people will buy their furniture in sets, but what makes a space look ‘designed’ is one that is gathered over time. Use a mix of old pieces (i.e. antiques and hand me downs, or thrifted items) with new furniture or art. A room shouldn’t be completed in one weekend by a trip to the store. What gives it character and style is using a mix of all those things. Shop around places like Homegoods and Marshalls or online through Wayfair or Overstock. Go to your local thrift store or antique mall. Don’t settle on things that just match, but aren’t necessarily what you’re looking for. Wait and search for those special pieces for your room.
DIY coffee table, old end tables, new couches, thrifted lamp:
4. Do not copy other people’s style exactly. I think the best part about designing is that it’s a way to showcase my style and my creativity. I get that it’s not easy for everyone, but every home or space should tell a story about the person or people who live in it. Put up your favorite pictures, that piece from your mom/dad/grandma, and paint with colors that speak to you. Obviously, I use other designers and decorators for inspiration, but every room is decorated to my specific taste(or my family members). I know Joanna Gaines is the bees knees, but I bet you are too.
5. Use a rug to define the space. Rugs are a great way to add style, color, and soften a room. If you have hard floors, it is especially necessary. I buy a lot of my rugs at Overstock because they have great prices, but I’ve also bought from Homegoods, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Walmart and Rugs.com, to name a few. They can be pricey, so again, rework what you have so you can spend a little on things like a nice rug.
6. Accessorize, but don’t overdo it. Look around for pieces that look good together, help bring the room to life, and also serve a purpose. Mirrors are a great way to make a small room feel bigger. Plants give life to the room, literally and figuratively. Throw pillows and blankets aren’t just pretty accessories, they’re great for movie nights and weekend naps on the couch. Use color coordinated baskets to gather toys or baby supplies. Sure it’s ok to hang that trendy vintage sign, but maybe not 5 different ones on the same wall. Gallery walls are great for showcasing photos or art, but can get pretty busy. Choose color coordinated frames and make a plan for a cohesive pattern. If you can’t afford all new frames, use a can of spray paint to make what you already have match. Accessories really pull a room together, but too much stuff is just too much stuff.
I only hung two things in this room and kept it simple on all surfaces, but it still has color and interest:
7. Do It Yourself. Not only does DIY save you money, but it also enables you to make exactly what you’ve envisioned for a space. Whether that is a big wood dining table that is out of your budget or new curtain panels that are the right shade of green, DIY enables you to have that for your space. There are some really great builders who blog and share free plans for projects. Shanty2Chic are some creative sisters who can pretty much build anything out of a 2×4. Ana White has so many plans for awesome furniture and they’re affordable and easy to follow. You will notice that I only mentioned female builders because we can and we do! 😉 Don’t be afraid to use power tools! I have also saved money learning how to sew my own curtains. I get fabric from fabric.com for great prices and I can have longer panels that don’t break the bank and are a perfect match for my decor.
A couple of my favorite DIYs:
8. Paint your walls. Paint is an effective and cheap way to transform any space. you can paint all the walls or an accent wall. I love using stencils for even more character.
9. Hang your curtains high. Don’t hang your curtains right above the window. Hang them closer to the ceiling. This will make the room feel more grand, especially if you have low ceilings to contend with. Longer curtains can be pricey so that’s a big reason why I sew my own.
10. Finally, spend the big bucks on things that are timeless. This is especially important on expensive renovations. Sure, that turquoise tile is on trend now, but will you love it in 10 years. On the other hand, subway tile or a marble mosaic is always in style. Don’t get too caught up on trends. They change and frequently. If you’re spending a lot of money on something, you probably don’t want to do it twice. Save the trendy stuff for your accents that are easily changed out. Spend your money on things that will stand the test of time.
You don’t want to end up like a bad episode of Trading Spaces:
😯 Let’s hope the new episodes will be better this time.
I believe anyone is capable of achieving their dream home. I try to make every home we live in feel that way. If you’re a renter like me, and maybe move often like me as well, decorating can be especially important to make a house feel like home. Get inspired and creative and have fun decorating.