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Have you ever seen a picture of a perfectly styled room online and thought, “Why can’t my home look like that?” The truth is, designing that Pinterest-perfect room was no easy feat. It took time, money and, quite possibly, a trained interior designer.
Interior designers make styling a home look so simple, but in reality they’re using a strategy – a formula that combines the right amount of color and pattern with the perfect furniture, flooring and accessories.
We interviewed interior designers to get the inside scoop on how you can use their methods to style your home like a professional.
Choose a Style
Sometimes the layout or construction of your home will dictate what style best suits your space. Other times, your home can lend itself to whatever style you want. In either case, you’ll need to determine the style of your home before you start introducing furniture and accessories.
Choosing a design style will help guide you through the design of your entire home so that your decor is cohesive from room to room. Think of your style as a theme and use that theme to connect one room’s aesthetic to the next.
If you don’t know how to choose a style, Beverly Solomon, creative director at Beverly Solomon Design, advises choosing decor that reflects your personality.
“You should try to formulate what you want your decor to say about you and what image you want to project,” says Solomon. “Your decor should really tell your story and reflect who you are.”
To elaborate, if your personality is more laid-back, try incorporating furniture and decor that’s warm and cozy. If you’re more focused on trends, you can decorate your home based on a popular style at the time.
Consider the Amount of Space
One aspect you might have to consider when choosing the style for your home is the amount of space you have available. You need to come to terms with the realities of your space and how many furnishings you can fit in it.
You should also tackle each room one at a time, starting with the room you deem a priority over the rest. For example, if your master bedroom is in need of an upgrade, start there. If you frequently entertain guests in your home, you might want to focus on a communal space instead, like your living or dining room.
Once you choose where to start, Karen Gray-Plaisted, owner of Design Solutions KGP, suggests measuring the room before you buy new furniture.
“Draw out the overall floor plan and placement of windows and other architectural elements. It doesn’t have to be exact, but rather, a good general idea of the space,” explains Gray-Plaisted.
Make note of electrical outlets and switches, vents, windows and doors when considering the layout of the room. This can help you determine where you have the capacity to place furniture, lighting and other electronics as well as storage and shelving.
Establish a Color Scheme
You might think choosing a paint color for your walls or furnishings is no big deal, but color actually has a large impact on your mood and can affect your perception of a space. There are even some colors that can affect your physical state – for example, reds and yellows are known to evoke feelings of hunger.
When establishing a color scheme in a room in your home, start with an inspiration piece. Similar to Solomon suggesting to design based on your personality, choose your color based on your preferences. Maybe it’s your favorite throw pillow or a decorative area rug.
Draw from your inspiration and choose a color scheme that’s complementary, following the rule of three: one dominant color used for walls and carpeting, a secondary color found in fabrics and accessories, and an accent color used sparingly to add drama to a room.
This goes beyond paint and fabrics, explains Solomon; you’ll also want to consider the color of the stone, titles, woods, metals, etc. when styling a room.
Gray-Plaisted suggests starting from the floor up, using an area rug as your first place to consider color and style. The last place you should add color to would be your walls. Coordinate with your furnishings to create a complete look.
Utilize Natural and Artificial Light
Lighting can make or break the look of a room. It can change the color of your walls and even the look of your furnishings. That’s why most interior designers will recommend using as much natural light as possible.
Natural lighting, like windows, skylights and other open areas, can be created on a large-scale by altering the windows of your home to face the most optimal areas of light. You can also use curtains or shades to control the natural light exposure in your home
Solomon suggests taking it a step further by tying in the exterior views from the windows and skylights with the interior decor, bringing the outside in and creating a seamless look in the views and decor of your home.
If your home doesn’t have access to natural light, make sure you’re using the correct artificial indoor lighting to achieve the look you’re going for in your home.
Use mirrors to reflect and refract the lighting in your home to open up a room, making the room feel larger and more comfortable.
Mix Textures and Patterns
Like colors, textures and patterns can create a certain mood in a room. Too much of the same pattern can be boring, but on the flip side, too many clashing patterns can cause confusion and distraction.
“[Patterns] can tie the room together or stick out like a sore thumb,” Solomon admits. “Picking the right patterns is the biggest challenge for me.” She advises to look beyond the patterns in your textiles and to consider the patterns found in your titles, stonework, wooden floors and so on.
When incorporating the right number of patterns into a room in your home, make sure you keep the background color the same. This eliminates the chance of clashing color schemes. Additionally, make sure all the patterns share the same colors. Lastly, vary the size of the patterns to create drama and excitement in the room.
As for texture, vary the types of texture you use in your furniture and accessories. Solomon explains that texture can add as much excitement and impact to a room as color, so using fabrics like velvet, wool and cotton can add style to your home.
Use Functional Furniture Pieces
When incorporating furniture into a room in your home, it’s not only important to consider the space of the room, but the function of the furniture piece as well.
“The whole purpose of good design is the harmonious blend of form and function,” explains Solomon. “With so many people choosing to downsize their spaces, multi-functional furnishings can be very positive additions.”
On a functional level, start with the focal point of a room or the place in the room that immediately catches your eye as you walk in; this can be a fireplace, bay window or backsplash. Once you determine the focal point, angle the furniture toward it.
It’s important that your furniture not only fulfills your style needs but additionally serves a purpose or function in the room. If you find a piece of furniture is not serving a purpose, and is essentially taking up space, it might be time to get rid of it.
To avoid this dilemma, consider purchasing furniture pieces that double as storage, like an ottoman that opens into a storage space or a side/coffee table with underneath storage. This allows you to cut the clutter in the room and create a more open and minimalist feel in your home.
Personalize Your Accessories
There’s no better way to personalize your space than through accessories. Family pictures, heirlooms or meaningful items are all important additions to a styled space. However, don’t go overboard with how many accessories you add.
When adding accessories to your space, Solomon suggests applying the rule of three, considering the proportion of each piece.
“Don’t just cram in accessories to show you have accessories,” says Solomon. “Be certain that each element is proportionate and is in harmony with your overall plan.”
Solomon also recommends considering the size, shape, color and placement of the accessory before adding it to a room. Be purposeful with your additions and make sure they flow with the overall theme and style of the room.
“Most importantly, always put the quality of design, materials and workmanship first,” Solomon adds. “It is better to have a few, less-then-full spots than to have a lot of second-rate junk.”
While it’s hard to match the education and experience of a professional interior designer, using these tips will help you become more purposeful in styling your home.
Are you an interior designer? What do you think about the above tips and tricks? Share your expertise in the comment section below!
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