Wouldn’t it be great if we loved everything in our homes? If all the finishes, all the furnishings and decor were just what we wanted?
Everyone has a home wish list. We all have finishes we would like to update and place holder furnishings. But this doesn’t mean we should wait for “someday” to have a pretty house.
Below are my 10 best tricks for making your home look more pulled together and expensive NOW.
Before I get into my specific tips though, I’d like to point out that decorating and styling is what gives a home the look and feel we all want. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. You’d be much happier in your house if you find those lamps I’m always talking about, get some throw pillows and create a vignette or two, rather than spend every last dime on new crown moulding for example.
The act of decorating is essentially to put thought and energy into creating a pretty room. In a well decorated room things look considered. There is a sense of intentionality.
Decorating is the opposite of tossing in a bunch of furnishing just because you need something to sit on.
Every house is somewhere on the spectrum from thrown together to well decorated.
But trust me, you can move the needle and make the best of any decorating (or undecorated) situation. You just have to give it some love and attention. And below are some of my best tips for doing just that.
1. Create an Intentional Colour Palette
The most impactful way to create an intentionally designed look is to create a decorating colour palette and stick with it.
Choose a fabulous piece of artwork, area rug or a fabric with multiple colours to establish the perfect colour palette. Simply pick up two or three colours from the pattern and repeat. Then repeat them again in adjacent rooms for flow.
Here is mood board I created recently for a recent Get Me Started eDesign consultation. The area rug set the palette of teal, peach and ivory and I repeated them in the toss pillows, art work, lamps and paint colours for adjacent rooms.
It’s next to impossible to create an intentional look if you are holding on to too much filler and things that don’t work. Everything in the room should have a place and a a role. And ideally, they should work with the colour palette. I know you’ve heard it before, but it really is important to get rid of clutter and dust collecting knick knacks that aren’t serving you or the look and feel of the room.
And rather than trying to work everything around the dumpy chair you don’t like, see if you can just let it go. Maybe you can find an inexpensive but fresher one, or even a thrifted one in a better shape and colour.
It can be tricky to get objective about your stuff. A great way to see a room with fresh eyes is to remove EVERYTHING that is non essential and only bring back and add in things that serve the look and feel and colour palette you want to create. You are likely to find that your room feels more comfortable and refreshed with A LOT LESS in it.
3. Add Some Bling
One special high end piece can elevate any room. Often it’s a light fixture or a striking piece of art.
This simple white dining room below comes to life with a glamorous and current brass chandelier.
Or it could be the perfect antique mirror for over the mantel, or that stylish Saarinen dining table you’ve been coveting like this one below (even if it’s just a copy).
In each room, choose one key element that brings in some bling to create an elevated look.
4. Create Atmosphere with Lighting
I can’t emphasize this enough. Rarely without a designer’s intervention do people have enough mood lighting in their rooms (as I mentioned above). If you don’t have the budget for anything else, get lamps.
In order to add more lamps to a room, consider where you might add a table or surface to put them on. Maybe you need a slim sofa table, a credenza on a blank wall, or larger end tables to accommodate more lamps. Wall sconces and floor lamps are good too. Just don’t expect your room to have a cozy high end feel if you are relying on pot lights.
I even have two uplights behind my sofa! I love the soft glow at night.
A big part of the reason people agonize so much about paint colours is that paint has impact. Just the right paint colour can definitely pull together a room. It can create a fresher look or it can create drama.
Have all neutral furniture? Consider adding colour to the walls. Just be sure to find some accessories in the colour you want first so you can choose just the right shade.
A new paint colour will certainly create a refreshing change, but remember it can’t do all the heavy lifting.
You can also repurpose a piece of furniture with a new colour. And of course I’m a huge fan of reviving kitchen cabinets with paint. there is hardly a more dramatic transformation that can be achieved with a fresh coat.
An older kitchen can look like new simply by painting the cabinets and adding a pretty backsplash. This pretty update above even makes the pink beige granite look pretty because the dark colour takes all the attention away from it. Removing the uppers also goes a long way to giving a kitchen a good update.
Whether you paint your cabinets a colour pulled from your decor, or a classic white, consider filling the hardware holes so you can update the hardware too. Attention to details always makes a room look more polished.
6. Add Some Sparkle
Every room needs a little sparkle. Reflective surfaces add and amplify light, they bring a sense of glamour, and most often, they are less visually heavy than more solid materials.
A glass coffee table is always a good idea.
Related post: Tablescapes for Dummies, The Beginners Guide
You can place a mirror anywhere, try a large one leaning against a wall to reflect some light and expand the view.
Every room needs a focal point. A large scale piece of art or a well designed gallery wall will instantly inject personality into any room. Here is a post on ideas for sourcing art inexpensively.
Art can also set the palette. This is what gives a room identity. Mousy little drab pictures won’t accomplish this. It’s best to go bold with it. Look for scale and dynamic colours and textures.
8. Move Your Dated Sofa into the Family Room
Too often the piece that is bossing you around is a lumpy old sofa. If it’s completely holding you back see if you can just shift it into the basement or playroom and finally get a sofa with a pretty classic tailored shape in your favourite colour. I promise you won’t regret it.
Related post: Why A Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile
9. Update your Window Coverings
Drapes and window coverings can be expensive. But you can make simple off the shelf drapes look more expensive by simply hanging them correctly and adding extra panels to make them look fuller and more luxurious. Single curtain panels will ALWAYS look cheap and chintzy. ESPECIALLY if the curtain rod is not wide enough and hung too low.
Place your curtain rod high, close to the ceiling to maximize height, and wide enough that the drapes can be gathered mostly to the outside of the window frame. This will make the window look larger. Get at least 2 or 3 panels for each side of a large window so they look nice and full. Curtain rings and a pretty rod are details that will make even big box store curtains look luxurious.
You will enjoy the changes you accomplish from any of the tips above, but don’t stop there! A room will never feel finished without some styling. You can find my tips for creating coffee table vignettes here. And inspiration for styling for kitchens and bathrooms here.
No matter how well decorated your house is, it needs styling. Below is the very stylish apartment of Jenna Lyons. Every surface is styled and the room is full of personality. This is what styling does. It adds interest and personality.
Obviously I’m not saying that your room has to be photoshoot ready everyday, but have some fun expressing your personality with vignettes on surfaces like coffee tables, sideboards, shelving and your mantel.
If all else fails, start with a pretty plant or fresh flowers.
Which one is your favourite tip?