When you are thinking about or in the process of decorating a room or home, this is the best home decorating advice I ever received. It has become second nature to me and about more than simply knowing how to arrange furniture or how to choose a color scheme.
I have been decorating rooms and homes for over 35 years.
I began when I was in junior high and started reading decorating magazines at the local drug store’s magazine rack to find ideas on how to decorate my room that I shared with my 2 sisters.
If I had saved enough money from my weekly allowance, I was thrilled to be able to buy and bring a magazine home to study every page. I yearned to find a way to carve out my little bit of space that I could make my own. I was always on the lookout for ideas.
With 3 of us, our parents gave up the larger master bedroom with a bath for us. They moved down the hall to the smaller bedroom the 3 of us had previously occupied.
My mom had an eye for decorating and was always changing things to make each space better for how my family lived in the house. There was nothing more exciting when I was a kid than coming home from school in the afternoon to find the living room completely rearranged. :-)
As the saying goes…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I inherited the decorating gene. :-)
I lived in and decorated 5 college dorm rooms, 2 apartments, and 5 houses. While living in my previous home, I also decorated 2 Designer Showhouses in the Philadelphia suburbs where my rooms were chosen to be published in decorating magazines.
I had a DIY Decorating book published back in 1994. I also helped many homeowners make the most of their spaces when I dabbled in residential design and home staging.
Along my journey, I picked up decorating advice from designers I worked with, decorating magazine editors, and my mom, who had the best advise of all.
I thought I would share the best of this decorating advice with you.
When It Comes To Decorating…
1. Stay True to What You Like
When decorating your home, don’t forget the word “you” in the equasion. If you love it, even if others don’t understand why you did it, added or removed it or displayed something that made you smile. Display it with confidence. It is “your” house after all.
Just because some arbitrary source says something is a no-no when it comes to decor or they cast certain items as not “designer worthy“. Don’t think you have to follow their dictates to the letter or at all. Decorating advice, even what I am writing in this post. It it just an opinion.
Of course, you can pick up some insights about what does matter – like using the basic elements of design that will make whatever you have in your home look better – line, symmetry, proportion, use of color, etc.
But above all else, your home should make you feel good and help you live better. When you decorate it with things you love, you will get more joy out of it – and your life overall.
2. Don’t Rush It
When decorating any room in your home, don’t feel like you need to get it all done right away. Instead take your time and let your decorating evolve. This way you have the time to get a feel for what the room really needs as well as the look you are trying to achieve.
Take the time to research and find the best options both for your style and budget. You will end up not only saving money, but loving what you have curated to fit your vision and style.
3. Edit, Edit, Edit
Less is always more in most cases.
Cleaning out items you don’t love will allow you to focus on items that do – and displaying them with pride and purpose.
4. Don’t Be a Slave to Trends
Following a trend in decorating will keep your decor looking updated and fresh, but it will also empty out your bank account. Trends are a marketers dream – to get people to buy and provide FOMO – the fear of missing out.
As trendy items become popular, you may think more of it is better. Add it in small ways to stay current, but follow #2 an #3 above.
If after doing these and you still love the trend and want to go big – then go for it as it may be time for a shift in your decorating style.
5. Never Dismiss a Decorating Book
When browsing through decorating books on Amazon or at your local bookstore, never dismiss one because you think you don’t like the designer’s style or the furnishings in the photos.
You have to look past the photos and decorating style. The designer/author most definitely has good tips that can inspire you to create beautiful rooms in your home in your own style.
Reading about the designers style and their thoughts and ideas behind it can open your eyes and in turn change the way you do things…. for the better.
6. Appreciate What You Have
Decorating is not always about having more, the best or what is trending.
Decorating is knowing what is right for you and your family alone. Let go of the idea that you always have to have something new. Revisit the items that you love and that say “you”. Find ways to repurpose them or transform them with paint.
Maybe you only have a few of these items, but they are yours and they become you. Build on this concept, it is what personal style in decorating is all about.
7. Rinse… Wash… Repeat
If it looks good and works for you, do it again. It will become your signature style.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
I never would have never learned to do what I do now without just trying my hand at something, be it making my own drapes, faux finishing or making over a piece of furniture.
Failure is not a negative thing – it allows us to learn and become better, so that the next time we try, we are smarter about how we go about the process and have success. We may even come up with a new technique all on our own.
Nothing will teach you how to do something more than getting up and just doing it! Trust me, the more projects and experimenting you do, the better you will get at decorating your home.
So pick up that paint brush and paint that wall whatever color you are feeling. It can always be repainted. If this scares you, paint a chair or a small powder room as you build your confidence.
9. Up Your Powers of Observation
When you enter a room or look at a photo of a room on a blog, Instagram or in a magazine, without thinking, is a quick visual sweep of the overall colors and furnishings the first thing you do?
Instead of moving to the next room or image, do another scan of the first, but on the second sweep look more closely at the details.
How many framed photos are on the table? How are they spaced? Do the frames coordinate? Do the pillows on the sofa match – are they all the same or does one have texture?
The next time you look at a room or photo, up your powers of observation. Take note of what, exactly is making you like what you see.
Is it a bunch of pink peonies on the white kitchen counter, a rustic wood cutting board leaning against the backsplash, rose colored plates stacked on open shelves, and the pink striped kitchen towel draped over the sink?
These are nonpermanent touches, put there by a stylist right before the photo was taken. Try to distinguish between what actually “lives” in the space (like furniture, curtain fabrics, and paint) and whats just there to style the photo.
If it turns out you what you like is the nonpermanent styling, consider taking the same approach to styling your own home – and think twice before painting that pink accent wall or buying pink chairs.
10. Decorating Isn’t Just About the Furnishings
When decorating a home. It is wonderful to have beautiful rooms, but the life you live in it them counts a whole lot more.
Above all else. Your home should reflect your lifestyle, make you feel good and help you live better. When you fill your home with things you love, you will get more joy out of it – and your life overall.
What is the best decorating advice that you received and has become second nature to you?