Professional home decorators know how to enhance your home’s strengths, hide its flaws, and make it appealing to almost everyone. We spoke to several professionals from around the country to get their tips for freshening up rooms in your home without breaking your budget.
Home Decoration Tips
➥ Set the Tone at the Front Door
If you want your home to make a great first impression, paint your front door a fun, shiny shade. “Red is a lucky color in many cultures,” says Lara Allen-Brett, a stager from New Jersey. Red doors meant “welcome” to weary travelers in early America, and on churches they represent safe harbor.
Two other hues are gaining favor: orange and yellow, according to San Francisco set designer Christopher Breining. Both colors are associated with joy and warmth. One thing should go: the outdated screen door. Get rid of it or replace it with an all-glass storm door that you can replace with a shielded panel.
➥ Paint the Walls Light and Neutral
Stick to colors like beige or gray, especially on the first floor where flow is important. “You want to minimize disruptive transitions,” says Breining. Neutral walls give you the most decorating flexibility, allowing you to easily swap out accessories.
And if you have two small rooms next to each other, painting them in the same neutral color will help them feel bigger. Check out the paint strip and move up or down a shade or two for subtle variation between rooms, suggests Allen-Brett.
➥ Living Area: Make Sure Your Sofa Talks to Your Chairs
Imagine a nice hotel lobby: The furniture is arranged in groups that invite conversation. When placing furniture in your living room, aim for a similar sense of balance and intimacy.
“A U-shaped conversation area with a sofa and two chairs facing each other at each end of the coffee table, or an H-shape with a sofa directly opposite two chairs and a coffee table in the middle. it’s ideal,” says Dallas-based screenwriter Michelle Lynne.
One common mistake to avoid: Pushing all your furniture against the walls. “People do this because they think it will make their room look bigger, but in reality, moving the furniture away from the walls makes the room look bigger,” she says.
➥ Let the Sunshine in Your Kitchen
“When it comes to heavy, dated curtains, bare windows are better than ugly,” says Lynne. Ideally, window treatments should be functional and elegant: Think a clear pair with full-length panels.
If your room gets a lot of sun, opt for light colors that won’t fade. The most recommended lightweight fabrics for panels are cotton, linen and silk blends as they tend to hang well.
➥ Hang at Least One Mirror in Every Room
“Mirrors can brighten a space because they reflect light around the room,” says Breining. But putting one in the wrong place can be almost as bad as not having one at all.
Place mirrors on walls perpendicular to windows, not directly across from them. Hanging a mirror directly across from a window can actually reflect light back from the window.
➥ Scale the Artwork on the Wall
“There are few things that look more ridiculous than hanging tiny little art too high on the wall,” says Breining. The center of the image should hang at eye level. If one person is short and the other is tall, average their height.
Also, consider the scale; use one oversize piece for a large wall or group smaller pieces gallery-style. In the latter case, don’t put the pictures too far apart; 2 to 4 inches between items usually looks best.
➥ Use Visual Tricks to Raise the Ceiling
If your ceilings are on the low side, paint them white to make the room feel less claustrophobic. Hang curtains higher than the windows, Allen-Brett suggests, to trick your eye into thinking the room is taller. Most standard curtain panels measure 84 or 96 inches, allowing you to go about 3 inches above the window frame before the length gets too short.
If you want to hang them higher, you will need to order custom curtains. Do you like patterned panels? Try vertical stripes; lines visually lengthen your walls. Leaning a large mirror against a wall can also make a room appear taller.