Home Decorating Tips

Home stagers are professionals who know how to highlight the strengths of your home, hide its faults and make it attractive to everyone. We spoke to several professionals across the country about their top tips for updating the rooms in your house without spending too much.

11 Tips for DIY Home Decorating

1. The Front Door can be set to the desired tone

You want your home to make a good first impression. Paint the front door in a bright, cheerful color. Lara Allen-Brett from New Jersey, says that red is a lucky colour in many cultures. In early America, a red door was a sign of “welcome” for weary travelers. It also represents a safe haven on the churches.

According to Christopher Breining, a stager based in San Francisco, yellow and orange are also popular. Both are associated with warmth and joy. An old screen door should be removed. You can either get rid of it, or replace it by a storm door with full length glass that you can swap out for a screen panel.

2. Paint Wall Colors: Neutral and Light

Avoid colors such as gray or beige, especially on the first level, which is where flow is most important. Breining says, “You want to minimize jarring changes.” You have the most decorating flexibility with neutral walls, as you can easily change your accessories.

If you have small rooms that are adjacent to one another, it helps to paint them the same neutral color. Allen-Brett suggests that you look at a strip of paint and change the shade a few times to create subtle variations from one room to another.

3. Living Space: Your sofa should speak to your chairs

Imagine a hotel lobby with furniture that encourages conversation. You want to create a feeling of intimacy and balance when placing furniture in your living space.

Michelle Lynne, a Dallas-based stager, says that a U-shape with two sofas and two chairs facing eachother at each coffee table end, or an H-shape with two sofas and two chairs in the middle of the conversation area is ideal.

Avoid this common error: Pushing furniture against walls. She says that people do this because they believe it will make their rooms look larger. However, floating furniture away from walls can actually make the space feel bigger.

4. Let the Sun shine in your kitchen

Lynne says that a naked bank is better than an ugly bank when it comes to old, heavy drapes. Window dressings should be both functional and elegant. Think sheers with full-length panels.

Choose light colors that will not fade if your room is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Silk blends, cotton, linen and cotton are the best lightweight fabrics for panels because they hang well.

5. Hang at least one mirror in every room

Breining says that mirrors can brighten a room because they reflect the light around it. However, putting one in the wrong place can make it almost as dangerous as not having one.

Mirrors should be placed perpendicularly to windows and not across them. Mirrors placed directly against windows can reflect the light back from the window.

6. Scale artwork to your wall

Breining says that “there are few things more absurd-looking than hanging tiny art too high on the walls.” The center of a photograph should be at eye level. The average height of the two people should be equal.

Remember to consider scale. For a large wall, you can either go big with one piece that is too big or group smaller pieces in a gallery-style arrangement. The best spacing between the items is 2 to 4 inches.

7. Layer Your Lighting

Ambient, which provides general illumination, is most commonly found above a kitchen island or reading nook. Task, which can be found over a cooking island or reading nook, is the task lighting. Accent, which highlights artwork, is more decorative.

A living room should have at most 3 watts (42 lumens), per square foot. One visual trick Breining swears by: using uplights. He says that putting a torchiere or canister in the corner of the room will make it seem larger.

8. Anchor Rugs under Furniture Feet

These are the rules for an area rug. Breining says that the rug should be able to fit all four legs of a sofa or chair in a furniture set. The rug should also define the seating area. He adds that the rug should be supported by the two front legs of the chair and sofa.

For a living room with a smaller area, a rug of 8-by-10 feet or 9-by-12 feet is required to accommodate a seat. If you go too small, everything will look out of scale.

9. To declutter, call a professional

You see less of the mess as you age and live in your house longer. Sometimes, you just need someone to help you see the big picture. An organizer can be hired for just a few hours, and you will pay between $35-150 per hour depending on your location. This will help to organize bookshelves or closets. Stagers claim that these areas are often stuffed with twice as much stuff than they should.

Breining recommends reducing your shelves by 50%. Mix horizontal stacks of books with vertical rows, and then add decorative objects such as bowls and vases among them.

10. Visual Tricks to Raaise the Ceiling

To make the space feel more spacious, whiten your ceilings if they are too low. Allen-Brett suggests hanging curtains higher than the windows to trick the eye into believing the room is larger. Standard curtain panels are 84 inches or 96 inches in length. You can extend the curtains up to 3 inches beyond the window casing before they become too long.

You can hang them higher by ordering custom drapes. Do you love patterned panels? Vertical stripes can visually lengthen your walls. A large mirror can be used to make a room appear taller by securing it against the wall.

11. Give Old Finishes the Cinderella Treatment

Are your fixtures out of date? Spray paint and affordable refinishing kits can help you transform old fixtures. Breining says that a brass chandelier from 1980 can be given a new lease of life by spray painting it with satin-nickel or hammered bronze spray paint.

Even old kitchen cabinets can be updated with a couple coats of white paint. You might be wrong to think Formica countertops are impossible to replace. Rust-Oleum Countertop Transforms is a DIY counter-coating product that looks like stone and makes even the most shabby 1970s counters look new.

You can replace mismatched or cracked switch plates and outlet covers with new matching ones. Lynne says that nothing can drag down a space as much as a dull, almond-colored switchplate.

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