Hello and welcome back to the blog my beloved friend!
Today we are going to be unpacking some of my top tips regarding home decor! Whenever I post a photo on Instagram of a room in my home, I am flooded with questions regarding this topic, so here we are. I hope you enjoy, and remember to take everything I say with a grain of salt, because unfortunately, I am no expert in this field!
1. Flowers & Plants
I have recently taken to putting real flowers in my house for a little bit of luxury during these quaran-times, and I believe that I will be sticking with this newfound habit far beyond the days of the pandemic! Fresh flowers bring some unexpected added color to a space, and make your home look much more pleasing in the traditional sense.
And as far as house plants, I have been dismissed for my fake-plant obsession by many, but I will forever defend the lovely treasure that is a thrifted-fake plant. They fill up a room, and while they could never hold a candle to a real plants, they are less expensive, lower maintenance, and get the job done.
2. Mixing textures
Pay close attention to the textures and fabrics in your space. Avoid faux suedes, microfibers, and excessive amounts of polyester. Go for natural and durable fabrics and materials, combining them to provide different layers to your room. I enjoy employing the use of clay pottery, brass, natural woods, glass, and supple velvets and linens to give a heavier, more expensive feeling to my home. However, artificial textiles do not need to be completely avoided and can be in fact, quite useful: I would refuse to exchange our fake wood floor for all the money in the world due to the joyous fact that my dog's toenails have yet failed in their attempt to scratch our synthetic floors.
So instead of having a couch full of pillows of the same material, try to combine different textures to provide a varied sensory experience. Fringe, brocade, shiny metals, and soft cottons can all add depth to an otherwise drab room. Try to apply this practice to area rugs, throw pillows, and especially CURTAINS. Layered white curtains in different textures and fabrics can be SUCH a visual treat!
Make sure your space makes proper use of the LANDSCAPE. Not to be mistaken with outdoor landscaping, I am referring to the general volume and height of the objects and artwork within your rooms. When painting a visually pleasing landscape, it's often encouraged to utilize a variety of heights to aid the eye in traveling across the artwork towards the most pleasing center of focus. Likewise, in our rooms, we can use height to stimulate visual pleasantries, and to enhance the features of the space. This is why it is essential to hang artwork at a pleasing height, so as to not ruin the visual balance of the space.
Try to not have every item too close to the ground or too high up. Use balance, and see how the lines of the furniture and pieces causes your eye to travel across the room. You can even create little resting places for your eye, by arranging pieces in visual clusters on side tables, the mantle, or on the ground by using pictures, candles, or baskets. Create visual height to make a room feel larger by not cluttering up the walls or floors with too many items, and always use tall slender lamps or plants to add height! Set curtain rods above the actual window, and allow them to cascade wider than the window frame to make them look taller and larger than reality.
4. Cleanliness & Tidyness
It is a good general rule of thumb that a tidy house will look nicer than a dirty house, no matter the cost of the furnishings in the respective abode. Truthfully, improperly placed eye-sore items, such as laptop chords, stray toys, dirty dishes, or old magazines, can hinder the beauty of almost any space. Remember to create a home for EVERYTHING in your home.
Tuck things away by making use of fashionable baskets, and try to instill systems of order for each item, no matter how infrequently used. Once something has a home, it is easier to keep your home generally tidier due to the organized nature of your surroundings. Many of us are not naturally messy, but when we find ourselves holding a container of toothpicks without having a place to put it, we can often resort to habits such as creating a mystery drawer or a mystery corner of our kitchen counter to host such misfit pieces. Create a home for everything, and this problem will be solved.
5. Fuse practicality with aesthetics
This is similar to the above point, but it is essential to avoid sacrificing aesthetics for practicality. That is to say, we should, to the best of our ability, attempt to organize our homes in such a way that one cannot distinguish between the design of the home and the use of the items in that home.
For example, instead of piling toilet paper beside one's toilet, we could consider making use of a pleasing basket, or a holder to host such items. Likewise, laptop chords can be coiled into wicker baskets, and even our seldom-used appliances can be hidden away save for when they find themselves being used in an urgent midnight baking routine. The more you can tuck away, or transfer into something beautiful, the better your home will look. Make the utmost use of baskets, cupboards, or the strategic method of purchasing practical items that double as aesthetically pleasing design elements, such as an elegant straw kitchen broom to hang on display in place of a bright red Swiffer-brand utility broom (I speak from experience, as I am the unfortunate owner of one such broom.)
Have your rooms flow together through similar tones, shades, and design elements. It is sometimes jarring to exit a room with a certain design aesthetic to be greeted by decor out of a seemingly separate universe from everything your eyes had previously settled on only a few moments before. This is not to say that we cannot have different designs in different rooms, but we should be mindful of the general "tone" of our homes.
Furthermore, with the rise of open-concept homes, it is even more essential that flow be present, lest we find ourselves looking at a cabin themed living room blended into a design neighborhood beside an ultra-modern white kitchen. Horrific! Homes with closed-concept designs can get away with choppy design much better than modern homes, but it does not give us license to forget flow altogether!
7. Don't fight your home's design
I believe this advice to be applicable and valuable, whether we are discussing home design or personal style, but it is essential to acknowledge, honor, and embrace the natural shapes and bones of your home (or body, if we're talking fashion.) There is nothing stranger than walking into a house that is externally designed and laid out in one style, only to be greeted with something completely different inside, such as a 1980's split level home decorated to look like Italian Tuscany inside. Such design incongruences can unfortunately lead homes to appear unaware and even gaudy or cheap.
Now, I am not suggesting that we must fully embrace the era that our homes were built, forgoing all senses of modernity or personal taste, oh no. But I do think that if we want elevated style, it is important to not ignore what we are working with, and to instead, work within our home's parameters, enhancing the natural flow and function of the house while infusing our own personal taste. Making a nod to Italian Tuscany in a 1980's split level will feel much more pleasant than attempting to transport the inhabitants to an entirely different country via entirely themed and stuccoed rooms. Remember that home design isn't just what is inside your house; it is the outside too! Try to reflect the same designs inside and outside, or at the very least, avoid transporting visitors to another dimension upon entering your home.
8. Make lists
Write down each room in your home, and underneath those headers, write each piece of design that needs to be attended to. I did this when we first moved, and I am happy to say that the list grows smaller every year. This is a good way to keep track of all your projects, as well as to weigh the priority of the various elements of design or home improvement. This way, you will not lose track of your projects!
I don't think there is anything more horrific to me than the modern use of lighting in homes. To see people sitting in a brightly pot-lit room at 10pm, playing board games around a table with blue-toned LED light blaring from overhead... cue my internal anguish! Are we TRYING to create the atmosphere of a Dentist office in our homes??? LOL!
But in all seriousness, I feel as if 90% of modern home decor crimes can be labelled as "crimes against lighting." Lighting is a way to enhance mood, aura, and to bring atmosphere and warmth to an otherwise sterile or cold environment. For thousands of years we had to depend on fires or candlelight in the evenings, allowing our nights to be washed in the warmth of golden hues, shadowy dark corners, and glowy embers. That warmth need not be sacrificed! Make use of warm toned lightbulbs, warm lampshades, and avoid overhead lighting at all costs. Use light fixtures and dimmers when possible, and go for a less-is-more approach. Bright lighting in the day is fine, as long as you are mostly depending on windows and natural light. Save the fluorescent, LED, or bright white light for the gym or cubicle farm: keep it out of your house!
10. Have fun with it
Even after giving all these opinions and rules, I need to end with the final proclamation that having fun is a much higher priority than merely decorating according to some random blogger lady's rules. Seriously. I like to break my own design rules sometimes, or to just do something outside the box because I want to, or because I find myself carving out a personal style and taste.
It is always the intention of home design, that we might enjoy the space in which we inhabit! We should feel that personal design is an utmost expression of ourselves, and a place to enjoy creativity. So, in the end, whatever you do with your personal style at home should be meant to enhance your own personal happiness, not to fit random rules. Remember that trying new things is always the best way to learn, and that if all else fails, we all have that one friend dying to help us rearrange our living room.
Alas, my friend, I hope this was helpful! I hope to be inspiring to you, so please do not take anything I say too seriously. I did not go to design school! I am just particularly interested in decor. Remember that everything is to be approached in context, weighed based on our own tastes and beliefs. I am a stuffy home decorator, having spent many years throughout my education studying the minutia of architecture, but what is most important, is that we love our space and enjoy expressing our personal taste.