Sometimes decorating a living space is very similar to good fashion sense: there’s a point where things are too matchy-matchy, and there’s definitely a limit on how much you can pull off all at once. I like to think of interior design as a matter of layering in your style as you go along.
Start with a neutral piece. I don’t care if it is a beige wall, a solid blue couch, or a black rug. Some stuff just HAS to be a blank canvas of sorts. This is going to be your money piece: get something good quality that will last you for a while. Don’t be disappointed, we’re going to work with this piece in a few minutes. OK – so that neutral piece is going to anchor the room and everything else is going to build on it. The accent pieces, the things that represent you and your style can be anything from priceless antiques to homemade to thrift-store finds to the latest must have. That part’s up to you. The best part is that because you’ve got a neutral anchor, if you feel like changing the room around, you just swap out some of your accent pieces and it will look like a whole new room!
For example, say you have the solid blue couch. Now you can add some patterned throw pillows. If zebra prints are your favorite, go for it. Got that so far? You balance out the neutral with something that says something about you and your style. Here’s a handy tip: be careful with proportions. Don’t have oversized pillows on a delicately carved sofa. Likewise, if you have a huge fluffy couch, don’t use teeny bolsters. It’s fine to use a few different sizes, but make sure they all work in relation to one another.
OK, so say you’re working with that black rug. Maybe it’s in the middle of your bedroom, and your furniture is black, too. So go crazy with your bedspread and curtains! Find a scheme and stick to it – in other words, you can have a gorgeous quilt on your bed filled with purples and reds, and then have purple striped curtains. Have fun with it. You can mix textures and patterns, but be sure that there is something unifying within the elements: a common fabric, perhaps, or a certain color. It will make everything look much more deliberate.
Just like when you are picking out clothes, find things that work together and that you really love. You want to walk into the space and feel calm, peaceful, and happy. Remember that negative space is just as important as the stuff you fill the room with. Your eye needs places to rest, or the area will look too chaotic and jumbled. You can maximize negative space in even small rooms by adding reflective surfaces like a mirror. If you have objects on display, make sure they have breathing room in between them. Showcase pieces that all relate to each other in some way – the same subject, the same color family, the same size. And if you have a lot of stuff, storage bins are a blessing. It will help you keep your space organized and only the things you WANT people to see out in full view.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.