How to Use Basic Design Principles to Decorate Your Home


Some people are born with a great sense of decoration or design. Others learn the skill and are able to apply it successfully. And then there are the rest of us. If you don’t have a lot of design talent, there are a few basic techniques that can help.

These decorating rules and principles are simple enough that almost anyone can apply them. Your home might not look like a West Elm catalog, but it will look presentable.

Follow the odd number rule

You may already know the rule of thirds for photography. Designing with odd numbers as a base can create harmony and visual interest, explains designer Cecilia Walker:

The basic idea of ​​the rule is that details and objects that are organized or grouped in odd numbers are more attractive, memorable, and effective than even pairs.

It is useful to have groupings of objects of different heights, shapes and textures. At the same time, there should be something similar about them. This advice seems to contradict itself, but the point is, there should be something that groups your posts together, but also something about each that is slightly different.

Look at the image above as an example. Three vases, all of different heights. The main materials are similar: wicker and glass. But there are subtle differences in the elements: sand, water, and lime texture.

Walker points out that this is just a rule of thumb and may not work in all cases. But if this grouping isn’t right for you, follow your gut. The point here is to make sure that everything is not uniform, and by extension, boring.

Find the focal point of your room

The focal point of a room is its most emphasized feature. It’s the thing your eyes are naturally drawn to as you walk into the room. And everything around the focal point compliments him.

If you don’t know how to start decorating a room, finding its focal point is a great start. Many rooms have built-in focal points: a large window with a view, for example, or a fireplace. If your room doesn’t have a built-in focal point, here are some tips and options for creating one:

  • Paint a wall a different color, then accessorize it with artwork or shelves, says interior designer Coral Nafie.
  • Decide what you want to use the room for, then create a focal point around that, says The inspired bedroom. For example, if you want to use a room for reading, you would make a bookshelf your focal point.
  • Nafie also suggests simply using a large piece of furniture as the focal point.
  • You can use a large piece of art as a focal point. A large mirror also works well.

Once you’ve found the focal point, decorate around it. Use its main color in elements throughout the rest of the room. In the example above, the focal point, the fireplace, is white. The red walls bring out its color and the white candles, orchids and vases all around the room complement the fireplace.

You can also frame it. In the photo, vases, windows and sofas are used for this purpose. A fireplace is easy to frame, as it usually comes with a mantel. You can add decor on or above the mantle. If your focal point is a large window with a view, you can arrange your furniture to frame it. If it’s a large mirror or an interesting piece of art, you can frame it with two smaller pieces on each side, like this:

Once you have a focal point, a central point helps balance the room. Apartment Therapy explains:

The focal point is the heart of the layout of your room. It doesn’t have to be exactly the middle of the room, although it is in many homes. The focal point of a living room is where the coffee table or center table will sit, with seating arranged around it.

Think of it as the anchor point of the room.

Know the basic measurement rules

When it comes to hanging curtains or arranging furniture, most of us look at it as we go. But there are specific measures for decorating that beautify a room. Here are some general metrics to keep in mind:

  • Distance coffee table: Keep at least 15 “between coffee tables and sofas, says decorator Maria Killam. Therapy Apartment suggest leaving about 18 “between them.
  • Hanging art: When hanging art, keep its center at eye level, which is typically 56 “to 60” from the floor, says Driven By Decor. If you are hanging multiple pieces of art, keep the focal point of the set at this level.
  • When hanging artwork above your sofa, make sure it is no more than 2/3 the width of the sofa. You’ll also want to leave 5 to 9 inches of space between art and furniture, adds Driven By Decor.
  • Hanging curtains: Crate and Barrel says it is typical to have 1-3 “of overlap on each side of your window. For height they say you should mount curtain rods 4” from the top of the window. But maybe you want your windows to appear wider or taller. To create the illusion of height, True simple said you can go beyond the 4 “norm, but don’t go over 8”, or it will look awkward. To create the illusion of width, feel free to break the norm of 1 to 3 inches as well. You may want to go up to 12 inches on each side.
  • TV distance: The distance between your TV and your sofa will depend on its size. We talked front viewing distance. The simplest rule of thumb: multiply the diagonal of your TV by two. That’s roughly how many inches your TV should be from your living room area.

For rugs, there are three basic rules you can follow.

Everything on: If a rug is big enough, you can put all the feet of your furniture on it. But you should leave 12-18 “of floor space on all four sides of the mat, said decoration site Houzz.

All off: If you have a smaller space, you could choose a smaller rug, then you would leave all four legs of your furniture off of it. Houzz adds, “You don’t want to choose a rug that is too small, otherwise it may seem insignificant, like an afterthought.”

Before on: Many designers choose to simply put both front feet on the mat. It can tie everything together and create a feeling of openness.

Again, most of these sources add a big caveat: don’t be afraid to break these rules. They don’t always work, but they are good guidelines to follow.

Consider your negative space

Sometimes less is more. In the design, negative space is the area that is not occupied by any subject. Most often, this is the white area on your walls. It’s tempting to fill every space with a subject, but sometimes the negative space speaks for itself. Therapy Apartment Explain:

In writing, sentences often contain additional words without which the sentence would sound great. Practice looking for these moments in your own home. Is there a narrow wall with a little art stain that, when taken apart, would still look like a beautiful wall? Is there a tray with a nascent vignette that would look just as spectacular if cleaned up?

Decorating with negative space can be a bit tricky, but there are a few ways to do it:

  • Avoid clutter. This is probably the best and most common way to make the most of negative space. A bunch of things can fit perfectly on your table, but that doesn’t mean everything has to go. Leave room, negative space.
  • Be intentional. Make sure the negative space is used for something. You can leave a blank space to highlight a decorated area nearby. Or maybe the negative space creates an interesting design.
  • Look at the shapes. SF Gate Welcome Guides Explain that two contrasting shapes can create a strange or interesting negative space. “A curved coffee table can soften the harsh negative space lines created by angular sofas and chairs in a square room. But this space plan may not work in small rooms, which would strain the edge of the table. round too close to the sofa for a comfortable seat. “

To clarify, it’s not just about looking for places where you can delete things. It’s about looking for places that look great even when they’re empty. It is also a question of considering the function of the empty spaces between the subjects.

Layer your lighting

Lighting can be a job in its own right, but here’s what you should consider when you don’t know much about it. First, learn the three basic types of lighting:

  • Ambient: It’s also called general lighting, and it’s overhead lighting intended to uniformly illuminate a room.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lighting is intended to illuminate a specific task. A lamp in the living room can illuminate a reading corner. Lamps under kitchen cabinets serve as work lamps for countertops.
  • Accent: Accent lights are meant to highlight a particular object. You might see them on the painting, for example.

Adding different types of lighting can add dimension to your room. Start with ambient lighting in each room, then think about how you can use task and accent lighting. Real Simple a few specific advice on how to do it in each room.

Beyond these basics, you’ll probably also want your home to look like yours. We have some tips on how to do it, too much. These guidelines help you get started, but you need to adjust your decor to suit your own tastes and preferences. Use these rules to get started, but don’t be afraid to break them and go with your gut if something is right for you.

Photos by Wicker paradise, David alexandre, Kristin Wong, PoshSurfside.com, lilac, Dear priest, Emilie May, Spanish Mueble, and Rodney.


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