ten tips to make any room better

When it comes to interior décor, there really are no hard and fast rules. The beautiful spaces on shelter sites are the results of creativity and experience. Over time, patterns emerge and principles develop—and they will change over time as trends come and go. But the basic tricks are easy to master, don’t require a great deal of creative know how, and are timeless classics that will look good no matter what the current trend. Add in stylish products that fit your lifestyle and you don’t need the rulebook.

  1. Choose your paint last. Tempting though it may be to start with paint in an empty room, you are better off waiting until you see what all the furniture and fabrics look like throughout the day. Paint can look like a completely different color under different lighting, and with different colors of upholstery. Choose your color based on what’s actually in your home.
  2. Create a focal point, and make sure it’s visible as you enter the room. Bonus points for it being visible from outside the room, as a way to draw you into the space. The focal point anchors your space—whether it’s a piece of art, furniture, a television, or a fabulous view.
  3. Leave breathing room around your furniture. Overcrowded rooms feel cluttered even when they’re not. You want space to move with ease. You don’t need to create wide-open spaces if you prefer a cottage style, but having some breathing room makes a space feel more welcoming and comfortable.
  4. Decide how you want to arrange furniture on an area rug. There are three basic approaches—all legs on, all legs off, and front legs only. The all-legs-off approach can work in small spaces, where there isn’t room for a big rug, while all-legs-on can help anchor a seating group in a large open space. Front only helps anchor a space while preserving a sense of openness.
  5. Hang artwork at eye level, that means the center of each piece should be about 57 to 60 inches from the floor—even with sky-high ceilings. There are exceptions to this one, of course, but generally you want art to be where people can enjoy it.
  6. Resist theme-overload. If everything in the room is matchy-matchy with a theme, you’ve lost the personal touch and the space will quickly look tired and dated. Go ahead and embrace a theme, but inject it with your personality to avoid the cookie-cutter look.
  7. Consider scale. If you have a giant expanse of open wall, a tiny picture frame is not going to look like much. When you’re looking at size, imagine your space and how something will look and feel in it. Will that oversized chair overwhelm the room, or will it make a dramatic statement? There is no right or wrong, you have to go by what feels right in your space.
  8. Use layers of lighting. You want task lighting for things like reading, kitchen work areas, and other places you need bright light. You want ambient lighting to make a room feel occupied and warm. Add dimmable lights, accent lights, and other lighting to create interest and visual appeal.
  9. Go ahead, be bold! Personality is what makes a space unique. Embrace the unexpected in ways that work for you. Love books? Go ahead and put library-style shelves in  your space.
  10.  Throw out the rulebook. Guidelines are a great place to start, but you’re the only one who knows what will work in your space and for your lifestyle. Go with things that you love, and that make you smile. An overly designed room looks artificial. A room filled with meaningful things has purpose, and feels welcoming and natural.
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