You know what frustrates me about most online home decor tips is that they’re hard to put into action. They’re a hundred percent right but they’re so vague. You read that you should ‘mix prints’, ‘add cushions’, ‘introduce texture’. You see the inspiration pictures, you say “Yes, that’s what I want!”. But you take those 15-20 tips together and try to come up with something for yourself and suddenly you’re like a two year old being asked to deliver a lecture on quantum mechanics.
Just a few weeks ago, I did a post on my home décor rules (pappis to everyone who loved it except if you’re a dirty bwoy). Today, I’m sharing the 12 décor tips I use myself for getting started on a room (again, I’m not a pro, so these could all be garbage to you). I personally ignore all trends/tips/rules that exist on the internet about home décor and just go with a clean slate and a happy heart and so far all of these practically applicable tips have worked for me.
ALTHOUGH. These tips are not meant to tell you what to do. You’re not suddenly going to have a fully decorated room on your hands. Or even a resource list. But it’ll get you started on how to get started yourself. Because I’ve realised that’s the hardest part. Most of us don’t know where to begin. Come, let’s talk like friendly bunnies.
Tip #1. Find what you like first. It’s common for someone to not know what aesthetic they personally like for themselves. You could love a friend’s place but may not want the same setup for yourself. My sister loves my place but her own aesthetic is modern-glam type. Go on Pinterest and save all the images you would love for your own home. Then look at everything you’ve saved and see if there’s a common theme in all that you like. Is it all white? Industrial? Minimal? You’ll find out what’s the broad theme you want for yourself.
Tip #2. Find an inspiration picture and label it. When you have inspiration images, pick out the one you like best, print it out, and start labeling everything that’s in that room. Yep, put actual numbers and label – 1 on a couch, 2 on an armchair, 3 on a rug, etc. Label everything and then put them down in a list on a piece of paper. We often save inspiration images and they look overwhelming because it’s the final product. But doing up a room is just like a makeup look. You can break it up, find the products that make it and then get similar stuff for yourself. As soon as you label an image that you like and put it in list form, you’ll see that it’s not that hard to replicate.
Tip #3. Draw out a floor plan. Sounds over-the-top but it works SO WELL. I pull out a piece of paper. Very roughly draw the shape of the room. And then start putting the things from tip #2 in that room. So if I like a couch and rug from my labeled inspiration picture, I’ll draw it on my floor plan. Keep adding things to that floor plan and soon you’ll have not just an exact shopping list on your hands but also a visual of where things would go, instead of having a blind concept of what you want. You might see that where you wanted to put an armchair, you could also add a plant. Start filling up the floor plan, it’ll give you clarity like nothing else.
Tip #4. Create an anchor. I refuse to start decorating a room until I know what my anchor piece is. This is the main piece around which you’ll start building your room. For me that’s one of these three things: Paint color/wallpaper, couch or rug. I need to find one of these first and only then will I decorate around it. Why I do that is because it sets the tone of the room. For my bedroom, I started with the paint color and everything else happened around it. For my living room, I started with the couch. Finding your anchor piece also makes it easy to decide what will go with what and you don’t end up with things that don’t harmonise.
Tip #5. Paint. Even if paint is not your anchor point from tip #4 above or you don’t want color in your room at all, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to paint. Most of our homes have these ugly, beigy, yellowish white on the walls which has the magical power to never make a room look fresh and new. I always, always, always, always paint a room a fresh, bright white because it instantly ups the potential of that room. Always paint the walls white as the base, if you’re not using another color.
Tip #6. Add a rug. No matter what, add a rug. Even if it’s going to be a neutral and practically unnoticeable. I know some people who just go without rugs, I don’t understand that. Rugs warm up a space, make it look very cosy and lived in. And most importantly, they make your space look decorated in the real sense (also helps in sectioning a room into different parts). It doesn’t have to be expensive, get an inexpensive dhurrie but have a floor covering. For me a rugless room is like a body without a soul (and no one should be deprived of a soul).
Tip #7. Commit to one piece one week (or whatever frequency you like). When you list things down and decide what you want, slowly start collecting them. I typically go shopping for one or two things at a time, buy only those things and come back. Don’t pick up knick knacks, and don’t buy a refrigerator when you went with the intention to buy a coffee table. Focus and pick one piece at a time. When you do this, you end up doing two things: a) You know what’s the exact thing you want. As an example, when you buy a couch first, then an armchair, then you know which cushions you need next. If you buy together, you can potentially end up with prints or textures that are clashing and then you want to cry. b) You don’t buy crap you don’t need. Pointless small décor items can be ridiculously cute but may actually have no place in your home and just create clutter/eat into your decorating budget. It’s not a race so get things slowly, pace them out and get stuff that goes perfectly together.
Tip #8. Take pictures. Take a picture of the whole room before you get started, take a picture as you add pieces, and then when you think you’re almost done. I don’t know why this works for me but I may think that things are looking great, and then as soon as I take a step back and snap a picture of everything together, I know exactly what I need to change about the space. Maybe the armchair could be moved, the plants could be shifted, the artwork could be higher/lower/on another wall, etc. It really, really helps. Always take a big, wide picture taking in the whole room and look at your progress.
Tip #9. Plants. Fill up those corners inexpensively. Add plants. If you can’t keep them alive, get good quality artificial plants; they look just fine and they’ll last you forever (real plant snobs, ignore this, it’s not for you). Plants add life and color to a room, fill up spaces that you don’t know what to do with and/or don’t have money to fill. Always say yes to plants. Hang from the ceiling, put on tabletops, or a window sill, place in an empty corner. In fact, you can use a large plant (like I have in my bedroom) and use it as a statement décor piece – simple & easy.
Tip #10. Always have something quirky. As a final touch to your place, add something quirky and eccentric. Just because. You can do this with any décor aesthetic with tiny figurines/wall art/cushions covers: A neon rhino in a colorful home, a zebra in a minimalist room, a gold swan in a Hollywood-glam kind of setup. Just do it. (Spray paint a plastic toy, you don’t need anything fancy)
Tip #11. Don’t get too attached to an idea. Sometimes we want something specific in a room real bad but either we can’t find it or it just doesn’t end up going. I tried to fit an easel into my living room for weeks before realizing it was not supposed to be there. Don’t get attached to an idea. The whole room is supposed to look great so if that thing doesn’t go, it doesn’t go. Move on.
Tip #12. And to make things look extra good, add mood lighting. Everything looks extra sexy when you have 2-3 lamps around and if you’re not a 100% happy with your place during the day, it’ll look hot at night.
Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be magazine worthy. Most of us live with our parents till we’re adults and so our first shot at decorating our own homes is not until much later in life. And because of that we learn the skill with time and most of us will have our ‘perfect’ home by the time we’re in our 30s or beyond. Just like we learn to dress ourselves and find our own style with time (I know we’ve all indulged in questionable fashion that we will fortunately never talk about), the same way home decorating is also an acquired skill. Relax and enjoy what you’re creating.
Until next time.
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+ These home décor rules I always use for myself.
+ + And these inexpensive wall art ideas I put together.
+ + + Also, also, unusual décor ideas?
+ + + + Check out my different room makeovers right here: bedroom, kitchen, home office, living room and balcony.
+ + + + + There’s a giveaway open for a 3-night stay in Sotto Le Cummerse, a hotel in Italy, and if you haven’t entered, here’s your chance.