We know what a struggle decorating can be. You start thinking about all the rooms that need help, all the shopping that you have to do, all the time it will take, and in short order, it all becomes overwhelming. We’d love to ease your pain a bit with this beginner’s guide to home decor. All you have to do is remember the 4 S’s—space, size, shape and style.
The first S is for space. How big or small is each room and what do you use it for? Answering this question will help you determine the type of decor you need and where it will look best.Compact spaces may only need the basics, like a light source, something to sit on, some place to stow your things and something soft underfoot.
With a larger space, of course, your options increase, and you can add more furniture, wall decor, rugs, and lighting options like a chandelier or pendant light. But while you might be tempted to fill up all the corners, keep in mind that negative space can be good, too. Overabundant decor can make a room appear smaller than it actually is.
Here are a few guidelines for fitting just the right amount of decor into your space:
- In a room with an 8-foot ceiling, the bottom of a chandelier should be at least 30-34 inches above a table. In a room with higher ceilings, hang the chandelier 3 inches higher for every additional foot.
- Any lighting fixture in a space where you will walk under it should hang at least 7 feet above the floor.
- Save space by using a double-duty ottoman. It can act as a coffee table or footrest.
- When placing a rug in most standard-size rooms, leave around 12″-18″ of bare floor between the edges of the area rug and the walls of the room. For small rooms, leave about 8″ of exposed floor.
The next step is all about the size and scale of your decor. What do we mean by that? It’s how home furnishings look when placed together, and finding the right mix of furnishings and decor in different sizes is critical to create a harmonious room. An important rule of thumb is to avoid using one-size decor throughout your home, as it’s mixing and matching that enhances visual interest.
To start, find the focal point of each room – that is, what’s the first thing you notice? If the focal point is a fabulous fireplace, art above the mantel is ideal. If it’s a long wall, consider a gallery; hang the largest piece at eye-level (56″-60″ from the floor). If there is no obvious focal point, create one. A roomy sectional can be a focal point.
Here are some pointers:
- The width of a light fixture should be the sum of the room’s width and length. In a 10 feet by 6 feet space, for example, you would add the two numbers together to get 16. Therefore, your lighting fixture should be 16 inches wide.
- You should typically avoid using over sized and large wall art in compact spaces. However, we believe rules are made to be broken, and a lone large piece can be a dramatic focal point.
- Are you hanging artwork over furniture or a fireplace? Make sure the width of the piece does not exceed the width of the furniture or fireplace. This helps create the illusion of more space.
- Floor lamps look great near sitting areas and reading nooks.
- Display tabletop decor in three’s. Using only two candles, for example, looks too “matchy-matchy” and incomplete. The addition of a third candle of a different size creates a more appealing look.
The third S to keep in mind stands for shape. The shape of your home decor matters more than you may know. Curvy or round items bring feminine appeal while angular items make spaces feel masculine. It’s good to have a balance of both, for example, if you have a clean-lined sofa, a round accent table by its side adds balance to the room.
Here are some tips:
- Stick with square rugs for square rooms, rectangular rugs for rectangular rooms and round rugs for—you guessed it—round rooms. Round rugs also help small spaces appear larger.
- When creating vignettes, steer clear of lining up objects of the same height. Use different heights to create interesting shapes in the negative space.
- Place bolster pillows in front of square or rectangular throw pillows for an appealing, layered look. Round pillows can add a beautiful contrast to straight-lined furniture or complement soft curves.
Since you’ve gotten through the first three S’s, it’s time to get to the fun stuff—your personal style. Do you prefer farmhouse, contemporary, industrial or something eclectic? If you have plush neutral upholstery, complement it with black metal accents, leafy greenery and buffalo check throw pillows for a modern farmhouse vibe. If you’re going for a contemporary look, we suggest sticking with geometric patterns, bold pops of color and trendsetting shapes.
Here are some suggestions for nailing your style:
- Start by collecting inspiration. You can collect physical pictures or build a digital Pinterest board. Look through the images and remove what doesn’t fit. Then, think about why the remaining images caught your attention. Voilà! You’ve defined your style.
- Build your room around a single color. You can use varying tones of the hue you choose, or you can pick others colors to complement it. This works really well for building a gallery wall, too.
- A black and white palette is a safe place to start if you are not confident in mixing colors. You can, however, add pops of color to the black and white palette for a dramatic effect.
- Add interest to a room by mixing and matching patterns. For example, a white pillow with thin, black pinstripes pairs well with a black pillow that has white polka dots. Round out the look with solid black pillows. The trick to pulling this off? Black is the dominant shade. It is prominent in one pattern while it is understated in the other pattern. This rule can be applied to any color or type of decor.
- If you’re more of a glam person, don’t be afraid to deck out your space with mirrored and metallic decor.
We understand that it can be tough to nail down your interior design style. Here’s a nifty and easy to download guide to point you in the right direction for choosing decor.