Styling your home is one of the hardest parts of decorating. Ok, for some of us ALL parts of decorating are hard. There’s so much stuff out there, you’ve got to nail down your style and stay within a budget, and then you have to make sure it all comes together in the end. You want things to go, but not be too matchy matchy. You want to be current, but not too trendy. There’s so many rules, but they’re all made to be broken. And that’s why I’m giving you this list of tips for styling your home.
First things first, let’s get one thing out in the open.
Pinterest. It’s not real.
All those perfect pictures are completely staged. The really good ones have items in random places that would be impractical in real life, but look great on camera.
Let’s take the photos above for example. While far from perfect, they’re also far from representing my real home. In this photo, that plant is way too far from a window to survive. And I returned those pillows (Target) and that rug (IKEA – it was much too small for the room) – so I’m still on the search for permanent items to replace them with.
The reason I staged and took these pictures though is because those are the exact type of things I need in this room. Color, texture and pattern. I wanted an idea of how it would all work together. And instagram pictures, ha!
But really, putting together a room isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. With a little patience and some trial and error, you’ll have a space you love.
Start with the big stuff.
When you’re on a budget it’s so easy to pick up $10-30 accessories here and there (think a cute sign or vase or candle) because they’re inexpensive. In my experience, those types of things tend to be impulse buys that result in small items that have no particular place to go. Then you end up with a cluttered mess and no real vision.
I prefer to start with the bigger pieces in a room. Furniture, rugs, large plants. Figure out the flow of the space and what large items you need to make it feel natural. If you don’t have a budget for the bigger items, start saving all that money you would be spending on small impulse buys. When you buy things like baskets, go bigger than you think you’ll need. Especially if you’re looking to fill a corner. You can put together a decent room with fewer things when everything is the appropriate size.
The hardest part of this is living with the bare space while you wait and save. This is a common practice at my house and drives my husband crazy. He wants the house to be done, and I want to love it. Which brings me to my next point.
Only bring things into your home that you love.
Since you’re embracing bare spaces anyway (hey minimalism is IN – it’s all good!), take your time. Rushing to fill every corner can lead to large impulse buys. And nobody wants to be stuck with an expensive piece of furniture they hate for 10+ years until they can justify buying a new one. Bargain shopping to fill space can be just as dangerous. There’s no point in buying something that’s “just okay” solely because it’s a good deal.
Now I’m not against making a $5 dresser work as a TV stand while you search for that perfect something to take it’s spot (my current situation), but once you get the basics taken care of, it’s time to practice a little patience. You WILL eventually find something that fits your style and your budget. And the more patient you are the longer you have to save for something that may be a little out of your initial budget.
I have 3 corners in my home right now that I am planning to fill with comfy armchairs. The issue is the armchairs I like happen to be about the price of a small couch, and ones in my budget aren’t my style. So I’m saving and waiting!
When you’re ready to start buying, look for things with a mix of color, texture and pattern.
I could make an entire post about color schemes and why I don’t really believe in them, but we’ll save that for another day. The most important thing in making a room look put together is to keep it from looking flat. The easiest way to achieve that is to use color, texture and patterns.
When I say color, I don’t necessarily mean you have to add in bright colors if you’re more of a neutrals lover, but play around with a mix of different colors. I’m currently anti brown, but a black and white and gray room gets pretty boring, so mixing in wood tones and natural baskets helps keep my home feeling warm and cozy. Then try adding one or two things that are a colorful neutral (like a soft turquoise or gold or pink) to add just a little more interest. Pillows are the easiest way to play around with this.
Texture and pattern are the easiest things to add to a room, but the most overlooked. Mix up the materials of things you buy and you’ll be on the right track. Back to the example of pillows, get a mixture of fabrics. Try velvet or embroidered or woven and mix them with your normal printed pillows. Mix your patterns and pair larger prints with smaller busy prints to create interest.
Always find a way to include natural elements no matter what your personal style is. Mimic the colors found in nature. Add in a mix of wood tones. Display plants or woven baskets (or plants in woven baskets!). Hang pictures of things found in nature (plants, animals, landscapes). Include a fun floral print. There’s so many options, but bringing the outdoors in (in a sense) will make your home feel more alive.
Don’t be afraid to use the return policy.
The best way to get it right is to experiment. Peruse Pinterest for inspiration and then buy a couple things you think might work even if they aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. Grab that pillow at Target that you KNOW you’ll return just to see if something similar would fit in with your style! Snap some pictures and compare it to your inspo then make notes about what does and doesn’t work. The pillows and the rug in these photos were a little too southwest for me, but I needed to see some different colors in this space to get inspired again.
If decorating doesn’t come naturally to you (and believe me, it doesn’t for me!), this is the best way to learn. Study what other people are doing, try some things, keep what you love, return what you don’t, then repeat. And don’t rush for the finish line. Your style and tastes will keep evolving as different trends come and go, so enjoy the process!
What tips for styling your home would you add? Is there anything you’d like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!
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