Rule No. 1: Copy cat a style.
There’s no reason you have to reinvent the wheel just because you want more style in your home. Purchase design magazines with rooms you like and then recreate the design. Decorators call these “inspiration rooms.”
Rule No. 2: Select a theme.
Designers always go with a theme. A theme gives you a design starting point that keep you focused. For instance, you may go for “Tuscan Villa,” or "French Country", or maybe “Seaside Chic.” The theme helps you select colors, accents, and furniture.
Rule No. 3: Go for color.
Designers know that the biggest impact comes from color. It’s also the most cost-effective change for a room. Color adds instant impact. Take your color cues from your inspiration room.
Rule No. 4: Create a focal point.
In the living room, this is often the TV or fireplace. In the bedroom, it should be the bed. A focal point helps to “anchor” the room and draws the eye to it. Draw attention to your focal point by flanking either side with similar objects, such as matching lamps on either side of the bed, or two vases on both sides of the fireplace. This commands attention and brings the focal point to life.
Rule No. 5: Determine function.
Good design always considers the use of the space. Designers take this into account when they determine how to decorate a room. Function builds in ideas and elements that enhance the effectiveness of a room, such as adding a closet organizer or more drawer space in a kitchen.
Rule No. 6: Maintain scale and balance.
Scale, simply put, means you should put like with like. If you have a large sofa and chair, then a small coffee and end tables will look silly. Put small furnishings together and large furnishings together.
Balance refers to making sure the room is not “lopsided.” If there is a tall armoire on one side of the room, a dresser or other substantial piece of furniture – or strong color – on the opposite wall will help balance it.
Rule No. 7: Create an effect.
How do you want the room to feel when you enter it? Calm and relaxed? Fun and sociable? Consider how you would like to feel when determining how to decorate. Bright colors energize a room, rooms that are all one color can be calming and relaxing, and dark colors create cocoons.
Rule No. 8: Sweat the small stuff.
Details, details. It’s the smallest items that can really make a room sing. They are the piccolo in the orchestra pit that sings like a bird in the trees. Accent trims on curtains, coordinating fabrics, repetition of design features, plants, and accessories, all combine to create a fully synchronized room.
Kathryn Weber is the publisher of Red Lotus Home and Living Space.