15 Decorating Tips for Creating a Home with Style

When it comes time to decorate — or redecorate — it can be daunting to try and create a stylish interior design. These days, it’s more about options than hard and fast rules when it comes to decorating your home. The focus is on adapting concepts to your space and personality than following a prescribed formula. Gone are the matchy-matchy interiors of past decades — hooray — that are being replaced with more relaxed and individualist decor styles.  Of course, there are some decorating tips that can help you hone in on what is really best for

Long and Lean Shelving

Long, horizontal shelves create a more open feeling.View in gallery
Long, horizontal shelves create a more open feeling.

Mention shelving and most people imagine a stand-alone unit or a wall full of built-in shelves. Move beyond the standard options and think horizontally.  Long and lean shelving that is either attached to the wall or sits as an individual piece is a modern option that keeps the look clean and different.  Long single shelves behind a desk create a horizontal backdrop and offer plenty of space for storage that is within easy reach.

Low Slung Tables

Low sofas require different types of side tables.View in gallery
Low sofas require different types of side tables.

Many modern and contemporary sofas have a lower profile and sit closer to the ground than traditional styles. While the visual is clean and casual, it also means that most occasional tables are too tall to be comfortably used. Choosing a low sofa means that your side pieces need to be proportionate to the furniture. Instead of a standard side table, look for styles that sit directly on the floor, complementing the height of the sofa seat. A long, low shelf that extends along part of the sectional, as in this example, is super functional as well as the right height for the seating.

Floor Lamps at the Bed Side

Floor lamps work at the bedside too.View in gallery
Floor lamps work at the bedside too.

Another spot that benefits from innovative options is the bedside. Typically, most people look for a lamp that sits on the nightstand, or perhaps they might consider reading lights that are wall mounted. A more novel option is to use a floor lamp beside the bed, which does more than just provide illumination. If you think about it, floor lamps are ideal for the bedside because they free up space on the nightstand and add an element of height, especially if the headboard has a low profile.

Turn Lighting Into an Architectural Feature

Attaching the floor lamp to the ceiling turns it into a focal point.View in gallery
Attaching the floor lamp to the ceiling turns it into a focal point.

Table lamps, ceiling fixtures and wall sconces — that usually about covers it for most people when they look for lighting. However, there can be more adventurous lighting solutions that transform the fixture into an architectural element for the room. Above, a modern floor lamp has been extended and attached to the ceiling, turning it into a focal point rather than just a lighting accessory. Even though it has a slim profile and only two modestly-sized shades, it is definitely the centerpiece of the room.

Opt for Ottomans

Ottomans are a more casual option than chairs.View in gallery
Ottomans are a more casual option than chairs.

As already mentioned, matchy-matchy sets are pretty much passe. Gone are the days when you needed to have a sofa and a love seat, or the obligatory pair of chairs. If your style is more casual, or if you love to entertain, choosing a number of ottomans instead of side chairs is a trendy way to go. Sturdy ottomans offer extra seating and can serve as a portable side table when necessary. They are also a wonderful pairing with the growing trend of using multiple small occasional tables instead of one large coffee table.

Skip the Standard Coffee Table

A grouping of small tables can be more versatile.View in gallery
A grouping of small tables can be more versatile.

Don’t like a big, hulking expanse of a coffee table in front of your sofa? Try choosing a collection of smaller occasional tables that can be lined up or grouped in front of the sofa. It’s a lighter, more casual look and for many, it’s also a more functional option. Individual tables can be shifted around for entertaining or easily moved to another room to clear the space. Depending on style preferences, tables can be of different shapes and finishes, or can be part of an artful set that is displayed as a single unit but used as individual tables.

Go for Asymmetry

Placing an element off center immediately draws the eye.View in gallery
Placing an element off center immediately draws the eye.

The first instinct might be to center a piece of artwork or a mirror over a sofa, desk or table, but that’s not always the most striking choice. By positioning a focal piece off-center, it can bring more attention to the entire furniture grouping. The eye often takes symmetry for granted, so a little strategic asymmetry creates visual discord and draws attention to the piece. This massive round mirror is a good example. While the size makes it a dominant element, if it were centered over the sofa it would not have nearly the same impact as the side placement.

Use Modern Wood Panels

Wood paneling as an accent or door front is a modern usage.View in gallery
Wood paneling as an accent or door front is a modern usage.

Wood paneling got a bad rap from the way it was used in the 60s and 70’s, and that style is decidedly outdated. New options include textures and grains that make it a far more interesting design element. It’s also best used as an accent, rather than the wall-to-wall covering it originally was. This pocket door makes creative use of wood panels as a decorative element as well as a functional one.  The varying textures provide a good deal of interest and the color has an earthy influence.

Mix Up Kitchen Finishes

Mixed finishes in the kitchen the new way to go.View in gallery
Mixed finishes in the kitchen the new way to go.

Another place in the home where matching no longer rules is the kitchen. Mixing different finishes and materials and opting for nontraditional colors or cabinet fixtures are the features that define many on-trend kitchens. This kitchen artfully combines an unexpected color — black — with traditional style panels on the cabinetry. The countertops sport a very non-traditional gold finish that adds a metallic glam accent to the space. Pops of color on the bar stools and flooring keep the feel casual. If redoing the kitchen is in the cards, mix it up and inject some personality!

A Chandelier for Your Coffee Table

A chandelier over the coffee table makes an instant focal point.View in gallery
A chandelier over the coffee table makes an instant focal point.

Once confined to entryways and dining tables, chandeliers have now moved throughout the home and can be found just about everywhere. One great place where they can make a huge impact is over the living room coffee table. Installing a chandelier that has a stand-out design directly over the table draws attention to the center of the room. This is perfect for spaces where the remainder of the room has a minimalist flair, as this one does. Only the lighted shelving on the back wall accents the area along with just a couple of occasional tables.

Shades of Gray as Trendy Neutrals

Shades of gray are perfect for timid decorators.View in gallery
Shades of gray are perfect for timid decorators.

Shades of gray in home decor have been popular for several years now and show no signs of waning. If decorating — especially with color — is an intimidating prospect, gray is a wonderful neutral to start with. If can be a successful monochrome palette if enough textures and hue variations are included. The living room above includes everything from lighter gray shelving in a smooth finish to a tweedy textured sofa and suede ottoman, atop a variegated rug. This combination allows room for pops of color, like these forest green cushions that proved an accent that is still restrained. Swapping out these cushions for a brighter spring or summer color is an easy update or a cost-effective way to sample different accent colors.

Divide a Space with Open Shelving

Open shelving is more functional than a room divider.View in gallery
Open shelving is more functional than a room divider.

Open floor plans are great but sometimes you just need to section off some space. Open shelving is a great option for doing this because it is attractive from both sides and serves as an effective visual barrier. It is also moveable, so if the area needs to be reconfigured, it is easily shifted. Besides, it offers a great deal of storage and display space, especially in a wide open room.

Stick with Clean Lines

Clean lines make a space family friendly.View in gallery
Clean lines make a space family friendly.

One of the easiest and chicest ways to decorate a space is to stick with clean lines. By choosing only pieces that are streamlined, it creates a modern and minimalist space that is still really comfortable and functional. This sofa has moveable sections and ottomans that provide extra seating. The modern look fits well with the media center arrangement and its mainly open shelving. The console largely runs the length of the wall and the low base is a perfect match for the low profile sofa. Devoid of fussy details it is a family friendly and stylish room.

Use Color as an Accent in a Child’s Room

A neutral base helps the room grow with the child.View in gallery
A neutral base helps the room grow with the child.

By painting a child’s room in an array of bright colors, you are likely committing yourself to constant repainting as the child outgrows age-driven decorating. Instead, try starting with a fun neutral palette and a strong accent color as this desk and shelving area does. As a child grows, tastes change and it’s much more cost effective to swap out or recover a chair, change accessories or reface a few drawers. Besides, this is just as fun and cheery as an interior that will soon be too juvenile for a teen.

Include Artful Accents

Art as an accent is a good way to show your personality.View in gallery
Art as an accent is a good way to show your personality.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is certainly true with art, however, it can be the star that enlivens your personal space. Choosing a piece of art that accents a room can make it come alive, even if it is in the same color palette as the rest of the elements. This living room has a sophisticated but limited palette, but it is far from boring thanks to the art and accessories. The abstract piece above the sofa immediate draws the eye and a small sculpture on the mixed media coffee table is a stand-out accent.

As you can see today’s decorating tips are more about adapting and enjoying your environment than following a set of stodgy “rules.” You can’t follow them all, but when it’s time to refresh a space, peruse the options and see what appeals to you most and then go for it.