Home Decorating Ideas for the DIYer Within You

Home stagers are experts at highlighting your home’s positives and hiding its negatives. They can make it attractive to anyone. We spoke to a few professionals nationwide for advice on updating your rooms without exceeding the budget.

Set the tone at the front door

Paint the front door in a vibrant, fun color. Lara Allen Brett, an interior designer in New Jersey, says that many cultures consider red a lucky color. In early America, a red door was a welcome sign for weary travelers. In churches, it is regarded as indicating safety.

According to Christopher Breining, a San Francisco-based stager, orange and yellow are also gaining popularity. Both colors are associated with warmth and joy. An outdated screen door should be thrown out. Replace it with a full-length storm door that can be replaced with a screened panel.

Paint Wall Colors Neutral and Light

Keep colors neutral, like beige and gray, on the first level, where flow is critical. Breining says that you should minimize abrupt transitions. Neutral walls allow you the most flexibility in decorating, as you can easily change your accessories.

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Paint two rooms the same color to make them appear larger. Allen-Brett suggests that you can use a paint strip to change the color of a room by moving up or down two shades.

Living Room: Your sofa should talk to your chairs

Imagine a hotel lobby with furniture arranged into groups that encourage conversation. Aim for balance and intimacy when you place furniture in your living area.

Michelle Lynne is a Dallas-based stylist who says that a conversation area with a U shape, where a couch and two chairs are placed at either end of the coffee table, or an H shape, with the sofa across from the two chairs, and the coffee table in between, would be ideal.

Avoid pushing all furniture up against the wall. She says that people do this because they believe it will make the room appear larger, but moving the furniture away from the walls makes the space feel bigger.

Let the sunshine in your kitchen.

Lynne says that if you have heavy, outdated drapes on your windows, it’s better to leave them bare than cover them with ugly ones. Window dressings are meant to be both functional and elegant. Think sheers with full-length panels.

Choose light colors if you have a room with a lot of sun. They won’t fade. Cotton, linen, and silk blends are the most popular lightweight fabrics because they hang nicely.

Install at least one mirror in every room

Breining says that mirrors can brighten up a room by reflecting light. Placing a mirror in the wrong place can be as bad as having none.

Mirrors should be placed perpendicularly to windows and not directly opposite. If you hang a mirror opposite a window, it can bounce light back through the window.

You can scale up your artwork to fit the wall

Breining says that hanging tiny artwork too high up on a wall is ridiculous. The middle of the picture should be at eye level. If one person is tall and the other short, then average their height.

Take into consideration the scale of your wall. For ample space, you can go for one oversize piece or group several smaller pieces in a gallery style. If you choose the latter option, keep your pictures manageable. 2 to 4-inch spacing is usually the best.

Layer Your Lighting

Each room should have at least three types of lighting. Ambient, which gives a general illumination, is usually provided by ceiling fixtures. The task, often over a reading nook or kitchen island, is more decorative and highlights the artwork.

You should use at least 3 watts per square foot for a living area. One visual trick Breining swears by using uplights. He says placing a canister light or torchiere at the corner of a room will make the room appear larger.

Anchor Rugs under Furniture Feet

Breining says you should follow these simple rules when choosing an area rug. “In a sitting room, the rug should be large enough to accommodate all four legs from the sofa and chairs. It should also define the seating space,” he says. He adds that, at the very least, the two front legs of a sofa and chair should rest on the rug.

To accommodate seating in a living room with less-than-generous proportions, an 8-by-10 or 9-by-12-foot rug is usually required. Choosing a too-small carpet will make the room look out of balance.

Hire a Professional to Declutter

As you age, you will see less and less of the mess. You may need to get a new pair of eyes. Hire an organizer for a couple of hours to work on your bookshelves or closets. Depending on your location, you’ll pay between $35 and $150 per hour.

Breining recommends reducing the number of items on your shelves by 50%. Mix horizontal stacks of books among vertical rows, and add decorative items, such as bowls and vases.

Old finishes can be given the Cinderella treatment

Have outdated fixtures? Refinish them using spray paint or inexpensive kits. Breining says that a 1980s brass lamp can be given a new lease of life by spray painting it in hammered bronze or satin nickel.

White paint and new hardware can update even old kitchen cabinets. If you thought Formica counters were hopeless, then think again. Breining swears that Rust-Oleum countertop transformations are a DIY counter-coating product that simulates stone. It can make even the ugliest 1970s counters look new.

It’s time to replace the cracked, mismatched, and broken switch plates and outlet covers with new ones that match. Lynne says: “Nothing brings down a newly renovated space more than a dingy switch plate in almond color.”