Whether you’re outfitting a new space for the first time or refreshing your current one, decorating is always an exciting prospect. Gathering design inspiration, choosing paint samples, the thrill of finding that perfect vintage piece—decorating can and should be a lot of fun. But apart from the initial excitement, designing your space can be a long and daunting process. Between budget restrictions and endless decisions made over long periods of time, it can be easy to lose steam and feel a little lost. Pinterest inspiration can only do so much when you’re stumped on exactly how to decorate your space like those effortlessly beautiful homes you see online.
We’ve been there, which is why we turned to two of our favorite designers, Becki Owens and Nicole Davis, for their best decorating tips for a designer-approved space. If you’re stuck on how to make your design dreams a reality, these tricks will teach you how to decorate like a designer.
1. Start with organization
A beautifully designed space is an organized one, no matter the decorating style. So before you rush out to shop for new furniture and decor, start by clearing out any existing clutter. Go through your belongings with a fine-tooth comb, and if you don’t love it, donate or get rid of it. Starting fresh with a clean, organized space will open up new possibilities for design layouts and instantly make your home look more polished.
2. Decorate with items that feel personal to you
Before they even start decorating, designers spend a lot of time getting to know their clients’ personalities and interests so they can create a space that feels personal to them. Follow this same strategy with your own home by filling it with items that reflect your personality, hobbies, and preferences. Curate accessories during your travels, scour flea markets for vintage finds, collect books about your interests, and layer in different textures you love. The goal is to create a space that feels like you, not something pulled straight from the internet.
3. Invest in furniture you love
When it comes to furnishing your home, it’s worth taking your time. Since furniture tends to be expensive and take a while to arrive, finding the right furniture is more important than furnishing your space quickly. It is not ideal to have something in a room just to fill the space, so only bring furniture into your home that you love! When you find the piece that perfectly suits your style and space, it’ll be worth the wait and price.
4. Trust your gut
Your initial feeling is usually right! When it’s time to make decorating decisions, such as what color to paint your walls or which accent chair looks best, it can be overwhelming because there are so many great ideas to choose from. But you will find it’s often your first inspiration that turns out to be the best choice, so trust your instincts. Over time, this will get easier as you home in on your personal style and gain confidence in your decorating skills.
5. Bring the outside in
One thing you’ll almost always find in professionally designed spaces? Plants. Whether real or faux, greenery adds color and life to a space. No room is complete without some sort of organic, fresh element, so consider bringing in fresh herbs for the kitchen, a potted fiddle leaf fig tree to finish your living room, or a vase of greenery for the coffee table.
6. Make lighting a top priority
Good lighting can dramatically change the feel of a room. In addition to adding personality and impact, it can ensure that the rest of the furniture and decor you’ve selected looks its best. When decorating a space, don’t just assume that the overhead lights your home came equipped with are good enough. Bring in additional light sources through table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, or other types of ceiling lights to customize your home’s lighting and highlight different areas. Keep in mind that a beautiful light fixture can stand alone as art and create just the right mood.
7. Don’t over-design
Pinterest can be both a blessing and a curse! Use social media as a resource to identify styles and colors you’re drawn to and find new decorating ideas, but don’t try to put every image or idea you find in one room. You want your home to feel curated and unique, not like you’re trying to do everything at once.
8. Add art
Art adds sophistication to any space and is a key component in almost any professionally designed room. Find pieces that move you (or create some yourself!) and then hang them at eye level—art is often hung too high. Art pieces are a great expression of your personality and what speaks to you and can make your home instantly feel more intimate.
9. Always edit
Designers know that less is usually more. When you choose a simple color palette and the right pieces for the foundation of a room, all you have to do is add a few details to finish it off. Accessorizing a little can go a long way, so if the room is starting to feel crowded or overly fussy, it probably means you should pare things down a bit.
10. Bring in an element of surprise
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to design, only guidelines that can help you make decisions. So there’s no law that states all your furniture has to adhere to a single style or all the finishes in your home must match. In fact, adding in an element of surprise can make a room so much more interesting, whether it’s an unexpected dash of color in an otherwise neutral space or a fun piece of furniture or art that stands out amongst the rest of your decor. This is your home, where there should be a lot of fun and spontaneity—your design elements can feel the same.