Home decorating can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little inspiration and creativity, you can transform your home into a beautiful space without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ve gathered some expert tips from professional home stagers across the country to help you freshen up your home decor without spending a lot of money.
1. Set the Tone at the Front Door
The first thing your guests see when they enter your home is your front door. So, why not make a great first impression by painting your front door a fun, glossy hue? According to Lara Allen-Brett, a New Jersey-based stager, red is a lucky color in many cultures and signifies “welcome.” In early America, a red door meant a safe haven for weary travelers, and in churches, it represented a place of sanctuary. San Francisco-based stager Christopher Breining suggests other hues that are gaining favor, such as orange and yellow, both of which are associated with joy and warmth. One thing to get rid of or replace is an outdated screen door. Replace it with a storm door with full-length glass that you can switch out for a screened panel.
2. Paint Wall Colors Light and Neutral
Stick to light and neutral colors like beige or gray, especially on the first floor, where flow is important. “You want to minimize jarring transitions,” says Breining. Neutral walls give you the greatest decorating flexibility, allowing you to easily switch up your accessories. If you have two small rooms next to each other, painting them the same neutral color helps them feel larger. Look at a paint strip and move up or down a shade or two for a subtle variation from room to room, suggests Allen-Brett.
3. Living Area: Make Sure Your Sofa Talks to Your Chairs
When it comes to arranging furniture in your living room, think of a nice hotel lobby: The furniture is arranged in groupings that invite conversation. According to Michelle Lynne, a Dallas-based stager, a conversation area that has a U-shape, with a sofa and two chairs facing each other at each end of the coffee table, or an H-shape, with a sofa directly across from two chairs and a coffee table in the middle, is ideal. One common mistake to avoid is pushing all the furniture against the walls. “People do that because they think it will make their room look bigger, but in reality, floating the furniture away from the walls makes the room feel larger,” says Lynne.
4. Let the Sun Shine in Your Kitchen
Heavy, outdated drapes can make your kitchen look outdated. “A naked bank of windows is better than an ugly one,” says Lynne. Ideally, window dressings should be functional and elegant: Think sheers paired with full-length panels. If your room gets a lot of sun, opt for light colors that won’t fade. The most recommended lightweight fabrics for panels are cotton, linen, and silk blends because they tend to hang well.
5. Hang at Least One Mirror in Every Room
Mirrors can make a space feel brighter because they bounce the light around the room. But placing one in the wrong spot can be almost as bad as not having one at all. Put mirrors on walls perpendicular to windows, not directly across from them. Hanging a mirror directly opposite a window can actually bounce the light right back out the window.
6. Scale Artwork to Your Wall
“Hanging dinky little art too high on the wall” is one of the most ridiculous-looking things, says Breining. The middle of a picture should hang at eye level.
Another tip for artwork is to choose pieces that have colors that complement your room’s color scheme. This will create a cohesive look and bring everything together. If you’re not sure where to start, consider purchasing artwork from local artists or browsing online marketplaces for unique and affordable pieces.
7. Layer Your Lighting
Every room should have three kinds of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting provides overall illumination and often comes from ceiling fixtures. Task lighting is often found over a kitchen island or a reading nook and is designed to be functional. Accent lighting is more decorative, highlighting artwork or other features of the room.
For a living room, you should have at least 3 watts (42 lumens) per square foot. One visual trick that Christopher Breining, a San Francisco-based stager, swears by is using uplights. “Placing a canister uplights or a torchiere in the corner will cast a glow on the ceiling, making a room seem bigger,” he says.
8. Anchor Rugs Under Furniture Feet
When it comes to rugs, follow these basic rules: “In a living room, all four legs of the sofa and chairs in a furniture grouping should fit on it, and the rug should define the seating area,” says Breining. “At the very least, the front two legs of the sofa and chairs should rest on it,” he adds.
Even living rooms with less than generous proportions usually require an 8-by-10-foot or a 9-by-12-foot rug to properly accommodate a seating area. Go too small with the rug size, and everything looks out of scale.
9. Call in a Pro to Declutter
The longer you live in a house, the less you see the mess over time. Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes. You can hire an organizer for a few hours (expect to pay $35 to $150 an hour, depending on where you live) to tackle bookshelves and closets, which stagers say are often packed with twice the amount of stuff they should hold.
Breining suggests whittling down what’s on your shelves by 50 percent. Then mix horizontal stacks of books among the vertical rows and intersperse decorative objects, such as bowls or vases, among them.
10. Use Area Rugs to Soften Hardwood Floors
Throw rugs give warmth and can add great texture, color, and personality to your living space. Hardwood floors are beautiful and easy to maintain but they lack the comfort that carpeted floors offer, especially in colder months. Area rugs can add fun and functionality to your living space. Use several of varying patterns and fabrics together to showcase your character. Or add several rugs of the same pattern and fabric, or different textures but the same color. The possibilities are endless.
11. Hang Artwork at the Right Height
Galleries and museums hang artwork so that the midline (center) of each piece is 57 inches to 60 inches from the floor. (The average human eye level is 57 inches.) And you should do the same. In a room like this, where the ceilings soar, there might be a tendency to hang the art higher. But remember: It needs to relate to human scale, not the structure’s scale. If you’re not sure, take a picture. It’s remarkable how much a photo can reveal. Print it out or use Photoshop or an app to draw on the photo. This can give you a sense of whether a larger or smaller piece of art is needed or a tall plant might be best to fill a vacant spot.
By following these 11 DIY home decorating tips, you can freshen up your home décor without breaking the bank. Whether you’re updating your front door or rearranging your furniture, these tips can help you create a space that’s stylish, comfortable, and inviting.