Your Guide to Interior Decorating
Decorating has been my passion since high school. Class of '99! Scott and I got married in July 2001 and purchased our first home in October. I immediately started painting, hanging art, and making wreaths for our front door. I painted my first piece of furniture black in 2002. Since that time my passion has only grown. I'm thrilled to be writing this guide to interior decorating just for you!
Since 2017 my home has been featured in 8 different magazines, Including three nationally published editorials HGTV, Je De'core (a french Canadian magazine), and Cottages & Bungalows. Along with a few local design awards, I have spoken at Liberty University for the Interior Design and Fashion Merchandising students and collaborated with several national brands.
I've learned so much since I started. This comprehensive beginner’s guide to interior decorating will help even the most novice learner.
Let's start with the basics...
What does decorating really mean?
It's not about changing the structure of a room or building something new. It's the simple art of taking an existing space or furniture and dressing it up to reflect your own style. That includes but is not limited to paint, accessories, lighting, and furnishings. Fabric is also a major player in the game. It has the ability to dress up a room or make it feel more casual.
Everything must match. FALSE- Coordinating is a more appropriate term. Your home should look collected not like a big box store. Just because you love the sofa doesn't mean you buy the matching love seat. Think about scale and tones when you coordinate. Keep them similar. (although a set of matching chairs or lamps can be a good thing)
Dark rooms make a room feel smaller. FALSE - It will make the room feel more cozy and sophisticated but NOT small. Again, natural light plays a large part in this. Placing large art on dark walls creates drama, therefore, making the room feel grander. Powder rooms are a great start.
I have to follow all the rules. FALSE - I'm a rule follower but sometimes they have to be broken. You live in the home so you should absolutely LOVE what you buy even if it's from a different era.
Every wall must have something on it. FALSE - Your eyes need a visual rest. Consider leaving a space or wall blank. That allows your eyes to rest and other items will make a bigger impact.
The bigger the wall the more art should fill it. FALSE - Instead of filling the wall think of highlighting it. One large piece of art makes a much bigger impact. It creates a focal point to a room or hallway that otherwise could seem cluttered.
It costs too much to decorate like a pro. FALSE FALSE FALSE - Think smarter and bolder not small and cluttered. You will spend the same amount of money buying a lot of little accessories every season than you would investing in a FEW keys elements.
How to get started: Interior Decorating 101
Figure out which room you spend the most time in. Start there
Decide on how you want the room to feel. Casual, cozy, light, and bright?
Go to Pinterest! It's a great place for inspiration. When making a board, label it with the room you are working in. CLICK HERE for my Pinterest boards. I've created one for every room with hundreds of photos.
Decide on a budget. What should you buy? Can you reuse or repurpose something?
Get rid of #AllTheThings you don't love! If it takes you more than 3 seconds to decide...you don't love it. Donate or consign it.
Choose a paint color, it will transform the room. Picking paint can be scary so I always encourage buying samples first. It's better to live with a block of color on your wall for a week than years hating it covering everything. If you are still unsure what color to choose CLICK HERE for my expert advice.
Purchase or set the foundational pieces. Sofa, bed, dining table, etc.
Lastly, layer the rug, art, and decor accessories.
Tips for Success in Interior Decorating
After 19 years of decorating, I can honestly say there's not one perfect tip for success. However, by following my steps and erasing the misconceptions you can tap into your inner decorator. Failures will come and that is ok. I'm encouraging you to just try. Taking a step forward brings the freedom for you to create the home you love. Start with courage and your confidence will grow one room at a time.
Follow my Three C's of Decorating
Color - Choose 3 main colors for a room. MAKE SURE one is black, navy, gray, white, or a creamy neutral. You have to have a grounding color.
Contrast - Vary the tones of the three main colors.
Composition - Keep the natural flow. Furniture, lighting, and art should be scaled appropriately. Rugs should house all front furniture legs.
Common Questions/FAQ's About Interior Decorating
Can I blend decorating styles?
Rarely is anyone drawn to JUST one style. We are inspired by our surroundings and travels. It is ok to incorporate a mix of goods as long as you stick to my Three C's of decorating. When someone walks into your home they should see your personality.
How do I style a bookcase?
Threes and fives are the best way to display items on a bookshelf. Odd numbers grouped together add scale and balance. One large decor piece on a shelf creates a focal point. To hide clutter grab a few baskets.
How do I choose the right rug size?
Rugs ground a space and it's always best to have at least the front legs resting in the first 6-8 inches of the rug. An 8X10 or 9x13 is best for a living/family room or bedroom. It's better to wait on the perfect size rug than buying one too small. The same goes for curtains! Here I share expert advice on properly hanging window treatments.
Is wallpaper going back out of style?
NO WAY! Wallpaper is here to stay! Choosing the right one is key. Take your time and bring several books home and allow yourself to stare at them for a few days. It's a pain in the rear to remove so choosing a tone-on-tone option will outlast the fading trends.
Removable wallpaper, new and newsworthy! The paper feels more like a vinyl shelf liner. They are peel and stick for all you DIY'ers. I have purchased this ONE from Target. You can see it below in my front foyer. Full Disclosure: It does not line up 100% perfect so be prepared. Our home is 100 years old so that might have a little something to do with it. :)
Can I paint my kitchen cabinets?
Please do! I will have to do a full post about painting your cabinets. For now, let's just skim the surface on this "very controversial" issue. If done right your painted cabinets will last many years. The key is prep! Clean, sand, prime, and then paint. Use quality products and give at least 24 hours between coats. Paint hardens over time. Painting your cabinets will get you the most bang for your buck.
How do I style my fireplace without it looking too cluttered?
One word... COMPOSITION! Do not fill an entire fireplace with small accessories. It will look cluttery and distract your eye from the beauty of the items. If you have a TV mounted I suggest placing one large vase with branches on one side and on the other place a series of three items, One large, and two smaller. OR, find two matching lanterns or large vases and place them on either side of the TV.
If you have no TV, display a large piece of art in the center or a large mirror, then layer one more piece propped in front (not in the center but over to one side) then you can use the vase and other small items in a grouping on wither side. Tapered candles are perfect for adding height without looking cluttered.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Interior Decorating...
JUST START! Don't be consumed with getting everything right the first time. Layering and then editing out is the best way to find your favorite style(s).
Home is feeling not a place.
Remember this is just the beginner’s guide to interior decorating. The first step is courage.
If you found this post helpful would you mind sharing it? Send it to your friends, pin it, or share it on social media. My passion is to inspire more women to love their home and your support means everything to me. Happy decorating sweet friends!