Learn These 6 Decorating Rules for Livable Rooms

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Learn These 6 Decorating Rules for Livable Rooms

Interior decorating is the perfect way to showcase your personality and make your house feel like a home. Whether you’re starting with a blank slate or wanting to spruce up your lived-in living room, decorating a space can be an exciting project. But with so many color choices, furniture styles, and design elements to choose from, it can also feel a bit daunting. 

Don’t let the plethora of options deter you from jumping in! By keeping in mind these 6 decorating rules, you can easily turn any room into a beautiful, comfortable, livable area for life to unfold. 

6 Essential Rules for Decorating Any Room

1. Layer Lights and Textures: Is your space feeling a bit flat? Perhaps not as welcoming or comforting as you were hoping for? You can easily fix this by adding dimension to the room through layers. 

Lighting can quickly change the atmosphere in any space. By adding small, soft lighting, such as a soft side lamp, salt lamp, or even some candles, a large room can instantly feel more intimate and comfortable. Create depth by incorporating multiple sources of light, such as an overhead light, a desk lamp, a sconce, or a floor lamp.     

Textures add infinite interest to a space. The textures chosen for a space can deeply influence the feel of the room. Try starting with the foundation textures, such as window treatments and furniture styles. Then begin to layer multiple textures from here to add interest and depth, such as throw pillows, blankets, rugs, metal artwork, and wooden accents. 

Expert Tip: Don’t be afraid to mix and match soft and hard textures.

Sitting room with chair, media console; interior decorating rules, Michael Gainey Signature Designs
Mixed materials and a variety of textures make this sitting space chic yet cozy

2. Play Up Personality with Paint and Accessories: Paint is one of the quickest ways to dramatically change a space. Whether you like to keep your walls neutral for a calm, simple foundation or you prefer bold, rich colors, don’t be afraid to use color as a way to make the space yours. This can apply to furniture pieces as well. 

Accessories are the finishing touches that bring a space together and really make it shine. Try incorporating your accent colors into the accessories you choose to tie a space together. And again, don’t be afraid to make the space your own. Hang that funky art piece on the wall, display that handcrafted pottery, and place your beloved fern on the windowsill. 

3. Find Balance in Artwork, Accessories, and Furniture: Having a balanced space keeps things feeling comfortable and inviting. An overly cramped room can feel heavy and clumsy, while a room filled with small pieces can feel awkward and empty. Keep in mind the size of your space when choosing things like furniture, artwork, and accessories. Measuring the space you are working with is always a good idea, as this will give you an idea of how a particular piece will look in the space. 

There are a few general tips for pleasing proportions within a space. For example, a coffee table shouldn’t overpower the sofa it sits by. Aim for the table to be around two-thirds the size of the couch. And lighting fixtures, such as above a kitchen table or an island, should be around one-half to two-thirds the length of the surface it hangs above. 

4. Keep a Consistent Color Theme: Color can dramatically influence the feeling and aesthetic of a room. Though it may be hard to stick to a few colors, choosing a consistent color theme makes a space feel harmonious and fluid. 

For cohesiveness and balance in color selection, use the 60-30-10 rule. Each number represents a percentage of the room to be filled with a certain color. Sixty-percent represents the base color, such as the one used on walls, large pieces of furniture, and area rugs. The 30-percent category represents the second most used color. It should be similar to the base color, but still different enough to stand out. This is often used on window treatments, smaller pieces of furniture, or even accent walls. The final 10-percent represents the accent color used to compliment the two other colors. This can be used on accent pillows, artwork, and other smaller accessories. 

5. Pick a Focal Point: Choosing a focal point in a space can give the space direction and purpose. Strategic use of a focal point or statement pieces leads the eye through a space instead of leaving it wandering. Focal points could include artwork, sculptures, large, unique pieces of furniture, or fireplaces. 

6. Break Up Blocky Shapes: Rugs, dressers, entertainment centers, sofas, armchairs, and beds are essential but usually have four sides and straight planes. These foundation pieces can leave a space feeling choppy, blocky, and filled with right angles.

Try breaking up blocky shapes by adding rounded, organic shapes, such as curved side tables, round mirrors, and plants. Placing organic shapes on these larger pieces can also help soften their sharp edges. This may include throw blankets on the bed or a curvy vase on the dresser. 

Living room with blue sofa and accessories; interior decorating rules, Michael Gainey Signature Designs
Unexpected sofa lines break up what would be a real block party in this living room

MGSD: A Tutor for Design

By keeping these six rules in mind, you can turn any space into a homey, welcoming, visually pleasing place. Still not completely sure how to make your space work? The professional guidance and input from MGSD can help you achieve the look you have always wanted in your home. Like a tutor for any other subject, our designers can guide you to success and help you pass any design challenge you’re facing. 

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