Of course, I have an active Pinterest account. Of course, I have been to craft stores and Home Depot more than once. Of course, I know how to buy adorable and inexpensive home furnishings on Craigslist, Amazon Prime and Overstock at the click of a button.
But still. These rooms aren’t finished. And I cover up my secret shame by simply closing the door whenever company arrives.
This is not a healthy way to live. I need to get my butt in gear and put the finishing touches on all areas of my house, instead of limiting my entertaining to the “acceptable” common rooms. The thing is, interior decorating seems hard from the outside looking in — otherwise, why would there be roughly 1 billion DIY design shows devoted to the topic?
1. Get rid of clutter
This is the first and most important rule to live by in interior design. You want each room in your house to be clean, balanced and easy on the eye — meaning, piles of crap on end tables and bookshelves just will not do. Green living lifestyle expert and interior designer Jen Boulden advises, “Pretend that you are selling your home and are getting ready for an open house. What things would you stash away? Well, besides framed photos, sell them, donate them or trade them.
2. Hang some art
There’s something about bare walls that makes you feel kind of dead inside. If you want your guests, and even your family, to feel at home, it all starts with strategically hanging art to make your abode look less broke-ass-college-dorm and more grownup-dwelling-place. Michele Taylor of Michele Taylor Interiorsexplains how to use a wall hanging for more than just filling space, “A common mistake I see all the time is when homeowners (or renters) hang generic ‘wall art’ to fill wall space. This is a huge missed opportunity! It can be as simple as a child’s drawing, a treasured photo or memento, a print that you love or you can hunt for an antique oil painting or a one-of-a-kind piece by a contemporary artist. The opportunities are endless! What is most important is that you feel a personal connection to what’s hanging on your walls.”
3. Learn to accessorize
Short on money? Short on time? Don’t really care about interior design that much anyway? Here is the easy, cheater shortcut that can give you all the glory of an artfully designed room without much of the legwork involved. Choose the right accessories and put them in the right places.
“The hottest trend in Los Angeles right now, from the most lavish Beverly Hills estates to the humblest studio apartment, is using hardcover books not only for reading, but for accessorizing. Arranging them by color on a shelf makes for interesting wall art. Stack them on a ‘book spine’ so it looks as if they’re piled high with no support, and you have a fascinating sculpture. And placing coffee table books on a narrow shelf with the cover out gives a gallery effect — black and white covers against a red wall can be especially striking. And the beauty of this is that you can find these fabulous accessories for pennies at used book stores and yard sales,” says Lisa Johnson Mandell, HGTV’s West Coast LA Correspondent and founder of celebrity real estate website At Home In Hollywood.
Tenecia Harris of sweet t design studio, whose work has been featured on the TODAY show, HGTV and the Travel Channel, adds, “When accessorizing, opt for throw pillows that are cover/insert combos. The covers can be washed to keep them fresh, and when you’re ready to switch things up (seasonally, holidays, I-changed-my-mind), they can be easily swapped out and stored.”