The Only 3 Decorating Rules You'll Ever Need

I’m not a fan of decorating “rules”. Everyone has their own tastes and styles, and all of them are wonderful if they make you happy. You don’t have to follow trends or what designers say you “should” do. We offer suggestions that are helpful when you’re at a loss for how to make your home feel “right” - but right for you could be very different than right for someone else.

As long as your home is comfortable to you and makes you feel good (ie. at peace, inspired, relaxed) then you’re doing it right.

 The only 3 decorating rules you’ll ever need

However (of course there’s a however…) there are 3 rules of thumb that I’ve found work well in any home to make it feel just right.

3 Decorating “Rules” That Apply to Any Home:

1. Keep it simple.

Homes that have too much going on with clutter everywhere and things blocking traffic zones never feel right. That doesn’t mean you need to become a minimalist. But you should declutter and keep only those things you love and that you use. Boxes and unused furniture stored in every corner should be sorted through and either donated or trashed or stored properly out of sight. Surfaces like furniture and tables and counters should be clear so that you can actually use them.

Decorations and collections should be simplified so that they stand out, not blend in because you have so many items everywhere. Keep some “white space” in your home. When you keep things simple, they stand out more and catch your eye.

The other thing about simple: it’s not perfect. You don’t need to strive for a perfect home - just one that makes you happy and helps you live abundantly.

2. Go easy on trends and themes.

Trends like using barn boards or creating sparse, white minimalist spaces can be beautiful, but not if you go overboard on them. The key to making any space feel updated (in your style) and still feel “right” and livable is to mix in little bits of an element. So don’t do a whole room in salvaged barn boards. Use it for an accent wall or bookshelf or backsplash here and there throughout the house. Move toward minimalism if that’s your thing but don’t remove everything but a mattress on the floor and one plate!

The same goes for a theme in your home. If you love the ocean and beach, paint your walls in a soothing sand or aqua tone, add some jars of beach glass and photos from your travels to various beaches. But don’t buy beach furniture and beach themed dishes and have only photos of starfish on your walls. If you go overboard (ha) that special feeling you love about the beach will soon wear off.

 The only 3 decorating rules you’ll ever need

3. Make your home meaningful.

A beautiful home is one that tells the story of the people living in it. It feels welcoming and homey as soon as you step in. That’s accomplished by decorating with things that are meaningful to you, not with expensive items that you saw on the pages of a magazine.

  • Pull out your grandmother’s rocking chair and use it (if you love it).

  • Hang artwork that your kids made or that you picked up from a local artist or that you found on a special vacation.

  • Display photos or mementos of people you love and places you’ve been.

  • Put out the books you love, the records you listen to or any other hobby that you have.

  • Use coffee mugs you love, and use crates and vases and dishes that are special. Don’t keep them stored away in a cupboard because they’re “too special.”

  • DIY things that are missing: make your own art, stitch your own cushion covers, hang your own photography, bring in things from a nature walk.


There are lots of other “rules” for decorating your home. I even help you with some of them here, here, here and here if you’re having trouble pulling your space together.

But don’t get hung up on getting things just right. Make your home comfortable, personal and uncluttered - then enjoy it. Invite people over. Spend quality time there. Call it home sweet home.


 

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