Some people are born with a great eye for decorating or designing house interiors. Others learn the skill and are able to apply it with high success rate. And then there are the rest of us. If you don’t have much of an eye for design, a few basic techniques can help you a lot.
The following decorating rules and principles are simple enough that anyone can apply them. Your home might not look like one in a house catalogue, but it’ll look more appealing than before.
“Odd Numbers” Rule
The basic idea of the rule is that objects or details in a room that are arranged or grouped in odd numbers are more appealing, pleasing and eye-catching than even-numbered pairings.
It helps to have groupings of objects in varying heights, shapes and textures. At the same time, there should be something similar about them. This advice seems to contradict itself, but the point is, there should be something that groups your items together, but also something about each of them that is slightly different.
Rules of Basic Measurement
When it comes to hanging curtains or arranging furniture, most of us just eyeball it as we go. But there are specific measurements for decorating that make a room look better. Here are a few general measurements to keep in mind:
- Coffee table distance: Keep at least 15″ between coffee tables and sofas, says decorator Maria Killam. Apartment Therapy suggests leaving about 18″ between them.
- Hanging art: When hanging art, keep its center at eye level, which is generally 56″ to 60″ from the floor, says Driven By Decor. If you’re hanging multiple pieces of art, keep the center point of the whole arrangement at this level.
- When hanging art above your sofa, make sure it’s no more than 2/3 the width of the sofa. You’ll also want to leave 5-9″ of space between the art and the furniture, Driven By Decor adds.
- Hanging curtains: Crate and Barrel says it’s typical to have 1-3″ of overlap on either side of your window. For height, they say you should mount curtain rods 4″ from the top of the window. But maybe you want your windows to look wider or taller. To create the illusion of height, Real Simple says you can go beyond the 4″ standard, but don’t exceed 8″, or it’ll look awkward. To create the illusion of width, feel free to break the 1-3″ standard, too. You might want to go as far as 12″ on either side.
- TV distance: How far your TV should be from your sofa will depend on its size. We’ve talked about viewing distance before. The easiest rule of thumb: multiply the diagonal size of your TV by two. That’s about how many inches your tv should be from your seating area.
Manage Your Lighting
Lighting could be a whole post in itself, but here’s what you should consider when you don’t know much about it. First, learn the three basic types of lighting:
- Ambient: Its also called general lighting, and its the overhead lighting meant to evenly illuminate a room.
- Task: As its name suggests, task lighting is meant to light a specific task. A lamp in the living room might light a reading area. Under-cabinet lights in a kitchen serve as task lights for countertops.
- Accent: Accent lights are meant to highlight a particular object. You might see them on painting, for example.
Locate Center Point of the Room
A room’s focal point is its most emphasized feature. It’s the thing your eyes are naturally drawn to when you walk into the room. And everything around the focal point compliments it.
If you’re lost with how to start decorating a room, finding its focal point is a good start. Many rooms have built-in focal points: a large window with a view, for example, or a fireplace. If your room doesn’t have a built-in focal point, here are some tips and options for creating one:
- Paint one wall a different color, then accessorize with artwork or shelves, says interior designer Coral Nafie.
- Decide what you want to use the room for, then create a focal point around that, says The Inspired Room. For example, if you want to use a room for reading, you’d make a bookshelf your focal point.
- Nafie also suggests simply using a large piece of furniture as a focal point.
- You could use a large piece of artwork as a focal point. A large mirror also works well.