While decorating your home is a very personal art, there are certain principals of design that should be followed to help you decorate with success. Whether you're looking to furnish a newly renovated space or just refresh an existing room, these dos and don'ts should help to get you started.
1. Don't create rooms that are too themed.
We all have some particular design style or era that we love, and when we are looking to create a decorating style for our own homes, it is often this "look" we turn to for inspiration. But a common mistake is taking this inspiration too far and creating an overly themed space.
What you can end up with is an homage to Bali, or a try-hard look, which is out of place and often also out of context. Instead of being too literal, try looking to colors, artwork or furniture from the style you like and incorporate these in your decor with other pieces. You will still end up with the look and feel that you like without it becoming a theme park.
2. Don't have too much clutter.
We all have objects we like to display, either from our travels or memorabilia. If you combine these objects with gifts or your latest shopping spree you can end up with lots of clutter, which can easily take over a space. Not only does it become visually busy, but it also makes small spaces feel even smaller.
The secret is to edit your collectibles and limit the number of items you have on show at one time. If you have many loved items you can't part with, perhaps store some away and swap them around over time — as a gallery does with artwork.
3. Don't buy matching sets of furniture.
When buying furniture for your lounge, dining or bedroom, it's easy to fall into the mistake of getting the whole matching set from one place. Sure they all match and are in the same style, but it's predictable and can lack personality. Plus, do you really want your home to look like a display window from a catalogue?
The trick is to buy the bed, or the large three-seater lounge that you love, and personalise the look by selecting complementary bedside tables or statement armchairs in a patterned fabric. This will create an interesting look — and one that is yours.
4. Do consider the architecture of your home.
Make your decorating style work with the architecture of your home. Don't force a slick, modern look in an ornate Federation home; you need to work at least partly with its heritage.
The same goes for your location. As much as you love the look of coastal homes, your desert location just won't work well with it. Embrace where you live and use your environment to inspire your decorating scheme.
5. Don't decorate only around one color.
Don't decorate only around one color or dedicate a color to a theme — choosing everything in blue and yellow will never make your home look like a coastal retreat.
If you're having trouble finding your own color palette, this could be part of the problem — one color, or an idea of a color, could be getting in the way of the other color clues.
There's a good chance your color palette is already "hiding" in your room or home. Start by looking at the colors in your clothes and accessories, favorite pieces of furniture, books, photos, even something you've kept since childhood. It could be a toy, a postcard, a piece of material – anything that appeals to your eye, makes you smile and start creating your dream color scheme using hues you love.
6. Do make a mood board.
Make mood boards and floorplans for each room of the house, not for the house as a whole. You can still see how all the rooms work together, but each space needs its own time and effort dedicated to it in order for it to work well with the overall scheme.
7. Don't place all the furniture against the walls.
Unless you live in a tiny home or apartment, don't place all the furniture up against the walls. Bring pieces in, give the walls breathing space, and use the whole room. This creates a better sense of flow and allows for a more fluid layout — especially important in open-plan homes.
8. Do mix old and new.
Even if you like the look of all-new furniture, add something else that's slightly aged to the space, such as a vintage clock, antique candlesticks, or a weathered timber shelf. It stops the room from feeling too uniform.
9. Don't choose matchy-matchy accessories.
Although you do want to create a cohesive look in your home, don't choose accessories that are too similar. They shouldn't all be the same height, shape, color or pattern. Get creative – break up all the square cushions with a round one; choose vases in different heights, shapes and materials. A little variety is key.
10. Do take your time.
There is no need to rush and do all the decorating at once. The best spaces are those that have evolved over a few years.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.