Select Page

Home Decorating Principles

Aside from enhancing functionality, one of the most fundamental home decorating principles is to establish beauty and comfort in the home. Sounds simple—but how is this done? Decorating is the branch of interior design focusing on the style, furnishings, and accessories of interior spaces. The Elements and Principles of Interior Design govern the specialized art of decorating. In fact these very same principles form the backdrop of all aspects of home design. Decorators use rooms as their canvas with features such as lighting, color schemes, furniture arrangements, flooring, fabrics, and much more as the paint for their brushes. For a detailed perspective on how to apply these principles to the design process, review the article discussing Interior Design Basics.


Expressing Personality and Style

The foremost consideration for any decorating project is to ensure the undertaking reflects an expression of your personal taste. What inspires your life? What styles connect with you? What feelings do your favorite spaces in a home trigger? Expressive Homes exists for this purpose—to help make sure your personality exudes from the beautifully designed and appointed spaces in your custom home. Learn your style by looking through photos. Perhaps you have created an inspiration portfolio to draw upon, or maybe you use websites like Houzz for design inspiration. You will struggle feeling comfortable in a room opposing your style. Learn what your style is and incorporate your style into the decorating scheme for your home.


Creating Functional Spaces

Once you have an overall style in mind to guide your decorating decisions, you are ready to align how the room will be used with how the room will look. When decorating an area of the home, consider all the different ways the space will be used. Will the kitchen be used for food preparation and also have a desk or work area? Will the family room be used for gathering, entertainment, music lessons, or any other function? As a decorating scheme is developed, allowing for flexibility of uses helps determine the selection and arrangement of items in the room. What furniture will complement the uses of the room and how should it be arranged? Functionality should never be sacrificed for aesthetics. A good design will plan for both and accommodate them with balance and harmony.


Planning for Beauty and Comfort

A well decorated home begins with planning. Decorating is deliberate. When done properly, the home will appear natural, warm, and comfortable, without looking forced. In a way, this is akin to reading a good book. When you are immersed in the pages of a favorite book, you are not distracted by the elements comprising the book—such as grammar, sentence structure, or word choice. Similarly, good decorating feels natural as opposed to forcing a particular design element or style. This can be achieved by following a basic order to decorating.


Decorating with Order

Although people may discern beauty differently, or have cultivated distinct tastes, certain universal principles exist to enhance every decorating scheme, independent from stylistic preferences. The first concept is to start by considering how the bigger items first, then working down to the smaller items. In practice, this means knowing the focal point of the room and consciously working to augment it. This also means selecting big items like furniture first. Don’t pick a paint color and then try to match your furniture and accessories to it after the fact. Matching your paint to the furniture and other points of emphasis throughout your home is much easier.


Pay attention to the relationships of objects in the room and their ideal distances. What are the best angles to view the TV? How high should the wall hangings be? Each decision you make potentially impacts other objects in the room. Avoid the temptation to over-decorate. The unused space between and around objects is known as negative space. Embrace it. Use it to accent a focal point or otherwise keep your decorating scheme simple. This concept bears repeating. Don’t do too much or over-accessorize. Beware of clutter and eliminate items if needed. Be mindful of areas in the home susceptible to this problem, and decorate accordingly.


Choosing Colors

For most people, the selection of a color scheme causes more anxiety than any other aspect of home decorating. After all, color is used to tie things together and unify the entire home. One of the best ways to settle on what colors are best for you, aside from integrating with the existing items in the home, is to reflect on your preferences in other aspects of life. For example, if you have a favorite flower, what colors make it so? What about the colors of a favorite sports team? Is there an object of special significance in the room already around which you could build a color palette? Look through your closet and take note of the colors on your favorite clothes. Do you find any color inspiration from a cherished piece of art? Keep in mind, not all color schemes need to be designed like a paint chip from the hardware store. Feel free to experiment with contrast, with whimsy, and with boldness.


Decorating with Variety

How would you feel eating the same meals day after day, week after week? Before long, you would be craving something different, something more interesting. Variety applies to decorating the same way as it does to cooking. The key is to mix things up. Mix a favorite item you have had for years with a more contemporary item—the old with new. When working with accessories, utilize the principle of odd numbers. The human mind perceives arrangements of odd numbers to feel more natural and more comfortable. Try an experiment by laying out an arrangement four candle holders, and then trying it again with three. Which did you prefer? Mixing it up also applies to lighting. Layer the lighting to account for up lighting and down lighting, task lighting and ambient lighting, as well as any accent lighting the room may call for. One of the easiest methods to keep things interesting is to rotate some of your pieces, or even wean out tired pieces from your decorating scheme.


No matter what your decorating style, always allow your personality to shine through. A beautifully decorated home may look effortless, but in reality is the result of careful planning and design. You now have an understanding of a few home decorating principles to get you started. You are ready to make your house a home, an expressive home.