Calling all people who really like the way they've decorated their homes.
February 7, 2011 1:13 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite decor ideas that you use in your home?

In short, I'm looking for your favorite sort of home-baked ways that you decorate your home - bedroom in particular, but I'm into ideas on any other spaces as well.

I'm putting a premium on stuff that accomplishes one or more of the following:

* bringing color into a room

* displaying personal photos, found items, designs, and sentimental things

* things that maximize individual character . . . i.e., if I have a blank wall I tend to hang old black and white photos from tiny binder clips instead of buying repro paintings of apples on fake canvases from Target.

* I'm not above re-purposing things like picture wire, paper, old glass bottles, bandages from new tattoos, old ads, so on, so forth.

* unique yes, tacky or trite no

With all that said, I'm willing to spend a little money if I feel it's worth it. If I'm honest I have to admit I could probably afford to frame a few things rather than stick holes in them.

I have seen a couple similar questions on AskMe but I think the specifics of this one are a bit different.

Anyway, ideas you've used, web links to rad art, flickr photosets, blueprints for hacks, whatever you've got, send it along.
posted by kensington314 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Go with color. So many people are afraid of color, and paint is a pretty inexpensive way to change the look of an entire room. Unusual colors catch attention, so long as you keep within the right shade.

I've had an orange office in all the places I've lived for years. Whenever I start painting a room that bright orange, people are horrified until it's done, and then they say they like it despite themselves.

Besides, you can always change a color with another can of paint if you grow tired of it.
posted by xingcat at 1:24 AM on February 7, 2011

seconding on colors, paint the walls any color but white and it totally changes the character of the room.

another cheap but interesting trick is to hang material on the ceiling, like get some matching ethnic prints (indian, thai, indonesian etc work well) and cover the whole ceiling with them - all you need is a bunch of sheets of matching size and a staple gun. results can look more or less like this. paint the walls a matching color and all of a sudden you're in some sort of bedouin harem tent. i did my studio up like this and it always gets a good reaction from visitors.

also, original artworks are a million times better than posters - go to your local art school's end of the year exhibit and you can often buy some great looking paintings/sculptures for very very reasonable prices. or make some paintings yourself!
posted by messiahwannabe at 1:40 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I actually do like to have white paint etc, even if it's boring. I like to use furniture, cushions and blankets for bright splashes of colour, and you can really only get away with a bright red or lime green couch if the room is otherwise mostly white.

In a bedroom, pillows and bedspread should be the feature that catches the eye, in my opinion. But I have a gorgeous quilt my aunt made me, and can't help but use that as a centrepiece.

Also, don't underestimate light fixtures. An interesting lamp, or just well-placed lighting can make a room something special.
posted by lollusc at 2:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, I just moved into an apartment, and the former tenant left a huge blackboard hanging on one wall. Which I LOVE. It appears to just be particle board spray painted with blackboard paint. I drew a big lily on it. I love the idea of having a large, changeable piece of artwork!

Also, we have two ikea DVD racks - think really thin bookshelves - and I've filled each tiny shelf on one of them with a curated collection of found objects and that each shelf is a little world.
posted by stray at 2:39 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, and a friend of mine has a lovely huge bare tree branch that she attached to her ceiling, like a canopy over her living room. It's really lovely.
posted by stray at 2:40 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm very similar in decor ideas... except that I'm old enough not to give a monkeys if someone else considers it tacky ;-) Seriously, if it gives me pleasure to walk into a room and see a picture or a piece of furniture then it it stays.

I've been making stuff with buttons of late, found a box of various red/pink/purple heart shaped buttons on Ebay and made something like this to hang on the chimney breast above the wood burner. The rest will go on cushion (pillow) covers until the dogs chew them off.

But for me the easiest/cheapest/most mood enhancing item of decor throughout the house can be summed up in two words: fairy lights. Twisted along the bedstead or curtain rail? Run along the back of a shelf with pretty things in front? Perfect.
posted by ceri richard at 4:32 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Random observations because you and I are on the same page in terms of not-tacky-but-smart-found things-eclectic desires:

I got my cabinet-maker cousin to put up floor to ceiling pinboards in my spare room. I use velcro dots to shuffle around a range of prints or photographs, trinkets, post cards or photographs I've blown up way too large for regular framing. I think it works much better than a blackboard because of the dust factor and how you use it. It doubles as a softer bedhead than the wall, recently I made a 'bedhead' out of postcards on it. I got the pinboards in black because it frames the material really well, elegantly even. Black isn't everyone's first choice but it looks great. The pinboard is also an excellent sound absorber which helps in a townhouse space.

In my kitchen I removed the doors of a few over-bench kitchen cabinets to reveal my colourful glassware or cool stuff I've collected. Like fossils or pocket maps from a recent holiday or a few kaleidoscopes etc. I also put up a rail under the overhead cabinets and instead of hanging utensils I have hung a bunch of paper sculptures that you can make from plans available on the internets. I have a long mirrored splashback which makes the kitchen pop too. It is strangely practical since there are no grout lines to keep clean. I sometimes write or draw on the mirror.

I have amassed a pile of white Chinese lanterns [would love to do it in red] and hung them from the [very high] raked ceilings so that they are all the same-ish height overhead. I ran lights through them and they look amazing. People always comment when they come here and then go off to plot their own ceilings.

I like the ideas above about 'treasure shelves' - I think they are great in a bathroom where you do spend a bit of time each day. Little vignettes are great, but can look tacky if you're not careful. I know someone who has gone completely overboard on the maritime thing - you can't move in the bathroom with all the hanging fish, prints of fish, nets etc. [Also, you don't want to be known for loving fish or birds or deer, you'll get that shit for Xmas every year of your life]

In terms of framing things - I think small things look great in big frames. I have prints the size of two postage stamps in frames a foot square and they look great. I subscribe to Working Proof which has beautiful prints for sale each week, proceeds of which go to charities nominated by the artist and there is always an interview with each artist. They are about 30 bucks and they are often really beautiful. [And not just of birds or deer or fish!]

People always say that dark colours make spaces appear smaller, but used judiciously [ie talk to the paint people, get advice from a decorator/designer] it really looks amazing. I have used charcoal/black paint really effectively for small rooms that were originally white, and it looks adult, seductive and even spacious. In a slight sheen, dark paint reflects light in a fantastic way.

Lighting is really important. I go for lamps and wall mounted lamps instead of ceiling lights. From theatre shops you can buy lighting gels which are great. I have a random selection of gels to put on my downlights. Red looks amazing when you have a party. People loosen up much more in your space if they have lower lighting, from a variety of sources.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

One way to do colour is to put it on the walls and keep your furnishings neutral. That way you can change the colour anytime you like. I have a turquoise living room while my furniture is ivory, rust and brown.

It's one of those decorating rules that one should put art on the walls while personal photos should sit on shelves or furniture, and I have to admit it does upgrade a room. However, do expand your idea of art beyond paintings or drawings. Original artwork is very expensive, and there are lots of other things that can be hung on a wall that can look just as attractive and interesting. I've got nice clocks, mirrors, a candle bracket, a $2.68 thrift shop decorative plate, professionally framed needlework, and a wooden checkerboard on my walls. A friend of mine has an old post office window hanging on her living room wall.

You mention that you have some old ads, and they could make interesting artwork. I'd recommend that you get them framed. Professional-calibre framing really upgrades an item. There are several items in my home that cost much more to frame than they did to buy, and it was still totally worth it.
posted by orange swan at 5:15 AM on February 7, 2011

Look at the Pottery Barn catalog. They use colored walls quite well.
posted by conrad53 at 6:57 AM on February 7, 2011

Hang things in groups, or hang things in grids. One of my cheapo decorating tricks is to go to the local IKEA/Hobby store/whatever and buy out all their cheap $1 mirrors or frames. It can be a little time consuming to draw out an equal grid on the wall, but once it's hung up it looks like a nice piece of art and inevitably gets a lot of compliments. Plus it's great for filling those awkward wall spaces that won't accomodate the typical stuff.
posted by ninjakins at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2011

For a quick bedroom layout I always place the bed so that it is what you see from the doorway as it is the focal point of the room. This little tip really pulls the whole look together because it gives you the best view when walking in to your space.
posted by saradarlin at 7:34 AM on February 7, 2011

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