I'd like to decorate the interior of my home without paying an interior decorator. I could use some help.
September 21, 2011 3:50 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to decorate the interior of my home without paying an interior decorator. I could use some help.

I just bought a house. It's in good shape, but almost every room needs updating. New paint, furniture, pictures on walls, a rug here or there, that kind of thing.

I don't have money for an interior decorator, and I'm excited to do it myself. But I'm a little overwhelmed. I know that I should just let my taste guide me, since I'll be living there. My style is, I guess, minimal and modern. But I don't want to make rookie mistakes and end up regretting it.

Where do rugs belong? How many pictures should go on a wall? How should one room color flow to the other? Those type of questions seem pretty basic, and yet I'm not sure of the answers.

What I would love are some sources I could lean on. Anyone recommendations of books, magazines, or websites that would guide me would be most welcome.

Thanks for any help!
posted by ratherbethedevil to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've learned a lot from watching Secrets From a Stylist. If you have HGTV you can watch there, but I've been watching online. Even though you may not have the budget, you learn little tips and tricks on how to place furniture, rugs, pictures, curtains, paint colors. Even when the styles are over-the-top, if you notice how she places furniture, you can sometimes improve a room just by rearranging things.
posted by hellochula at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2011

Best answer: Things I've always heard:

-Items are better grouped in odd numbers. So one, three, or five pictures on a wall or throw pillows on a sofa.

-Large pieces should be solid-colored and fairly neutral (grey, beige, navy, etc.) and you can then play around with printed curtains, cushions, color combinations. The theory behind this is also that if/when you get tired of your current look, you don't have to get a whole new sofa; just new cushions.

-Pick a "tone". Do you like cool tones (blues, greys, lavenders) or warm tones (oranges, reds, yellows)? Pick one and that will help you figure out how room color should flow from room to room. I guess my inclination would be to wait to paint (especially if you've already moved the furniture in and there's no all-fire hurry to get the painting done before the furniture's in) until you get the furniture pieces that you like. If I recall it's easier to coordinate paint to furniture than the other way around.

-Remember scale. If you have a low-back modern sofa, you probably don't want something the size/scale equivalent of a La-Z-Boy right next to it. The eye should flow throughout the room.

-Don't underestimate lighting. Some great floor lamps in unobtrusive corners, hanging lamps, and table lamps make all the difference (says the girl who just moved into a house with no fixtures). Same goes for window treatments, whether it's sheers or actual drapes. In all the houses I've been in it's the ones with fabric window treatments that feel like a real home.

-Rugs: if you have hardwood, traditional placement guidelines indicates that you need at least 8 inches of wall space between the floorboards and the rug edge. I think you can get away with quite a bit more, as long as the rug is centered and doesn't look dwarfed by the room or by the furniture. Again, scale.

-Pictures: you can pretty much do whatever you want here. You could have a salon wall with many pictures on the same wall, you could hang them in odd numbers, you can put them wherever you want!

Hope this helps; for online inspiration, you could try IKEA's Share Your Space feature, or something on this list of Interior Design Blogs might pique your interest.
posted by stellaluna at 4:15 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You might try going to your library and looking at the home magazines. Once you find one that frequently features looks you like, you might buy a bunch of issues or just browse to get a better idea of how to make that look happen.

Also, I have a friend who does interior decorating and mostly started working for stores. If you're going to be buying furniture, a lot of the higher end stores will include a lot of personalized decorating advice with the cost of the furniture. You might try going to a few stores and just talking with the sales people about what you're interested in for one room. You may get a lot of good ideas and resources from them.
posted by ldthomps at 4:39 PM on September 21, 2011

Best answer: I have a degree in design. Memail me if you want some advice. I can work up a "mood board" for you for a room based on your input. Free.
posted by wwartorff at 4:50 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Houzz is a good resource for ideas. Tons of searchable, tagged photos with functionality to do your own tagging and organization.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:22 PM on September 21, 2011

Best answer: Go to a lot of high-end furniture stores that have the styles you like. Don't go there to buy anything, but take note of the displays, how the furniture is arranged, the shapes of the pieces, the sizes, and types of decorative objects that are placed on tables and on walls.

Then, find photos of the pieces you like (a lot of better stores have glossy catalogs right there, for free, so take them) and go to mid-price and lower-end stores and find very similar pieces to arrange in similar groupings.

Take your time, as well. Once you have a the basics for sitting and eating, the rest is worth taking the time to look for exactly what you want. It's tempting to try to decorate a full room all at once, but I find that waiting allows you to find better deals, purchase better-quality furniture and accessories, and lets you get used to a less cluttered environment. Even in a fuller, Victorian-type style, a little bit less is more, in my opinion.
posted by xingcat at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The library is full of books on interior decorating, each with gobs of pictures and ideas and ways to help you figure out what you'd really like. Ditto for online sources - Apartment Therapy is one I really enjoy prowling through.

I do have one practical tip for hanging pictures: If you have a group of pictures you want to hang but you're not sure just what pattern to arrange them in, lay them out on the floor until you find an arrangement you like.

Don't listen to the old dictums about using light colors to make a room look larger and dark colors to make it look smaller and stuff like that. You can do anything you like - and it will look good. Just go for it and don't fret.

If you're totally lost, pick up a multi-colored pillow or piece of fabric that really appeals to you, then choose your wall colors and upholstery colors and accessory colors out of that color scheme. And remember that you can take that piece of fabric to the paint store or Lowe's or Home Depot, etc. and have them mix a paint color that will exactly match the color in the fabric. If you do this, be sure to buy some extra paint for touchups later if needed.

I envy you - I enjoyed doing this many years ago with my own house and still remember how much I loved the whole place as it worked its way along.

Have a blast!
posted by aryma at 12:05 AM on September 22, 2011

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