Living room with gray wall and blue sofa.

How to Decorate Your Home: 17 Interior Design Tips From the Pros

Searching for interior design inspiration? Whether you just moved into a new home or you want to breathe fresh life into your current space, there are lots of creative decor trends and styles to try. We spoke with interior designers, feng shui enthusiasts, and home design experts about their decorating tips and tricks. Check out their ideas below to get started with your home decorating project!

Get to Know a New Home

Bathroom sink with black tile backsplash and white sink. Photo by Instagram user @iverymariehomes
Photo via @ivymariehomes

From offering feng shui tips for bathrooms to providing life coaching sessions, Ivy Marie Lim is all about finding what works for the individual. When it comes to new home ideas, her most important tip is to get to know a space.

“I always like when people wait a couple of months so they can see how they function in a space and what they need before they spend money on decor and more expensive furnishings,” Lim shared.

Lim encourages new homeowners to wait before taking on major renovations or design projects—especially first-time homebuyers. Waiting allows you to get to know the flow of things and realize if you need to add a computer nook to the kitchen, a shoe cabinet to the entryway, or go with a different color scheme in a low light room.

Begin with Decluttering

All white kitchen with light wood floors. Photo by Instagram user @_minima_
Photo via @_minima_

For Kristen Ziegler, creator of Minima, all interior design tips start with letting go.

“I always suggest decluttering and maximizing the space you have first, then planning a renovation,” Ziegler said. “For example, if you are redoing your kitchen, decluttering and organizing your existing kitchen will let you know precisely what works and what needs to change with the layout.”

Cleaning first—especially in rooms that have become a catchall for clutter—will offer insights that can protect your budget and refresh a room using only essential items and decor you really love.

Start Small

Dining room with wood table and vase of purple flowers on it. Photo by Instagram user @saratoufali
Photo via @saratoufali

Wondering where to get started? Whether you’re looking for inspiration on refreshing your home this spring or for getting settled in a new house, Sara Toufali, creator of Black & Blooms, says her go-to home design advice is to encourage people to start anywhere.

“Designing your home can be overwhelming, I know!” Toufali shared. “My advice would be to start small. Pick one room or even just a corner of a room to focus on first. Gather inspo online—I love Pinterest and Instagram—and get a clear vision of what you want the space to look and feel like.”

Do Your Research

Variety of navy fabrics, paints, and decor assembled on the floor. Photo by Instagram user @neptunetonbridge
Photo via @neptunetonbridge

Regardless of your favorite design styles or level of interior decoration expertise, designer Cara Woodhouse of Cara Woodhouse Interiors recommends that everyone start with research.

“Read how you can measure [the] space you want to decorate, lay out some options, and grab inspo for the overall look you are trying to achieve,” she said.

Beginners should spend extra time choosing lighting and the right size of furniture for a room. To check the scale of furniture, Woodhouse encourages new decorators to use painters tape to measure sizes and create a mock layout of the room. She also believes this is a great time to test paint color samples on the wall and see how it feels in the room.

Look to Feng Shui for Inspiration

Kitchen with light gray cabinets and velvet pink chair. Photo by Instagram user @marieburgos.design
Photo via @marieburgos.design

Maybe you feel like something is lacking in your home decor. Lim says that many beginners get into feng shui because they intuitively feel like something is missing, even in a nicely decorated home.

“If they’ve just moved in and are feeling stuck, I look at if they have a persistent issue in their life,” Lim said. “Whether it’s relationships, health, or something else, you could use an element of feng shui in the home to boost energy, activate some renewal, or find a new beginning on a certain issue.”

Want to know more about how to feng shui your home? Discover the basics of energy mapping and learn a few core design principles in this feng shui guide for beginners.

Give Minimalism a Try

White living with a gray comfy couch. Photo by Instagram user @thelaminimalist
Photo via @thelaminimalist

When it comes to home decor styles, minimalism is a great one to try—especially for beginners! This is because decorating minimally can help you surround yourself with stuff you really love without creating an overwhelming environment to clean and maintain.

“I’ve found great success in starting with a blank slate and feeling needs/wants in my home as I spend time in it, rather than guessing while I’m out looking at other’s design suggestions and trends,” said Annie Leroux, creator of the LA Minimalist. “It’s allowed me to have less but love it all.”

Leroux recommends beginning the decorating process with the things you already have. She also suggests using items you have a deep connection to, so you’re less likely to get bored with home decor.

“Most of my current decor are favorite black and white photos, favorite books, favorite whiskeys, and framed letters from the people I love.”

Check out this advice for new minimalists to pick up ideas on how to decorate and ways to incorporate minimalism into all aspects of your life.

Blend Modern & Contemporary Styles

Kitchen with black light fixtures and three green bar chairs at a counter. Photo by Instagram user @carawoodhouseinteriors
Photo via @carawoodhouseinteriors

Contemporary and modern are two home decorating styles that can come together in a creative way! Woodhouse often blends the vibrant colors of contemporary style with the straight lines of modern decor. She credits her ability with experimental and mix-and-match styles to her background in traditional design, which allowed her to study the intricate details of design basics.

“My taste for modern design has developed over the years,” Woodhouse said. “I think there are so many amazing modern artisans producing some of the most gorgeous pieces of furniture. I personally like to be more daring and playful with color and furniture. I think it is just more fun and interesting!”

Stick to Basic Design Principles

Living room with big windows and light brown leather couch with patterned pillows. Photo by Instagram user @move.play.mom
Photo via @move.play.mom

Does your house interior design project include major construction? Dina Ottoni, the entrepreneur behind Move.Play.Mom, has found that staying away from trends and sticking to basics is the key to seeing a return on large projects.

“Whether you are buying a fixer-upper to live in or a house flip to make some income, I think it’s always important to be mindful of the guiding principles of design,” Ottoni said.

Embracing the seven elements of interior design can help create a balanced space. Ottoni recommends thinking about the contrast and color of flooring and walls, as well as introducing line, shape, and form through angles, vaults, and the layout of different rooms.

“All these can help you decide how to bring the project together in a uniform way,” she said.

Embrace Your Personality

Dining room with white table and round, rainbow light fixtures hanging down. Photo by Instagram user @marieburgos.design
Photo via @marieburgos.design

“Your home should represent your personality and support your lifestyle,” said Marie Burgos, creator of Marie Burgos Design and certified feng shui master. “Defining what are the most important traits for you in a home is essential so you can make the right remodeling decision.”

If you don’t have a favorite interior design style, try prioritizing what you need a space to do. If comfort is a high priority, for example, Burgos says you need to focus on creating a clutter-free space with comfortable seating. Then, you can get creative by adding elements that you feel express who you are.

“Many materials and designs, such as wallpapers, tiles, and artwork, are also great finishes and pieces to integrate to let your personality shine,” she added.

Let the Light In

Photo via @marieburgos.design

An easy home design idea to try is maximizing and diversifying the lighting in your house. According to Burgos, a lack of light can make your living space feel dated and dark, while more light will make the space feel alive and can have a positive effect on energy levels. She suggests improving natural lighting by adding or widening windows, adding French doors, and upgrading window treatments.

“Upgrading light fixtures and placing them on dimmers for better control of light levels and creating a perfect balance of different types of lights with different functions will create the best possible atmosphere,” Burgos added.

Variety is the key to all interior advice on lighting. Burgos recommends using direct recessed lighting as your source of task light and supplementing with indirect lights like sconces, pendant lights, step lights, and picture lights. For ambiance, she favors floor lamps and table lamps to forge a dynamic balance.

Have Fun with Color & Patterns

Living room with blue striped floors and blue patterned walls. Photo by Instagram user @carawoodhouseinteriors
Photo via @carawoodhouseinteriors

A lot of trendy interior design ideas suggest using minimal color and simple patterns to decorate. However, if vibrant colors or funky patterns are something you love or are interested in trying, don’t let what’s in vogue today stop you from experimenting.

“Being bold can sometimes be scary for some, but I say take the leap!” Woodhouse encouraged.

Before diving in, she recommends finding inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. And even if you end up hating it after all your research, you can always try again. “Interior design is also something that is not set in stone, and you can always change if need be,” she added.

Prioritize Your Front Door

Entryway painted all white with a blue rug. Photo by Instagram user @thegulashop
Photo via @thegulashop

Don’t overlook your entryway! Whether you’re hoping to integrate feng shui principles or simply want a clean home for guests to visit, keeping a clear front door is great design advice.

“The front door is the first energy of the home, so you always want to have an airy, open feel here,” Lim advised.

Avoid overly heavy furniture or art near the entryway and implement organizational systems to keep shoes and coats from looking cluttered here. A great way to keep your entryway clear is to create a designated drop zone elsewhere in your home.

Refresh Your Bedroom

Bedroom with tan bed spread and wood frame. Photo by Instagram user @saratoufali
Photo via @saratoufali

“Bedrooms are always fun and easy to refresh,” Toufali said. “Sometimes, just switching out your bedding can make a big difference! Swap out your throw pillows, blankets, rug, or curtains, and you can have a totally new room without having to buy new furniture.”

For more expensive changes—or at least ones that require a bit more heavy lifting—get introspective!

“Ask yourself what your ultimate home vibe is. Do you like light and bright spaces, or is dark and moody more your jam?” Toufali suggested. “Are you a color lover or do you prefer neutrals? Once you figure out what type of style speaks to you, start searching for your bigger furniture pieces, such as bed frame, dresser, and bedside table. Once you have those, they will help dictate how to style the rest of the room in terms of bedding and decor. Follow your gut and only pick pieces you love!”

Plan Living Room Furniture First

Living room with white curtain and a white comfy couch. Photo by Instagram user @carawoodhouseinteriors
Photo via @carawoodhouseinteriors

Creating a layout first is a decorating tip you should utilize in most rooms, but it’s particularly important in living rooms. Because this area is often used for entertaining or seen as a walkway to get to other rooms, Woodhouse says you’ll want to carefully plan flow and function here first. Then, you can start compiling inspiration and planning a palette for the room.

“I would then put together a scheme of materials, such as fabric, wallpaper, rug, etc. Then, you start your hunt for the perfect pieces to fill your space!” Woodhouse said.

Use Wall Space in Kids Rooms

Kids room with pink decor and blue shelf totes. Photo by Instagram user @laceandgraceinteriors
Photo via @laceandgraceinteriors

Searching for interior decorating ideas for a nursery or children’s room? Take advantage of vertical space! This is a favorite tip from Hanna McDougall of Lace and Grace Interiors. McDougall thinks it’s important to decorate up, as smaller toys and furniture tend to clutter ground space.

“When you counter-balance the amount of low things in the room with exciting wall decor and tall window treatments, then the room looks much more balanced,” McDougall said. “I find that being strategic and mindful of how to spread the visual weight in children’s spaces is a sure way to love the results!”

Be Realistic with Budget

Budget sheet on clipboard. Photo by Instagram user @thebudgetlife_
Photo via @thebudgetlife_

Being super organized with your finances is a crucial home decoration tip. This is especially important if you’re trying to decorate your own house for the first time, as things will likely add up to cost quite a bit more than expected.

“Create a spreadsheet to plan your budget and speak to professionals to ensure all elements are accounted for in your list of materials,” Burgos stated.

To eliminate financial surprises later, Burgos also recommends planning for an extra 10% to 15% in expenses. While you’re probably not thinking too much about resale value, making cost-effective choices now can save you money today and help you see a return later.

Give Yourself More Time

Woman in green dress picking out fabric samples. Photo by Instagram user @marieburgos.design
Photo via @marieburgos.design

A carefully crafted schedule and timeline is important to keep your project on track. But even with the best intentions and proactive management, things out of your control can slow things down—especially with DIY interior design.

“Projects always take longer than expected because there are many decisions to make that you can be more or less decisive about and could delay the project,” Burgos said. “Product lead time and people availability also come in play.”

While asking questions, confirming timelines with a contractor, and hiring a professional designer or architect can help keep schedules moving, Burgos says to be realistic and plan with flexibility in mind.

Now that you have expert design tips and tricks to test out in your home, check out this in-depth guide on how to choose paint colors for each room in your house, then learn how to get the best deals and find quality pieces for your home in this new furniture buying guide.

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