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Home Decorating: From Concept to Completion

Home Decorating: From Concept to Completion
When you decide to decorate your own house, figuring out where to start and how to finish can be overwhelming. Sometimes creating an interior home decoration plan can be hard to do if you are not clear on all of the pieces you will need. This guide will help you create that plan and aid you from concept to completion when decorating your whole house. Each section is a foundation for the next and they will build upon each other to help you create a fully formed plan.

That being said, this guide is also flexible in that you can use it to address a single room at a time or plan for your whole house decor. It can also be applied to implementing decor in any room type you may have in your home. Feel free to start at any specific section you’re interested in, or read the whole thing through in one sitting; it’s you’re choice!

Within the guid, you will find topics on Fundamentals of Design, Components and Tools, Spaces and Room Function, Picking Your Style, Materials and Finishes, Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment, and finally, how to Bring It All Together into a cohesive plan for your home. If you hadn’t guessed it, those are also the names of the headings. Just letting you know.



 Fundamentals of Design

Modern living room interior in mid century home

Before you get started with your decor plans, it helps to understand some of the design principles and elements you can use to create harmony in your space. Designers, decorators, and architects all use the Principles and Elements of Design to create cohesive and aesthetically pleasing spaces. These principles and elements are used throughout the art and design world and are applied to everything from graphic design to fine art. As you read this guide and figure out how to decorate your home, you will see these come up again and again, because they are truly the foundation to designing a space you will love.


Principles of Design

The Principles of Design are all about giving you a direction in implementing your ideas. You can use one or multiple principles to guide your design for a single room or for your entire home. It is a way to lead your eye around a room, a way to find balance in your space, or a way to bring variety into your decor.


Balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, or a hybrid of the two. If you use symmetrical balance, you will mirror the visual weight of the things in your space to create harmony. A typical example of symmetrical balance is placing matching table lamps on matching tables on either side of a sofa.

For asymmetrical balance, you will be creating visual balance through non-matching things. This means that the size, shape, or form of items in a room are unequal and that you find a balance through the way in which you arrange them in the space. If you have a massive sofa paired with an end table that is small and dainty, there is a visual imbalance. Yet if you decrease the mass of the sofa or increase the size of the end table, you can create a visual balance that is pleasing to the eye.

You can also create a hybrid setup of asymmetrical and symmetrical balance. Using a sofa with tables and table lamps on either side,  you can create the hybrid effect by having nonmatching items placed symmetrically in your space. If the size and shape of the furniture are similar but the style of each is unique you will still have a visual balance, but without the matching identically.


When designing with emphasis, you are creating a visual focal point in a room. Size or color are very successful ways to emphasize an important design feature in your space.  If there is something large or centered in the room, like a beautiful fireplace, it creates a focal point for which the rest of the room is designed around. A single colorful piece of artwork can be used achieve this effect.


This principle is about the movement that your eye takes as it scans a room. As the decorator, you have the power to create the areas where you want the eye to stop on or move through, often by using emphasis or some of the other elements mentioned within this section. Do you notice the reading area in the corner? The artwork? Does your eye skip over the piece of furniture you love? Give it a try and scan your room with a discerning eye to see how the movement through the space feels.


Pattern is the repetition of a shape, line, or color throughout the space that makes it a cohesive whole. One might repeat a color in the throw pillows, the paint, or the artwork as a way to create a pattern. Another simple method of achieving pattern could be focusing on organic shapes versus angular shapes repeated throughout your decor. You can even accomplish this by repeating a fabric pattern in your space if you wish. Just be careful not to get too pattern-happy in your fabrics; we all know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by pattern.


Similar to pattern, repetition is a strong principle in design. You can repeat color, shape, form and texture. A great example of this is adding a series of engaged columns or periodic art pieces down a hallway. Without that visual repetition, the hallway would look long and uninteresting. Yet by adding the columns artwork, the hallway has added interest and doesn’t seem as elongated.


Proportion is creating relational harmony between objects. You will want to consider the size, shape, and amount of pieces in your room to create proportional harmony. Does the proportion of the furniture match the size of your room? Is the room too big or is the furniture too small? Everything is relative to its surrounding space AND objects. Floor plans shouldn’t decide how big or small a room feels. YOU should.


There is a reason why rhythm in art is so closely tied to rhythm in music, it is what sets the mood for both art forms. While rhythm in music is created by beats and measures, rhythm in home decor is created by repetition, pattern, and movement. It’s what makes the space feel organized and cohesive. The rhythm of five hanging lamps over a long table; the rhythm of three similarly sized pieces of artwork on the wall; the rhythm of panels in wainscot as it travels around the room; or the rhythm of a circle motif repeated throughout the space can all add to the mood and movement in the decor.


In contrast to rhythm, repetition, and pattern, you can also use variety to spice things up. This is where you get to add some flare, introduce the unexpected and break the mold to spark interest. The Elements of Design do still come into play when it comes to variety, though the are represented more from the big picture. You can have unexpected colors, shapes, or textures layered throughout your space to add variety.


Unity is the pinnacle of design. It is what all artists are trying to achieve in their art, their design, and in their homes. It is the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. It is that feeling you get of satisfaction and joy when everything comes together and feels right in your space. You can have a home that is varied and unique, and still find unity in the way the separate pieces in the space relate to one another.


 Elements of Design

The Elements of Design are the conceptual tools you can use to achieve the different Principles of Design. These are the building blocks for creating your decor and anything else you’d like to create. Many of the elements of design can be used to examine fabric, furniture, and materials you want to use in your space. You can utilize them in examining how decorative items relate to the furniture, to see if the furniture will relate to the flooring, and if the space can achieve the unity you are looking for.


The definition of line is a long, narrow mark or band. The idea of using line in decor is by finding out ways the lines in a space work with or against one another.


Shape is considered a closed line. It is very much about the geometry that is represented in a space: squares, rectangles, triangles, zigzags, circles, ovals, or organic shapes. In decor, it is all about how they work within the decor and how they are juxtaposed against other shapes in the space.


Form is the three-dimensional shape of an item. It is the length, the width, the height and how the form functions in a room. Often, it is the mass of a shape or collection of shapes that decorators will look to, especially when examining proportion.


While many consider space to be the physical area within a room, it is actually about the negative space that is between and around items. You can have too much space, not enough, or just the right amount. Often times, a minimalist decor will celebrate the space between items, and in contrast, a bohemian style decor might choose to celebrate the lack of space between items.


Color is how we perceive the light that reflects off of an object. It is why a wall color might seem to change in shade and hue as the sunlight moves throughout the room over the course of a day. You can use aspects of the color wheel and the various combinations of colors to influence how you design (Monochromatic, contrasting colors, complementary colors, warm colors, cool colors, etc.).


Texture is how a surface is experienced. Through both the visual texture and the touch of an object you can use this element to influence the look and feel of a form in the room.



Components and Tools

Freehand watercolor sketch of partial floor plan showing living room with red sofa

One of the most important aspects of DIY home decor projects is creating an actionable plan that you use in a project from start to finish. There is so much that goes into decorating a space and having a measured, well-planned “atlas” can go a long way in keeping your design on track. It can also aid you in purchasing the right items for your space. Planning, even in the slightest, will almost always provide improved results.

Drawing Plans

The first and most important aspect in home decorating is drawing out a plan. It can be as simple as purchasing graph paper and drawing it with a pencil as you measure the space. It could also be acquiring free online software that will help you draw floor plans for your home. Taking these often-overlooked steps will help you understand the scale of your room and what can really fit in the space, and it can also help remember what you are shopping for when furnishing your home. If you are working with a contractor in any capacity, having a floor plan is a great way to anchor your conversation and help you describe any work that will be done. It can reduce confusion and eliminate incorrect work being performed.

Another important step you may consider is drawing an elevation of a wall. I know I know, it sounds daunting, but it’s really not! An elevation is nothing more than a flat drawing of a wall, often going from floor to ceiling. This is where you can map out any built-in fixtures, and examine the placement of architectural details such as windows, fireplaces, and doors. Depending on your goals, this can be as simple as a rough sketch of the wall to brainstorm different ideas, or it can be a measured drawing similar to your floor plan with as many technical details as you wish. Again, this is a great instrument to use with any contractors or you can simply use it for yourself to develop a design for wall decor or other wall adornments.

Placing Furniture

Furniture placement is perhaps one of the most influential steps in the equation, given the many different factors furniture can influence. It’s also perhaps the most exciting. Your floor plan from earlier can definitely help you map out where your furniture will go, the number of items that you will need in the space, and most importantly the size and dimension of the furniture. This way, you’re not just shooting in the dark.

As you work through figuring out your design, you can overlay your floor plan with tracing paper and try out different furniture configurations until you find the one that works for you. You will want to consider the function of each piece of furniture and where it will go within the space. Some things to consider are whether or not you will need to place certain pieces near wall outlets, and also what the relationships will be between furniture pieces (table and chair, lamp on an end table, etc.).

Traffic Flow

Of all the factors that make up a room, traffic flow and patterns are arguably the most impactful on your day to day life. You will want to consider where the doors are in a space and whether the traffic is necessarily or unnecessarily interrupted. Maybe you will want to use furniture to purposely interrupt the movement from one end of the room to another. A piece of furniture that breaks up a space can transform a transition room into a room with a purpose. A destination, if you will.

Additionally, does the traffic through a room interrupt important activities in that space? Television watching is a great example of this. Will people moving through the room cut a path through the viewing space, and is there a way to reconfigure the furniture layout to remedy that? Another consideration might be the width of the traffic areas. Is the space too small or cluttered to allow comfortable movement around the room?


When it comes to lighting there is a lot you can do to affect the mood and the function of a room, regardless of how many windows you have. Many decorators and designers use layers of light to create a warm and inviting space. Most rooms are built with a single light source in the center of the ceiling. This is a great way to evenly light the space for work, however, it can also cast a utilitarian look one that does not add to the mood of a space. Adding sconces, floor lamps, table lamps, and even candle light can add interest and variety and really transform the way a space feels.

Alternatively, natural lighting is often the preferred source of light when available. Working with emphasis tactics, drapes, and furniture placement around windows (or lack thereof) can help you adjust just how much a window will influence the mood of a space.

Things To Think About

When it comes to planning your space, there are some things that are easily overlooked, causing difficult design problems later on. When you are planning out your space, don’t forget about seasonal additions that you may need to add or remove each year. Heaters and air conditioners may not be in use when you are planning, but is there something about them that might affect your design when the next season comes? How much space will your heater need away from furniture to work safely and effectively?

Also, the placement of electrical outlets on the walls can easily be forgotten. Is there something in your design that will need an outlet, and is there some form of cord management that you might need that could affect the space in any way? Outlet placement is becoming a big factor in wall mounted televisions and screens. If you are planning on a wall mounted tv, you may want to consider having an electrician install an outlet dedicated to it. This can eliminate having to hide cords running below your television.



Spaces and Room Function

Modern spacious study room with red bag chair

There are many different spaces in your home to consider when you are decorating, and some rooms will feel harder to design than others. It helps to look at the function of each space in a home and use that to inform your plans for that room. Each room will have a different set of decorative needs. Below you will see a list of the rooms commonly found in a home and a short list of items that you might consider when decorating the space.


When it comes to decorating your kitchen, the Fundamentals of Design can really come into play and help you be creative with decorating the space. You can take elements from the cabinetry, the countertop and the appliances and find a way to incorporate them into a design principle for your kitchen. You can use repetition, balance, or even color to bring the space together. There might not be a lot in the way of furniture planning for this space because so much of the layout of this room type is dictated by its function. You may not need a furniture plan at all. This room is a great place to incorporate new finishes and materials. Wall decor and kitchen utensils are great areas to concentrate your creativity and style in this space.

– Furniture: seating, table

– Hand towels, potholders, tablecloths, and cloth napkins

– Decorative counter storage (jars, bowls, pots, and more)

– Wall color relative to furniture color

Living Room

This room is where comfort, relaxation, and social interactions meet. Furniture in this space will concentrate on seating arrangements that encourage conversation and side tables for lighting and resting useable items on. When figuring out how to decorate a living room, many people focus on this space as a place to incorporate their favorite aspects of decor. There is a lot of opportunity for variety and style in this room. Wall decor is a showcase for this room type, and you can create a focal point or repetition when decorating your living room depending on how it is used. Soft goods like throw pillows and throw blankets are a great place to experiment with a new style, color, or pattern.

– Furniture: sofas, armchairs, side tables, table lamps, coffee tables, ottomans, bookcases

– Rugs, decorative pillows, throw blankets

– Wall color relative to flooring and seating fabrics

Dining Room

Many people have removed the formal dining room from their homes and have chosen to incorporate their eating areas into their kitchens or living spaces. This is especially true with the open concept plan that so many families and homes are embracing. Because the dining table is such a large piece of furniture, it is a great decorating opportunity for emphasis or a focal point in a room. This might be a great opportunity to get creative and add in something unique or colorful into your space. Alternatively, you may choose to focus on the dining chairs as a design element of focus. Because of the repetitive nature of many chairs around a table, you can use it as an opportunity to bring pattern or variety into your dining space. You may also consider choosing instead to forgo the dining table or chairs as a design focus and choose the wall art in the dining room instead. It can become a conversation piece for you and you guests while the table itself takes a backseat.

– Furniture: table, chairs, sideboard, additional seating, fine dining set displays or stowage

– Wall color relative to the kitchen color and table materials

– Rugs or no rugs


Similarly to the kitchen, the look and feel of the bathroom is often dictated by the fixtures and finishes that are built-in to the space. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for creativity and interest in the decor. This is one room where the wall color can change the whole feel of the space. You may consider trying a dark paint or wallpaper for some unexpected sophistication, or choose to go bright or light to open up the space and make it feel bigger than it is. If you are hanging artwork in this space, you may want to consider the durability or the lifespan of the artwork in a room that will contain a lot of moisture. This space is a great place to consider towels and bath mats for room decor ideas, and bring some softness into the room.

– Wall decor: mirrors, artwork, towel rods, coat hooks

– Towels, bath mats


Bedrooms are the most private places in a home. As such, bedroom decorating is about finding decor that best reflects the people that live in the space. The bedroom is a place of comfort, warmth, and sleep. Often times doorways, windows and other architectural details in a bedroom can limit the placement of the bed, but they don’t have to limit the decor of the space. This is where pillows and blankets are a fun way to impact decor, as well as bed frames and bedding.

Due to the primary function of bedrooms, the bed is the focal point in the space, and if the bedroom is small it is often the only substantial piece of furniture in the room. The headboard, the comforter, and the pillows can be colorful and inviting. They can be sleek with clean lines, or they can be neutral and classic depending on the style that works for you. This space is also one that requires a fair amount of storage, specifically for clothing and shoes. While most bedrooms have closets to fulfill the storage needs, often a closet is not enough. Dressers, chests of drawers, or even decorative bins are a decor opportunity in the bedroom. You can use the bedding, storage, artwork, and any small furniture pieces as a way to create unity or rhythm in plans for DIY bedroom decor.

– Furniture: Bedframe, bed, dresser, bedside tables, armchairs, bookcases, storage

– Bedding: throw pillows, sheets, comforter, additional blankets

Home Offices

More and more people are incorporating dedicated spaces in their home as study rooms. This may be due to work-from-home needs, or it may simply be a space to manage the day-to-day running of the household. In this room, it is best to really consider the function of your home office and be clear about what the needs are for the space. Is it where the family computer is, or is it specifically a place for bill paying and homework? Sometimes the home office can be a cluttered collect-all and if you are looking to avoid that, consider making a list of what activities will take place in this area of the house and what won’t. Storage in this type of space is imperative for that uncluttered look, and even if it gets cluttered during activities, it will be easier to use this space if there is a clear plan for storage and clean up. One of the best things you can do for this space is to make a furniture list of what you want and then begin working with furniture plans to figure out the best layout for the room.

– Furniture: desk, desk chair, bookcases, storage, additional seating, furniture unique to office needs

Transition Spaces

The transition spaces of a home are the areas that are built to move you from one part of the house to another, this might include hallways, staircases, the front entry, mudrooms, or even porches. The long walls of hallways and staircases are opportunities for interesting decor. Also, adding decor to these room can break up the space and provide visual interest. Photo galleries of family or of artwork is great ways to give the eye places to rest as a person moves through the room. This creates rooms that could be bland and makes them fun or interesting.

– Furniture: seating, tables, hall benches, storage, furniture unique to transitional space needs



Picking Your Style

Beautifully staged Craftsman living room

When it comes to picking your style, there are a lot out there to choose from. Just look at our Interior Design Style Guide – there’s certainly no shortage. Interior decorating styles can range anywhere from classic and traditional to modern and minimal. The best way to determine what works for you and your space is to investigate the different styles and see which ones you gravitate towards.

Many styles have emerged as two or three are blended together to create one unique and new style. You may find that one of these blended styles works for you, or you may even blend a few on your own to create something that is unique to your preference. If you are searching for a comprehensive guide to the wide variety of styles you can check out our guide here for home decorating style ideas. As you begin your search for style there are a few things that you can do to figure out or deduce what works for you.

The Architecture of Your Home

Whether you have purchased your home or are renting, there is going to be something within the architecture of your home that speaks to you. Consider what it is in your house or apartment that really feels like home and look at it with a decorator’s eye. What are the elements of your home that you really love? Is it the age it was built in? Is it the materials that were used? Maybe you already know the style you love because you already found it within your home. One of the best parts about style is you can choose to enhance the architecture by picking a decorating style that works well with it, or you can choose a style that is opposite of the architecture and creates complementary interest between the two.

Materials That Work

One of the key factors in any style is the type of materials that are used in an interior space to provide a particular aesthetic. In looking for a style, you can begin to notice the types of materials and how they are finished. You can also notice the combination of materials in a particular style. French Country, Rustic Modern, and Industrial all use wood and metal for materials but they each use them in different ways with different end results. One great way to determine what you love is to begin compiling photos or samples of materials together. As you refine the materials that you enjoy, a style might begin to develop and help inform the design of your entire home.

Furniture You Love

Similar to when finding materials, it is important to look to furniture styles that you enjoy for inspiration. There is a lot of variety out there when it comes to seating, tables, beds, bookcases, storage, and more. The details in furniture can be starkly different or nuanced and similar. The swoop of a sofa arm or the line of a table leg can change the whole look of a single piece. Since furniture is very much about form, you can use that to figure out what shapes in furniture work for you. Does a cabriole leg table fit your style or are you more of a parsons table person? Do you find that you like an eclectic mix of styles in your home?

Most pieces of furniture are built in a particular style or with a certain array of styles in mind. As you search for furniture for your home decor, you may find that manufacturers mention an intended style and, if so, you can use that as a jumping off point to search for similar items and possibly find the style that works for you.

Fashions That Inspire

So much of the design world and fashion world inspire one another. Since both work with textiles and aesthetically pleasing forms, it would make sense that they would influence and inform one another. You can certainly do the same when it comes to your home decorating project. Use the shape of a dress, the stripe of a suit, or the patina of a leather bag to pattern your furniture and you’ll see what we mean.

Often, textiles made for clothing (tweed, pinstripe, and houndstooth are great examples) are also made in upholstery grade materials. If there is a clothing fabric that you love and that you want in your space, you can easily hang it as an art piece, frame it as decor, or sew it into a decorative accent. Sometimes the best design moments in a space will result from the fruits of your DIY home decor. These touches make it personal and can provide clear indication of your style.

Eras and Ages

People have been adorning their homes ever since humans moved away from hunting and gathering, and began cultivating a stationary place to live. History itself provides all sorts of trends and aesthetics just waiting to be rediscovered for your inspiration. You can look to history books for ideas or take a few trips to local antique and consignment shops. You may find Victorian style pieces that speak to you, or maybe realize that Art Deco is more your thing. Maybe you already feel inspired by a specific era in another aspect of your life and would love to bring that into your living spaces. If you read books, study paintings, restore cars, or watch documentaries of a particular time in history, you could consider that interest and incorporate it into your decorating plans.



Materials and Finishes

Library in luxury home with large desk

When it finally comes down to physically implementing your design choices, materials and finishes are what make or break the deal. The combination of materials and how they are applied to a space is what defines a particular style, mood, and feel. As you begin working on your DIY home decorating project, many of the choices will come down to the materials and finishes. Generally, materials and finishes are defined by what is applied to the surfaces of your home; they are the cosmetics that you will use when giving your home a facelift. Flooring, walls, and ceilings of each room will have a material and finish applied to it in some way.




Wood flooring is a popular choice due to the warmth it brings into a home as well as the versatility it provides in color and finish. The most common implementation you will find is laminate flooring that has one finished layer of wood on top and a sandwich of composite wood layers underneath. This laminate flooring is a cost effective solution with a high impact on decor. Another benefit of the laminate is that it stabilizes the wood and keeps it from cupping or bowing over time. Many variations will even include a click-in system for straightforward installation, making it a great option for DIY home decor projects.

You can also get traditional wood board flooring, reclaimed wood, or tongue and groove made for easy installation. When it comes to finishes, wood flooring comes in a very large variety of colors and functions. Pickling, staining, painting, and waxing are all options for finishes that will alter the look of your hardwood floor. Additionally, you can have wide plank flooring, parquet flooring, and bamboo flooring, all of which will inform the feel of your space differently. If you are looking to install wood flooring, you will want to figure out the size, type, color, and finish that works for you before making a purchase.


Many people have moved away from wall-to-wall carpeting throughout their homes in favor of wood, tile, and laminate flooring. Even so, it is still a great source of warmth and comfort for any style of home and is widely used in bedrooms, family rooms, and home offices. The two basic types of carpet are 1) cut and 2) loop. Loop is where you can see the loops of yarn still intact, and cut is where the loop has been sheered off. Many patterned carpets that you see will feature both cut and loop sections so as to create the desired texture or variance.

The thickness of a carpet (the pile) is what creates the plushness underfoot as you walk on it, the higher the pile the more comfort you will feel. One of the biggest components of carpets is their durability and ability to combat stains. Traditional wool carpets do very well in this area, but because they are a natural material, they have one of the highest price points. Most installed carpets are made of nylon fibers and over the years there have been many innovations with nylon to prevent staining while also being cost effective. Nylon can come in a wide variety of color, pattern, and pile.


Tile floors in homes can be found in any and every room. Tile is a very durable, easy to clean, and high style material that is versatile in design. Most flooring tile is either ceramic or porcelain, and because it is a man-made material it can come in any size, color, shape, or finish. Many tiles are so well designed that they can be a convincing replica of natural stone. Most tile come in standardized sizes (4x4, 6x6, 8x8, 12x1224x24). This allows you to plan out the pattern and how much material will need to be used in your home.


Real stone is quarried from the earth and has a distinct patterning and color that is both luxurious and welcoming in the home. Stone is often cut into tile sizes for pattern planning and design. Common stone flooring includes marble, granite and slate. It is not as cost effective as manufactured tile, but can be used alongside tile for accents and details that add to the style of a space.


The use of concrete as a flooring material has been around for ages, but the use of it as a design feature rather than a utilitarian floor or sub-floor has only become popular in recent decades. The ability to polish, stain, or paint concrete has made it into a very popular choice for creative flooring. Many people love the patina that develops over time with stains, spills, and traffic patterns as the top layer of concrete wears away. The relative weight of concrete can be a concern for use on some floors of a home, but if it is already installed in a basement, you can embrace the style within your decor.


If there is a space in your home that calls for unsurpassed durability and water resistance, choosing linoleum or vinyl tile is a very cost effective way to go. Many people find that mud rooms, playrooms, and kitchens are the perfect place for this flooring. The peel-and-stick variety makes it a perfect addition to your DIY kitchen decorating ideas. The difference between linoleum and vinyl tile is both in the look and the composition of the material. Linoleum is made of natural materials (flaxseed, pigment, and a binder) while vinyl is made of a synthetic plastic composite pressed together. For some, this can be a deciding factor between the two materials alongside the aesthetic look that the two flooring types have.




Applying woodwork to the surface of a wall is a classic detail that can fit into many homes – especially those of the craftsman style variety. There are many methods and styles of incorporating woodwork into your walls, and each can be definitive of a different style. Beadboard, wainscot, barnboard, board and batten, and shiplap are all popular ways to incorporate woodwork into your space. Similar to wood flooring, the coloring and finish of the wood comes in many varieties. You can paint, stain, pickle, or wax woodwork depending on the look and style you want. Hand-hewn or rough-hewn wood can provide a rustic look, whereas painted beadboard is more of a classic or traditional look.


When it comes to paint, there are two components that determine how a room is affected. The first is the color or hue, and the second is the finish of the paint. The color of your walls is a powerful way to influence the mood, the style, and the feel of the rooms in your home. Because walls are such a large visual piece of every room, the color choice has a lasting effect. If you are looking for one way to begin the journey of decorating your house, you can easily start with painting the walls a new color. Choose cooler tones like blues and greens for a calming effect, or choose a warmer tone like a red, orange, or yellow for a vibrant and invigorating effect. You can also choose a light color to brighten the room or a dark color to make it more intimate, generally speaking.

Each variation of hue within the spectrum has a different effect on a space. The various options available for wood finishes are often the same way, and thus each is almost equally as important as the other. When choosing a paint finish, it is important to understand the various types. There is high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, and flat or matte paint, and each will lean more towards either durability or style.

The higher gloss paints (high-gloss and semi-gloss) are the more durable finishes. They can stand up to nicks, scratches, and spills much better than any of the other finishes. On the downside, higher gloss finishes will also showcase imperfections more than others due to how light bounces off of it.

Alternatively, the low or no gloss finishes (eggshell and flat or matte) hide imperfections very well. As you can imagine, this also means that this paint finish is not as durable and will retain scratches, nicks, and dings. For the perfectionist, this usually means repainting occasionally.

Satin finish is the middle ground and many people choose it for that very reason. Some will mix and match, using high gloss paint for trim work (crown molding, beadboard, and baseboard) and low gloss paint for the walls themselves. Trim is very prone to wear and tear, so taking this route can be the safest bet if you’re unsure.


Wall tile is often saved for the rooms where water sources are present. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most common areas where you will find wall tile. In kitchens, the backsplash and wall space between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinets are the perfect place for wall tile installations. In bathrooms, shower and bath surrounds, as well as baseboard tile are great places for wall tile installations.

It is important to note that, when you are tiling both the floor and wall in the same color and pattern, purchase tile that is designated specifically for each application. Floor tile is often thicker and requires a different bed of grout. If floor tile is installed on the walls, it may peel away and fall off due to the extra weight. Alternatively, wall tile is sometimes thinner and will crack or break under the pressure and stress of being installed on the floor (unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer). When it comes to style and DIY bathroom decorating ideas, there are so many colors and patterns to choose from in wall tile. With glass tile, metal accents, porcelain, ceramic and stone all as possible options, there is something for every decorative style.


Wallpaper has spent many years as the unwanted decor choice for any updated home, however in the last decade, the colors and patterns available in wallpaper have made it a trend that is very modern and loved by many. Wallpaper is a chance to be bold in any room in your house, and it can have a great visual impact on your home decor for a lot less than other options. You can find a wallpaper that has subtle patterns and prints or bold and wild images.

Wallpaper is a decor choice with a lot of personality. It is also a great choice if you are looking for some texture for your walls. Many people find that jute or sisal wallpaper really adds variety to home decor and you can find other unique wallpaper choices like cork and leather for high-impact design options.

If you are interested in wallpaper but unsure if you will really love it, you can start out by using it in a smaller space as a testing ground before committing to a larger decor choice. Powder rooms and even the inside of closets are great starter projects for wallpaper installations. Many wallpaper manufacturers have even tapped into the need for non-permanent wallpaper, making testing that much easier. There are many products out there that are peel-and-stick temporary papers that can be installed and removed without damaging your walls. This is especially great for renters and people whole know that a space will transform over time (the aging up of kids makes this one of many stellar nursery decor ideas).


If you want texture on your walls without the typical wallpaper look, adding plaster is another great choice. Applied by hand, you can get a beautiful and varied look with plaster walls. Unlike wallpaper, plaster is more of a permanent commitment in most instances. Plasters are very difficult to remove, and some cannot be sanded or scraped off if you are updating the space in the future, thus requiring new drywall to be installed.

So, if you love the old world styling of Tuscan or Mediterranean style, plaster is a beautiful and unexpected finish that really sets the tone and style. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth your while.




In most cases, ceilings become an afterthought or are simply left white when it comes to painting. However, it is such a large surface in every room and can be a great opportunity for unexpected visual impact. You can choose to paint the ceiling with something as simple as an off-white, or even continue the wall color across it for a monolithic look. Additionally, if you have any architectural details on the ceiling such as medallions or trim work, these are great opportunities for some unexpected color.


Woodwork on the ceiling is a specific and less common way to strongly portray your chosen style. Many rustic style homes have ceilings with wood slats or boards, often accompanied by wooden beams. Woodwork on the ceiling can bring warmth and interest to your decor in an unexpected way.

Architectural Details

If your home or the style you love features some strong architectural details, the ceiling is an interesting place to incorporate them. Medallions, wooden beams, metal details, light fixtures and ceiling trims are all great ways to play up the style of your home.



Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment

Open villa dining room with white trim and fixtures

Once you have designed and decorated all of the surfaces in your home, you can move on to the next phase in your DIY home decorating plan, and that is to adorn the space with furniture, fixtures, and equipment. These are the items that will fill your rooms and make the style that you choose for each space really come to life. These extra layers bring your unique spaces to life; they become the home that speaks to you and feels like it reflects who you are.


A room is void and often times useless without furniture. The moment you put a piece of furniture in a space, it creates an identity. By being intentional in the furniture choice and placement, you are cultivating that identity and style into one that reflects you.

The furniture itself can be categorized into two types: Hard goods and soft goods. Hard goods are anything that is not upholstered, including tables, chairs, storage, lamps and benches. These items are often made of wood, metal, acrylic, or other materials. Soft goods are anything that is upholstered, including beds, sofas, chairs, ottomans and more. These pieces add softness to a room and can open up the discussion to what fabric choices you want in your space. As you design your rooms and begin laying out your furniture plans, it can be helpful to make a list of items you will want in your space and whether or not you expect it to be a hard good or a soft good. This is a helpful exercise to see if you have the right blend of both in each room.

Hard Goods

– Chairs

– Tables

– Benches

– Bookcases

– Night stands

– Chests

– Lamps

Soft Goods

– Chairs

– Sofas

– Beds

– Ottomans


Fixtures are the various things that will either be installed or adorn your spaces. This can include installed lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures and decorative fixtures. If you are looking for great DIY bathroom decorating ideas, changing out the plumbing fixtures (specifically faucets and shower heads) can be a challenging but doable job for the experienced DIY decorator. You can also update lighting fixtures.

Many home decor projects include the installation of decorative fixtures such as clocks, mirrors and artwork to complete a space. People often do not consider how important wall decor is when finishing a room. It is an essential way to make a space feel loved and lived in. When beginning a home decorating challenge, it can help to list some of the fixtures you might be adding or updating in each room.


– Chandeliers

– Sconces

– Ceiling Fans

– Recessed


– Faucets

– Toilets

– Sinks

– Tubs


– Mirrors

– Artwork

– Photos

– Hooks

– Clocks


The equipment in your home can sometimes be forgotten as part of a house or apartment decorating plan, but it may end up being an essential piece of your update. Equipment can include appliances, electronics or anything you might need to complete a task within your home.


– Kitchen

– Laundry


– Television

– Computers

– Sound systems

– Home Theaters



Bringing It All Together

Now that you have 1) chosen your style, 2) drawn up some plans, 3) figured out how each space will function, 4) considered the materials and 5) began planning the new purchases you will be making, you will want to bring it all together into an actionable project.

Below, we have collected a list of some basic yet useful resources to help you through the journey. Some will reiterate some of the topics we’ve touched here, while others will provide lots of ideas for you to consider as you work through your project.


Below you will find a comprehensive list of resources to begin your home projects.

Design Principles and Elements

DIY Wall Decorating Ideas

DIY Bedroom Decorating Ideas

DIY Bathroom Decorating ideas

DIY Kitchen Decorating Ideas

DIY Living Room Decorating Ideas

DIY Apartment Decorating ideas

Dining Room Decorating Ideas

Hallway Decorating Ideas

Small Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Family Room Decorating Ideas

Nursery Decorating Ideas

Home Office Decorating Ideas

Lounge Decorating Ideas

Furniture Resources

Wallpaper Resources

Paint Resources

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