Finding your decorating style and applying it to the rooms in your home can be a daunting task. If you are working with a budget, which most people are, it can be downright frustrating. What made the process easier for me was to think of it as “layering.” I’ll show you how to layer a room in 10 easy steps…but keep in mind that it all doesn’t have to be done at once. Take it one or two steps at a time…take a break and live with it for a while. Then move on to the next step. By the time you are finished, you will have a room that perfectly reflects your style, decorated with things you love.
1. Rug or Floor Covering
It makes sense to start at the bottom so I begin with the floor. I love area rugs. They are an easy and inexpensive way to add color and personality to a room. I layer area rugs over carpet as well as on hard flooring. I rarely choose a neutral color because all my walls are neutral. A rug is easy to change out so have fun with it. Go bold.
2. Window Treatments
Window treatments add softness and texture which are two things every room needs. Personally I think a room looks unfinished without them. I’m not much of a minimalist though so I’m sure there are some of you out there who disagree! I usually go neutral because they are an investment…both financially and time-wise if you make your own. A neutral backdrop allows you to play with color in a more cost-effective way by using bright fabrics on pillows and colorful accessories.
3. Main Furniture Pieces
Now that you have your background just like you want it, go ahead and add your big furniture pieces. Play with placement until you get the feel you want. Be patient because sometimes this is hard. Usually there’s a piece or two that has to go in a certain place. Like in the picture above, the dresser needs to be on the only real wall. It just doesn’t look right against the screens. I placed that first and then worked with the other pieces. The shape and size of a room can be a challenge too. My porch is very long and narrow…not exactly the easiest to work with but by trial and error I made it work. If you run out of ideas, walk away and shop your other rooms. You just may see something you can relocate that will make everything work.
4. Cushions and Pillows
This is where it starts getting fun. Even if you don’t sew or don’t have time to sew, adding cushions and pillows to your decor can be affordable. To start, invest in two to four down inserts. Skip over the poly inserts and go straight to the down. IKEA sells 20 x 20 down inserts for $6.99 along with an amazing selection of pillow covers. If that’s not an option, shop online. I will include some links at the end of this post. I suggest 18 x 18 or 20 x 20. They are the most flexible sizes and can be used on a chair or sofa. Craft stores now sell pillow covers in popular colors and patterns. Hobby Lobby has a ton to choose from. Chair cushions can now be purchased literally everywhere and in every price range. From Walmart to Pier 1 to TJMaxx to pricier places like Pottery Barn and West Elm. No matter what your budget, great pillows and cushions are an easy way to add your personal flair to a room.
If you’re like me and live in an older home, you might not have overhead task lighting. I don’t have any at all. Even if you do, it’s very important to light a room evenly. Try to keep it as balanced as possible. Hit both sides or even better, place lighting in all four corners. Here in my porch I don’t follow my rules exactly but the two lights do the trick.
6. Smaller Furniture Pieces
Every room doesn’t have to have smaller furniture pieces but they add interest and comfort. I love footstools and small tables so I sprinkle them around my house. Baskets and trunks also work and double as storage containers. Try to keep these small pieces as functional as possible so they aren’t just taking up space.
7. Wall Decor
One of my rules when it comes to wall decor is that if I hang something on my wall, it needs to mean something. The wall decor found at retail places is amazing, but choose something that speaks to you or comes in your favorite color. Don’t just buy to fill your walls. I am blessed to have walls filled with things I love and that have special meaning. I can look around and tell you where each piece came from or who gave it to us. I recently shared the story of my vintage garden gate. Collecting pieces of art and photography may take a little time, but it’s so worth it to be patient.
Accessories are the perfect layer to use color and go out on a limb. They are affordable and so easy to switch out when you want a different look. Here is where you can throw in different styles too. Don’t be afraid to mix a modern accessory with your cottage decor. Mixing things up is a great way to experiment with different styles. It also lets you actually see those styles in your home which is helpful when you aren’t sure.
9. Natural Elements
Have you ever seen rooms in magazines that look just too perfect? Many magazines still publish rooms like that but some have begun sharing rooms that actually look lived in. The one thing that makes a room looked lived in and real are natural elements. No matter what the season or where you live, try to have something real in your rooms. Cuttings from an evergreen, blooms from your garden, flowers from the grocery store floral department. It really doesn’t matter where they come from…but a natural element or two makes a room come alive.
Personality is what tells the story of a room and the person who lives there. Family photos, treasured heirlooms, collections, your favorite books. That pitcher you found the first time you went junking. The set of lamps you got for a steal at Homegoods. The rug you bought after saving for months so you could get exactly what you wanted. Anything that reflects your interests and those of your family. After assembling all the layers, this is the final and finishing touch. You now have a room that you can be proud of, but most importantly you have a room where your family can be comfortable and feel at home.
More decor inspiration: