I’m breaking down how to layer a room in 10 easy steps with details about background furnishings, wall decor, accessories, and more.
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 so much 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 layers at a time…take a break, and live with it for a while. Then move on to the next layer. By the time you are finished, you will have a room that perfectly reflects your personal style, and is decorated with things you love.
Rug or Floor Covering
It makes sense to start at the bottom, so the place to begin is with the floor. Area rugs can be used over carpet, as well as on hard surfaces. They can also be layered over each other to add extra interest to the mix. Area rugs come in all price points, so choosing rugs that are budget-friendly isn’t hard to do. If you want to invest a little more, it makes sense to choose something neutral, so you don’t tire of it before it wears out! You cannot go wrong by investing in a well-made, neutral area rug that will accommodate your evolving tastes.
We can’t talk about how to layer a room without discussing 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 recommend neutral colors for window treatments because they are an investment…both financially, and time-wise if you make your own. An alternative to soft window treatments, like panels or roman shades, are the very popular plantation shutters. They are beautiful enough to stand alone, but if you prefer a softer look, simply add panels or a top treatment.
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. There is always a piece, like the sofa, that needs to go in a certain place due to wall space or doorways. Place that piece first, and then move on to the other main furniture pieces. The size and shape of a room also determines furniture placement. If you get stumped, and run out of ideas, walk away and shop your other rooms. You just may see something you can relocate that will make everything work.
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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. I suggest pillow covers that measure 18 x 18 inches or 20 x 20 inches. 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. Chair cushions can now be purchased literally everywhere, and in every price range. No matter what your budget, great pillows and cushions are an easy way to add layers and your personal flair to a room.
If you’re like me and live in an older home, you might not have overhead lighting. I don’t have any at all in our living room or kitchen. Even if you do, it’s very important to light a room evenly. Try to keep it as balanced as possible. Place lighting on both sides of the room, or even better, add lighting in all four corners.
Smaller Furniture Pieces
Small furniture pieces are optional, but they add interest and comfort. I love garden stools, small tables, and baskets, so I sprinkle them where I can. Baskets and trunks are super efficient because they double as storage containers. The goal is to keep these small pieces as functional as possible, so they aren’t just taking up space.
One of my rules when it comes to wall decor is that if I hang something on our walls, it must have meaning. The wall decor found at retail stores 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. Collecting pieces of art and photography takes time, but your patience will pay off when your walls are filled with lovely items that reflect your style and family.
Accessories are the perfect layer to play with color, and be brave! 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 are undecided.
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.
Now that you’ve learned how to layer a room, it’s time to add personality. Personality is what tells the story of a room, and the people who live 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. “Personality” is anything that reflects your interests, and those of your family. After assembling all the other 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.
Shop + Source
Living room rug 10 x 14 in beige/ivory | dining room rug 8 x 10 in beige/ivory | fabric on dining room chairs | blue striped table runner (similar) | ivory tufted chairs | lamp on dresser (similar) | round coffee/end tables | sofa no longer available | striped lumbar pillow cover no longer available | navy pillow covers | beige linen pillow cover | lidded baskets | plate rack | Matching blue platter & pitcher no longer available | blue & white pot on shelf | paint colors | lantern in dining room | lantern hook