Back to Basics: 8 Home Decorating Commandments Everyone Should Know



When I think of home decorating, a not-so-subtle feeling of intimidation creeps through me. Maybe growing up on Architectural Digest gave me high standards to begin with, but even if you're not building castles in the air, thinking of Louis XIV furnishings, it's still hard to know where to start. You've been in digs before that feel less than cozy, are a little off, or just plain sparse. You've seen pads where the residents have no sense of placement and don't think that huge stain on the sofa cushion is noticeable. And you do not want to be those hosts. Fair. 

So how do you make a new place your own when you don't have an interior design degree? Glad you're wondering because I've got a few answers up my sleeve about decorating essentials that will give you a checklist to take to flea markets, Home Depot and beyond. Make sure you've got these items and tips covered, and you'll be getting off to a start that any lover of style will envy. 

Let There Be Light (But Not Too Much or Too High) 

There are a lot of lighting theories out there, depending on the room you need to light and the atmosphere you're trying to create. But it doesn't have to be complicated. Make sure you have some cool lamps to light up your cozier spaces when night falls. That way, you have options for controlling the level of light. If you've got overhead lighting with a drab fixture, try a chandelier and lower wattage bulbs for a soft, flattering glow. Be sure to have bright white light for desk lamps, better for seeing and keeping you alert while working. During the day, let that natural light shine in. The vitamin D is good for your mood!

Let There Be Art

Making a home feel homey is all about the personal touches, so definitely check out flea markets for anything you can hang on the wall that's a reflection of your taste. Doesn't have to be a painting either. Literally anything you can find a way to hang up is fair game. One or two pieces of wall art or a collection of various sized mirrors create space and focal points. This also includes artwork you make, and of course, a display of picture frames on the wall or a table of you and your loved ones.

Let There Be Molding

Molding gives a classic "finished" feel to any room. You can literally frame wall space with molding you fit together, or you can have it installed at the base or top of your walls to add a decorated feel. It takes some effort, but if you plan to be in your place for a few years, it's worth it.

Let There Be At Least One REAL Piece of Furniture

I know, you might be saying, "I'm on an Ikea budget, don't judge." This is the time you hit up craigslist and again flea markets, looking for furniture that may need a polish, varnish or a slip cover, but is not made of plywood or supported by metal tubing. A great sofa or a big cozy arm chair will do fine for starters. 

Let There Be Fabric on Floors and Windows

Again, for a finished feel, area rugs that bring together a color scheme as well as curtains and window valences are a necessity. If you're on a strict budget. try buying decorative curtain rods at a home goods store and then simply wrapping pretty matching silk scarves around the rods and arranging to suit your taste. It makes a big difference and is 100 times better than a bare window, which is like an eye sans eyebrow.

Let There Be Life

Plants are a basic way to add oxygen and a "someone really lives here" feel. Flowers can be a hassle to keep alive and different leaf varieties can be just as pretty. Go green in your living room and kitchen and it will be a habit for life.

Let There Be Renovations and Reclamations

As previously stated, some home decor you pick up needs work, but not as much as you think. A polish, a paint job, a new cushion cover. Don't shy away from these simple things to really customize your space the way you want. A lot of fabric stores have reclaimed or scrap piles that are ideal for finding quirky pieces of fabric without having to buy yards at a time. Look at clearance sections in home goods stores for interesting knobs and handles with which you can replace tired ones. You get the idea.

Let There Be Books

No home is complete without at least one little collection of books. Whether they're on the coffee table or in a displayed bookshelf, they make your space (and you) look classy. Plus, they provide free entertainment when you're on a ramen diet because of that leather jacket you had to buy on sale in the middle of June. Think books are expensive? Think again. Used book stores and libraries changing up their collections can help you get them on the cheap.