assorted-color office items on table

Home Decorating Ideas for the Do-It-Yourselfer

Professional home stagers know how to highlight your property’s assets, conceal its shortcomings, and appeal to a wide range of buyers. We spoke with a number of professionals throughout the country to obtain their advice on how to spruce up your house without breaking the bank.

1. Establish a Positive Atmosphere at the Front Door

Paint the front door a bright, glossy color if you want to make a good first impression. “In many cultures, red is a fortunate hue,” explains Lara Allen-Brett, a stager from New Jersey. In early America, a crimson door represented “welcome” to weary visitors, and on churches, it signifies a safe sanctuary.

According to stager Christopher Breining of San Francisco, two more colors that are gaining popularity are orange and yellow. Both hues evoke feelings of happiness and warmth. An out-of-date screen door is one item that should be removed. Remove it or replace it with a storm door that has full-length glass and can be replaced with a screened panel.

2. Light and neutral colors should be used to paint the walls.

Stick to neutral hues like beige or gray on the first level, where movement is crucial. “You want as few abrupt changes as possible,” adds Breining. Neutral walls allow you to quickly swap up your accessories, giving you the most design freedom.If you have two tiny rooms adjacent to each other, painting them the same neutral hue will help them feel more spacious. For a minor difference from room to room, Allen-Brett recommends looking at a paint strip and moving up or down a shade or two.

3. Make sure your sofa communicates with your chairs in the living room.

Consider a good hotel lobby, where the furniture is placed in groups that encourage interaction. Aim for a similar sense of harmony and closeness when placing furniture in your living space.

“A U-shaped conversation space with a couch and two chairs facing each other at either end of the coffee table, or an H-shaped conversation area with a sofa directly across from two chairs and a coffee table in the middle,” says Michelle Lynne, a Dallas-based stager.

One typical blunder to avoid is cramming all of your furniture up against the walls. “People do that because they believe it would make their space look bigger, but it really makes the room feel bigger,” she adds.

4. Bring The Sun Into Your Kitchen

“A bare bank of windows is preferable than an unsightly bank of windows when it comes to heavy, outmoded curtains,” Lynne explains. Window treatments should ideally be both useful and elegant: Consider sheers with full-length panels.

If your space gets a lot of sunlight, use bright, non-fading hues. Cotton, linen, and silk mixes are the most popular lightweight materials for panels because they hang nicely.

5. Each room should have at least one mirror.

“Because mirrors bounce light throughout the room, they may make a room feel brighter,” explains Breining. However, putting one in the incorrect place is nearly as terrible as not having one at all.

Mirrors should be hung perpendicular to windows rather than straight across from them. When a mirror is hung directly across from a window, the light is reflected back out the window.

6. Adapt Artwork to the Size of Your Wall

Breining adds, “There are few things more ridiculous-looking than hanging dinky tiny paintings too high on the wall.” The center of a painting should be at eye level. If one individual is short and the other is tall, their heights should be averaged.

Consider scale as well; if you have a huge wall, go big with one gigantic piece or combine smaller pieces in a gallery-style arrangement. When it comes to the latter, keep the images close together; 2 to 4 inches between objects looks ideal.

7. Use Multiple Lighting Sources

Ambient lighting, which provides overall illumination and is frequently provided by ceiling lights; task lighting, which is commonly found above a kitchen island or a reading nook; and accent lighting, which is more ornamental, emphasizing, for example, artwork.

You should have at least 3 watts (42 lumens) per square foot in a living area. Uplighting is a visual technique that Breining swears by. “In the corner, a canister uplight or a torchiere will create a glow on the ceiling, making space appear larger,” he explains. Also, taper candles could be a great choice.

8. Underneath Furniture Feet: Anchor Rugs

For an area rug, follow these simple guidelines: “All four legs of a couch and chairs in a furniture grouping should fit on it in a living room; the rug should define the seating area,” Breining adds. “At the absolute least, the sofa and chairs’ front two legs should rest on it,” he says.

To effectively accommodate a seating area, even living rooms with less than generous proportions generally require an 8-by-10-foot or a 9-by-12-foot rug. If you choose a rug that is too tiny, everything will appear out of proportion.

9. Hire a professional declutterer

The longer you live there, the less you notice the clutter. A new set of eyes is sometimes required. You may hire an organizer for a few hours (prices vary depending on where you live) to declutter your bookcases and closets, which stagers say are typically crammed with twice as much material as they should hold.

Breining recommends halving the amount of stuff on your shelves. Then, within the vertical rows, combine horizontal stacks of books and intersperse ornamental objects such as bowls or vases.

10. Raise the Ceiling with Visual Tricks

If your ceilings are low, paint them white to make the space feel more spacious. To make the space appear taller, Allen-Brett recommends hanging drapes higher than the windows. Most typical curtain panels are 84 or 96 inches long, which allows you to hang them about 3 inches above the window frame before they become too short.

You’ll need to buy bespoke curtains if you wish to hang them higher. Do you like patterned panels? Vertical stripes are a great way to visually lengthen your walls. A taller space may be created by leaning a huge mirror against a wall.

11. Make Old Finishes Feel Like Cinderella

Do you have out-of-date fixtures? Spray paint and cheap refurbishing kits may be used to give them a new look. “A fast coat of hammered-bronze or satin-nickel spray paint may give a 1980s brass chandelier a fresh lease on life,” adds Breining.

A few coats of white paint and fresh hardware will revive even the most worn-out kitchen cabinets. And if you thought Formica countertops were doomed, think again. Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations, a DIY counter-coating solution that resembles stone and makes even the ugliest 1970s counter seem new, is Breining’s favorite.

What’s left to do is replace any broken or mismatched switch plates and outlet covers with new ones that match. “Nothing dings up a new environment like a drab, almond-colored switch plate,” Lynne says.

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