I don’t know how to say this, but judging by the generous compliments from our even more gracious guests, S & I have done a pretty decent job in decorating our modest loft style apartment in the city. I don’t want this blog to sound like a post straight out of Apartment Therapy (the Goddess of all things home decor for amateurs like me) because I am anything but an expert in this matter. All I can say is that this post is simply my take on home decor, which is an amalgamation of bits and pieces of wisdom and experience coined throughout these 5 or so odd years of becoming home owners and hours of combing through and gulping down the excellent articles on the AT website (seriously you should check it out if you haven’t already because it introduces you to a world of ideas for decorating your nook). My thoughts are strictly my own opinion (not to be confused with anything professional) as these tips have worked personally for me and may differ from what you think is best for you; so a generous pinch of salt customized for your taste is advised. Either way, here are my two cents on effective home decor; hope you enjoy this light read!
Home decor tip #1 Find your own style
This is perhaps the most important mantra of home decor; i.e. finding your own style, much like “You must find the way” as said the famous Lao-Tzu in Tintin and the Blue Lotus because that is half the uphill battle won. I cannot stress on this part enough because the most important thing to remember is a house needs to feel like a HOME, not a concrete four-walled construct where you seek shelter from the elements but a cozy nest where you feel like coming back to at the end of a long, tiring day. So put some love into making it your own and you will reap handsome rewards in zen haven. Our home decor style is mid-century meets ethnic and we have done so by adding pops and splashes of color along with wall decor and accessories cobbled from all over that reflects our taste. Finding what works for you and then assimilating furniture and other home decor elements that echo that theme are super important to pull together the look envisioned in your mind for that perfect living room to lounge in.
Home decor tip #2 Give some space
An idea of space and proportion is key to a well styled interior. That means you need to have some idea of the kind of space you are dealing with and how to make it work to your advantage. For example, if you live in a 500 sq feet studio in San Francisco vs. a 2000 sq feet condo in Minneapolis, your strategies to utilize space will differ radically. Space is always at a premium in cities like SF or NYC and so the trick is to make full use of what is available plus looking for ideas to maximize the physical area as well as creating illusion of even more space. For example, mirrors are an excellent way to create such an illusion of expanding space owing to their reflective property; we added a beautiful, gilded, thrifted mirror to cover an ugly white electrical panel on our entry way pillar. Although our entry way is narrow, the mirror did not cram things up but kind of opened the space further. Same goes for mantle-piece decor-mirrors open up a space where they are installed. IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant has excellent recommendations and products to utilize tiny spaces, specially for storage, and their catalog or website is worth checking out. Remember, less is more and the the proper juxtaposition of empty space elevates the look of a room considerably!
Home decor tip # 3 Wall decor
I cannot understand for the life of me as to why people love staring at empty white or “insert bland color of your choice” walls so much because an empty wall is such a shameful waste of space. Much like a baby, a wall hides within itself a world of possibilities and so should be put to use effectively to fulfill its destiny. Both S & I are crazy, cuckoo art lovers and so we have a ton of wall art wherever the eyes can travel, but the crux to being savvy with wall decor is to understand aspects of ratio and space and proportion are important. The space on the wall, its location relative to other parts of the room, its purpose and its color are all important in choosing the size and type of art or any other home decor. Sticking a huge-ass painting in a small corner or hanging tiny frames on a large, living room wall is not a wise decision because it messes up the free space to decor ratio and thus fails to achieve the desired effect. Key things to remember: a) go for a theme-be it subject or color, b) a collage of different textures and elements is a good idea to cover up larger wall space and c) don’t overdo it/try to fit in too many things just because you bought them in an impulsive shopping spree. Every wall decor should gel in and compliment what is around it. For example, we created a pop-art like collage along our industrial staircase with bold prints to fill in the space, keeping in mind to align the the prints along the stair railing. We included loud, bold prints keeping in mind the “pop-art” theme and also to ensure that they are prominent from a distance. We also played with textures (wood vs metal vs canvas vs paper prints) and did not shy away from color. On the other hand, we went for a paper mache pink flamingo bust (Anthropologie) to provide an interesting touch to our study and stuck it on a narrow pillar overlooking the study plush chair.
Home decor tip # 4 Play with colors
If you are color obsessed like us or simply love a colorful home, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Too many western homes feel very plain Jane for the lack of color or for the traditional monochromatic things, but guess what? the rods and cones of our eyes gravitate to colorful things! So why shy away from it? If you are hesitant in giving into your psychedelic dreams, then why not incorporate small blocks of color or a pop/dash of color via small objects (such as a red telephone or canary yellow bookends) to make a monochromatic room instantly jump to life? We unanimously rejected the grey and white walls of our apartment and replaced them with majestic blue, rustic orange and olive green and loved the end result. Colors can make a home come to life but can also be very unforgiving; bad combinations can make your space look like a flick from the cartoon channel. So research what kind of colors you would like, what kind of mood would they invoke and always consult the color wheel for complimentary and opposing colors when it comes to home decor. For example, living room walls can be painted with brighter colors whereas muted colors are more suitable for your bedroom where you need a more soothing atmosphere. Rooms with less light would be helped by lighter shades whereas a living room wall flooded with daylight can be painted a very dark shade if you so wish to! Whatever be the case, keep your overall theme in mind and see how the color helps to enhance it. Finally, do not forget to see color swatches in real life by visiting a hardware store to get a few samples of different shades of the color you are interested in and do a test on a small area before welding the brush. Textiles can also add color to a room such as in our living room with solid-colored poufs scattered on a colorful rug done via color blocking, i.e. the pouf colors are complimentary to the dominant rug color.
Home decor tip # 5 Artsy-fartsy
As I mentioned before, art done the right way makes all the difference in a well styled residence. For those of you with an artistic bend of mind, my humble suggestion would be to again go on a quest for your own style and collect/purchase what appeals to you. S&I love clean, bright lines with a weakness for pop culture and local art, so everything on our walls is either locally sourced prints (SF art galleries and local art fairs) or collected over the years from different venues. Buying local art is the best way to show your support to the artistic community and goes to show your appreciation of their craft. Marianne Bland, an artist based out of Sacramento, is one of my favorite artists, and we own about 12 of her pieces which depict different scenes from San Francisco. We do regular rounds of local art fairs, SF open studios and art galleries (City Art being my favorite). I have several favorite artists on Etsy as well and try to keep an eye out for their latest works. Finally, I am a sucker for flea markets and have often gotten great bargains in art there, such as my an amazing pair of fun Vegas style kitschy posters that I scored at the Treasure Island Flea Market! Art is everywhere, and one person’s trash is another’s treasure. So don’t be afraid to shop around! Finally, personalized touches are what set a home apart from the rest. If you have an in-house artist or are yourself adept with the brush, don’t hesitate to fill that empty canvas. Some of our most treasured pieces are paintings by S-our very own copies of famous Indian Art (a la Jamini Roy) or Indian pop-culture such as reproductions of old movie posters.
Home decor tip # 6 A touch of green
Green is scientifically proven to soothe the eyes, so what are you waiting for? be it photosynthesis or simply for looking good, plants brighten up any living space. There is a plant for everyone even if you are cursed with black thumbs! Go to the nearest nursery and get a low down on all kinds of indoor and outdoor plants, bring home a few and pot them in a few different places depending on the amount of natural sunlight each room gets. Follow their watering schedules and you are all set! If all fails, get a few succulents and place them in a well lit area, those buggers need minimum care as long as there is enough sun! I started out with the notoriety of being a cactus killer to one who has lovingly amassed quite a bit of green for the house. A touch of green really lifts the mood and adds great texture, so get some faux ones if need be!
Home decor tip # 7 Be budget wise
After spending a fortune on acquiring your space under the sun, i.e. a house, don’t further break the bank while pursuing some royal home decor dreams. Remember, a home is a work in progress, so don’t try to achieve everything perfectly in one go. It is truly a labor of love and takes time and tastes evolve as do the home. So what looks good to you now might lose its appeal a few years down the line. Make a budget and invest in some key pieces such as a sofa/chaise/lounging furniture, sturdy bed frames, book-cases and armoires to get years of use out of them. For smaller items and home accessories, thrift stores are a great place to look at where you can get recycled gems (our mirror and armoires are from there) for minimal price. Go to reputed thrift stores for quality pieces and also make the rounds of antique stores and flea markets for second hand accessories. We got some excellent Balinese puppets and masks as flea market finds! We reused most of our furniture that we had in our individual apartments when we were single and bought a few key pieces such as sour fabric chaise (CB2), and the TV cabinet. As for accessories and other home decor items, we thrifted them or picked them up on our travels! Have the eye of the eagle and you shall be rewarded with hidden bounty!
Home decor tip # 8 Have fun
Finally, have doing through the entire process of designing your home and bringing it to life, one peg, one brush stroke, one art and one accessory at a time. Don’t stress out and have oodles of patience just as you would if you were to paint an intricate painting. As I mentioned before and will do so again, Apartment therapy is an excellent resource for all things pertaining to interior design and there is a good chance that you will find something that reflects your style in its thousands of home tour articles! Finally, your home reflects your own personality, so make it your own by adding your personal touches! Relax and have a ball because a home is where the the aching feet and heart rest at the end of the day!
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you loved reading this post, check out my post on vacation home rentals.
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