Home Decorating Tips for Every Room

beautiful open concept living space

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

In this article: 

For some home buyers, the hard part of the purchase process is the legwork and wading through the deluge of financial terms and transactions. Other buyers become overwhelmed and intimidated by just the thought of decorating and styling their homes in a way that speaks to their taste and lifestyle.  


If your budget doesn’t include hiring an interior designer, take notes and draw inspiration from the following steps to create a plan to turn your new house into your home.

Before You Start the Home Decorating Process

Begin gathering ideas of what looks great to you from magazines, Pinterest, or neighborhood listings. They’ll create a reference collection to revisit. In time, you’ll notice key elements that occur over and over, such as color, style, or a shape or print. Those details are a great place to start and craft your home’s overall look.

For more help to find your best look, read 6 Ideas to Refresh Your Home Decorating.

Choose Your Favorite Cohesive Themes

A general idea of a favorite theme definitely makes decorating choices much simpler. If it’s too hard to choose just one theme, it’s okay to have a couple that mesh well together and still maintain a cohesive look. For example, cottage chic and beachside charm work nicely together. 


To create a calm and unified home, avoid extremes. Not every room in a beach home needs to be outfitted with the same wicker furniture and decorative starfish.  The opposite is true, too. To keep harmonious vibes, don’t decorate each room to represent extreme themes. A house filled with a Mid-century Modern living room, a Mediterranean kitchen, and an Americana bedroom convey confusion and discord.


It’s also helpful to consider what the home’s exterior looks like and what it says to outsiders. It would make sense that a Tudor-style home would incorporate some components of the Tudor look, but design is subjective, and your interior should be what you prefer


For more help to find your best look, read What’s Your Home Style?


front of single family brick home and front yard

Photo by Dillon Kydd on Unsplash

1) Inventory Each Room

The prospect of designing a room precisely the way you want is exciting! You might be confused about how to begin, but you probably have a few themes or pieces of furniture that you can’t wait to show off. However, the practical work is necessary so you don’t have to redo your plans over and over. 


Find a flexible tape measure and create an organization system (on your phone or handwritten, whatever works) for yourself with pictures. 




  1. Room dimensions for area rugs and furniture placement.
  2. Windows with trim included and without, also ceiling-to-floor heights.
  3. Furniture pieces that will remain.

Take pictures of:

  • Any odd angle, corner, or another element that could throw off placement. 
  • Windows. It helps to visualize their dimensions.
  • Floor and wall colors if remaining.  
  • Decorative molding that intervenes with furniture or wall hanging placement. 
  • Light fixtures to remind you of scale. Either to increase or decrease the size to fit the room.

Inspiration and bargains are everywhere! Carry this list, as well as a pocket-size tape measure, for a foolproof way to make sure the treasures you find sporadically work together. 

Sometimes, older homes, rentals, and base housing have a strange layout. Make the most of the space you have with 8 Decorating Tricks for Awkward Spaces.


beautiful primary bathroom

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

2) List Your Priorities

You never know what exactly you’re going to get when you purchase a new home. Sometimes room functionality takes precedence over a room’s decoration. For example, kitchens and bathrooms need to be in working order before life can begin comfortably. Prepare a list that identifies which projects have to take place first to help you arrange projects within your budget. 

But maybe the hideous red paint in the master bedroom bothers you way more than the outdated powder room downstairs. It’s up to you to decide! Keep in mind—necessary renovations always have a design component involved. Before tearing down an old bathroom, thoughtfully imagine how you’d like the overall look to be. 


For help ranking the priority list, consider these categories and adjust timelines and budgets as necessary. These will be different for each person, but some general items are standard. 




  • Window coverings
  • Seating for living spaces
  • Beds
  • Appliances
  • Secure doors

Nice to have:


  • Perfect wall and trim color
  • New area rugs
  • Updated floors
  • Home office

kitchen and dining area with glass table and chairs

Photo by Douglas Sheppard on Unsplash

3) Keep Function in Mind

Deciding how your house generally functions predicts the feel you’d like for your home to convey. Is it a lively place where your kids and their friends come to gather? Or is it predominantly to get away from the stresses of work and the outside world? These two very different ideas provoke contrasting images of furniture placement, décor, and even fabric durability. 

If you need more guidance, here are tips for each room. 


4) Plan Your Furniture Layout


It’s a common challenge for homeowners to struggle with intuitive furniture placement. In fact, many people’s intuition is to push every sofa and loveseat right against the wall, which is rarely ideal for traffic flow or conversation and leaves a wide-open unused space in the middle of the room. Arrange furniture in groups for easy entertaining and everyday use. 


Two chairs with a small decorative table in between are perfect for an intimate chat. You can also use the grouping idea and place a comfy armchair and ottoman in the corner with a floor lamp and a tall table for coffee. Instant reading nook!


Always take advantage of a focal point like a fireplace and arrange the sofa facing the mantle for the perfect winter view. A large coffee table in front of the sofa serves as a makeshift office desk if you need a change of scenery working from home.


living room with fireplace


Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash


5) Paint As an Accessory


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by gorgeous colors. The best way to choose paint for your home is to pick a collection of three to four colors that complement one base color. This way, you know that they all work together, no matter what combination. Paint strip combos are showcased by the hundreds in home improvement stores. Laser focus onto the main color you’d prefer (blue, green, etc.) and whittle down choices from there.


decorating your home checklist

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

6) Decorating Your Home

This is the most fun part of the process! Carefully choose each beautiful lamp, decadent rug, and sumptuous fabric to complete the house. Thinking about decorating in layers is the best way to continue the theme you’ve chosen. 

Break it down:


  • Furniture-sofas, chairs, and other large furniture
  • Soft furnishings- rugs, pillows, blankets, and window linens
  • Accessories-photographs, wall art, lighting

Use your favorite looks strategically so it all works together, but not in an overstated, overbearing way. If polished nickel is your preferred finish, sprinkle look-a-likes throughout the rooms in subtle ways. Some ideas: pewter candlesticks on the mantel, silver frames in the bookcases, a nickel overhead light fixture in the foyer, and matching sink hardware in the kitchen. 


Remember, in interior design and decorating in general, too much is usually waaay too much. The goal is not to show off, but to focus on a connected outcome with a united theme and complementary colors. 


Now it’s time to get to work. After you’ve chosen your inspiration pictures, you’re well on your way to creating the home interior you've always wanted! Don’t force any one project; sometimes, it just takes the right color or furniture item to come your way to connect the last piece of the puzzle. You’ll be in good company if it ends up taking several months to finally feel just right at home. 


By Dawn M. Smith




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