Finding the right balance between functionality, coziness and style seems difficult to achieve when decorating our homes. No matter how much money we spend on decent furniture, rooms always seem to be lacking something and look nothing like the perfect spaces we see in magazines.
Sometimes the situation can be solved with a few small tricks that only require a few minutes of your time and don’t involve spending any money. Read through the following tips to find out how you can make your home look more stylish with minimal effort.
1. Treat the front door the same as the indoor
The first impression you create about your home should not be overlooked, even if you live in an apartment building. Treating the outside of the entrance with the same attention as the inside is a great way to add style to your home.
Put something from the inside of your house (nothing particularly precious though), hang a seasonal wreath or decorations, or update your house number sign. Plants are always a great idea, as long as they get sufficient light.
2. Display stuff in threes
As in many fields and disciplines, the rule of three is vastly used in decorating and styling. Displaying a trio seems to be more appealing visually and more balanced, especially when sizes, heights and materials bring some variety.
Start small by testing in a little corner or table and then apply the concept to different areas throughout the house. Just make sure you’re not overdoing it, otherwise the effect won’t be read right.
3. Layer your carpets and rugs
Professionals use this tip a lot to save money on client projects or to “cheat” on shoots. Not only does this method cost less to bring a room together, but it also doesn’t deprive you from getting the pattern you love in case you can’t find the right size. It’s also a great way to test how you feel about a bolder choice and it makes the whole room feel cozier and more stylish.
Start by layering a small bold rug on top of a bigger neutral carpet or rug.
4. Stack your books in alternative ways
While the usual vertical or slightly tilted stack in bookshelves is common for a classic home, alternative placement speaks for a bolder style.
Try alternating between vertical and horizontal book piles in shelves. Horizontal stacks will break the pattern of the vertical lines and add more visual interest, making it much more easier to style the shelves with additional objects. Just make sure the rhythm is random and not the same all over, as it defeats the purpose by creating a rigid pattern that’s heavy on the eye.
5. Display conversation pieces
This tip is a little trickier than it sounds because you don’t want to display your dear objects all over and find out nobody is impressed.
In order to get people’s attention, conversation pieces should be standing out from the surroundings and immediately draw the eye to them. Don’t forget that you don’t need to cross an ocean to find a piece worth talking about. As long as there’s a dear memory related to them, distant or recent, anything can be a conversation piece (even a random picture or a thrifted piece).
6. Make liquid soap bottles fancier
Next time you have a beautiful bottle of hand wash, save it after you use up the soap and refill with a cheap one. For a quick and easy fix, just soak the plastic bottles you usually buy in warm soapy water until all labels are easy to peel off. A transparent bottle looks less tacky and much fancier than a labeled one, even if it costs very little and is still plastic. Do this in the kitchen sink with dish wash bottles and on all bathroom sinks.
While you’re at it, add a bottle of random lotion by each sink, to slather on your hands after doing the dishes to keep them soft and feel more stylish yourself.
7. Keep the dust away
Nothing kills style like dust. It might be just yesterday that you cleaned the whole house, but dust finds its way back no matter what.
Test and see which surfaces are more visible in the usual light at home and be sure to swipe them more often in between general cleaning. You will be able to enjoy your home and stay relaxed and not get alarmed when guests stop by. To remember to do it often, keep an easy cleaning supply (even wet wipes will do) tucked somewhere near the problematic areas.
8. Display fresh flowers randomly
When you get flowers put them in a vase somewhere in a corner of the room, nothing too central. Bonus points if the flowers are mismatch from street vendors or a garden. The casual look and random placement gives the impression that you do this all the time and for your own pleasure, without trying too hard to impress others.
9. Move stuff between different rooms
We’re used to the logic of moving things around in the same room and it doesn’t naturally occur to move things from room to room. Doing so provides a fresh way of rearranging furniture and layouts. Also many things might look better in a new space or might serve a better function. When there’s no time or budget to go shopping, this is the fastest solution to freshen up every room in your house.
10. Keep white towels in the bathroom
This is a personal choice, but the white color in towels gives the idea of freshness and cleanliness (they have to be actually clean though). Additionally, having more than one towel in the bathroom is great, because it adds to the idea of effortless hospitality and curated details.
11. Always have books on the coffee table
Books instantly add style and make for great entertainment moments with guests. Make sure to include what you love most and a couple of different genres, so everyone is pleased. You can have only books stacked in low piles or a mix of magazines, photo books and table books. This is a perfect setting to apply the rule of three and mix books with decorative elements and small objects.
12. Serve water in a pitcher
Whether you drink water out of the tap, refrigerated or bottled, keeping it in a pitcher allows for easy access for also looks fancier. There’s nothing cooler than taking out a pitcher during meals with family or when guests are around. You can also add slices of cucumber or lemon to the water for a ridiculously quick, but super fancy touch.
Add a pitcher to your bedroom nightstands as well, to make hydration easier and give your bedroom extra style points.
13. Paint mismatch pieces the same color and finish
If there’s a lot of mismatch pieces of furniture around your home that don’t stay well together because of their different style, finish or color; consider painting or even spray painting a few in the same color and finish to bring some unity to the space. Choose a couple of pieces that are scattered across the room and not too close to each other. There’s no need to go overboard, as even a small dose can help bring unity.
14. Keep placemats on the table even when you’re not eating
This might sound counter-intuitive, but it actually gives the illusion of tidiness at home and order in the family (especially if you have kids). Placemats are also a great way to add color and pattern in small doses, if that’s your style. They can be inexpensive store-bought ones in plastic, rubber or paper. You can also make your own by cutting fabric or repurposing old sheets.
15. Display a bunch of the same element
Choose one kind of produce you have in bulk at the moment. Fruit works best and the brighter the color the better. But you can also use some kind of vegetable or simple elements found in nature, such as stones or wood pieces.
Place a bunch of them in a big vase or bowl and display somewhere visible (like the kitchen countertop or a shelf), but not too central, unless you are using it as a table centerpiece. The aim is to make a big visual impact by having the same element in bulk, so better keep it simple with the shape and material, going for a glass vase or porcelain bowl.
16. Light candles in groups
Gather all the candles you have and arrange them in small groups around the house. The leaving room and entrance are great spots to start.
Lighting candles in groups is much more effective than displaying them individually because they will provide a bigger glow, which is perfect for the evenings and when you have guests over. Also, having a bunch of candles burning gives the impression that you are used to do this randomly and you don’t save them for special occasions.
When buying candles, skip the fancy smells and go for plain white ones, which look classic and chic and perfect for grouping.
17. Add indoor plants
Plants are a great way to take any place to the next level. Not only they bring freshness and color to the room, but treating them as decorative pieces when choosing their placement helps adding style points to the room.
Play with different scale plants and different leaf design if possible. Put big plants near big pieces of furniture or use them to fill empty corners, while small plants can be mixed within furniture parts or compliment bigger ones (when the rule of three is applied). Just make sure to provide them the right amount of light needed to survive.
18. Remove some accessories
If you’re usually a fan of the “more is more” look, you have an eclectic style or you’re just looking to define your style, this is a quick tip for you. Take away a few items from what’s on display. Decorative objects, wall art, rugs, pillows can go one by one until you are left with a cleaner state. You can go back and forth replacing items or taking things back until you’re pleased with what you have.
This tactic is not aimed to give you a minimalistic home, but rather take you a step back in order to rediscover the potential your home already has. From there, it’s easier to add “style” in different ways, big or small.
19. Keep throws and blankets over the sofa
Not only do light blankets and throws make everything look cozier and lived-in, but they provide an effortless way to add texture or color/pattern to a rather flat or neutral room. If you want only one throw, make sure it’s not neatly folded, but thrown a little loosely. If you want two or more, play with the placement until the space looks balanced.
20. Keep baskets in display around the house
Baskets are great to fill with clutter before guests arrive or carry from room to room to pick up stuff and take objects back to where it belongs. They seem much more expensive and exotic than they really are. Having them around the house in a few visible spots makes them feel part of the decor.
They can be different sizes and shapes, but they should be the same material or have a common color, in order not to make too much noise in a rather busy looking home. On the contrary, they can be totally unique and loud in a neutral space.
21. Remove all packaging and store products in containers
Often stylish homes are defined by a few details and this little tip is a big helper. For everything food related you buy and keep on display, you should remove the packaging it came in and place it in a neat looking container. Glass containers are beautiful, but they can sometimes get expensive if you need a lot. Repurpose jam or sauce jars for an inexpensive solution or get plain porcelain ones. The point is not to have a whole matching set, but go for the same material or color in order to create a coherence and clean look in a kitchen or pantry.
22. Hang up stuff on the walls
Many people avoid dressing the walls because they dread the expensive cost of art and frames. But you don’t need frames and you don’t even need art, because everything can be art as long as it moves you in a way and evokes feelings.
Magazines pages are fast and inexpensive to display using tape, as you can choose images of the same theme or contrasting ones to add dynamics to the wall. Also, you can switch them up as often as you can without feeling guilty.
23. Display your hobbies
Nothing says “you” like the things you love doing, so don’t shy away from letting your hobby creations or even equipment right there in the open. It will ensure for interesting discussions, probably more quality time if you manage to get someone else into it and a ton of character added to your house without any extra effort. Hang objects on the walls, place randomly on shelves or just leave on the floor.
24. Fill a non-functional fireplace with something unexpected
The classic place to play with its function is a fireplace. Put anything other than burning wood inside it and you instantly have style added to the space. Other examples where you can apply the same tip are small corners, architectural elements, windows with partial or no view, old appliances or even parts of big furniture.
25. Layer, layer and layer some more
If you want to go the full magazine styled home, layering is the answer for you. Start small and add more layers as you get comfortable with your home’s dynamics. A good place to start practicing is a sofa or coffee table. Experiment with the rule of three and different materials, textures, colors until it feels right to your eye.
26. Let your home reflect who you are
The most stylish homes I have seen are either styled for a photo shoot; or are real life houses of interesting people, that look somewhat “different” to what we are used to see, but hold a lot of character and style.
The easiest and foolproof way to make your home more stylish is to add more of who you are and what you like. Make it a beautiful place you are eager to spend time in and love it as much as you can. When you love and “support” your home’s quirks, it’s easy to impress everyone else.