Home décor is one of those things that seems easy but is harder than it looks. Everyone has their ideas about what a modern home should look like, and far too often, this ends with people cramming a whole bunch of “artsy” objects like vases or paintings together without thinking about the needs of the room. And sometimes there can be a clash between making your home beautiful and functional.
There are certainly excellent guides available with tips on how to decorate your home, but home décor is not just about painting your door red or adding mirrors. It is about taking a holistic approach with your entire home and understanding what design principles work best. It is only when you know what you want from your house that you can begin to focus on the little things in every room.
Understand the Importance of Negative Space
A good writer does not needlessly puff up his work with empty platitudes, and a good home designer does not cram his home with all sorts of junk. An important concept in home décor is negative design, or the blank walls or spaces in your home that have no furniture or art. That negative space can possess artistic value as well, whether it is as a contrast to the activity elsewhere in the room or through its ability to create a peaceful, serene place through its emptiness.
So, how do you properly take advantage of negative design? A negative space should not just be a spot that stays empty because you cannot think of anything good to put there. It should be a spot which you intentionally leave blank because adding more objects would create further clutter. And, note that negative space can take a lot of forms, whether it is an empty wall or a table with no objects placed upon it.
The goal is, above all else, to create a place where you feel comfortable. If staring at a blank wall is too unnerving, then think about adding something. But, do not feel like you have to add something to make your rooms more artistic.
Pick out a Focal Point
Whenever you walk into a room, there will always be a particular object which you see first. It can be a flower vase on a table, a window, or even a white wall that provides negative space. That area of the room is the focal point and is what any room should be based around.
Think of the focal point as the sun, which every other object in the room should orbit around. Think about placing objects so that they are located in relation to it, such as by arranging your furniture to frame the focal object and make it more visible to someone entering the room.
By creating and emphasizing a focal point, you have a point which the visitor will look at, from which his vision expands as he sees how the rest of the room complements that point.
You can have the most tastefully arranged furniture possible, but that will not matter if it clashes with your lighting. As Elle Décor notes, there are three kinds of home lighting: accent, ambient, and task lighting. Understanding which kind of lighting to use is essential for a properly decorated home.
Task lighting is the lighting which we often think of first, as it is the lighting which we need to complete essential tasks. This can include a desk lamp in your study or a pendant light on your bathroom mirror that allows you to get the best look at yourself. If you live in a modular home in California, you’ll know that ambient lighting is the most general kind of lighting which we use when we throw the switch to our living room. Accent lighting is lighting specifically intended to illuminate an object such as a painting.
You should aim to have a mix of different lighting sources and strengths. In a dining room, go with a dimmer, lower-strength light bulb which can be used to create a more romantic mood. In the living room, use brighter lights to draw attention to your art and make it easier to read.
Be Careful with Color
Any homeowner who has had a bad paint job understands how important color is to home décor, and so we will often think about what color the room should be first.
This is a mistake. You should pick a color which will coordinate with your furnishings, not the other way around. And, while you may certainly want to be bold and vivacious, it is better to do that with your furniture than with the room’s color. While negative space has its value, your visitors’ eyes should be drawn to your furniture, not the wall.
HGTV has a further series of tips for how to pick the right color to decorate your wall, and I would strongly recommend picking out a series of complementary, similar yet different colors to decorate your home. But, above all else, do not be afraid to experiment. Your home should show your personality, and a bright home can indicate a bright person.
Featured photo credit: Lennart Tange via flickr.com