11 Genius Decorating Tips for 2017

Cardinal Financial January 3, 2017 | 7 min read
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Start the new year by giving your home a new look.

Why wait until spring to freshen up your home? Welcome the new year with new projects around the house that are easy and simple. Here’s our list of 11 decorating tips for 2017 that won’t leave you with an empty wallet.

1. Your front door sets the tone

Make a great first impression and paint your front door a bright, warm color. Toasty tones like reds, oranges, and yellows are gaining popularity on front doors as their hues can be associated with feelings of joy and hospitality. There are other decorating tips to step up your curb appeal too, like enhancing your address numbers and hanging potted plants.

2. Wall colors should be light and neutral

It’s OK to experiment with dark or bold colors once in a while, but the benefit of light and neutral colors is that they work best with everything. Easily switch out your accessories and still maintain coherence throughout your decor with beige or gray walls. This is especially important on the first floor where you really want to avoid jarring transitions. Pro tip: If you have two small rooms next to each other, paint them the same neutral color to make them appear larger.

3. Let in some sunshine

Winter can be so dark and cloudy. Update your window treatments to let in the maximum amount of natural light. Exchange heavy, outdated curtains for lightweight drapes made of cotton, linen, or silk blends. Window treatments made of these fabrics tend to hang nicely without weighing down the room. You could even layer curtains for added elegance and dimension, like sheer panels under full-length drapes. For rooms that get a lot of sun, select a light-colored fabric that won’t fade in the sunny months.

4. Raise the ceiling using visual tricks

While we’re on the topic, did you know there’s a trick to hanging curtains that makes your room appear taller? Hang your curtains higher than the windows to create the illusion of taller walls and more breathing room. Standard curtain panels usually measure 84–96 inches which allows you to hang them about three inches above the window casing before the length becomes awkwardly short. Any higher than that and you’ll most likely have to order custom drapes. For those who love patterned panels, try vertical lines to visually elongate the walls. Other tricks include painting your ceiling white or leaning a large mirror against a wall.

5. Your sofa should talk to your chairs

This is one of our favorite decorating tips and, it sounds strange, but this concept works. Imagine a hotel lobby where the furniture is arranged in groups that invite conversation. Your home seating area should have the same effect. As you rearrange your living room furniture, aim for a sense of intimacy and balance. People commonly assume that pushing all the furniture against the walls is the “right” way to decorate and make the room look bigger. In reality, this method hinders the intimacy created by closely placed seats. The ideal conversation area is a unit that is either U-shaped (a sofa and two chairs facing each other at opposite ends of a coffee table) or H-shaped (a sofa directly facing two chairs with a coffee table in the middle).

6. Anchor rugs under furniture feet

They say go big or go home and, when it comes to rugs, we agree! The rug should define the seating area, so look for a rug that’s large enough to fit all four legs of the sofa and chairs in your furniture group. That means you could be looking at a rug that’s up to nine by twelve feet! At a minimum, the front two legs of the sofa and chairs should sit on the rug. If your rug size is too small, the room tends to look disproportionate.

7. Mirror, mirror… In every room!

Mirrors are not just for checking your hair. One nifty thing about mirrors is that they bounce light around a room, making space feel brighter. By adding depth and dimension, mirrors can make a small room feel larger. But beware: There is a wrong way to place them. For best results, hang mirrors on walls perpendicular to the windows, not directly across from them. In doing so, you’ll avoid bouncing the natural light right back out the window.

8. Use best practices to hang artwork

Hanging artwork is a tricky business, but it’s best not to think too far into it. Take inventory of your wall art and get really familiar with the available real estate. In a way, let the artwork choose the wall. You might have a long and skinny frame whose shape fits perfectly in a small, narrow hallway—place it there. That same frame will probably appear out of place on a big accent wall. The size of the wall is a crucial factor in hanging artwork. Take advantage of one large wall that has no windows by hanging an oversized canvas or grouping smaller pieces for a tiled effect. For the latter style, it’s best to space items about two to four inches apart. Another general rule of thumb: When placing artwork, the center of the piece should hang at average eye level. Your guests should be able to interact with your home’s art seamlessly.

9. Layer your lighting

Out of all the decorating tips, this one is most easily overlooked by homeowners. Most rooms should have three kinds of lighting: ambient, accent, and task. Ambient lighting gives overall illumination to a room, often by way of ceiling fixtures. Accent lighting is more decorative and spotlight-esque, highlighting specific things, like artwork. Task lighting has the effect of a spotlight but is found in more active areas of the home, like over a kitchen island, a desk, or a bathroom mirror. While basic, down-facing lighting may be sufficient, get creative with uplighting (like a torchière) that illuminates the ceiling—another visual trick to make the room appear taller.

10. Freshen outdated fixtures

For those who love to upcycle furniture, this one’s for you. If your home’s fixtures have seen better days, don’t immediately think you need to replace them. If the fixture is still functional, work with what you’ve got and give it a simple facelift. Outdated kitchen cabinets could benefit from a few fresh coats of paint and new hardware. Old switch plates and outlet covers can be repainted or dressed in decorative paper. There are countless creative ideas around updating your home’s furniture and fixtures without breaking the bank or replacing them entirely.

11. Declutter like a pro!

Most homeowners will agree when we say this: The longer you live in a house, the less you notice the mess. It’s normal to get comfortable in your own clutter, which is why a fresh set of eyes can really help you see your home in a whole new light. Grab a friend and start with a storage closet where you might find some forgotten gold nuggets worth rotating into your home décor. Then move to your bookcases and shelves, removing all of the items and wiping the surfaces clean. Once you’ve also wiped clean your books and knick-knacks, set half of them aside. These will go back into storage and will be replaced by the treasures you found in the closet. Turn back to your bookcase or shelf and arrange the items in a new way: Stack some books horizontally, some vertically, and sprinkle in some decorative objects like vases and tabletop frames. This technique will create a truly dynamic arrangement your guests will admire. And we love decorating tips like this one because it’s absolutely free!

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