I recently asked readers why do you want a well-decorated, cohesive home? In the last few weeks, I’ve received so many personal and insightful responses. I love starting my work day reading the replies to that question.
Here are a few answers that really stood out to me:
- “I want a peaceful and tranquil feeling in my home. And not to be totally annoyed and irritated because rooms aren’t finished because I don’t know what to do!”
- “A well-decorated home would allow me to invite my friends over more often and allow me to relax and to feel ‘this house is unfinished.'”
- “When my home is disjointed, messy, and thrown together, I carry that with me throughout my day. I want my home to be the place where I can refuel each day when I return.”
- “I just want to feel confident and proud of my home so that I can invite friends over knowing it is decorated as nicely as I can afford and I am not self-conscious.”
- “A well-decorated home would simply be a beautiful backdrop for what matters most – making memories with family and friends…”
And there were so many more along those same themes. Everyone wants their home to feel more finished and cohesive so they can relax more at home, be present without thinking about undone projects, and enjoy more time with family and friends.
In support of all those lovely decorating intentions, I want to share with you nine simple habits you can start implementing today to create a cohesive home.
1. Multiply What You Love
Do more of what you love. Think about the spots you love most in your home. Analyze what you love about them. Think about the:
- Feeling of the space
- Color Scheme
- Furniture Style
Then focus on multiplying those elements in other areas of your home.
2. Practice Repetition
Within a room, intentionally repeat an element at least three times. For example, if you have blue throw pillows on the sofa, put a blue vase on the mantel, and choose an art piece with some blue in it. Three places is the minimum. For a color you really love repeat it even more.
Remember, one is random, two is a coincidence, three is a pattern.
You can use this trick to reinforce an accent color, pattern, texture, or shape throughout a room.
3. Echo Elements Across Rooms
Take repetition a step further to unify your whole home with common elements. Echo–use an element in a different way—in another room.
For example, the teal walls in my dining room are echoed in teal accessories in the living room.
You can continue echoing the same element across several rooms in your home. In my home, the teal is echoed again as a wall color in my sons room and as curtain panels in the master bedroom.
Echoing also works for shapes, textures, and patterns. For example, the bamboo wall in our family room is echoed as a bamboo counter in my office.
Echoing creates common threads that tie multiple rooms together.
4. Focus on the Feeling
Every great home starts with how you want it to feel. Sappy, but true. It’s the first decorating decision you need to make in any space.
Once you know how you want the room to feel, you can focus. Use the desired feeling as a guide for choosing colors, patterns, textures, and styles that make you feel that way.
The best thing you can do for your home (and your decorating) is to choose a guiding feeling word.
Then for every decorating decision ask yourself, “Does this support the feeling I’m trying to create for my home?”
5. Become a Word Nerd
Speaking of words…it’s important you choose the right ones to describe the look and feeling you’re after. Pick the words you use to describe your decorating style wisely.
Words have power. The right words with the right meaning can give you clear style direction. Don’t settle for the first words that come to mind. Give it some extra thought and find the words that are just right.
Here’s what finding the right word looked like for one of my Define Your Style Lab students:
The Enlightenment of Finding the Right Word
“One of the words that kept popping up repeatedly in all my style notes was ‘contrast’. But the word ‘contrast’ is kind of blah, and the thesaurus only yielded even uglier words such as ‘opposing’ ‘contrary,’ or ‘duality’ (which sounds like fighting a duel).
I was well and truly stumped. So I did what I’ve heard you recommend – distanced myself for a bit and took a walk to enjoy the spring wildflowers that are out in force right now (we live in the country).
While walking past one of our neighbor’s homes, I noticed that they had piled some large river rocks near their gate into an attractive balanced pile, the type you sometimes see in Asian Rock Gardens. And that’s when it occurred to me that the ‘contrast’ I was really describing was more of the Yin-and-Yang principle: the contrast of two forces that are complementary rather than opposing, and which bring balance rather than strife into a greater whole.
But ‘Yin-Yang’ didn’t flow as well as I wanted either. I contemplated the carefully balanced rock pile again and thought, ‘It feels very zen.’ Ahhhh. Zen. Whew, a major breakthrough!”
~Susan W., Define Your Style Lab graduate
With the right style vocabulary, you can clearly describe your decorating style in as little as six words. Check out How to Find Your True Decorating Style for more advice.
6. Filter Your Inspiration
Stop looking at everything. Use your well-chosen style words to filter your inspiration. Instead of browsing tons of random sources of inspiration, get right down to the good stuff—the inspiration you love enough to act on in your home.
Look for decorating books that could be described with your style words. For example, my style is DIY Modern—handmade, simple, and fun. A few of the design books that I enjoy, and that fit my style, are Young House Love, Design Mom, and Happy Chic Colors.
Also use your style words to narrow your Pinterest search using your style words. Instead of browsing the main feed, type in a few words that describe what ideas you’re looking for and what styles you like. For example, “living room, modern, DIY, art.” More of what shows up will fit your style.
7. Tell A Story
The most welcoming and interesting homes tell the story of their occupants. Use your style choices to tell your story in your home.
Remember, there’s a difference between a theme and a decorating style. A decorating style weaves together many themes that are important to you and your family.
Your unique combination of themes and the artifacts you use to display your story personalizes your home.
Ruthlessly remove items that don’t fit your style. Get rid of filler decor.
These two questions will help you decide what stays and what goes:
- If you didn’t own the item, would you still want to buy it today?
- If yes, would you pay full price for it?
If you can’t answer yes to both questions above, then you don’t value the item and it doesn’t belong in your home.
9. Be True to Yourself
The other eight habits on this list require brutal honesty with yourself. It’s not okay to “kind of like” the things you live with. If you want to love your home more and create a place that feels like you, then you need to fill your home with things you love that speak to you.
I want to leave you with this quote from Anne Quindlen’s 1999 Commencement Speech at Mount Holyoke:
But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
If you want to learn more about decorating styles and how to find yours, check out the How to Find Your True Decorating Style resource page.