My first real job as a professional writer was for a construction materials company. I was hired as their home decor and lifestyle blogger on the recommendation of an acquaintance.
And I knew absolutely nothing about home design.
And so began my education in the home decor field. The job allowed me the freedom to do research, get inspiration from other blogs, and write along my personal interests. And over the years, I've learned several "rules" of home decor that made me think differently of a field that I thought was rather stuffy and prim before I started working in it.
Everything doesn't have to match
The first and most basic rule I learned writing about home decor is that no, everything doesn't have to match. In fact, if you're too matchy-matchy, your house will end up looking like an IKEA catalog. And while we all love a good IKEA catalog photo, it can be a bit... bland. Everything looks the same. In the end, it lacks personality and style.
The secret to a beautiful home is not in whether your furniture matches with your paint; it's in the memories, the heirloom pieces, the couch you "borrowed" and decided to keep. So go ahead and put your grandmother's crocheted blanket on your super-modern bed. Show off those terrible cushions you still love because you hand-knitted them yourself. Leave that extra blue chair you got off the sidewalk and brought home so you could have a set of four, and never ended up painting the same color as the rest.
Mismatched, eclectic elements aren't ugly or ill-fiting. They're what make your space yours.
Inspiration is everywhere, not just in decor magazines
Looking at home design magazines is a little bit like looking at professional cooking pictures. It looks amazing and delicious, but remember that it's someone's job to make it as appetizing as possible. Same with home decor: when the pictures were taken, lots of professionals spent lots of time putting everything in a specific place so it looks a certain way. Few personal items, no obvious sign of a space that has been lived in.
It highlights the design elements, but it isn't a realistic way to approach your decor.
Sure, you can get inspired by a beautiful bedroom or kitchen in a design magazine. But you can also find inspiration in the B&B's dining room from your last trip abroad, or in your best friend's couch/coffee table combination. You can be inspired by a single item and build an entire room around it, or start from a feeling ("I want my room to feel...") and go from there. There is beauty in the neat, evenly planted trees of a park, or in the bushy overgrowth of the woods. Do you want your bedroom to feel like a park or a secret spot in the forest?
Small is mighty
You don't need a big remodeling or renovation to make a big difference in your home design. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing a color, changing a piece of furniture, or adding a few small accessories around.
For example, want to change your bathroom big time? Simply change your shower curtain. Your bedroom? A new comforter or duvet cover is all you need. The living room? A few colorful throws and cushions on a neutral couch, and you get a whole new feel. Add a rug to your dining room. A coat rack in your hallway. Sometimes small things make a big, big difference.
Don't underestimate the power of a single item to completely change the look and feel of your space. You don't need to be rich to have decor flair!
Clutter is death
OK, I'm actually a clutter person. You should see my desk right now. But if there's one thing that kills your home decor, it's clutter.
No, not the delightful clutter of a home that's lived in: I'm talking about the "Where's my good pen? Where did I put my hairbrush? Where the hell is the book I'm reading right now?" kind of clutter. That kind of clutter is going to overpower any kind of decor you have planned for yourself. A pile of clothes on your bed is going to hide that wonderful duvet cover. Your papers and mail on the table are just getting in the way of your wonderful tablecloth. Shoes everywhere in the hallway are not conducive to admiring your beautiful Middle Eastern rug.
Learn how to use storage. Learn how to keep your clutter under control. Come home to a fresh, beautiful home instead of something that feels overwhelmingly messy.
Do whatever you like
In the end, the most important lesson I've learned from all these years of blogging about home decor is that anyone can do pretty much whatever they like. It's like with your clothes: do what makes you feel happy and comfortable. Trends are just that: trends. They're not obligatory. You can get inspiration from them, or just say "fuck it" and get that tacky set of chairs you love from the thrift shop. Who cares about what your friends say about it? You're the one who'll sit in them every day.
Don't be afraid to make your own choices and stand on your own decor style. It doesn't have to appeal to anyone but the people who live there. And that's you!