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The space you occupy, like the clothes you wear, is a reflection of the person you are and what you value. It might seem silly that this is so, but we monkeys put a lot of value on visual aesthetics. If you’re a regular Dappered reader you’ve likely already mastered your personal style skills, or at least are well on your way. But what about your personal space? Does it reflect the stylish person you are? If you’re not quite there, or not even close, here are skills to work on in order to give your home the same level of style your person enjoys.
If you live in a small space, or have some small spaces in a larger home, knowing how to decorate said small space well is an art. Having too much decor incorporated into a small space can make it feel claustrophobic. Too little can make it feel like an empty broom closet, or a transitional dorm room. Here are a few key pieces of advice:
Get things (not too many things) up off the floor. Utilize floating and corner shelves to display a few decor items that don’t intrude into the square footage of the floor. If you want a full shelving unit, a corner one can utilize quite often non-utilized space.
Find multifunctional pieces of furniture, like tables and beds that double as storage.
Consider easily stored utility items, like an over the sink drying rack that can be quickly rolled up and tossed under the sink.
Keep things bright. Darker colored walls, or lots of dark decor, will make a room feel closed in.
Educating yourself on how to group and hang pictures will help avoid awkward displays that look like an afterthought. If you are hanging multiple pictures and/or decor pieces, here are a couple tips:
Lay out the display on the ground first so you can see how it will look together. Snap a photo with your phone that you can reference as you’re hanging things on the wall.
Use a laser level for even hanging.
Be sure to measure how far down from the top of the frame the hanging point actually is. Then you can hold the picture up on the wall where you want it, use a pencil to mark where the middle-top of the frame hits, and measure down from there to put a nail in the wall. Or use a tool like this.
Use hanging hooks for added stability.
If on the first try it just doesn’t look right, don’t live a tortured life. Just change it!
We here at Dappered have often been left scratching our heads by photos in our forum of really stylish guys taking a shot of themselves in a mirror, put together to the nines… yet the space behind them is a dumpster fire. Cleaning isn’t hard to do, but it can be daunting if it gets away from you. That’s the key, you have to keep up on it daily in order for it to not become some massive chore. Being messy is a habit, and it’s a habit that can be easily changed. It might be hard for a week or two to keep your space clean on a daily basis, but before you know it you will have developed the habit of doing it. And you will have experienced the good vibes and less challenged mental space (yes, your brain has to pay attention to all that mess whether you realize it or not) having a clean space creates. There are tools out there to help make cleaning a little easier, as seen in the suggestions above. But one of the best tools for easy cleaning is the next skill…
This step can make cleaning so much easier. It’s also a good thing to do for your brain. Cognitive load is a real thing, and your brain is constantly scanning your environment. When you have a bunch of crap surrounding you, your brain is forced to give it attention. Now I’m not saying you have to go minimalist, but the less stuff you have to contend with, the more attention you have to give to the things that really matter to you. Also, don’t just shove stuff in drawers or closets. GET RID OF THE STUFF. We used to sleep on dirt floors in caves. You will be OK without it. If it’s not contributing to your style, toss or donate it.
Overhead lighting is great when you need to flood a space with light to see something really well (it’s our attempt to replicate sunshine indoors). But past that, most overhead lighting doesn’t create stylish ambience. Enter lamp light, whether it’s a floor, table, sconce, or pendant. Spotlight or can lamps are great for adding dramatic effect to a room, as they create shadows when you direct them towards another object.
This can be applied to any type of living space, but it’s especially helpful in areas that feel a bit closed in. Mirrors create the illusion of more space than there really is, and it can also help brighten up an area by reflecting light from windows or fixtures. When using mirrors for decor purposes, think about what the mirror will be reflecting as you move about the room. A blank wall? Not that interesting. Window or decor on the opposite wall? Much more interesting.
7. Mixing of new and old pieces
Style is cyclical. Well, let me rephrase that. Fashion is cyclical. And trends from yesteryear commonly make comebacks into the current mainstream. The thing about home decor is that old pieces mixed in will never fall out of favor. Granted, it might be hard to make your grandmother’s Italian Rococo vases work, but understated antiques can easily be incorporated into modern decor. The key word is understated. Or at least more neutral in form and color.
8. Thoughtful placement of plants
I’m a big advocate of plants, but I also love plants. If plants aren’t your thing you can skip this, but I’d highly encourage you to give plants a try. If you usually kill plants, the reason is simple: you don’t know how to take care of them. For most plants, all you have to do is read the very simple instructions on the little plastic stake that comes in the plant. Also, a quick Google search can give you additional tips. Plants add both color and texture to any decor. No need to overdue it, but a few easy to care for, well potted and well placed house plants can instantly make a room more attractive. Place taller plants, like rubber trees or snake plants in corners, or as a decor grouping against a wall to add height. Place squatter plants on table tops or in wall planters.
9. Knowing what patterns you can combine
Having a basic grasp on what pattern combinations work can help you keep your place from looking a little too plain, or looking way too busy. This also comes down to personal preference, but some well chosen, complimentary patterns can add some “wow” factor to a room, just like it can to an outfit. A good rule of thumb is if you have a pattern on something large, keep it subtle. Really bold, eye catching patterns should be reserved for smaller things like throw pillows, artwork, etc. Here’s an article from The Spruce with several examples of pattern mixing.
10. Decorating all the rooms
It’s easy to focus on the rooms your guests will actually see, and stop there. Or put all your attention on just the living room, and forget that rooms like the kitchen and bathroom could use a little love too. A well finished bathroom usually only needs a scant amount of decor, as a lot of the finishes (hardware, etc.) are decor in and of themselves. But for a basic bathroom, a little extra may be called for, and can add a lot to an otherwise plain space.
About the Author: Sarah W. is a long time member of the Dappered team, typically working behind the scenes editing posts, taking some photos, and keeping the books in good standing.