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The Ultimate Guide to Decorating Dos and Don'ts

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by emma. (subscribe)
I'm a Sydney based writer who is interested in interior design. Visit my blog at
Published January 8th 2018

When it comes to interior design, there are so many different styles and options, it's not hard to become overwhelmed – especially if you're new to the whole decorating business. Regardless of whether you live in a house or an apartment, it's easy to get discouraged if your living room ends up looking like a circus after your first decorating attempt. So, to help you make the right calls and avoid the most common mistakes, here are some dos and don'ts of interior design.

Do create harmony and balance
Instead of experimenting with colours, focus on one colour and use different shades of it. That way, your walls will be easy on the eyes, and it won't be hard for you to find the furniture that'll go well with the chosen colour. You should also try to use similar patterns and textures to create a flow, like fur for rugs, throws, and pillows. Mirrors and paintings, on the other hand, are great for creating patterns on the wall – if the frames are the same size, you can arrange them in any geometrical pattern. If not, gradation is your friend, so you should arrange them according to their size, which will surely catch the eye of your guests.

Don't use white décor if you have kids or pets

As elegant as it looks, white décor is hardly ever a good idea. Kids like to draw on everything and before you know it, your beautiful white wall needs to be repainted and your expensive white armchair is beyond saving. As for the pets, well, as much as you try to keep them clean, they still shed, and some of them even like to use furniture for sharpening their claws. So, unless you have a white dog and really like that white fur couch, it's better to choose some more forgiving colours.

Do use bolder colours in smaller rooms
When speaking of colours, they can make or break the visual appeal of your entire home. Therefore, don't use overly dramatic colours for the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and other high-traffic rooms. However, do use them in smaller rooms, like the pantry or smaller hallways. Using bolder colours in smaller spaces will make your home seem larger and more cheerful because it will draw attention to the otherwise "insignificant" part of the home.

Don't settle for any furniture

Every room, regardless of its main colour scheme, should have a certain theme. If you're interested in something more homely, opt for woods, make use of your family photos, and cover your furniture with some nice linen. If you prefer something more elegant, there are many amazing lounge suites, so you will surely find something that will fit your style. Also, instead of wood, you can choose glass coffee tables and upholstered dining chairs. In other words, you should have a certain idea in mind when choosing your furniture items and not just pick the first thing you lay your eyes on.

Do create a focal point

Every room should have at least one focal point as it emphasises the room's function and theme. For the living room, it's simple – a large TV or a nice cosy fireplace can be great focal points. For the bedroom, you can add a big art piece above your bed. As for your dining room, a luxurious chandelier, or a simple but slightly too big light bulb – depending on the style – can be more than enough. Also, you can always create a focal point with interesting decorative elements, like a collection of figurines, seashells, or your own crafts.

Don't try too hard
Even though your interior design elements should complement each other, it doesn't mean everything has to match perfectly. If every colour is the same, you risk making your room appear bland, since nothing will stand out in such a room. Don't be afraid to add a touch of your own personality, since it is your home after all, and it should feel that way.

When decorating your home, there are many things to keep in mind, which are luckily not hard to remember and implement. However, the most important thing to do is follow your own instinct. You are the one who will be spending time in your home the most, so in the end, the only thing that really matters is for you to love what you see.
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