How to get started decorating a home

The best advice from the pros to start decorating your home!

Alright people, let’s talk home decor and more specifically how to get started decorating a home!

homer decorating advice, how to get started

I am by no means declaring myself an expert in decorating, but I do know how to decorate my home. Meaning what works for my family and fits our style is what I decorate my home with. It has taken me a while to settle into my own decorating style, even longer to trust my own instincts when it comes to decorating. A lot of times I got hung up on not being a professional. How do I know painting something a certain color is good, how will I know what furniture will look best in my living room? There is no guarantee in decorating, but there is also no wrong way to decorate.

I get a ton of comments from people who say “I wish I could decorate.” or “My house could never look like this.” Which made me realize that a lot of people do not know how to start. They want that dream home of theirs, and are waiting for that magic moment when everything comes together and they can begin creating that dream home. But, that magic moment can be anytime you want. A change of style, desire to decorate, a new home purchase, new baby. Whatever the moment is that makes someone go “this is it, let’s do this.” That is when you run with it, regardless of your lack of skills. Nothing better than getting skills with decorating is to start decorating. On the job training in real life.

My advice for this post is not to DIY things, although doing some furniture redos, making furniture or decor is a great option to keep costs low when decorating. I am talking about just starting, taking that plunge and decorating. I wanted to highlight what I wish I knew when I first started decorating, I also asked other home decor bloggers the same question. You can learn from our mistakes and years of decorating our homes to your advantage. Take our lessons learned, possible mistakes made, and use the things that works for us. I think you will gain some insight into decorating your home the right way. Not the right way with style, trends or anything else. Simply the right way for you, being what you want it to look like.

Here is my home when we first purchased it and moved in. I knew I wanted a coastal look with bright colors, but had no way of executing it. I got some throw pillows and called it a day. It worked of course, but I knew I wanted more. A lot of my home becoming what I dreamed of involved a lot of DIY projects. Our home is the standard builders grade home, nothing special about it. I wanted to create the character, the wood work, the homey feel. That took a lot of time and a lot of updates to make it be that way. However, as I said before that is not what this post is about. This is breaking down how to get going, get that first new throw pillow, or even style to your home decided on.

First, decide what style you like, farmhouse, coastal, dramatic, minimalist, country, bold, or something uniquely you! Whatever that is, start there. Knowing where you want your home to end up in terms of style is the best way to start. Ariel from PMQ for two  says“I started with a color palette, and then went room by room.” She also shared 10 design mistakes she won’t make in her next home, a great read that you can check out here. 

Amanda from Love & Renovations advised “When you are ready to tackle a room my best advice is to create a mood board to gather your vision for the room! It can be tough to picture what everything will look like when it all comes together, so if you spend some time pinning images, products, and rooms that you love, you can then gather your very favorites into an inspiration board to help you get started and see the direction you want to go.”  This is such great advice! Use that internet, Pinterest or even Google search to see what you gravitate towards. That inspiration is there for the taking!  Then you can use the style as search terms on the internet to see some examples, find that room or home that speaks to you and break down what it is about it that has you all googly eyed. This way if a piece of furniture comes along for a great deal, or you see some decor you love you will know if it fits.

When I redid our kitchen, it was my first big DIY project. I tackled it because I saw those beautiful and bright kitchens online. But we did not have the budget to redo the room, so painting the cabinets and a few other updates is what worked. I also realized I am in love with cooler tones colors of gray and blue with a nice and bright white to lighten things up even more. When I started decorating these colors were not “in” and I had to do a lot of searching to find items that would work with those colors.

Jann from Newton custom interiors had this to say “My first thought is decorate your home with the furniture, colors and fabrics that you love. These will stand the test of time better than decorating your home with the latest decorating trends.” And I could not agree more, do not do anything because it is trendy, your Mother in law likes the style, or even if it is the style you typically decorate with. If you are wanting an overhaul with your home, don’t be afraid to start fresh. Go with that style, the colors you want.

Courtney from The Hamby home said  “I wish I hadn’t rushed it. I was so anxious to fill our new home that I didn’t fill it with pieces that I just LOVED which means a year or two in, I want new stuff already. My favorite rooms are the ones that I have let evolve over time, which although requires patience, in the end I’m happier with the outcome and didn’t waste any money.” In fact many bloggers I spoke with mentioned this sentiment. It seems counterproductive; if you have decided to take that leap and redecorate, you want that dream home… then you want it now! Which is fine, go for it, but don’t purchase or make things just because. 

Hallway transformation with before and after, DIY projects to create function and style for a home

If you just moved into a new home and are using this as your jumping off point taking your time is very important. Each home will have a flow to it, spaces will transition into it’s different designated space. For example, a lot of work has gone into our hallway and laundry room. Which is typically overlooked in the home. I saw many ways I could create function and improve the look of the hallway. My laundry room I carved out a mud room for. If I had jumped full force into decorating right away with my home these spaces would have been overlooked. I could have spent a lot of money updating my laundry room, only to wish years later I did not do that. I would have felt bad ripping out tile that I spent a lot of money on. Of course it can be frustrating to have things take a while, but this is real life. I have my organization station done in my laundry room, but the laundry room side is not 100% done.  Decorating and redoing a space take time.

Notice there is a lot of mention of what “we” need. A home involves so much more than just style, it involves people. Decorating for those people is the biggest and most important part of this! Bliss Ranch said “Decorate your home so the people who live there can enjoy it. If they are not welcome to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee or snuggle with a warm blanket, your guests won’t be comfortable to sit when they come in either.” My home functions and works for our family and for our home. I loved the soft colors and rustic feel of a country style. But we are a young family, in a suburban home, not in the country. So shifting what I liked style wise into something that works for us is what makes our home truly feel like ours. My kids are young, we are loud, vibrant, and active. Our home reflects that. Having a white sofa that is from Ikea and fully slip covered fits my family. A fancy sofa with great upholstery is still a few years from being a reality to us. I also love it when people visit and they say that they feel welcome, that people feel they can just jump in with the noise, or relax here. I have been to homes where there is no place to set my coat, or only a corner of the sofa available to relax. It makes me feel as if I am bothering them, even if they invited me. Decorate for your family, but do consider that other people will visit too. No need to go all House Hunters crazy and purchase a home for the sake of entertaining, that one time a year. But, maybe skip the two recliners with no other living room furniture a’la Joey and Chandler from Friends. Great for them…. not so great for their friends.

Once you have your style selected, a room to start with and a color scheme you like. It is time to actually start executing your dreams. Amanda from Old house to new home says “Always put an actual paint sample on the wall when you are picking a wall color. Those little paint swatches never look the same once painted!” I agree with this so much, as I raise my hand in shame. I actually am not 100% in love with our living room and dining room paint color. I love the soft gray color on the wall, but it is so dang light that it looks white to anyone that sees it. I should have put it on the walls, on a few walls in the home and see how it looked. I would have chosen a slightly darker color. I plan to repaint the walls, but with the living room ceiling height being about 18 feet at it’s peak it is not a simple job.

Heather from Home to Heather says  “Sometimes temporary is okay. It’s okay to buy the peel and stick tile to make things livable until you can do a whole new floor. It’s okay to use a hand-me-down table until you find the one you love. It’s okay to shop the thrift store! It’s funny how many temporary things have stuck around in my home and how I have come to love them.” Which can be very true, decorating can be expensive, and if you have a whole house to decorate you obviously need furniture in it. Going thrift store shopping, making your existing furniture work while you fine tune those ideas is a very realistic idea.

Denise from Noble Vintage confirmed these thoughts, I wish I had known that there are some brands that are totally overpriced and terrible quality. I’ve saved a ton of money by shopping estate sales and buying better quality items with more character. I have an appreciation of a lot of different styles, but creating a Favorite Decor board on Pinterest has really helped me hone in on what I truly love, vs. what I like. Buy great quality in your staple pieces (couches, dining sets, etc) and the rest doesn’t matter as much where or how much you spend on it if you love it.” There are a ton of ways to decorate without breaking the bank, and getting creative with them and knowing exactly what you want in terms of color, pattern and style can allow you to find those great pieces. A lot of my furniture in our home is secondhand, either purchased or something we had and overtime got redone. If you are not into the DIY stuff (which is fine) you can still find some great deals on furniture that is used. Leaving you with a lower overall cost to decorate, allowing for splurges on larger or better quality items or smaller decorative accents. 

Becky at Simple, practical, beautiful  explained how to jump start the journey into room decorating“The easiest way I’ve found to decorate a room is to start with one high-quality piece that you love: a painting, a rug, a sofa, or even your grandmother’s side-table. Use that piece as inspiration for the rest of the room. Use it’s colors, it’s style, it’s shape and lines as a guide for everything else you buy or create for the room. That way if everything fits with that one piece, everything will look good together. But make sure it’s something you love.” Starting small can really make the job feel doable. Don’t get hung up on the whole room, start with a favorite item and go on from there. Layering in over time with new items.

Taking your time seems to be the biggest point of all, many of the home decor bloggers I spoke with mentioned this very point. Whitney from Whitney J Decor who decorates her home as well as clients said “I wish I had taken my time. Decorating for clients is a lot different than decorating for myself. I wish I had purchased pieces little by little, rather than trying to fully furnish and decorate a room all at one time. Recently, I learned that my style changes often, so it was much better for me to buy pieces that I absolutely loved. This also saved me some extra money, which meant that I could invest in higher quality pieces.”   As I have stated before, my home has taken years to be where it is, and surprisingly is not done yet! I will have tweaks or full on redos for at least a few years. What used to frustrate me in that regard I now respect and see the positive of. Amanda from Old house to new home reiterated that “An empty room is much better than wasted money. I feel like I have wasted so much money on hurried home decor choices that I ended up hating.”

With your colors down, a few basics or bones to the room decided furniture can make or break a room. Getting ideas from others is a great way to start, but be sure to make it yours. Each family has a personality, each home has a life to it. What works for one will not work for the other. So trust what you want, and get creative! Karen from  Copper Dot interiors advised “Just say “NO” to buying a full set of furniture at the store. Even the best of us has been lured into this mistake at least once. Do yourself a favor and mix and match sets or give yourself time to find the right individual pieces. Your room will look so much more interesting and polished in the end. Bonus- your house won’t look like everyone else’s, even if you shopped at the same stores!”  I lurve this advise! This is typically the first step, go to a big box store and purchase a complete living room set. Nothing is wrong with this if this is your option, but it will be so mass produced there is personality lacking. Also, a lot of times those situations means you are paying a premium in price for a much lower overall style, and zero individuality.

Are you ready to decorate?! Or are you confused by the advice? Julie at Love my simple home summed it up best “Take your time when decorating your home. A decorated home evolves over time. Don’t get sucked into trends that are here today gone tomorrow. It is okay to shop at thrift stores and consignment shops for furniture and accessories. Stick to items that are classic that won’t go out of style.” At the end of the day we all want that dream home I have been speaking of, without going broke, and without wanting to change it 2 years from now. If you put in that time, money and work into a home you want it to stick. No one has time (or money) to change things on the whim of trends, expensive furniture for the sake of a name, or something that is not right for your family.

I promise you that decorating your home can be easy, and is supposed to be fun! Worst case scenario is you repaint, or sell the furniture piece you thought you loved but find out you don’t. Or you know, your husband hates it. How to get started decorating a home is to simply start, think it through, confirm a style, color scheme, and don’t rush it. Perfection takes time my friends! It took me 9 months to make each of my kids and they are admittedly far from perfect. I have one that eats his boogers, one that cannot dance to save their life, and one that is convinced anyone’s opinions but theirs are all wrong. I still love them, imperfections and all. I want everyone to love their home too, and with a little planning and a simple determination to jump, do it… a dream home decorated to your liking is possible. Just make sure those booger filled kids will be comfy too. They have a tendency to make a house a disorganized mess filled with boogers and stickers home for better or for worse!

         
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32 Comment

  1. You have done such a great job! I love the kids table with a chalk top and all the splashes of color throughout!

  2. robin masshole mommy says: Reply

    You did an awesome job. It took me YEARS to completely decorate my house after I bought it.

  3. I love the way you decorate you home! it has such a coziness and style to it. I think you give the best advice to people who want to have some style but at the same time decorate a little. Happy New Year
    Maria

  4. Wow, can you please come and do my house next?! I love all the special touches – your home is beautiful and so welcoming.

  5. Ashley says: Reply

    I love that advice about picking a color palette and going room by room. I want to freshen up my house.

  6. Our house seems to be in a state of transformation almost all the time!
    We need to replace our doors and windows because they aren’t nearly as warm as we had hoped and our flooring is wearing worse than we though. At least we love doing it so it’s fun!

  7. Wow. What a great roundup of advice from decor bloggers! Sometimes I find myself wondering — Gee, I wonder if I could be doing this better, but you’re right. Ultimately you have to balance what fits for the people with aesthetics. If it doesn’t work for you, it won’t be pretty for very long! Haha.

  8. Scott says: Reply

    I have to ask, are those dividers in your photo supposed to be leaning like that? It looks like it is about to collapse!

  9. BonBon says: Reply

    Thanks for all the great advice and information. I really like your chalkboard and hall area.

  10. Love this design I am so going to remodel my home in the next year, thanks for sharing all these ideas!!

  11. The kitchen! That, I think, is my favorite of them all. There’s something so classic and elegant about white cabinets. We are getting ready to redo our kitchen, and I’m toying with white cabinets.

  12. We moved into our current home in October and I’m ready to make it my own. I already loved the colors do now it’s time to tackle some of the easier but necessary stuff like carpet and flooring. These are good tips because I am no decorator, but I want things to look nice.

  13. candy says: Reply

    Starting with a color pallet is a great way to start. Plus color a great way to change a room quick. Your room looks beautiful and thanks for sharing your tips on how to start.

  14. Pam Wattenbarger says: Reply

    I like to look at thrift stores for some of my furniture. Just tables and stuff like that. I never buy anything that I don’t love, though, because you never know how long something is going to stick around!

  15. These are great tips on finding your style and decorating a home. It can be intimidating to get started at the beginning, but once you get going, it’s usually so much fun to decorate the rooms!

  16. I absolutely adore your hallway transformation. It seems like you guys were ultra busy with these room makeovers but it looks phenomenal!

  17. This is such a beautiful makeover!

  18. This is an awesome post. Thank you for sharing! We will be building a new home in about a year – and I’m definitely bookmarking this one for later! It will definitely come in handy! 🙂

  19. I wish I had these tips when we moved into our home. I would like to start from scratch now and remake the interior with these tips in mind.

  20. Your old kitchen looks eerily similar to ours. Are you sure you weren’t in our house taking that picture? Just kidding. I love the remodel though.

  21. Beautiful! I need your expertise with my large living room! It’s daunting!

  22. Your home looks beautiful! Such an amazing transformation. Love the colors and the these are all great tips.

  23. Rebecca Swenor says: Reply

    This is a great post with advice for how to get started decorating. I love that you asked everyone what they would have changed or done before decorating their homes. This is all great advice. I actually love the DIY projects and will concider all these tips before decorating. Thanks for sharing the information.

  24. I love all of these tips! My decor philosophy is to start small and build off that. It took us a few months to complete our half bathroom makeover, and I actually liked taking the time to find each perfect fit to the puzzle. Decor is so much fun!

  25. ricci says: Reply

    Love your updates!! I wish I had the time and money to decorate my house the way I want it!!

  26. CourtneyLynne says: Reply

    These are some really great tips!!!! We painted our cabinets white and omg!!! Our kitchen looks so chic because of it

  27. Sara says: Reply

    I love these organizing ideas. The backpack area is adorable! We have backpacks throw all over the place, and shoes, and coats, UGH!! I hope to get organized this year.

  28. Your new kitchen looks amazing! I love when people brighten up a dark kitchen with white cabinets. I also really like to countertops that you chose. The color just adds to the warm, calm feel. Beautifully done!

  29. I love what you’ve done with your home! The little pops of color and cute details just make it perfect. I need to take the plunge and just start in my house.

  30. Jessica says: Reply

    Moving into my new apartment was so stressful for me and I never had any time to really go out to every store and look around. I ended up using a furnishing service for my bedroom and it really gave me a starting point (I ended up choosing http://furnishr.com because they had the best and most complete designs for the money).

  31. OMG, I love them all! Such great transformations. I never thought of shopping estate sales, need to look into it.

  32. It’s taken me a long time to figure out my house style and decorate accordingly. It’s been a process but so worth it in the end! I love my home and how it is personalized for my family. Great tips and advice, Emily! Thanks!

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