Must-Know Design Tips

Be a better decorator! Get the scoop on what some of our favorite designers and pros have to say about creating gorgeous looks for your home. Plus, brush up on decorating basics.

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Everything In This Slideshow

  • 1 of 30

    Getting Started

    Find Inspiration

    "File favorite magazine pages and downloaded images you love. Include rooms, wall colors, shapes of upholstered furniture (ignore the fabric and concentrate on the form), fabrics (ignore how they're used), curtain styles, lamps and lighting, flooring, and rugs. You'll discover trends that will define your favorite look or room style."
    -- Elaine Griffin, interior designer

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    Getting Started

    Wait and See

    "Take your time. Live in a new house for at least six months before making decorating decisions."
    -- Janna A. Lufkin, interior designer

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    Getting Started

    Fashion Clues

    "Look in your closet for clues about the colors, patterns, and silhouettes -- simple, tailored, or fussy -- you are most comfortable living with. Chances are, if you love colorful, ruffly clothes, you'll be comfortable with colorful, ruffled furniture."
    -- John Loecke, interior designer

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    Getting Started

    Creating Your Look

    Learn how to pull a look together from designer Erin Gates.

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    Getting Started

    Furniture Plan

    "Map out furniture on the floor in painter's tape to ensure the pieces will work in the room. Painter's tape removes easily when you're done."
    --  Grant K. Gibson, interior designer

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    Choosing Color

    Be Confident

    Designer and color expert Khristian A. Howell dishes on how you too can be confident with color.

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    Choosing Color

    Try It

    “Buy an artist’s canvas and paint it with your color choice. Hang it on the wall and watch the color as the light changes. You can try several canvases to narrow down your alternatives.”
    -- Mark Woodman, color specialist

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    Choosing Color

    Small-Space Tips

    "For small, dark spaces, I prefer anything but white. There’s no truth that white makes small spaces look larger. It makes you notice how small they really are. Rather, I prefer color, and the darker the colors the better the walls visually melt.”
    -- John Loecke, interior designer

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    Choosing Color

    Color Guides

    "Pick colors using objects as your guide -- an old celadon teapot, the burnt sienna in a paisley fabric, a blade of grass, favorite candles."
    -- Sasha Emerson, interior designer

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    Make It Cozy

    Collected Over Time

    "Comfort is surrounding yourself with special things. I love to collect things in a room. This separates a merely decorated room from a fantastic one."
    -- Annette Joseph, interior designer

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    Make It Cozy

    An Added Touch

    “Beautifully finished drapes or shades are to a room what a great handbag is to someone’s day-to-day dressing: You can certainly function without them, but once you have them, you wonder how you lived without.”
    -- Patrice Cowan Bevans, interior designer

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    Make It Cozy

    Pillow Upgrade

    "Get that expensive-pillow squish from any bargain pillow cover when you swap the foam for a down insert."
    -- Michael Walters, stylist

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    Must-Haves & Standbys

    Personality

    Your home should be a reflection of you! Susan Feldman, co-founder of One Kings Lane, tells you how to add layers of personality to your decor.

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    Must-Haves and Standbys

    Flat and Fine

    “Paint the walls with flat paint -- it’s almost chalky on a wall and makes a room seem softer."
    -- Grant K. Gibson, interior designer

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    Must-Haves and Standbys

    Wrapped Up

    "Colorful throws in cashmere or wool make a space seem inviting. It's always a luxury for someone to be able to use a throw and be warmed by it."
    -- Annette Joseph, interior designer

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    Must-Haves and Standbys

    Everyday Luxuries

    "I can't give up scented candles in every room, lit almost daily; lavishly thick bath towels that I score on sale online; and, best of all, pressed bed linens."
    -- Elaine Griffin, interior designer

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    Must-Haves and Standbys

    Contain It

    "I rely on simple canvas bins and bushel baskets to hold everything from firewood to laundry."
    -- Janna A. Lufkin, interior designer

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    Budget Smarts

    Where to Go

    "Shop consignment stores. They usually take only high-quality items, and upholstered pieces are typically in excellent condition. And the price drops dramatically the longer an item sits on the floor."
    -- Matthew Mead, stylist

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    Budget Smarts

    Two for One

    "A reversible bedspread gives two looks for the price of one."
    -- Jean Norman, author

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    Budget Smarts

    Switch It Up

    "Rearrange your furniture. It’s free. Pull out all of the knickknacks and small pieces first, then reposition the large furniture. Add back only the items you truly love.”
    -- Janna A. Lufkin, interior designer

  • 21 of 30

    Budget Smarts

    Trading Game

    "Swap out pillows and throws for ones in a new color or fresh texture. You’ll get great visual punch in a room without spending a lot.”
    -- Elaine Griffin, interior designer

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    Budget Smarts

    Time It Right

    "Time your makeover when things go on sale, usually the end of the summer or end of winter. It makes redecorating attainable and affordable."
    -- Annette Joseph, interior designer

    Go to the next slides to brush up on your decorating basics.

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    Decorating Basics: Color

    Design pros often rely on the color wheel to help compose color schemes. Watch and learn the basics of how the color wheel works and how you can use it too.

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    Decorating Basics: Using White

    Avoid “super whites.” These “builder-grade” whites can be cold and glaring on walls. Try warmer off-whites tinged with undertones of honey. Or, sync white walls and trim to the color undertones of the room’s furnishings -- for example, add a tinge of blue to white in a room with blue fabrics or accents.

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    Decorating Basics: Scale

    Scale refers to visual size -- how objects look next to each other and how they fit in a room. Varying the scale is key to creating interest. Rooms need a mix of big, little, tall, and low things. Obvious choices -- small objects in a small room -- might not always work.

  • 26 of 30

    Decorating Basics: Mixing Patterns

    Consider the 60/30/10 approach. Use 60 percent of a favorite pattern, 30 percent of a second pattern, and 10 percent of a third as an accent. Try three patterns in a range of scales, such as a narrow stripe, a midsize geometric, and a bold floral. Include solids in supporting roles on a sofa or floor.

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    Decorating Basics: More on Mixing Patterns

    Designer Bridgid Coulter tells how to mix pattern like a pro.

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    Decorating Basics: Balance

    Balance works on the teeter-totter principle. If a large seating group at one end of a room lacks a counterweight -- built-ins, an armoire, or a weighty painting -- the room seems lopsided. It's not necessary to match a chunky sofa pound for pound. A grouping of a rug, a few chairs, or a table can match the visual weight of a sofa.

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    Decorating Basics: Texture

    Let opposites attract. For design interest, pair smooth and rough, sleek and nubby, shiny and matte. Layer a shaggy rug on a smooth floor, fill a silver compote with pinecones, or add metal upholstery nails to a velvet chair. Textures can steer a room toward the feeling you want -- feminine, rustic, or glamorous. They can also alter the visual temperature from warm to cool. Choose nubby textures for a soothing attitude and lots of shine for a high-energy design.

  • Next Slideshow Stylish Solutions for Awkward Spaces

    Stylish Solutions for Awkward Spaces

    In case you haven't heard, awkward is the new cool. Embrace that small corner, uneven nook, or shallow mantel with these stylish tricks that will make you wish you thought of them sooner.
    Begin Slideshow »
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