Our 20 Most Popular Decorating Tips
Over the years, Real Simple has shared dozens of décor tricks. Readers particularly loved these.
Paint Ombré Stairs
For an ombré effect, choose consecutive colors on the same paint strip. A small, angled brush is best for edges; use a larger brush to fill in. (From top: Icing on the Cake, Forget Me Not, Spectra Blue, Peacock Blue, Teal Ocean, $16 a quart, benjaminmoore.com for stores.)
Group Like Objects
Ornamental mirrors, especially dramatic on a dark wall, make a striking wall display.
Do the Same on a Mantel or Shelf
Do you have odds-and-ends vases in the same color family? A compact arrangement will have visual impact.
And Along a Staircase
Bookcases? No, Everything Cases
Think outside the box: A shelving unit is equally at-home in a dining room, where it holds plates, linens, and, yes, books.
Do as the Pros Do
Paint the back wall of a bookcase a hue that’s a couple of shades deeper than the room color.
Change Up a Coffee Table
A length of fabric can completely alter the look of a glass-topped coffee table. Just wrap it around foam board and attach it under the table’s top.
Deploy Wallpaper Strategically
Wallpaper can be pricey, so remember: It doesn’t have to cover an entire room or even an entire wall. Consider adding it just above or below a chair rail, if your room has one.
Then Make Use of the Leftovers
To create this scroll-like hanging, fold the top and bottom edges of a length of wallpaper over wooden rulers or dowel rods. Secure with tape and hang from a ribbon.
A Bright Idea
Shopping for a floor lamp for your living room or den? Sixty-eight inches is the ideal height: The bulb will be concealed whether you’re seated or standing. Try a floor lamp on one side of the sofa and a table lamp on the other.
Pause for Reflection
Brighten up a darker entryway or hallway by positioning a mirror to catch any natural light. Paint the mirror a clean, crisp white for added brightness.
Pick a Pattern
A small-scale pattern on window treatments will add interest and texture to a room without overwhelming it.
Or Pile Them On
A profusion of pillows adds ready-made coziness to a bed. Don’t shy away from mixing patterns. Combine large prints with small ones, florals with geometrics. Just keep your color theme consistent.
Create a Pro-Style Art Gallery
Start by choosing inexpensive frames with precut mats (here, black frames with white paper mats and silver frames with linen mats; Target and West Elm are good sources). Then print out favorite images to fill them at the size you need.
One for the Amateurs, Too
An easy way to display your kids’ masterpieces: floating frames. Rotate what’s in them as new pieces arrive home from school.
Another, very simple way to use frames, old or new: Group them on a mantel, on shelves, or even just propped up against a wall to create visually striking geometric patterns.
Put a Pin in It
Cover bulletin boards with fabric to create attractive artwork that doubles as a spot for holding reminders, notes, and more.
Mix and Match
Forget the idea that your kitchen or dining room chairs need to be a set. Instead, mix up styles, but coordinate them—here, the yellow of the chair at the head of the table and in the slipcovers pulls everything together.
Hang a collection of unused plates in an unexpected wall arrangement. Go for a variation of hues (within a family), sizes, textures. Put the most dramatic plate toward the center (lay out the plates first to experiment); attach wire plate hangers and hang plates on picture nails.
Paint a Headboard
Literally: For about $20 (in supplies), you can have the headboard of your dreams—by painting it on the wall. For how-tos, see Paint a Faux Headboard.