10 Simple Rules for Foolproof Decorating

With these tips, successfully decorating your own home is simple.

Entry area with area rug and mirror
Photo: Matthew Williams
  1. Palette math: Choose one color for 60 percent of the room, a second color for 30 percent, and a third color that's brighter than the others for the remaining 10 percent.
  2. A spot to sit + mirror + table (or shelf) = instant “finished” foyer.
  3. Switch up shapes. If the bulk of your living-room furniture is boxy, choose a round coffee table, ottoman, or side tables for balance.
  4. The ideal coffee table is two-thirds as wide as the sofa and a couple of inches lower than the seats (typically 14 to 16 inches high).
  5. Instead of installing them directly above the window, hang curtains high—between the ceiling and the top of the window—and your space will feel a lot loftier. (And don’t let the bottoms pool. They should just graze the floor.)
  6. Mount a mirror opposite a window. It’s the best way to bounce light around and create the illusion of a bigger room.
  7. A rug should never float in the middle of a floor. Place it under at least the front feet of a chair, a couch, or a bed to anchor it.
  8. Throw-pillow math: two 20-inch square pillows in a matching bold pattern, one on each end of the sofa; two 16-inch pillows in a coordinating solid color, overlapping the square pillows; and one lumbar with a subtle pattern (like a pinstripe) in the middle.
  9. You’ll never mess up pattern mixing if you combine bold, large-scale prints with subtle, smaller-scale prints in complementary colors.
  10. Think in threes. Similar-sized accessories on a shelf or a table look better grouped in odd numbers. Even amounts can feel too uniform and stiff.
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