5 Unexpected Decor Ideas to Add Interest to Every Room

Now this is how you wake up a boring room.

Unexpected Design Ideas, Real Simple Home 2021

There will be times when you fall into a home decor rut, especially when you've lived in your house for years. After a while, staring at the same wall color and lounging on the same furniture in the same spot can start to feel monotonous—but it's an easy problem that a little paint (or wallpaper, or reshuffling of furniture) can fix. Seeking inspiration for our next room makeover, we spotted a treasure trove of unexpected decor ideas in the 2021 Real Simple Home. From bold design ideas to borrow from the pros—like a vibrant stripe painted across the ceiling—to simple switch-ups, here are some creative ways to shake up an uninspired space.

01 of 05

Show Your Stripes

Gold stripe on ceiling in living room
Christopher Testani

For a bold decor idea that's guaranteed to attract attention, follow designer Natalie Papier's lead and paint a wide stripe down the center of the ceiling, then continue the hue onto the far wall (in this case, a built-in bookcase). The color shown here is Bugle Call by Valspar, a rich shade of orange. To achieve the crisp, clean lines on either side of the ceiling stripe, painter's tape is your best friend.

02 of 05

It Takes Two

Real Simple Home 2021, Basement with green walls and ping pong table
Photography by Christopher Testani

Two hues are better than one in the multi-functional basement designed by Raili Clasen. On the top portion of the walls is Ripe Olive, and on the bottom five feet is Belmont Green, both by Valspar. By choosing two shades of the same hue, the effect is dramatic without being jarring. Consider recreating a similar effect in your own space using shades of blue or gray.

03 of 05

Flower Power

Unexpected Design Ideas, Real Simple Home 2021

In the primary bedroom, Emily Henderson and Keyanna Bowen opted for floral wallpaper—Artemis by House of Hackney—on just the top half of the wall, leaving the lower wall paneling white. When decorating with a pattern that could potentially overwhelm the room, consider covering just the top portion, and leave the area below the chair rail a solid color.

04 of 05

Off the Shelves

green paint in office
Christopher Testani

For an unexpected decor idea that doesn't require picking up a paintbrush or installing any wallpaper, borrow some inspiration from Ryia Jose's attic office in the Real Simple Home and position artwork in front of, rather than on, the bookshelves. This details makes a room feel layered and adds depth to the space.

05 of 05

Outdoor Oasis


To transform a covered porch into another room of the house, designer Eduardo Rodriguez brought some common entryway pieces outside: a cozy (yet weatherproof) rug and a console table for storage and decorative details. The addition of a hanging outdoor chair offers the best seat in (or outside) the house.

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