Most of us aren’t interior designers, and most of us probably aren’t best friends with an interior designer. Instead, we are just design-flawed common folk, attempting to decorate our apartments in a way that we think looks cozy or—if we’re feeling brave—maybe we’ll take a stab at “chic.”
But you really don’t have to hire an expensive interior designer or spend half of your savings on expensive furniture to make your home look better. Here are five simple design tricks and decorating ideas to instantly make your home look classy and a little more cozy.
1. Stay Away From Bad Wood Finishes
Interior designer Emily Henderson told BuzzFeed, when decorating your home, you should avoid wood finishes that sound like foods, such as espresso, cherry or maple. These are usually the bedroom sets or mass-produced TV sets that big, chain stores sell, and they can make a space look cheap.
Henderson’s rule for wood is a pretty simple one: “Don’t buy something that is so off-colored that it doesn’t look real, as if it couldn’t exist in nature,” she told BuzzFeed.
Instead, try to go with lightly stained woods like walnut, rosewood or oak. I like to go fishing at thrift stores or second-hand antique stores. You’re more likely to find something that’s real wood – and maybe even someone’s old family heirloom.
2. Use Bigger Area Rugs
New York designer Cheryl Eisen told Good Housekeeping that bigger area rugs help create an illusion that the room itself is bigger. If you only have smaller rugs, then just place them side by side.
Try to stick with neutral colors, and if you really want to make the space feel bigger, try hanging mirrors — all of the same size — on one wall, like in the photo Good Housekeeping used.
3. Make Or Buy A Focal Piece
Eisen told Good Housekeeping that a room simply won’t seem as put together without a great focal point. This usually means at least one big, stellar piece of art.
Eisen is a huge fan of tripychs, which are large pieces of art that are often separated on three canvases. Often, these canvases are hung with an inch or two of space between them, but they still create one cohesive image.
If you can’t afford a huge piece of art, then make one yourself. The beautiful piece in Good Housekeeping’s photo was something that Eisen actually did herself with three canvases and paint. If you’re not an artist, go for something abstract.
If you have kids, cover a whole room with newspaper and dedicate a Saturday to painting the canvases.
4. Try Making Over Just One Wall
Both Good Housekeeping and Country Living suggest making over one wall in your home with pretty wallpaper, a dark color, wood paneling or something textured like grass cloth. Accent walls are often best in living rooms or master bedrooms, but you could add an accent wall to almost any room in your home if you really wanted to.
Country Living featured this tutorial for a wood paneled master bedroom accent wall by Jenna Sue Design. And Good Housekeeping suggested this cheaper grass cloth wallpaper, because some wallpaper can get pretty pricy.
5. Avoid Dated Living Room Furniture
Henderson told Buzzfeed that generic, dated furniture is the most common design flaw that she sees in her work.
Think of those L-shaped couches. Yes, they’re comfortable and you can fit six people on them, but you’re a grown up now. It’s time to move onto something more sophisticated (perhaps even “chic”).
Henderson suggests looking for simple, minimalist sofas that aren’t overstuffed or have too many pillows. You should also look for high-quality fabric in colors that will match with most art or decorative throw pillows.