As the temperatures rise, installing a pool in your backyard probably sounds like a really good idea — until you learn that the average cost of a backyard pool is $20,000 to $30,000. Instead of dropping a ton of cash just to stay cool this summer, you may want to consider a stock tank pool.
These inexpensive farm staples, originally designed as water troughs for livestock and affectionately referred to as “hillbilly hot tubs,” are popping up in more backyards across the country than ever before. “More and more, we see our customers turning to this innovative solution as a way to enjoy many of the benefits of a pool without the high cost,” reads the Tractor Supply Company‘s website.
Not only are they more affordable than traditional pools, they’re easier to set up, too. Once you’ve chosen a smooth area in your yard, you can seal and install the cow trough and even add a pump to make it easy to fill and clean.
To maintain the tub, drain it after use or treat it like any other pool. “We use an above ground pool pump/filter,” Annie McCreary, the owner of a stock pool, wrote on Instagram. “We do add chlorine as needed, just like a regular pool/spa. I test it daily with the pool strips, [and], I shock it once a week — so easy! If it gets too funky, it’s easy to drain and re-fill.”
We think the standard galvanized metal look offers rustic charm, but you can also customize or enhance the pools to complement the style of your home. Some users position them in the ground and add surrounding rock tiles or flooring, while others add wooden decks or siding. For around $350, plus the cost of an $89 pump, you can easily add a country pool to your yard this summer.
When you spend all day, every day, looking at pictures of interiors, you pick up a few tricks. Here’s one of my favorites—something I’ve spotted in a few different interiors, and that always looks great. As an added bonus, it’s cheaper than buying new furniture—and a super easy DIY.
The styling secret I’m referring to? A single long, low shelf. (You can also double or triple these up, as suits your needs and the architecture of the space.) The single shelf, floating a few inches above the floor, has the effect of a console, but with an added visual lightness. Above, you can prop (or hang) paintings and objets d’art. Below the shelf is a good spot for stacks of books (or shoes, or what have you), so you’re getting added storage, too.
This particular example, which doubles the number of shelves, is from the Paris apartment of designer Vanessa Bruno seen on Interiors Magasinet a space that, although I discovered it many years ago, continues to be a favorite. The bottom shelf looks to be resting right on the floor, and in this way the two shelves form a sort of un-console, a cabinet without any doors. Besides adding welcome definition to a blank wall, the two shelves provide storage for books on the bottom, and a base for a rotating collection of art on the top.
This room from Stadshem, via Inspirera Mera, incorporates three shelves, but the idea is the same — the console-that-isn’t. The particularly nice thing about displaying art on a shelf like this is that you don’t need to commit to any particular combination, and can change things at will as you see fit.
This instance of the long, low shelf, from Charlotte Minty via Interior Junkie, takes advantage of a short wall in an attic bedroom, where traditional furniture just wouldn’t fit. Although the bottom shelf floats only a few inches above the floor, this helps to contribute to an overall feeling of lightness.
This interior from Char and the City is proof that this doesn’t just work in the living room. It’s also quite nice in a small entryway, where the shelf creates a spot for shoes below and bags above. One thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re only going with one or two shelves, is that this look will have the most impact if you pick a shelf with a thicker profile, and one with a concealed mounting bracket, so it almost seems like an extension of the wall. (IKEA’s Lack wall shelves are a good example of this.)
From Poppytalk, here’s another example of the style, although you’ll notice, if you look closely, that the shelf has a support on one side, and is probably just a low bench. This is a great way to get the look if you’re not allowed to make holes in the wall.
One further no-holes-in-the-wall solution, from Lily, is to pair together a few 1x Kallax shelves. Without hanging anything on the wall, you can still do the movable art display above, and, as a bonus, the Kallax makes a great spot for storing records (or even books).
Caleb Anderson and Jenny Kirschner weigh in on the decorating dilemma
A rug typically seems like a no-brainer when decorating a space, whether it’s a long runner in the hallway, a traditional hand-loomed creation underneath the bed, or maybe even a zebra hide below a foyer’s entry table. Rugs can add a layer of warmth to a room with their luxurious materials and textures, and they can reflect your personal style depending on the pattern and color. But when you have to constantly vacuum up the shedding layers of wool, or reposition furniture to cover up that spot of red wine you spilled last weekend, the design staple can start to seem like an endless chore, prompting you to question whether a rug is really necessary at all. Here, AD tapped two interior designers to make the case for their position on the conundrum.
Rugs, rugs, and more rugs
“Rugs are singularly one of the most transformative elements in a room. They elevate an interior with different colors, textures, and patterns as well as ground a space. I once used a bright citrine over-dyed antique rug in a bedroom to dramatically set off the otherwise neutral space, and the impact was quite compelling and rich. The relevance of floor coverings spans cultures and centuries, resulting in an incredible range of styles and materials, which make them appropriate for almost any setting. Whether in a subtle rich texture, like the novel metallic rugs by Hechizoo and Pinton, the luxe woven leathers of Charles Schambourg, or a vibrant pattern, rugs are an integral part of a well-designed room.” —Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson
No rug necessary
“People who tend to go rug-free usually entertain and fear that a carpet will act as a catch-all for delicious accidents that invariably happen at dinner parties. For example, in a very grand, pre-war apartment I’m currently designing, my client specifically did not want a rug in her family’s formal dining room since she entertains on a regular basis. But without one, the existing space felt unfinished and a little barren. Her dining table and chairs were just floating in the middle of the space—so lonely. As a solution, I am in the process of creating an ‘area rug’ with beautiful mosaic tile. This will not only provide the same grounding appearance that a rug imparts when placed under a table and collection of chairs but also add some color, pattern, and durability to the space. I am also constructing a fabulous wall covering that adds visual interest to further make up for the lack of warmth that an area rug typically delivers. I think it’s important to compensate in situations where the impracticality of a rug outweighs the aesthetic benefits.” —Jenna Dina Kirschner
From DIY desks to hidden wardrobes, these easy updates will transform your pad. Plus, five jobs for the bank holiday
Get to work
If you don’t have room for an office, but need somewhere to put a slim desk, scour your home for “dead” space like this, by a bedroom window. Attach a piece of white plywood – cut to fit your space – to a pair of trestle legs (try Ikea’s Oddwald). Then splash out on an Eames DAW armchair.
Houseplants are making a comeback. Cacti and succulents, with their architectural shapes and low maintenance, are hugely popular, but for more drama and scale, it’s time to revisit some 1970s favourites. Evergreens such as ferns, spider plants and swiss cheese plants, with their striking silhouettes, are seriously back in vogue, say the authors of At Home With Plants, published this month by Mitchell Beazley. As are woven hanging baskets: Ondine Ash makes wonderfully retro woven designs. Create a display in an empty corner, close to natural light. Pictured left, from left: maidenhair fern, Pachira money plant and a Cereus cactus.
A lick of dark paint behind open, white kitchen shelves brings their contents to life; Farrow & Ball’s classic Down Pipe is a good match. Find similar chopping boards at Heal’s; and try Toast (toa.st) and French Connection for hand-thrown artisanal ceramics.
Hang it all
Create a wardrobe from an unused alcove or nook: screen it off with a curtain, add a hanging rail and paint the same colour as the surrounding walls. Team it with a stool; Etsy stocks Moroccan Ben Ourain cushions. (Taken from Space Works, a book of design and decorating ideas, published by Ryland Peters & Small; rylandpeters.com).
Fallen in love with some rustic shutters, but don’t know what to do with them now they’re home? Fix them to a bedroom wall and add instant character. Find similar at salvage company Lassco. A section of tree trunk adds a further rustic touch, its rough texture contrasting with the floaty curtains and crisp bedlinen. Find offcuts at woodnet.org.uk. Taken from (as before).
A closet with character
Wallpaper is best avoided in bathrooms because of the effects of humidity, but a small cloakroom is the perfect spot for a quirky feature wall. Here, pages from a secondhand novel have been pasted on the wall, with a sheet of glass used as a splashback above the sink. Habitat’s glossy Aimee mirror is a good match for this. Taken from Space Works (as before).
Revamp stairs by painting them, runner-style. Here, the floor is painted in Dove Tale and the stripes are Babouche, Mahogany and Arsenic – all by Farrow & Ball.
Running out of storage space, but can’t bear to throw books away? If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings, build over-the-top shelves above door frames to use the whole space between floor and ceiling. Taken from Space Works (as before).
Five quick bank holiday jobs
1 Deep clean No excuses: spring is the time to go a bit further than dusting and vacuuming, and tackle winter wear and tear. Pressure-hose the patio, beat your rugs outside, wash the windows, and clean scuff marks made by bikes and prams off the hallway walls. For stubborn wall marks, touch up with paint.
2 Go minimal Take your spring cleaning to the next level and get rid of your possessions. Japanese minimalist Fumio Sasaki, author of Goodbye, Things, advises throwing away anything you have in multiples (scissors, salad servers, flip-flops); anything you haven’t used in a year; and your storage containers – when your things no longer have a home, you will get rid of them faster.
3 Kitchen clear-out Stale biscuits, mouldy, pre-referendum pesto, pasta dregs in six open packets: begone! Throw out anything that’s out of date or unlikely to be eaten, then decant foods such as pasta, rice and flour into labelled containers. Cooking will be so much more fun.
4 Get gardening Now is the time to plant out summer bulbs such as alliums and agapanthus, either in a warm, sunny position in the garden, or in window boxes to prettify your sills. Place broken pieces of terracotta at the bottom of each box to help drainage, before adding soil and bulbs.
5 Tackle your wardrobe Store your clothes properly, Marie Kondo-style. Fill your drawers with shoe boxes to use as dividers, then fold T-shirts, tops and socks lengthways: make a long rectangle, and fold into a little package. Store them vertically in neat rows; this way, you can see everything at a glance
Hayden Panettiere knows a thing or two about creating a super cozy abode. The Nashville star gave us a peek at her Tennessee digs in a home tour for People, where you can see a striking aquarium that she and her daughter call their “happy place,” and a wall of firewood in the living room that serves as a rustic art installation. Check out the full tour on People.com, then scroll down to see how to imitate her country-chic style in your space.
Panettiere wanted a rustic vibe in her living room, so she and her designer came up with the uber creative idea of filling the shelves with firewood. The rest of the living room aims for comfort with a monochromatic palette, earth-toned accessories, and a few odes to her Heroesdays.
You might not have a massive bookshelf to fill with logs, but you can still nail that cozy cabin vibe with a coffee table made of sticks. Keep the rest of the room light and bright with a white sofa and pale green accents. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, copy the star’s love of aquariums and pick up a stylish fishbowl.
A perfectly balanced mix of pink, purple, and white make two-year-old Kaya’s nursery sweet and trendy. Her favorite parts about the space are the snuggly rocking chair and the closetful of hand-me-down clothes from Hayden’s own childhood. Oh, and the fact she can fit into the toddler bed for cuddle sessions — too cute!
Create the ultimate upscale nursery with bright pink accents, a mod crib, and some enormous stuffed animals. Then bring the warmth with a comfy rocker, an adorable elephant side table, and teal storage bins to keep the little one’s toys organized.
If your Pinterest boards are overflowing with marble kitchens, statement wallpaper, and mid-century modern Amazon finds (two-day shipping, y’all!), it may be time to *seriously* consider embarking on a springtime renovation. But because renos are practically synonymous with stress, we’ve decided to lighten the load a bit by downloading the latest apps that’ll make your spring refresh worry-free.
1. Colorsnap: Finding the perfect paint color for your feature wall can be a HUGE challenge. Luckily, this sweet app makes it easy to save that oh-so-perfect color that you’ve spotted on your morning jaunt or coffee break. Simply snap a pic of the item and the app will match your image with the corresponding Sherwin-Williams paint color. It’s really that easy!
2. 1stdibs: Whatever style of furniture you’re looking for, you’ll find it in abundance at this handy online marketplace. Along with a few other goodies like fashion and jewelry finds, 1stdibs is a great place to get a deal on those high-end pieces that you’ve been swooning over (think Eames and Hermès).
3. bHome: This handpicked group of home and garden experts are here to give you all the inspiration you need to get started on your exciting renovation. By giving users easy access to the expert’s blogs, social media, specialty shops, AND the actual experts themselves, this all-in-one app will surely get your inspiration juices flowing before it’s time to nail down a color palette.
4. Artsy: No renovation is complete without new art. Artsy is a swanky new app that gives you access to over 270,000 pieces on-the-go. You can contact galleries, bid on life auctions, and learn everything you’d ever want to about the art world… all while scrolling on your iPhone.
5. Flipp: While most people use this convenient coupon clipper app for their weekly grocery shopping, it’s also a great way to save on other renovation items too (paintbrushes and picture frames are a necessity, folks!). Search by item, brand, or category to quickly find the best deals in your area in stores like Walmart and Target.
6. Houzz: It’s no big surprise that this beast of an app is a favorite on our list, as it’s frequently used by designers and home owners alike. Not only can you browse more than 11 million high-res pics of home interiors and exteriors, but you can also shop for more than five million products and materials (including cabinets, lighting, and furniture) right from the app.
7. Property Brothers Handbook: If you haven’t seen Drew and Jonathan Scott’s Property Brothers on TV yet, we highly suggest binge watching EVERYTHING before you tackle your reno. This complementary app is also a must as it includes hundreds of renovation, design, and decorating tips, as well as a neat toolkit to help YOU start planning your own dream home.
8. Pennies: We probably don’t have to tell you, but renovations are HELLA expensive. This app lets you keep track of your spending and save money with an easy-to-use interface and sleek design. Not only will it help you stay on track with all your everyday expenses, but you can also set up a new budget. It’s flexible, convenient, and totally a great option to spend your pocket change on.
9. Brit + Co: We’re not ones to toot our own horns, but our app is definitely a great source to find content about colorful DIYs, home accessories, and much, much more. Save what you love directly on the app by creating a Brit + Co account, and make sure to tag us in your weekend products on social media!
10. Roomle: This room planning tool comes with an impressive furniture catalog to furnish and visualize your designs in 3D. You can plan out your spaces true-to-scale, find the perfect furniture to fit your space, and even see them IRL with an augmented reality function that’s similar to Pokemon Go.
11. Thumbtack: Finding the right professionals to tackle the itty bitty details of your renovation is no longer an impossible task. Within a few hours, Thumbtack will introduce you to up to five available and qualified experts to take on your work. You can compare custom quotes, reviews, and profiles to make sure you’re happy and comfortable BEFORE you invite them over.
12. Recycle Coach: Whether you’re having a huge renovation or a small DIY sesh, odds are you’re going to be left with a few recyclables when you’re finished. This app makes it easy to know what goes where, with detailed disposal instructions specific to your area. Plus, you also get a convenient calendar to track bin collection days!
13. Wayfair: This mega convenient furniture company is all about letting you browse and find the home products you need without the hassle of visiting a store… or paying full price. With over seven million home products available and TONS of deeply discounted pieces regularly, we definitely suggest downloading this bad boy before refreshing your pad this spring.
One of the hottest new trends in the world of wallcoverings is marble-print wallpaper. These swirly, fantastical papers range from more abstract, marbleized patterns to ones that are almost indistinguishable from actual stone. Whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, marble wallpaper is a great way to bring a touch of luxury — and a little scope for the imagination — to your home. Here are some of our favorite patterns.
Murals Wallpaper offers a huge selection of marble wallpaper — 27 different patterns, three of which are pictured above. Their wallpapers come in black marble and pink marble and more abstracted marbleized patterns — pretty much any pattern you can imagine. These are murals, and not traditional rolled wallpaper: you specify the dimensions, and the paper will be printed to match the size of your wall.
Area Environments makes three different blue-and-gold marbleized papers: Dispersing (pictured above), Moments and Seeing from a Distance. Each is more swirly and fantastical than the last, perfect for making a really, really big statement. (That’s Dispersing in the office pictured up top.) These are also murals, printed to match the size of your wall.
Type: Paste to wall. Also available in linen and canvas substrates.
Price: Varies depending on the size of the mural
Samples: 8″ x 10″ samples for $3, 16″ x 24″ samples for $15
The folks at Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper were way out ahead of the trend towards marble wallpaper, and their designs are still some of my favorites. Their original collection includes the marbleized paper pictured above, and their Inverted Spaces collection, featured in a couple of the rooms in the slideshow up top, has swirly, gold-and-silver touched patterns that resemble stone but also conjure up images of the heavens. These are also murals, available in custom sizes.
I’m sure we could all find general guidelines on how to design a room. Probably many of those guidelines would come from successful designers who make their living off of creating beautiful spaces. But sometimes designing a room is much more challenging to the layperson than what it seems it should be. Why doesn’t that painting feel right in my space? How can I balance that huge piece of furniture? How can I have a single focal feature…when I’m looking at five in one room?
It’s these questions, and many more, that deal with subtle parts of room design, that may pose the biggest challenge in creating a harmonious space. In this article, we’re going to look at various guidelines for room design success in a variety of different areas. Best of luck to you in your room design adventures!
Determine the room’s purpose.
The best way to design a room is to determine what functions need to happen in that room. Even small rooms can accommodate a variety of tasks by strategizing these functions – sliding a chair up to a table on the wall instantly becomes a “desk” without changing anything else in the room’s décor or layout.
“When people have great rooms, they put their television in there, their kids play in there, they’ll even eat in there,” says designer Katie Leavy of Washington DC- HGTV. When space is at a premium, it will actually make designing the room easier if you can narrow down the room’s purpose(s).
In other words, you’ll want to let the real purpose of a room determine not only the décor of the room but also its design. In fact, it is this real purpose of the room that should be the foundation and the strongest voice in the space’s overall design.
Where possible, it’s always a good idea to incorporate a “command center” of sorts into public functioning spaces such as the kitchen. Because so much happens in this hub of the home, having an easily accessible space to control and/or structure the chaos is an element of excellent room design.
Choose multi-tasking furniture.
Two armless chairs pushed together can resemble a sofa, but they are much more maneuverable and versatile to meet seating needs as they arise. This is an excellent room design option for the home that experiences more than its share of entertaining events.
Maintain proportion between the room and the furniture.
Sofas are becoming larger and more plush in mainstream furnishings; however, this doesn’t necessarily equate to “better.” In some cases (e.g., smaller spaces), the larger sofas actually make the room design worse.
There are smaller-scale sofa options available these days that take up less space physically than big-box sofas but don’t skimp on the comfort, which is key. In determining the furniture that would work best in your room design, pull out some graph paper and a measuring tape, and color things in so you can see what you have to work with visually before you buy.
As a general rule, it’s best to always match furniture’s scale to the room’s overall scale. An oversized sofa in a small room will look out of place and make the space feel cramped. Similarly, a tiny sofa in a great room might struggle to feel or look effective. Keep proportion in mind as you design a room.
Create a sense of visual flow.
Ideally, as you design your room, you’ll be able to emphasize the best parts of your space while de-emphasizing the underwhelming or negative characteristics. This is an important part of room design – strategically bringing out the best so that it seems, essentially, like a perfect space (even when it’s not!).
Begin with a piece that invites someone into the room. This could be something lively, complex, bright, dramatic, sculptural, artistic, or intriguing. Pique curiosity of people at the door; let them wonder what it is that is making this, say, living room feel different from other living rooms.
Raise the eyeline by strategically designing the room with some higher, taller, and/or more vertical pieces. While most furniture sits at waist-height or lower, that doesn’t mean the room has to end there! Frame out the upper space with a taller floor lamp, a gorgeous piece of wall art, or some shelving.
Include something cozy in your room design; no one wants to linger in a cold, harsh-feeling room, but if there’s at least something in there to warm up the space, “cozify” it, it will be a much more welcome space. This can be something simple, like a soft throw pillow, cashmere blanket, or comfy chair.
Don’t forget to accompany the cozy object(s) with something that wows. Incorporate an oversized, super shiny, or visually loud piece in the room’s design, preferably positioned in a can’t-miss-it, prime-time focal space. Like this crystal chandelier over a round glass coffee table.
In keeping with designing a room that is inviting and familiar-feeling, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate something natural into the space. In general, natural objects help to round out the edges, soften the lines, and overall bring the interior design down to a beautifully organic, relatable level. Even modern and minimalist spaces are well-served with a hint of Mother Nature in their midst.
Despite what most realtors will tell you when you’re trying to sell your house (e.g., “Get rid of anything personal”), you can certainly incorporate personal items into your regular design. Think of family photos, pieces that have sentimental value, favorite books, or other items that truly mean something to you. Of course, these don’t need to be front-and-center in the design.
Consider adding a “weird thing” into your room’s design. The weird thing is what stops the eye and prompts people to ask, ‘what the heck is that?’ or ‘where on earth did you find that thing? This could be anything, really – artwork, miscellaneous décor, sculpture, etc. There are two trains of thought on designing a room with the “weird thing” in mind:
Weird Thing Idea 1: Make an investment into a large-scale item that oozes with personality, history, culture, and/or global appreciation and travel. Make this a focal feature of the room itself.
Here’s a look at the back of this unique sofa. For the bamboo lover in all of us, no?
Weird Thing Idea 2: Opt for multiple smaller-yet-related weird things to place randomly throughout your space, to keep the eyes moving and pique curiosity. It’ll add layers of interest to your room’s design.
Last of all, as you consider what makes a room one that you want to really spend time in, you’ll find that finishing touches play a simple but significant role in the space’s overall design. You want your room to not just look real; you want it to actually be real. A stack of books, a bowl of fruit, a basket of magazines or newspapers, an unfolded throw.
Commit to a cohesive style.
As you peruse the interwebs and glossy interiors photos and literature, it is easy to love many things about many spaces – even completely opposing styles. While we all probably love bits and pieces about a variety of decorating styles, it would be a disservice to any space to try to incorporate everything we loved into that single area. So as you design your room, determine the style you want, and stick with that.
It doesn’t mean that, if your space reflects a certain style, you dislike all other styles. Not at all! It simply means that your particular room’s design, for this moment, will be cohesive and will flow. This creates positive energy and beautiful spaces. A good friend once told me, “I enjoy good design in any style, even if it’s not my favorite style. The key is that it must have integrity and commit to its own style.”
When you stick to a single style, your decorating efforts actually are made easier because the range of options for your space is narrowed. Of course, your personal touch is still required – don’t buy everything as a matching set, for example, because that’s the generic kind of cohesive that makes for a boring room design.
That being said, you probably don’t want your space to feel stale a year or two down the road. So don’t confine yourself to one specific look as the end-all of your design efforts. Instead, let your space follow the pattern of your life; that is, allow it to change as you do.
“Remember that your home should always be evolving, just as you are… Your nest should always be a place of comfort and inspiration” states Kelly Framel of online magazine The Glamourai – Elledecor. Embrace the fact that designing a room will be a lifelong work in progress (albeit a fun, satisfying kind of work!).
Plan for well-placed lighting.
No one likes to sit at a dining table with off-centered lighting, especially if you’re the one sitting on the unfortunate darker side of the table. The same goes for lighting in any room – design the space with lighting in mind, so that all areas benefit from being well-lit and/or dimmed as the need arises.
Don’t fear blank space.
Some of us may feel like the only way to ensure a room is designed well is to pack it full of decoration. This is unfortunate, because one of the most gorgeous foundations a room can have is plenty of soothing, breathable white space. Blank space is luxurious almost anywhere, particularly in designing a room. Eliminate a coffee table, keep a wall blank, slide furniture away from the wall “just because.” Embrace the ability for air and light to flow in, around, and through your space unchecked.
Look at various furniture options.
One way to approach a dining room’s design is to consider whether or not a dining bench might be more appropriate (and desirable) than dining chairs. You’ll need to consider the lack of back support that a bench has and weigh that trait against the ability to squeeze in more people when needed and decide which element works best for your life and room design.
Choose well-designed functional items.
So, your bedroom needs a ceiling fan or else you’re going to roast, slowly but surely, to death. Ceiling fans have gotten a bad rap in not-so-distant history, because many of them have been ugly, squeaking things. You may shudder at first, but when it comes down to it, there are tons of well-designed and aesthetic functional pieces (such as ceiling fans) out there. When your space requires a pragmatic component in order to be physically functional and enjoyable, opt for one that’s beautifully designed.
Let your seating options be plentiful.
If you’ve ever walked into a room where there’s no obvious place to sit, chances are, you didn’t stay there for long. Having a place for everyone to be able to sit, should they desire, is key in a well-designed room (at least, a room that involves entertaining and visiting). Seating doesn’t need to be confined to just couches and chairs, though. Think benches, ottomans, floor pillows, stools, etc.
Despite its lack of padding, I can’t imagine this (anteater?) bench being anything other than the best seat in the house. Rub its head for good luck, right?
Turn storage into part of the room design.
Most of us, save the stout minimalists out there, require space for the more-than-meets-the-eye amount of “stuff” that makes our lives tick. Rather than bemoan the fact that your storage space is limited, flip your thinking around to focus on, “Look how beautiful my storage is!” Whether it’s woven baskets, cube ottomans, matching or coordinated tubs, built-in shelving, or any other storage method, make it a beautiful part of your room’s design.
Include a chair in the bedroom.
Most bedrooms will do well to have a place to sit down and relax that is separate from the bed. A chair tucked away in the corner of the room, squeezed next to the nightstand, for example, is sufficient. This is because bedrooms aren’t always just for sleeping. They are often retreats from the rest of the household and/or day, and having a comfortable place to sit is an excellent design choice to facilitate this function.
Design around a signature piece.
Sometimes, it is a beloved piece that you already have in your possession that can be the springboard to an entire room’s successful, even perfect, design. “It can be one tile, one chair, or one pillow,” says designer Katie Leavy. So, instead of trying to design a room beginning with the style you like, work backwards – design the space by considering what styles are inspired by a beloved signature item?
Think outside the box.
Some of the most memorable interiors are those where the design is deliciously atypical. A nature-themed bathroom, for example, complete with trees on the shower wall and a bucket on a floating shelf, is both fun and functional. Remember: Your space doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. It shouldn’t look like everyone else’s, in fact. Because that look has already been done, by everyone else. Design your room to suit you.
Plan for easy accessibility.
Keep at least one drawer and shelf within arm’s reach of the bathroom sink. This is a room design requirement for tiny, functional spaces such as the bathroom that will help to maintain organization in even the most streamlined-looking bathroom. (Because you can hide necessary items away, thereby not detracting from the décor or the function.)
Play with contrasts.
This is where room design gets fun! Make choices that are unexpected as you mix and match, play with contrast, and challenge design expectations. Upholster antique furniture with modern fabric, mount gilded faux taxidermy, or display an abstract and boldly painted set of (faux) skulls. The juxtaposition of these designs is visually appealing, intelligent, and ultimately quite fun.
Work with groupings.
Many designers swear by the magic of grouping objects by odd numbers – threes or fives, for example. This works well for objects on display, either on a tabletop or on a wall. Working in pairs (e.g., two objects) is often more feasible when dealing with furniture, such as club chairs or side tables. Whatever number you choose to group your objects in, be sure to keep it proportionate to the objects themselves and your available space overall.
The accent wall has been a “thing” for a long, long time. More than just a way to save on money and time when painting, adding an accent wall to a room in your home can be a way to add life to a dull space. It can be a way to introduce a bold color — but not overwhelm the rest of your decor.
But even more than that, adding an accent wall can be a way to make rooms appear bigger or smaller than they are. You might not always be able to do a major renovation to knock down a wall, but you can absolutely make a wall seem to visually move closer or farther away with color.
Dubious? Check out the fun GIFs below, showing these lovely rooms with their original accent wall, and then with that wall color digitally removed. You can see just how powerful an impact color — dramatically dark or subtly light — can have on the feel of a room.
The living room in artist Ana’s Panama City home is expansive, with dark, glossy wood floors. Without an accent wall, her lovely modern furniture gets lost. With the dark accent wall, contrast defines a minimal and contemporary feel. Ana doesn’t specify the exact color in her house tour, but Farrow & Ball’s Drawing Room Blue looks like a great fit.
A charcoal painted accent wall in this Cape Town home’s master bedroom is Silk Aluminium from Plascon. It could be argued that a room without a dramatic accent wall is more soothing, but in this case, it would simply be drab.
Of course using a bold, strong crimson color like the one in this kid’s room would make a bold impact, but what’s more surprising is how the color on that one wall really seems to anchor the whole room. Without it, the eclectic pieces seem to float a little aimlessly. But with it, the entire look feels cohesive. Though Dana didn’t share the exact color she used in her Australian home, Sherwin Williams’ Real Red would be a great choice.
Sometimes it’s not even a wall in a room that benefits most from an accent wall. As seen in this gorgeous Australian family home, painting a hallway wall a pretty pink color impacts the view from the kitchen and living room. It’s a soft, subtle blush color, but it makes the rest of the home feel fresh and fun. The exact shade of this pink isn’t mentioned in the tour, but I think Sherwin Williams’ Bella Pink would work nicely.
Even in a monochromatic room, like in this Hong Kong home, with just black and white, magic can happen with the addition of an accent wall. In this open plan space, the black accent wall helps create a cozier feel.
Rhonda, the co-founder and creative director of the design shop Darkroom, didn’t even need to paint an entire wall to achieve accent vibes. She painted her bedroom walls of her London rental flat in graphic blocks of color using discounted, pre-mixed blue paint.
You don’t always have to go with a dark or dramatic color to make a big visual impact with an accent wall. As evidenced by the living room in the Toronto rental shared by stylish couple Justin and Meg. Try Sherwin Williams’ Swimming for your own light blue living room hue.
Sometimes, sitting on the couch with your computer propped in your lap just doesn’t cut it. When it comes to really getting work done, there’s nothing like an actual, dedicated workspace. And you may think that living in a small space means you don’t have room for a desk, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Check out these ten examples of workspaces cleverly squeezed into the smallest of spaces.
Above: If you have a particularly wide hallway or entryway, why not add a desk? This little workspace, from Entrance (via My Domaine), makes use of a vintage desk (or is that maybe a small hall table?), but if space is tight, a wall-mounted desk would work great, as well.
Wall mounted desks are one of my favorite solutions for small spaces: they take up way less space than their four-legged counterparts, and you can put one practically anywhere. In this photo from Cup of Jo, a deep shelf mounted under the windows adds an attractive workspace to a sunny little spot.
Let’s say hanging shelves isn’t an option for you. Well, a leaning desk, like this one from West Elm, might just be the solution you need. Jessica added one to her NYC apartment, with a fabric-wrapped panel behind for pinning inspirations.
From Design*Sponge, here’s a clever solution that makes use of the depth of a windowsill. The computer sits in the window, while a wall-mounted shelf holds the keyboard and mouse. Add a rolling cart for storage, and you’ve got a complete desk setup that barely takes up any square footage at all.
A vintage school desk is small enough to fit inobtrusively into a corner of your living room, but just the right size for an occasional workstation. Milo and Jessica use this spot as a workspace, and store their computer when it’s not in use to avoid visual clutter.