Our 75 Best Home Decorating Tips Ever

modern living roommodern living roomBy Woman's Day Staff

No budget for a big renovation? No problem! Turn your house into the home of your dreams with these smart but so-simple tips from the past 75 years of Woman's Day. Photo by Thinkstock
Related: Find 15 clever uses for household items.


"Enlarge" a Small Room


1 |
Use shades of the same color on the walls, floor and ceiling so that the eye focuses on the furniture-and not the size of the space. September 1985

2 | Place a decorative mirror so it reflects a window. It will provide the illusion of space as well as a pleasing picture. January 1938

3 | Hanging vertically striped wallpaper on the longest expanse of wall or on two adjacent walls that have no windows or doors will draw the eye up. June 1975

4 | In a small bedroom, push the bed out of the corner and into the center of the room (but still keep the headboard against the wall). The room will look bigger. February 2010

5 | In a cramped living room, replace the couch with a love seat. Three people rarely sit on a sofa at once anyway. August 1992

6 | Swap wooden tables for glass or clear acrylic. Furniture you can see through opens up a space instead of closing it down. September 1985

7 | Keep the patterns in the room small-scale and to a minimum. Multiple bold prints make a room seem crowded. November 1941

8 | Light, cool colors-those in the blue-green range-will make walls recede into the background. September 1985

9 | Mounting curtain rods above window frames makes the room seem taller and grander. February 1982

10 | Open up a space by turning the hallway door into an archway. September 1985


Make a Big Room Cozier


11 |
Arrange your furniture so there is a focal point: a fireplace, a large window with a pretty view, a bookcase or a sofa with a chair at either side. November 1941

12 | Fill an empty corner with a tall plant. Place flowering plants at its base for a fuller effect. June 1975

13 | Toss a chenille throw across the end of the sofa. September 2009

14 | Big, overstuffed throw pillows always say, "Sit down and put your feet up." November 1998

15 | A simple way to add mood lighting: Install a dimmer switch. September 1998

16 | Paint the walls a dark color and tie the room together by using no more than one pattern for accents. June 1975

17 | Move chairs away from the walls and into conversation groups. Place seats within 8 feet of each other. February 1996

18 | Area rugs can help group furniture together, especially mismatched upholstered pieces. February 1961

19 | If you can't afford a large rug, buy four identical, inexpensive-but-stylish mats. June 1975

20 | Bring in an oversize piece of furniture like an armoire or piano. But place it off to one side so that it's not the focal point of the room. September 1991

21 | For a floor, alternating stripes of wood tones from dark brown to soft honey warm up a space. September 2005

22 | Mount track lights, pendant fixtures or a chandelier to lower the ceiling. August 1992

23 | Books are great for filling up empty spots. Stand or stack them on shelves, tables and the mantel. August 2003

24 | A collection of candles-on a piano, in the fireplace, anywhere-creates a homey atmosphere. Place the candles on a silver or mirrored tray for a reflected glow. February 1996

Pick the Right Colors


25 |
If you are in doubt about a color, paint a 2-foot square on a wall and live with it for a few days to see if it suits. September 1985

26 | All blues work well together. Also, any color with a blue undertone, like violet or lavender, has a soothing effect. September 2009

27 | Picking paint? Take your cues from what's in your closet. You'll be comfortable with the colors you like to wear. April 2010

28 | Consider using gray in halls or the dining room. It's a wonderful background for art and sets off glass, crystal and silver beautifully. August 1992

29 | Whether you're starting from scratch or updating a room, make a plan before introducing new colors. Take into account the hues in the furnishings you already have so your new favorite shade doesn't clash. March 1943

30 | You can't go wrong following this traditional progression: Floors are dark, walls are lighter and the ceiling is the lightest. October 1985

31 | If you're shy about using a bold color, use it as a lively accent in pillows. February 2010

32 | Buying a rug? It's one of the largest color areas in the room, and the more neutral it is, the more decorating options you will have. November 1941

33 | Don't use equal proportions of several colors. They will end up fighting for attentipon. September 1985

34 | Green goes with everything because it's a return to nature. August 1992

35 | Use warm colors in north-facing rooms. Washed-out shades, especially with a lot of blue in them, will look dull in weak natural light. September 1985

36 | When a room has a lot of natural light, you can use brighter, richer colors. May 2005

37 | Neutral doesn't have to mean "beige." Try pale shades of blue, green or pink for a hint of color that won't fight with your furnishings. October 2004
Related: Discover 10 things you didn't know you could rent.


Master the Mix

38 | For bookshelves that are attractive as well as functional, separate vertically standing books with an occasional horizontal stack, or leave spaces for decorative objects. February 1996

39 | Furniture from different periods can be used together if they have some factor in common, such as curved lines or a similar type of ornamentation, or are alike in size and scale. September 1985

40 | The more matchy-matchy your furnishings are, the harder it is to introduce a different or unusual element. August 1992

41 | To arrange a collection of framed photos on a small table, put the tallest in back and the lowest in front. May 1968

42 | Mixed patterns should share at least one of these elements: color, scale or design. October 1985

43 | If a room is visually "busy" (many patterns, small pieces), add a dark brown or black item, such as a table. Eyes will naturally settle on it. February 2010

44 | When sticking to one color-say, all-white bedding-use different textures, such as matelassé or an open knit, to create a look that's interesting and inviting. October 2010

45 | Before arranging multiple pictures on a wall, use the floor to work out placement. February 1962

46 | More than one rug can be used in the same room if the designs are similar or the colors compatible. September 1985

47 | If the table, china cabinet and sideboard make your dining room feel boxy, soften the angles with round objects on the wall, such as a mirror or decorative plates. March 2011

48 | Balance in a room makes it restful to the eyes. Extend drapery rods and curtains onto the wall on either side of an off-center window. March 1939

49 | If a piece is really beautiful but doesn't fit in, give it a special place in a hall or at the top of the stairs. August 1992

50 | If you have a variety of items that happen to be the same color, gather them from around the house and put them together to create an eye-catching display. February 2010

51 | Group furniture with proportion in mind: No high pieces alongside each other, and no low ones lined up monotonously. September 1939

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

52 | The least expensive way to make an old bathroom look new is to change the shower curtain. Try a bright, bold color or print. March 1986

53 | Adding texture-like beadboard along a wall or faux "punched tin" to a ceiling-can change the look of the room. November 2003

54 | Fads are fun as long as you don't spend too much money on them. For instance, color trends are worth following if you buy accessory pieces because they can provide a quick change for a minimal cost. October 1985

55 | Purchase an affordable fabric in a solid color. It won't betray its price the way a patterned fabric will. June 1975

56 | Labor is a huge part of decorating expenses, so the more you can do yourself-painting, sewing, etc.-the more you can spend on materials. September 2003

57 | Add pattern to just one wall so an architectural feature like a fireplace or niche will be set off. It's also a great way to put a single roll of discounted wallpaper to use. November 1941

58 | If a complete redecoration is beyond your budget, concentrate on small changes such as curtains and slipcovers. January 1938

59 | Update your kitchen by simply painting the cabinets and changing their hardware. January 1982
Related: See the 9 most innovative kitchen accessories.

60 | Don't automatically buy what costs the least. If you do, you may soon have to repaint, recover or make repairs. Economizing should mean getting good value, not inferior stuff. June 1975

61 | If you like fresh flowers but bouquets are too costly, purchase just three or four stemmed flowers and arrange them in a small-necked vase. September 1991

62 | Instead of using one big mirror, which can be pricey, hang several small ones in different sizes and shapes. If the frames are all the same material-white painted wood, brass, natural wood-the collection will look integrated. June 1979

63 | When selecting furniture, avoid overly ornate pieces. Simpler lines are easier to coordinate and more likely to stay in fashion over a long period. October 1985

64 | Wall decals are an inexpensive way to add personality. The best part: When you're ready to try something new, you can just peel them off. February 2010

65 | Give store-bought curtains a custom-made look by purchasing four pairs of panels for each window (instead of the usual two) for additional fullness. June 1997


Spruce Up a Room


66 |
For a decorative element, add trim or a few inches of contrasting fabric to the bottom of plain window shades. March 1974

67 | Place cushions on kitchen chairs. They'll look and feel more inviting. June 1997

68 | Give a prized plant something to stand on, like a painted wooden stepladder or an offbeat chair. February 1996

69 | Nail a strip of wood around the room at chair-rail height and wallpaper the area below it. June 1975

70 | Paint a piece of furniture glossy white or black-a wakeup for any room. February 1996

71 | Add colorful crystals (they make magnetic ones now) to a chandelier for a simple, affordable way to up style. November 2009

72 | Brighten the foot of the bed with a colorful quilt. February 2010

73 | Glue braid or even simple grosgrain ribbon around the bottom of a plain lampshade. February 1996

74 | Add molding to a bare door and stain or paint it in a contrasting color. May 1991

75 | Update a space by introducing a modern material such as stainless steel as an accent. April 2011


Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.

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