The Editors Weigh In: Small Design Details That Make a Big Impact

Vibrant, dramatic wall paint makes a big visual impact in just about any room. As does a patterned sofa in the living room or a graphic rug in the kitchen. But it's not just the big, bold design decisions that make noticeable changes to the look or feel of your home. In this post, members of the Apartment Therapy editorial team weigh in on the smaller design details they think make a big difference.

Carrie: Curtain height

Windows come in all shapes and sizes and it's really worth the time to carefully consider where you want your curtains to fall and take the right steps to make that happen. Be careful not to buy curtains that are too short or you'll end up at that awkward, capri-pant length. If your curtains are too long, you can easily adjust them with iron-on hemming tape.


Dabney: Contrast

Sleek dining room chairs next to a rustic wood tabletop make me shiver. They are like a couple in a fiery relationship that disagree all the time, but still love and respect each other. Because it's that welcome dissonance that keeps things interesting. You are, in fact, keeping things healthy and alive when you slip a modern chrome chair into an otherwise traditional room, break up a bunch of rectangular furniture with a wonderfully curvy floor lamp, or paint the floor of an all-white room black. Once you appreciate the delicious surprises that come with such seemingly strange bedfellows, you'll never go back to one-dimensional, blah rooms that fail to stimulate your senses.


Tara: Layer, layer, layer

Layering adds instant interest by creating visual depth. Layer your rugs, layer your art, and definitely layer pillows and blankets. Don't worry about blocking things; that's what makes a home interesting! When you have so many special items that you just have to stack 'em in front of each other— well, you're doing it right.


Taryn: A really great doormat

The front door is such an important micro-space, but one that few people (especially renters) ever think about. And all it really takes to make it great is a doormat. It can be funny or classic or bold, but it should be intentional–don't just grab whatever's cheapest at IKEA or Home Depot. Let it set the tone of your space for your guests and for yourself when you come home every night.


Adrienne: A well-dressed bed

One of the most important spots in your home is where you start your mornings and end your days: your bed. I like to wake up early and enjoy hot tea while reading the day's headlines. At night, I slip in with a good book. Though layering your bed with pillows, blankets and other decorative elements isn't a requirement to enjoy waking up or falling asleep, I believe spending time designing this small spot is a way of treating yourself right, and the effect that a well-dressed bed has in my apartment is noticeable. Every time I walk by carefully made and visually appealing bed, I feel calm. Like I have a little bit more control over my life. And even if it has been a bad day (or week), at least I have my comfy and stylish-looking bed to crawl into.

Nancy: A little bit of color

I am kind of a color junkie, and I find that introducing just a little bit of bright color (a coffee mug, a pillow, a small print) adds an extra dose of cheer to that corner of my apartment. I have a set of colorful knives in the kitchen, and they just make me happy every time I look at them. Even though they’re only knives.

(Image credits: Esteban Cortez; Nakalan McKay and Motoya Nakamura; Apartment Therapy ; Julia Brenner; Bethany Nauert; Nicole Crowder; Taryn Williford; Hayley Kessner)

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Apartment Therapy Editors' Thoughts & Techniques