Usually, when your space feels dull and boring, the first impulse is to buy something new. Stop! Before you plunk down for another throw pillow, try these tricks I often use when I'm styling someone's home and don't have the luxury of time to go out and buy the perfect little something.
Move the furniture: Moving the furniture can often solve problems in a room. Swap the position of the bed to a different wall (or try floating it to take advantage of a nice view), move the living room arrangement off the walls and into the center of the room. On a recent job, moving the rug just a bit so that the front legs of the couch rested on it made the room feel much more anchored and cozy.
Break up pairs: We've all been taught that the nightstands in a bedroom should match, that matching lamps should go on either side of the couch, that two matching chairs face a sofa. Yeah, yeah. Dull and boring. What if you broke up those pairs? Use one of those living room chairs in the bedroom, try one of those lamps in the kitchen, drag one of those nightstands to use as an entryway piece. Just because you bought two things together doesn't mean they have to, or even should, stay together.
Steal from another room: That throw pillow in the bedroom might be just what the living room needs to perk it up, that rug you've had in the dining room might work better by the front door, your living room console might work as a desk in your office. You can always put things back where you found them. While it might be challenging to move a couch from one room to another, accessories are easy things to swap in and out.
Regroup the accessories: Just because that vase has always had a place on the coffee table, doesn't mean it has to always be there. Move things around. Try grouping it with t two other vases you like (groups of three are particularly pleasing to the eye). Sometimes, something as simple as putting a nice pile of books on a coffee table with a plant on top of them, bringing in a bright throw, or remaking a bed, can perk up an entire room. Stumped for accessories? Think outside the box: a beautiful pair of shoes, like those bright pink heels you never wear but love, can be just as pleasing on a coffee table as on your feet; those mixing bowls from grandma might get more use on your credenza than they ever did in your kitchen; mismatched glasses can be used as vases and scattered around the house; a collection of neckties are interesting swung around a shelf bracket; a jar of earrings lets you enjoy them off your ears as well as on.
Edit: Most rooms have too much stuff in them. Try stripping them down to their basics (in the living room that would mean things like the sofa and the media center) and then layer things back in piece by piece. You may find that you prefer the room without a rug or that the lamp works better on the other side of the sofa. Taking pictures can help you get an objective viewpoint.
Swap rooms: Would your dining room work better as your living room? Maybe your office would make a better bedroom than your bedroom does. Living in a small space that only consists of one large room that has to multitask is no excuse. These spaces can still get stuck in a rut.
Have your own styling tips to share? Let us know in the comments...
- Re-edited from a post originally published March 6, 2012 - DF