Decorating Choices That Make Your Home Look Cleaner Than It Actually Is

published Dec 27, 2015
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Homes are messy enough, without us doing things to make them look and feel even messier. This isn’t about practical storage or clutter, but the decorating choices we make that contribute to either a sense of disorder or calm. Some people like the visual stimulation, while others are bothered by what feels like chaos. Find your comfort level with these tips and considerations.

Fewer Colors

Figuring out how to combine different colors, with just a enough repetition, is key to making a room that feels pulled together but lived in. You don’t want everything to clash, but you don’t want a match-y match-y catalog either. If you’re worried about it being too much, think about bringing in multiple shades of a single color instead. It will add depth and richness to the room without overwhelming the space.

(Image credit: Breanne Johnsen)

Furniture With Same Scale

Similarly, chairs with the same backs create a continuous line, while varied heights make your brain a little busier as it tries to process the information. If you want to keep your home feeling clean, stick to similar sizes.

(Image credit: Claire Bock)

Consistent Style

Homes that layer in different styles are dynamic and interesting. But too much mixing and your eye doesn’t know where to land, and winds up confused and unhappy. Give each piece of a certain style at least one companion who shares a color, time period, or finish. By connecting the design elements in your space using common characteristics, you allow the eye to move through your space smoothly.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Large Statement Art

Multiple varied frames hung on the wall are a great way to fill a large space, but the drawback is the visual clutter that comes from multiple pieces hung next to each other. No doubt the gallery wall arrangement is artful and well-balanced (and we love them!), but to some eyes it might look haphazard and messy. One large piece of artwork gets the job done, and keeps things on the simpler side.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)


Symmetry is a natural way to create the sense of order in a space — it will take care of visual balance but also create a rhythm that the eyes can pick up on. On the other hand, decor that doesn’t perfectly reflect itself doesn’t create the same sense of security, order, and peace. Symmetry is attractive, but perfection can often give a hands-off vibe that doesn’t work for a real-life home.

Re-edited from a post originally published 12.27.15-NT