Have we got a treat for you today! We’re touring a stunning combination living room and kitchen nook in Southern California, plus getting tips for nailing the high-end look for less from professional interior designer, herself, Jessica McClendon.
These days, inspiration for the design of your home can be found all around. From Pinterest to the glossy pages of shelter magazines, it’s just a click, swipe or page turn away. But have you ever found yourself inspired by something you saw, yet are stumped on how to actually make it happen (or worse, discovering that your newfound space falls flat)? Yes, designing your own space can sometimes feel easier said than done, but why can an interior designer do it and you can’t? The answer is that you can!
Below, I’m sharing 10 secrets to making inspired spaces a reality. These are the tools we use on a daily basis to achieve that “wow” factor, and include fail-safe ways to bring a space together. The best part? You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it! While there’s no substitute for a designer’s experience, my tools will help you create a space that works for you and reflects your unique style.
Opt for oversized art.
Oversized art instantly creates visual impact, giving the space a glamorous, high-end feel. Find pieces that speak to you or choose something unique and personal to you. Oh, and when I say personal, I mean it. I had a photo that my husband took blown up for our own living room! Art that’s playful or quirky adds a dash of casualness while showing off your personality.
Swap out drab lighting.
Your lighting should be a conversation starter. Decide on your room’s aesthetic and go all in! If you’re opting for a feminine look, pick opulent or sculptural chandeliers. For modern or vintage styles, I like to use unique pendants that add interest. There are endless options for lighting these days, so have a heyday picking yours.
Mix and match (everything).
Start with fabrics. Luxe options like velvet or silk pair perfectly with more casual fabrics like linen or cotton. You can also mix things up by marrying opposing materials such as worn, rustic wood with glam brass or gold. Adding in pieces from different time periods and styles will also do the trick.
Don’t shy away from color.
Now, hear me out. I’m not saying that you have to use a lot of color (or any color at all) in order to get the designer look. But if you’re game, have the courage and permission to go for it. If deep down you’ve always wanted an emerald dining room, don’t be afraid to go for it. Just ensure that you’re sticking with a color palette that works.
Go bold with pattern.
Pattern goes a long way in making a statement and adds flair to a space. From wallpaper to a vintage rug or even pillows, pattern is your friend. And don’t be afraid to mix patterns! Just be mindful of all of the patterns in your room, as they’ll need to vary in scale in order to flow.
Add an unexpected element.
A dash of neon, one conversation-starting accessory or two, a family heirloom, vintage pieces of furniture—these are all things that add a little something unexpected to your space, keeping it from appearing too overly curated and making the design feel effortless. The key is to pick something that speaks to you, but, for goodness sake, don’t overthink it. It’s unexpected for a reason!
Opt for bold window treatments.
When it comes to window treatments, be adventurous! There is an array of options available both online and in stores, from solid to patterned, neutral to bold hues, and even some with trim. Think of them as a focal point in your space, not just a functional component (though blackout shades are the best). Just be sure to get them in a length that’s appropriate as too-short curtains are painful. The rule of thumb is to hang your curtains as far up on the wall as they will go, or at least 20 inches above your window.
Go for quality with upholstery.
Choose upholstered sofas and armchairs carefully. They should be comfortable, sturdy and well-made, even if it means you’re spending a little more (remember they should last you for years and years to come). I’m a big fan of high/low design and you can totally stay within budget by choosing other cost-effective pieces of furniture. Just ensure that you are selecting the proper size for your space. Furniture that’s either too large or too small for the space is an instant vibe killer.
Spring for fresh flowers.
Flowers freshen up every space. When arranging, stick to one type of flower per vase (that means buying double of what you think you need). A vase full of one flower—my favorites are hydrangeas or peonies—is so much more impactful than a poorly-arranged bouquet. Plus, it’s easier to achieve (win/win) and can make ordinary furniture—like coffee tables and credenzas—really pop.
Ditch rug rules.
Rugs have the ability to make a space feel cozy, grounded and luxurious. Now, I’m not one for traditional rug rules, but a rug that’s either too big or too small (no one wants a postage stamp rug) can throw off the balance of an entire room. Choose a rug that is large enough to make an impact, but ensure that it also fits the size of your room. Doing so works wonders in making your space both unified and sophisticated.