5 Tips to Elevate Your Home's Style

Achieving a beautiful, well-designed home is the goal of many homeowners.  And while hiring a talented, professional designer with whom you just click is a great way to meet this goal, here are five simple ways you can elevate your home's style without calling in the pros:

1.  Tidy Up

This one should be obvious, but clutter and grime detract from even the most gorgeously designed interiors.  Set a daily routine of cleaning as you go, and you'll be surprised how quickly you can organize yourself.  Go through mail immediately.  Toss any junk mail right away, and have a system for filing mail that needs attention or should be saved.  Designate spaces in your home for commonly cast-aside items like coats, hats, mittens, and backpacks.  Even if your home is architecturally short on storage space, you can create much-needed storage with attractive, well-placed furnishings and accessories (these serve the dual purpose of both providing storage and amping up your home's style all on their own).  For example, you could place a cabinet in the foyer to hold shoes, hats, and gloves and top it off with a vase of fresh flowers.  Instant style!  


In your family room, you could place pretty baskets on the lower shelf of an open console to toss in blankets, toys, or anything else that you use frequently but don't necessarily want scattered about the floor or sofa all the time.  

If hiring professional housecleaning help for heavier cleaning isn't your style,  set a rotation where you take on one room a day or every few days. By doing so, you will be able to maintain a clean, tidy home without feeling as overwhelmed as you might if you tried to take on your entire home in one day. 

2.  Fresh Blooms

A vase of fresh (always fresh) flowers or greenery instantly adds life and interest to a space.  And with nature's bountiful variety, there is a bloom or stem to suit every style and personality.  Fresh flowers do not need to cost a fortune, either.  While an artful arrangement from your local talented florist is always lovely, your local grocer, deli, or bodega likely carries some lovely blooms.  Add a simple glass vase, and voila--you have elevated your home's style.  I always have fresh flowers in my home.  I find them particularly uplifting during the winters here in Connecticut.

3.  Layer Textures

Great design is as tactile as it is visual.  Layering textures adds both visual and physical oomph to a space and can be accomplished in just a few minutes' time.  Every room of the home can benefit from this styling tip.  In the bedroom, layer different fabrics on your bed to make it even more sumptuous.  In the bathroom, add warmth by placing a gorgeous soft rug over your tiles and hanging--or artfully draping--plush towels.  In the kitchen, use upholstery and window treatments to soften the room's otherwise hard surfaces.   Here, in a family room, I've layered textures with a chunky knit cotton throw, silk and mongolian sheep's fur pillows, and a shagreen side table topped with metal, marble, and glass, all set against an upholstered sofa.  This tableau both interests the eye and invites you to sink in and relax.  

4.  Paint a Ceiling (Anything but White)

Stand out from the crowd and garner major style points by painting a ceiling in your home anything other than white.  Though the walls and trim in this family room are painted a warm white, the high ceiling in this sunny room flaunts a look-at-me blue that instantly draws the eye up and highlights the room's stunning millwork.  This gorgeous architecture, including the high gable windows, would be lost if the ceiling were painted white.  

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You don't need to have soaring ceilings like these to paint your ceiling, however.  One room where I adore a painted ceiling is in the dining room.  The right color on the dining room ceiling can lend it an extra air of formality, or, if you are more informal in your entertaining, it can create a more casual feeling.  And don't be afraid to experiment with dark colors on the ceiling, either.  Contrary to popular belief, dark paint on your ceiling will not make the ceiling look lower.  To the contrary, a dark color causes the eye to view the ceiling as receding and therefore you experience the ceiling as being higher than it actually is!  Here is a dining room where the ceiling is painted a darker, richer shade that complements the softer shade on the walls and reinforces the mood of the room.  Notice how the millwork stands out against the dark shade where it would otherwise disappear into a white ceiling.


5.  Don't Buy Furniture in Sets

Designers never, ever buy furniture in sets and neither should you. Rooms are far more interesting when the elements are collected and complementary as opposed to matching. For example, in the dining room above, the side chairs, host chairs, and table each were purchased from different manufacturers, as were the buffet and china cabinet.  The side chairs wear a soft luxurious velvet, the host chairs are upholstered in a narrow striped silk, and the drapery is fabricated from yet another wide-striped silk.  Despite the fact that these things don't match perfectly, they work beautifully together to create an interesting, harmonious space.  Imagine how boring and lifeless the room would be if everything "matched."  Moreover, it is nearly impossible to imbue a room with your personality if you are buying a set right off the showroom floor.  If you have already purchased a set (or two or three) of furniture, don't worry.  Break the set up by moving individual pieces to other rooms.  If the budget allows for it, perhaps have a piece or two reupholstered in a complementary--not matching--fabric.    

I hope that this post has given you some ideas you can put to use in elevating your own home's style.  Until next time...