The Art of Interior Design: A Step-by-Step Guide to Styling Your Home

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Andrew Lemieux is a creative writer, poet, and content strategist. He is passionate about literature, food, wine, travel, and sports. In his spare time he enjoys working on home projects and restoring the 1837 Greek Revival he and his wife own.

While exciting, designing your home isn’t always easy—home decor trends change. Timelines and budgets change. On top of all that, unless you’re an interior design professional, you may not even know where to begin. The entire process can feel incredibly daunting. But there’s no need to throw in the towel just yet. A step-by-step guide like this can help you navigate styling your home to create the space of your dreams.

Declutter Your Space

As many home renovation benefits exist today, it can be challenging to envision them in your space. From decor to small collectibles, you may have built up quite a collection now overwhelming your home. That’s what makes decluttering so valuable. It’ll help clear room for new decor, make it easier to see the vision of your dream makeover, and even help inform your decor style. Go through each room and throw away or donate anything worn down or do not like in your home. It may take a little time, but it’ll be well worth it when you’re finished!

Related: 11 Simple Actions to Declutter and Make Space for Quality Time

Make a Plan

Before making any design decisions, you must make a plan. That starts with your budget. Establish a realistic budget for your project, which will help you figure out the rest of your plan accordingly. From there, you can prioritize your interior design wants and needs. What are your must-haves and nice-to-haves? Weigh those against things that aren’t your priority and adjust as necessary to fit your budget.

Define Your Preferred Interior Design Style

There are countless styles to choose from: mid-century modern, minimalist, traditional, farmhouse, and more. A clear idea of your interior design style will make minor decisions like lighting and furnishings much more accessible. 

Consider your lifestyle, aesthetics, and surroundings to choose your design style. For example, if you live in or near a beachside city, you may lean towards a coastal interior design style. Gather visual inspiration, noting any styles, colors, feelings, and themes you want to see in your space. It may be helpful to create a mood board for a complete picture.

Think About Your Color Palette

Color is fundamental to creating your dream interior, creating a cohesive look and feel within your entire space. Are you drawn to a neutral palette (white, shades of gray, beige)? Do you prefer blues and greens? Then, you’ll want to consider the undertones you prefer (cool vs. warm).

Your preferred interior design style and color palette go hand in hand with one another. The rich jewel-tone palette of art style will look very different from the more muted colors and tones of minimalism. You do not want too many colors in your palette. To help narrow your choices, you may want to consider the classic 60-30-10 design rule, which dictates that 60% of your home should be the dominant color, 30% should be made up of a secondary color, and the remaining10% should be an accent color (or two). This could help prevent the decor you choose from unintentionally clashing.

Choose Essential Furniture Pieces

You want to start with the bigger, essential pieces prior to choosing any other decor, which will serve as your foundation and make those smaller pieces easier to find. These essentials could include built-ins, a sofa, a bed frame, a dining table, an entertainment unit, and other larger seating. Remember that you’ll need to measure your space before shopping for anything. Do not skip taking measurements – you want to ensure you have enough space to fit your new furniture comfortably. It may also help you write down measurements and draw a layout of your decorating plan.

Add Textures and Textiles

It’s easy to forget about the tactile elements of design, especially considering all your decisions to choose the colors, furniture, and style you want in your home. But it can add a new layer of dimension and depth to your space. What can you do to articulate this look and feel? Add texture and textiles into each room through decor, such as area rugs, upholstered furniture, throw pillows, and curtains. For example, sheer curtains make a room feel light and airy, while a wool rug can feel cozy and welcoming. Embrace texture to add visual interest, create a focal point, or change the atmosphere of your space.

Take Advantage of Wall Art and Decor

Bright modern home with lots of art on the wall

Wall decor can go a long way in helping your space feel cohesive and conveying your unique personality and style. Your walls are like a blank canvas. Do you want a wall to serve as an accent (with paint or wallpaper)? Do you want to hang paintings or other artwork you’ve collected? Like color, texture, and design style, it can help create visual interest and contribute to the overall mood of the space. While there aren’t any “rules” to wall art and decor, you may want to stick to your color scheme for your home or space to feel cohesive.

Design Your Lighting

Lighting isn’t just functional – it’s also an essential part of design. It can add dimension to a space, shape its look and feel, and affect mood and comfort. It essentially brings your project to life! So, how do you figure out your lighting? Generally, you’ll need three types of well-rounded lighting: ambient, accent, and task. 

Ambient is the largest of the three, creating an inviting atmosphere and providing light through ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, or floor lamps. Task lighting (desk and reading lamps) offers more light for tasks like reading, while accent lighting helps to draw attention to room elements such as art or architectural details. Be mindful about temperature (warm, cool, or neutral). 

Consider highlighting natural lighting through lighter paint colors, windows, or mirrors.

Add Personal Finishing Touches

Once the main foundation has been laid, you can add the little touches that make your home feel personal. Take time to express your style and personality through smaller decor and more miniatures, like photographs, indoor plants, accent tables and lighting, and more. Your decor can be as complex or simple as you’d like. Remember that you don’t have to complete this step simultaneously – you can add pieces over time.

Styling Your Home

Don’t feel you need to follow any of these steps strictly – they’re meant to help you style your home. Draw inspiration from outside sources, consider what you want to achieve, and have fun determining your favorite decor. Transforming your space may take time and effort, but it’ll be well worth it once finished. 

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