Dos and Don'ts for DIY Home Decor

vintage decor with natural wallpaper
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When it comes down to it, the perfect home decor is whatever appeals to you. That can be an eclectic blend or strict obedience to a category of interior design like farmhouse, industrial, rustic, cottagecore, coastal, contemporary, or mid-century modern.

It’s fun to flip through magazines and scour Pinterest for design ideas, and it’s a great way to dial into your preferred look. Design trends change quickly though, so you might find yourself drawn to an element that’s on its way out or loving a unique item you don’t even know is on its way in.

While figuring out your next interior design update, consider some of the dos and don’ts based on expected trends from the experts.

Don’t Go Full Farmhouse

This interior design style has seen deep popularity for over a decade. There’s something about it that speaks to childhood memories or goals for living the homesteading life.

If you’re not familiar, we’re talking about elements such as distressed wood, old picture frames, chicken wire accents, chalkboard walls or signs, and wire baskets.

The idea behind farmhouse interior design is to create the feeling of simplicity associated with remote farm life.

Farmhouse interior design is monochromatic with beiges and creams, along with black and gray. Modern farmhouse adds more white to the mix, updating the classic look.

Both styles rely on the use of natural materials in furniture and accessories, such as wood, cotton, wicker, and stone.

Farmhouse features practical design elements combined with rustic appeal. It’s a look described as cozy but stylish and is achieved with a mixture of vintage pieces alongside modern selections. Yet all pieces are chosen for comfort and function.

With all of that in mind, keep pieces that bring you joy, but add some color, bring in textures, replace the baskets and chicken wire, and dial back the distressed wood finishes.

Your conversion doesn’t have to be drastic. Instead, add or subtract subtle changes.

classic bright kitchen style

Do Add Wallpaper

Its popularity has been on the rise for a while. Wallpaper has been around for hundreds of years, making it a trend that comes and goes. What used to be primarily a way to cover unappealing walls is now a central part of many homes.

You don’t need to blanket the house with stuff, but it can make a huge impact on a space. Consider the vast number of options. Go with big prints rather than dainty ones. Then choose what works in your room.

Bring the outdoors in with animal or plant prints. In a modern space, rely on geometric prints instead. For a bathroom, perhaps you prefer an ocean vibe or spa-like elements.

Pick and choose where you place wallpaper so it’s not overwhelming. Select an accent wall or use wainscoting on the lower half of the wall and wallpaper on top.

Be sure to coordinate colors with nearby curtains, furniture, and rugs.

Don’t Worry About Traditional Furniture Placements

When it comes to the living room, we’ve seen decades of couch/loveseat combos dominating the landscape.

Feel free to break away from the traditional squared furniture placement of sofas that face each other or sit adjacent with boxy end tables in between.

Instead, set up the space in a way that works for you, even if that means a grouping in the corner for TV watching, a station on the other side of the room with a puzzle table, and a reading nook wherever it fits.

Make the room function how you want by starting with your goal for the space. If entertaining is the goal, look into pub-height tables, a cozy fireplace, copious seating with floor pillows, an accessible bar, or a large screen TV.

On the other hand, if cozy family time is the goal, leave space in the middle of the room for kids to play, and build toy storage into coffee tables or shelving units.

Furthermore, if you’re decorating for more formal use, like meeting clients, place the desk, chairs, and bookcases in ways that allow you to work collaboratively or move to a nearby seating area for unobstructed conversation.

Do Pick What Appeals to You

This is kind of a ‘don’t’ as well as a ‘do,’ as in ‘don’t worry about the trends.’ This space is for you, and your needs are unique.

Whether you homeschool the kids, have a multi-generational home, run an AirBnB, or run a business out of your house, decorate in a way that serves your needs.

If the industrial curtain rod and farmhouse light fixture bring you joy, don’t worry about them being plucked from different design categories.

Similarly, just because your home is built in a mid-century era doesn’t mean you have to go with types of furniture that were common throughout the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. While tufted couches, dark tapered legs on chairs, curved coffee tables, and geometric design elements might appeal to you, if they don’t go with whatever does.

Don’t Ditch the Curves

You may not give it a lot of thought, but the angles of your furniture pieces help set the tone in the room. Curved chair backs, sofa arms, and coffee tables are all examples.

It appears the curved elements are here to stay in the new year so keep it in mind when buying new pieces or considering which ones to part with.

Curved furniture has the added bonus of safety within the home too. Consider it’s a softer impact for shins or kids who are running through the space. Think pedestal tables and lamps, round concrete coffee tables, and barrel chairs to get the imaginative juices flowing.

Do Bring Nature Inside

indoor plants in bathroom

There are countless ways to merge the indoor and outdoor spaces, and most of them are growing in popularity. In fact, it’s become so popular it’s acquired its own label called biophilic design.

At an architectural level, biophilic design includes essentials like natural light and cross-ventilation.

As an interior design tool, it’s about mirroring those elements found in nature, such as fire, earth, wind, and water.

Whether you have a small city apartment or sprawling ranch estate, nature plays an important part in our health and happiness. Bring it indoors through plants, a water feature, and a breeze from a ceiling fan and open windows.

Also incorporate natural materials like cotton, jute, linen, burlap, basketry, and stone.

A biophilic space doesn’t have a specific look. While you can include animal prints and nature scenes, it’s more about creating an atmosphere through the senses.

To satisfy the need for nature smells, add some candles that bring the aroma of cedar, pine, ocean breezes, or mountain air. You can go old school instead with a pot of water dosed with orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and cranberries or similar combinations.

Also think of nature in your furniture and accessories. Wood is an obvious choice for achieving this goal. Select wood tables, nightstands, desks, chair arms, and bookcases as foundational units.

Balance them with stone and ceramic pieces in bookends, planters, and counter backsplashes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold

colorful living room with large painting

There’s an ongoing trend towards natural tones in living spaces. Creams and pastels seem to always have a place in home decor. But if that’s not your thing, break out of the mold. If you’re worried about the end result, start with neutral wall and flooring colors.

Then layer the color in with your area rugs, bedding, window coverings, throw pillows, and furniture upholstery.

If you’re ready to take the color plunge and are on a first name basis with your paintbrush, try something new. Turn the bathroom teal, make a burnt orange accent wall in the living room, or add some red to your bedroom.

There are no hard and fast rules here, and the zeitgeist seems to be accepting of bold color statements in the home. Be a trendsetter with whatever color makes you happy.

The same goes for textures and prints. So what if the Asian print throw pillow is the only one in the room. If you don’t need balance, enjoy the uniqueness of the single pillow instead.

Do Pay Attention to Lighting

In addition to creating natural light when possible, ensuring adequate artificial light in the space both serves a function and contributes to the overall vibe of the space.

Move all lighting to energy-efficient LEDs and decide which color tone works best for you. Bright white and daylight are brighter, while warm tones are more yellow but much less stark.

Give some thought to your light fixtures. They can be the focal point that makes a statement, so don’t push them off as a secondary consideration.

Also, don’t feel obligated to go with the basic matching table lamps. Use them if you have them or want them, but mix in floor lamps. Those multi-armed floor lamps from a few decades ago are making a comeback, and the flexible arms might be just what you need.

Similarly, the chandelier or primary lighting in the entryway can open the door to anchoring your interior design statement.

In the bedroom, move from bulky lamps on the nightstand to wall mounted sconce lighting for task reading.

The bathroom can benefit from fun and functional lighting too. Add lights to the shower, floor, and around the dark corners. Make sure you have an efficient option for the main space around the sink and mirror, but feel free to give it a heavy dose of personality too.

Don’t Overwhelm the Space

open, decluttered space

Clutter is never in style. Although the minimalist craze is thawing a bit as we move into the new year, be careful about overfilling a space. Select furniture and decor carefully so each item contributes something rather than just being a space filler. From there, use organization to keep clutter at bay.

Sort the kids’ craft items into totes and tuck them into a cupboard or inside the ottoman. Keep out one or two blankets that are used often and store the rest in the linen closet.

At your desk, use in and out baskets to organize paperwork and keep office supplies in a drawer or tote. Hang a corkboard for items you need close but don’t want on your desk.

Continuously filter through mail, packages, magazines, newspapers, and other things that frequently enter the home.

Even better, find loved items that perform double service. That storage ottoman is a winner. Follow that philosophy with storage benches and tables, baskets that look great, or a trunk that can house books or linens.

Do Balance Color and Texture

The interior design pendulum swings widely from side to side sometimes. The recent interest in everything minimalist, gray, and ultra modern has led to some fairly cold and sterile spaces.

While all white might still be your thing, you can enjoy that clean feeling alongside some texture for diversity and interest.

The key is to balance colors and textures. We’re not holding you back from creating a wild space full of both, but most people are more comfortable in a space that’s a bit more harmonious.

Either start with a neutral palette as we discussed above, adding layers of texture and/or color, or go with a colorful backdrop and decorate it with more muted tones.

For a monochromatic space, rely on texture. For example, think about a shiny white subway tile. Now replace that with a scraped, off-white ceramic tile. The small difference creates a space that feels warmer and less antiseptic.

Don’t Toss the Old

upcycled tea kettle planter

Upcycling is still a massive trend and is hopefully one that’s here to stay. As the environmental movement continues, people are increasingly relying on the things that are already in their homes. That doesn’t mean you can’t change the look, though.

Dye the curtains. We hear light lavenders and blues will be big in the upcoming years.

Refinish tables to change the color from dark to light or light to dark. Reupholster furniture or add a furniture cover for an entirely new look.

Paint light fixtures. Change the look of the built-in bar or the entire kitchen with cabinet paint.

A beloved item can still be a beloved item in another form. If the dresser has a missing drawer, pull them all out and add shelves for a unique storage solution. Move the wardrobe from the bedroom into the kitchen for additional pantry storage.

The new year is coming, along with the expected trends for home design. While you can use the predictions as a guiding principle, the fun part of interior design is making it your own, so don’t lose sight of your goal.

Find out more about 6 Popular Interior Design Styles and if interior design is really your thing, read about How to Get Certified as an Interior Designer.