Inside my home is a tale of two rooms: First, there’s the living room, redecorated by a professional designer who mixed colors and patterns with the kind of abandon that only the truly confident can pull off. Then there’s my bedroom, which I’ve been redoing for, oh, 10 months and counting. I finally put some color on the walls, freshened up the bedding and even impressed myself by blending a few different patterns together somewhat successfully.
Despite all of this, my DIY decor lacks the spiffiness of the professional’s, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. So I turned to Chet Pourciau, owner of Chet Pourciau Design in New Orleans, who shared some no-fail ways to make a room look pulled together, polished, and utterly perfect.
Stock Up on Accessories
“A room without accessories is like a well-dressed woman who forgot to put on earrings,” Pourciau says. I couldn’t agree more. As I’m finding out during my redecoration, a few well-chosen items really can make a room feel cohesive and deliver the “wow” factor usually found in professionally done spaces.
When shopping, zero in on items that support — but do not overshadow — your design scheme. Stick with things that complement the palette, tone, and size of your room. I’ve found great success with metallic, textural, and color-rich pieces. And don’t forget about textiles: If you have an unusual accent chair, for example, Pourciau recommends upholstering it in an interesting fabric. But the bottom line is, make sure you actually like whatever you end up using in your room. After all, you’ll be the one looking at it every day.
Experiment with Placement
Once you’ve locked in your accent pieces, play around with where you display them. Go-to spots like side tables and mantels are great starting-off points, but also consider any other areas your eye naturally goes when you walk into the room. If you’re anchoring a longer surface, like a console table, with accessories, Pourciau suggests groupings of threes and fives.
Know When to Spend (and When to Save)
It doesn’t take deep pockets to get a designer-worthy room; you just have to know where to splurge. Pourciau recommends spending on proper lighting — “a space will never look its best without it” — and a high-quality rug made of natural materials like wool or silk. (“It will wear well and even look better over time,” he says.)
That said, it’s totally fine to scrimp on paint. Follow Pourciau’s lead by picking colors from pricier companies, then taking the paint chips to a home improvement store to have them color matched. “I’ve saved hundreds!” he says. To give your room extra sparkle, make like a pro and paint walls and trim in the same color of paint, but in two different finishes — eggshell on the walls and gloss on the trim.
Work with What You’ve Got
It happens to the best of us: You fall in love with a room you see on a design blog and, seized by inspiration, set about recreating it in your home. The problem is, what works in that space may not work in yours, and your project is doomed before you even start it.
To avoid this rookie mistake, consider your room’s architecture and vibe and choose things that play off of that, Pourciau says. For instance, “if your space has a lot of curves, like archways or a curved staircase, bring in some geometric fabrics to contrast,” he advises. “The same thing goes for a space with too many angles. Soften it up with a round coffee table or buy accessories that are curved.”
Don’t Rush It
Even designers occasionally commit themselves to overly ambitious timelines. “The thing that mostly gets in my way is that I plan to accomplish too much over the weekend,” Pourciau admits. “I end up not finishing and my DIY project lays against a wall or on the floor until next week, creating a mess.” Translation: Give yourself plenty of time to put the finishing touches on your room redecoration — and don’t fret if it takes even longer than you originally planned.
Note: If you love the bedding in the photo — it’s the Harbor House® Belcourt Collection.
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