Decor Elements Every Room Should Have
Sleek Throw and Stow Storage
Whether you have small children underfoot, an ongoing knitting project or a backlog of magazines, when unexpected guests drop by you may only have seconds to pick up. Throw-and-stow pieces -- like a leather storage ottoman that doubles as seating or a coffee table, or lidded baskets that slide onto an open shelf or stack atop each other -- enable you to toss and forget. Just make sure that when guests are gone you put things away to free up the space for another day.
Meaningful Family Heirlooms
If the family room is the casual heart of the home, the living room is the more formal showplace. Curate it like a museum by displaying treasured family heirlooms. By featuring grandmother's carved highboy, a marble topped side table, or what antique dealers call 'smalls' -- decorative accessories that can sit on a mantel or shelf -- you'll create a sense of personal style and family history that even the priciest designer can't reproduce.
A Statement Piece Using Light or Color
A dining room table not set for a meal is an empty stage without performers. To fill the space, make a grand design statement using either light or color. If you've got the budget and the courage, suspend a bold and modern chandelier overhead. An oversized painting or wall sculpture is another option. Or if you change things up regularly, show off a large scale accessory in an accent color in the middle of the table. Your goal is to create a feast for the eyes when food isn't the star attraction.
Plush, Soft and Soothing Details
There's a reason why cotton is second nature in the bedroom. No matter our age, we revert back to childhood at bedtime and want to be soothed and coddled. Think of swaddling a cranky baby when you choose pillows, bed linens, mattress toppers and comforters for yourself. The more plushness and softness to burrow into, the better your nocturnal hibernation. Choose calming colors and leave all thoughts of being in the red or black at the office
Candles, Dimmable Fixtures or Mood Lighting
When looking at the master bath of a new home most buyers think, "Can I get in and out quickly in the morning?" But in the evening, when it's time to relax, the glare of too-bright lights can ruin a luxuriating soak in a tub or a relaxing hot shower or steam bath. Dimmable or mood lighting sets the scene and helps to slow the pace of your day. The most affordable option: hit the off switch and light candles or votives. Suddenly, the master bath becomes a place where you'll want to linger.
While it's traditional to display a family photo in your office or cubicle at work, you can (and should) get more personal in your home office or den. Whether you use the space to consult with clients or extend your productive hours at home, displaying something that shows you at play is a reminder that work isn't everything. A whimsical item picked up on vacation, a vintage baseball collection, or a child's drawing tells visitors, "Yes, I do have a life."
A Sense of Place
Hotel chains rarely choose decor that reflects the local vibe because they're designing for thousands of rooms (and guests) across the country. But when guests come to stay in your home, you represent not only your family but also your community. Provide local color with items that tell what you love about where you live. Display inexpensive vintage postcards of local attractions, or enlarge and frame your favorite hometown photos. Build on this local theme over time and you may have guests so eager to return that you'll need to take reservations.
Child's Bedroom - Nursery
Adult Baby Photos
Just about every baby and toddler likes to look at photos of other babies. So why not reproduce and frame photos of Mommy and Daddy when they were babies...and older siblings, too? Convert all pictures to black and white, and resize them so that all heads are similar in size. This will give consistency to the grouping and enable visitors to judge for themselves who Baby is the spitting image of.
A Seasonal Story
It's human nature to come through the front door and immediately dump what you're carrying, turning any flat surface into a clutter magnet. Resist human nature and embrace Mother Nature as you transition from the outside to the inside. Place a large vase or decorative platter where you'd automatically drop off keys or mail; instead, use natural elements that tell the story of the season. In spring, arrange forsythia branches in the vase; in summer, a handful of wildflowers. In fall, gather acorns, pinecones and leaves ablaze with color. Do this and you'll reduce clutter and adapt a greener decorating style.
Porch, Patio, Sunroom or Deck
PTSD - Plants, Terracotta, Statuary, (Sun)Dials
Mr. Green may have done it in the conservatory, but today we're clueless about bringing a garden-like aesthetic to our homes. The no-brainer way is to use plants, but why not take it a step further? Terracotta elements (beyond traditional pots) feel earthy, while concrete or lighter-weight resin statues evoke the formality of European gardens. The coolest addition? Nature's clock in the form of a sundial. No batteries needed.
Linda Lowen is a freelance writer in Syracuse, New York.