Some people are born with a great eye for decorating or design. Others learn the skill and are able to apply it successfully. And then there are the rest of us. If you don’t have much of a knack for design, a few basic techniques can go a long way.
These decorating rules and principles are simple enough that most anyone can apply them. Your home might not look like a West Elm catalogue, but it’ll look presentable.
Know Basic Measurement Rules
When it comes to hanging curtains or arranging furniture, most of us just eyeball it as we go. But there are specific measurements for decorating that make a room look better. Here are a few general measurements to keep in mind:
- Coffee table distance: Keep at least 15″ between coffee tables and sofas,says decorator Maria Killam. Apartment Therapy suggests leaving about 18″ between them.
- Hanging art: When hanging art, keep its center at eye level, which is generally 56″ to 60″ from the floor, says Driven By Decor. If you’re hanging multiple pieces of art, keep the center point of the whole arrangement at this level.
- When hanging art above your sofa, make sure it’s no more than 2/3 the width of the sofa. You’ll also want to leave 5-9″ of space between the art and the furniture, Driven By Decor adds.
- Hanging curtains: Crate and Barrel says it’s typical to have 1-3″ of overlap on either side of your window. For height, they say you should mount curtain rods 4″ from the top of the window. But maybe you want your windows to look wider or taller. To create the illusion of height, Real Simple says you can go beyond the 4″ standard, but don’t exceed 8″, or it’ll look awkward. To create the illusion of width, feel free to break the 1-3″ standard, too. You might want to go as far as 12″ on either side.
- TV distance: How far your TV should be from your sofa will depend on its size. We’ve talked about viewing distance before. The easiest rule of thumb: multiply the diagonal size of your TV by two. That’s about how many inches your TV should be from your seating area.
For rugs, there are three basic rules you can follow.
All on: If a rug is big enough, you can put all legs of your furniture on top of it. But you should leave 12-18″ of floor surface on all four sides of the rug, says decorating site Houzz.
All off: If you have a smaller space, you might choose a smaller rug, and then you’d leave all four feet of your furniture off of it. Houzz adds, “You don’t want to pick too small a rug, though, or it may look insignificant, like an afterthought.”
Front on: Many designers choose to just put the two front feet on the rug. This can tie everything together and create a feeling of openness.
Again, most all of these sources add one big caveat: don’t be afraid to break these rules. They don’t always work, but they’re good guidelines to follow.