Basic Decorating Principles for Your Home

Ever wonder how professionals keep your house looking amazing? What do cleaning services do that you don't? And how do decorators know just which colors will work in a space or exactly how to position things to make the room look great? The truth is, they follow certain types of principles.

You can learn these decorating principles and decorate your house for yourself—here are three you can test the next time you’re redecorating!

#1. Balance. This is the way a room looks based on “visual weight.” Visual weight is the weight an object appears to have. Size, color, and the amount of contrast can all affect an object’s visual weight.

The key is to achieve balance. If you make the room completely the same on both sides, then you’ve achieved formal balance, or symmetry. This might include two identical bookshelves on either side of the TV, for instance.

There’s also a more informal, comfortable approach: balance the room with different objects that carry the same visual weight.

For instance, when you see a room that has a dark couch on one side and a large entertainment center on the other, that’s an example of informal balance. The room looks balanced even though it isn’t symmetrical because the size of the entertainment center balances the “weight” of the dark couch!

#2: Emphasis. You’ve probably heard this described as “focal point.” Focal points can be nearly anything, but they’re usually large enough to carry their own visual weight and striking enough to get your attention.

That’s the key to emphasis: where does your eye go? Walk into your room and notice where your eyes go first: the TV? The art on the wall? The couch? Give the room visual interested with an established emphasis.

Examples of focal points include:

  • Fireplaces.
  • Large, unique, or visually dynamic artwork.
  • Large windows with a great view and a good window treatment.

#3: Rhymth. Rhythm is created through repetition, and you’ve likely heard it as “tying the room together.” Rhythm in design is created by creating a path for your eye to follow around the room.

You do this with continuity. You might choose an accent color, for instance; that you use on the curtains and the rug. Or you might tie together a lace pattern through the throw on your couch and your side-table tablecloths. Repetition will give you rhythm!