Four Decorating Tips I've Learned

Decorating has been one of my greatest passions ~ as well as one of my greatest frustrations ~ over the many years of owning a home.

I began back in 1996 with great enthusiasm and NO skill.  Oh, the bliss of naivete!  I was certain I had such great ideas, but I look back at pictures today and cringe.

Don't you love that?  That being alive always means growth...and change? 

I've learned so much along the way, mostly through reading magazines, blogs, and studying others' homes.  I've made many, many mistakes (mostly with paint colors!), but I've also had magical moments where I declare, "I think I may be getting this decorating thing!"  and suddenly I'm high-fiven', squealing, and hugging-the-closest-family-member in sheer joy.

Not often, but that DOES happen every now and then.

So today, in the spirit of learning and simple solutions, I thought it'd be fun to share with you a few decorating tips that have been a consistent win in my home.

1.  A Pair of Lamps

Never underestimate the usefulness and longevity of a good pair of lamps.  Not only are lamps important on nightstands, they can also be used in the living room, on a sofa table, flanking a buffet, gracing a hallway console, or adding height to a dresser.  More than any other single accessory, my several pairs of lamps (I think we have six total) have worked hard for us year after year after year.  If I change things up in a room, a fresh coat of paint and new shades instantly transform any pair of lamps inexpensively.

Each set of lamps pictured above I found at thrift stores, then repainted and added new shades (I did not paint the ceramic lamps in our master bedroom).  It would kill me to pay full price for a lamp (have you SEEN those prices?)

This lamp in our hallway used to be terra cotta orange.  I painted it a greige color, then dry-brushed white over the top. I found the shade at Lowe's, then added a grosgrain ribbon ruffle along the bottom with hot glue.

This lamp used to be dark brown.  I painted it white, distressed it with sand paper, then rubbed on/rubbed off Dark Walnut stain to antique it.

The new shades were upgraded with fringed trim from JoAnne's, and voila ~ a unique, customized pair of lamps.

2.  A Cute Tray

I've learned that trays, like lamps, can be used over and over again.  There is always a place in the house for a cute tray, and if you don't have an available flat surface at the moment, hang it on the wall!  I found this tray in the clearance section of Hobby Lobby while on vacation several years ago and brought it home in my suitcase.  It's been all over my house.

Trays are a wonderful way to corral and 'ground' accessories, to give them definition in a space so they don't seem to be floating all over.  Use them on coffee tables, countertops, dressers, in closets, on console tables, or on a bathroom vanity.

3.  Dried (Silk?) Flowers, Especially Hydrangeas

Take a few artifical (yet well-made) hydrangeas, place them in a pretty thrifted vase, and there is absolutely no limit as to where these flowers can go.  They will gracefully bless any surface on which they're placed.  Hydrangeas are a surefire way to add 'life' to a vignette quickly, inexpensively, and with no watering required.

Yes, please!

4.  Family Photos

I know some decorators believe family photos are best left in more personal spaces like bedrooms or family rooms, and that original art is a more authentic means of decorating. 


Not me.  I LOVE to see my family's faces all over my house, and when you visit, you will see them all over my house, too. (Yes, even in the bathroom, I'm afraid.)  But we've noticed, when guests are here, our family photos draw them again and again and lead to fun conversations about back-flips, hair styles, growing up too fast, and the joy of large families.

So that's it.  Four of my tried-and-true decorating tips that actually work for me every single time.

Hopefully you'll find something you can use, too, as you continue to change and grow in your own home.

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