10 Ways to Tiptoe Out of Your Decorating Comfort Zone
Ease into waking up your space with small doses of decorating daring that express who you are right now
If you've been making the same safe decorating choices for as long as you can remember, it can be quite a challenge to break out of the rut. Is your home a reflection of your personality? Does it make you feel inspired and uplifted? If not, that is surely reason enough to refresh your decor in a way that suits you now, not the you of a decade ago. But change is hard; there's no way around that — which is why I recommend starting small, with more of a gentle nudge than a big push out of your comfort zone. Take the classic style you naturally gravitate toward and give it a fresh twist. Any one of the 10 ideas here would be a great starting point. Happy decorating!
1. Wake up your space with a bright gourd lamp. Pillows are a popular choice for adding color, but I find they are tossed aside a little too easily when you feel self-conscious about the color choice. If you've been stuck in neutral for too long, a great way to boot yourself into the world of color is with a glossy new lamp — it adds as much pop as a pillow but has staying power. Gourd lamps have such a classic shape that they can easily fit into any decor scheme, and they look amazing in any color.
2. Add a fun pendant light that doesn't break the bank. Some of the reluctance we experience in making changes around the home is financial — what if we spend a boatload of money on a new piece and then regret it? If fear of making a wrong choice has been herding you into picking the same old things over and over, find something inexpensive and fun that you could live with, even if it doesn't work out. A pendant light, like Ikea's Maskros light, will add personality in spades without causing your wallet to panic.
3. Update your artwork. When was the last time you picked up anything new for your walls? If you've been living with the same prints and other art for years (or decades), make a date to take yourself to an art show, gallery or student sale and pick out a few fresh pieces that speak to you. New art on the walls can do wonders!
4. Be daring in a small dose. Want to push the style envelope a bit? Experiment with a small piece, like a stool, a side table or an ottoman, and you won't have to worry that it will overwhelm the room. Try a bench with interesting legs, a stool in a bright, glossy finish or an ottoman covered in an animal print or a modern geometric.
5. Change your table shape. After we live with the same large pieces of furniture for many years, they almost become invisible to us. Try swapping out your dining or kitchen table for one with a different shape — round instead of rectangular or vice versa. In the living room, try using a pair of small square tables instead of one large rectangular one, or a large upholstered ottoman instead of a fussy glass-top table. You may not even need to buy anything new — try moving things from room to room first to create a new look.
6. Sneak in something acrylic. If your home is really traditional (and you like it that way), but you're looking to bring in something new without throwing off the balance, try clear acrylic or Lucite. This sturdy plastic has a distinctly modern vibe yet fits in with any style, because it calls to mind other more formal clear materials, like crystal and glass. It looks amazing for anything from counter stools to tables and has the added benefit of increasing the sense of space.
7. Experiment in the stairwell. The poor, neglected stairwell is a great place to play with new decorating ideas. Try papering the wall (with either a print or something textured, like grass cloth), adding cool geometric carpeting or painting the risers in shades of one hue.
8. Hit on a vibrant hue that makes you happy. Pay attention to your emotional response to color everywhere you go. Did the lush turquoise of the water on your Caribbean vacation make your heart sing? Run with it! Focus on updating one room that has been living in mostly neutral colors up till now and add several healthy doses of your happy hue.
9. Try a typographic print. Want to bring a fresher, more current vibe to your house? Tag along with the typographic trend and pick up a wordy print or canvas (try searching on Etsy) in a statement-making size. Some artists will customize prints for you, working in favorite quotes or meaningful names and dates. Or you could always pick up some alphabet stencils and paints, and make your own.
10. Try your hand at a tablescape. Nearly all designers love to play with objects on tables, and so can you. Start with a rectangular tray that will fit on your table or ottoman. Add a small stack of books (three work well), stack a decorative box or other small objet on top of the books, place a pretty bowl alongside and finish the arrangement with a vase of flowers.
More: Tray Chic: Turn an Everyday Item Into Decor
More: Tray Chic: Turn an Everyday Item Into Decor