Today I’m sharing my answers for the top decorating questions I get asked the most often!
Over the years I’ve realized there are common threads among some of the design situations that crop up and cause the most confusion among DIY designers.
I’m hoping this post will help with that! These are some of the questions I’m asked most frequently relating to design!
*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.
Top Nine Decorating Questions Answered:
Question Number One | Can you mix metals within your hardware?
The short answer, Yes! The longer answer is that there are boundaries I’d suggest staying within when you do mix metals so it doesn’t clash or become too busy.
First, my recommendation is that you use only 1 or 2 different metals.
Some designers say 2-3 is fine, but I’ve always felt better about mixing 2 at the most.
My second big tip is that you should make sure you have high contrast between your two choices.
The reason why, is the undertones in the colors!
If you were to mix two different silvers, like nickle and chrome, you’d start to realize that chrome has a blue undertone, and nickel has a gold undertone.
It can be a subtle difference, but it will make your choices feel “off”, and sometimes you don’t even realize why at first!
When I say to use good contrast, I mean using a black tone with gold, or a black tone with silver as examples.
And my personal preference is to split a room horizontally when I’m mixing metals. In a bathroom, for example, I would use black hardware for my cabinets, but anything above the height of the cabinets, like the sink faucet and the light fixtures would be gold.
This room is by Studio McGee.
Question Number Two | How many types of wood can you use in one room.
Similar to mixing metals, I’d suggest using 1-2 wood tones in a given room, and picking two tones that have good contrast between them.
One of my favorite current combinations is dark stained wood and raw wood. I’m in the process of slowly stripping or switching out most of my wood pieces to raw wood, leaving some of my favorite dark wood pieces as they are.
At times I’ve used 1 1/2 wood tones by mixing raw wood with a treated wood piece. Something that has been distressed or color washed (like my office desk) so that only part of the wood color shows through.
This can be a really neat way to add a richness and accent to your space.
Question Number Three | How do you decorate a room with different functions?
I think this decorating question has been coming up even more recently as home designs use very open concepts and giant great rooms, and also as within our homes this year, lots of us have been needing to find spaces for home offices and school work spaces.
My best tip for this is to create zones within your space.
This picture is from Beckie Owens and is a great example of zoning.
I always recommend using rugs and lighting to help separate the different zones.
You can see there is a rug in the living room portion, and another in the dining room.
And with the lighting, there is a large chandelier above the living space, and a pennant light above the dining room.
Having separate rugs and lighting help to create a sort of “bubble” that helps distinguish one space from another.
Once you have your zones separated, add your furniture in and make sure that it allows for a good flow between the two spaces.
And within a shared space, you also want to make sure that your colors flow and coordinate well.
Then inside the separate zones, create what you need to make the space functional. Cute storage, task lighting, etc!
Jamie over at So Much Better with Age did a great blog post about how she zoned and decorated her long and narrow living room that you can check out, as well!
Question Number Four | What are your favorite decor sources?
I actually have gotten this question so often through the years, that I compiled an ebook to make it easy to reference my favorite decorating sources. You can access my Source Guide here!
I’ll share a few of them here as well, starting with the most inexpensive options and working up to the most spendy.
- Shop your own home | The biggest benefit here, FREE! Plus sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you can find and repurpose in other places within your home! Styling an older piece in a new way can sometimes be just the ticket.
- Always be willing to look through and accept “hand me down” decor | This doesn’t mean you have to say yes or keep every piece someone offers you, but if friends and family members ask you about potential pieces, it’s always good to check them over and see if they’ll fit your space!
- Thrift Stores & Garage Sales | Some of the best prices and unique items can be found when you’re willing and able to spend the time treasure hunting! (Here are a few related posts: 4 Tips for Finding Decor at Thrift Stores, Tips for Styling Thrifted Decor, 5 Secrets to Shopping Garage Sales)
- Etsy & Ebay | I kind of consider these the thrift stores of the internet. They’re especially great for when you want to find a great value on a specific item.
- Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace & Offer Up | These local second-hand options are especially great for furniture pieces! There have been times where I’ve been searching for a specific furniture item, and I’ll search craigslist both morning and evening daily until I find it!
- Discount Stores (Ross, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, At Home, Home Goods, Marshalls) | I really love stores like these for smaller furniture pieces, like a single accent chair or an end table.
- World Market, Target, Walmart | I hit stores like this when I need something more specific that I can’t find at the other options!
- Ballard Designs & Pottery Barn | These options are definitely on the spendier side, but there is a time for splurge pieces every once in a while! (More about that down below.)
Question Number Five | Can you paint upholstered furniture?
Surprisingly, you can actually paint cloth chairs and couches! I haven’t done it (however I have painted a leather couch), but everything I’ve ever read about it seems pretty simple.
The idea is to use chalk paint and to water it down quite a bit. Then you get your furniture piece wet and apply the watered down paint in the same way you would treat a liquid dye!
You need to let each coat dry before applying the next, and it can sometimes take about 3 coats!
When you’re finished you coat the fabric with a clear wax.
Question Number Six | What are the best ways to hide a TV?
I actually did an entire post on this topic just a few months ago with my 10 best ways to hide a TV.
There are two schools of thought, those that incorporate the TV into their surrounding decor and space, and those that want to outright hide it.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate a TV is by adding it as part of a gallery wall.
Or a more technical option, like this Samsung Frame TV that uses a piece of art as the “screen saver” when the TV isn’t in use instead of the regular black box we’re all used to.
One of my favorite ways to hide a TV outright is to cover it with art of some kind.
My good friend and neighbor let me snap this picture of her set up with a roll down map.
Question Number Seven | What are some kid friendly furniture ideas?
We have four children, now teenagers, and live on a farm – AND we have mostly white furniture. My biggest secret is slipcovers! The ones in our main areas that get the most used can be slipped right off and washed, which we do about once a month.
I’d also reccommend leather furniture, since it’s so easy to clean!
Lastly, you can consider finding furniture pieces with outdoor/weather proof furniture that can stand up to the “storm” that sometime defines life with children. 🙂
Question Number Eight | What are the best ways to save money on decorations?
I think that painting is one of the easiest ways to change things in your home without having to spend too much money.
Just about everything can be painted:
I truly believe that most of the time when things just don’t feel right in a space, it can be traced back to a color issue! When you pay attention to your undertones and paint items that don’t fit well with your look, you’ll be surprised how big of a difference it can make!
Like this Painted Bathroom Vanity from Little House of Four.
Shopping thrift stores, garage sales and second hand are also great ways to save money! Plan ahead, bring the things you might need, (see my list here – What to bring when shopping yard sales) and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty moving items, looking down low and through things, etc! Don’t forget, it’s a treasure hunt – but sometimes you have to get there via what others might consider trash.
And lastly, learning simple sewing skills can be a real money saver! When you know how to make or modify things like curtains or pillow cases, you’ll have a whole world opened up to you that you might not have known about previously.
Start with pillows or curtains, simple straight lines!
Question Number Nine | When is it OK to Splurge?
I think there certainly is a time and place to splurge – when you can afford it!
My husband and I have been Dave Ramsey coaches, so I’d never suggest splurging on something you haven’t budgeted for!
But if you can afford to, these are the times I’d cheer you on!
- When you really hate the way a certain thing looks
- When you really love a certain item, especially if you’ve wanted it a long time.
Before you splurge, I always recommend thinking ahead about 5-10 years. Will the price you’re wanting to pay for the item now be justified if you want to change it out in that time frame, or is it going to be a crisis when the time comes that it’s no longer your style?
Figure out what your tipping point is between a splurge now and regret later.
I also do think that splurging on quality items is very worth it. For me, as an example, I’m OK spending more on fabric that I know we’ll be touching all the time like our bedding. Our curtains might not be of the same quality, but you’d better believe that the place we’ll spend hours every evening will be cozy and comfortable!
And one last tip about splurges, if you know a small quantity of something relatively expensive (like good quality wallpaper) can transform a space, go for it!
Something like this Joanna Gaines Wallpaper from Home Depot that was used in this nursery. So pretty and chic, and worth every penny.
I hope these tips helped you! These are the types of things we talk about weekly in my Behind the Scenes Design Group, which is currently open until Sunday, September 27, 2020. After that you can join the waitlist until we open again in March 2021.
Comment below if you have any other burning design questions that I might be able to help answer for you!
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