7 Things You Should Know Before Decorating Your Home

About to redecorate your home? These must-know design principles will come in handy.

Updated on January 08, 2018 11:01 am

Samantha Echavez

7 Things You Should Know Before Decorating Your Home

So you feel like decorating your home once more—dress up your wall with a wall collage, add a luxe-looking ottoman, create prettier tablescapes in the living room. But before you spruce up the space you're living in, it's best to educate yourself with the following principles, which are "the building blocks of every decorating project," according to Jill Vegas, author of Speed Decorating: A Pro Stager's Tips and Trade Secrets for A Fabulous Home in a Week or Less. These will immensely guide you as you redesign your current home.

1. Calm

What your home should radiate as soon as you step in is a sense of calm, a quiet happiness borne from the absence of small yet messy and stressful things that can drive you crazy. The first thing you should do before you decorate a space, whether it is your living room or bedroom, is to "clear away clutter so you can really assess your space and make effective changes," says Vegas. "Look around and see what can go immediately. This includes looking in bookcases, underneath furniture, and on the floors. Cramming your space with stuff creates tension."

Clutter-free and clean, this Sentosa Cove home brings in a sense of calm.

Go over your belongings, and get rid of appliances or decorative items that you no longer need or no longer functioning. "Remove piles of papers, mail, and magazines. Put it all in a basket to read or recycle later. Make one pass through each room and gather anything that doesn’t belong, such as dishes, old magazines, and stray socks," adds Vegas.

Then, get organised. There are so many ways to go about it—click here. "Procrastination is the biggest enemy of [organising], so get over it! And start doing. If you’re feeling tired or frustrated, take action. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your mood changes," adds Vegas. Set up an organising system that fits your personality, style, budget, and habits.

2. Condition

"This goes hand-in-hand with creating a sense of calm in your home. Once you’ve moved aside the stuff that camouflages the bones of your rooms, it’s time to do a deep clean," says Vegas. Scrub every corner, note down any appliances or fixtures that need repairs, get the house thoroughly cleaned.

3. Style

Style isn't just a matter of heading to the store and buying home decorative items and knick knacks—"it's all in how you put it together. Style is about mixing your favourite furniture with accessories you love to create an original room. It's about having the courage to try something new," says Vegas. Be creative and confident about asserting the style you want for your own house.

To find out your style, think about what inspires you. Vegas suggests: "Look at clippings from magazines. If you’ve been taking digital pictures of things you love, browse through them all. Look for a pattern to emerge, such as a similar colour or style," says Vegas. "Look at furniture, artwork, and collectibles you already own. Hand-me-downs aside, what purchases have you made? Is there a particular look or colour scheme you keep coming back to?" Then, build your style from there.


The homeowners' love for Japanese zakka and Scandinavian aesthetics paved the way for the style of this flat.

4. Arrangement

Why does arrangement matter? One of the benefits of proper arrangement is good flow, which is "a sense of motion and harmony in a space," says Vegas.

Make sure each room has an ease about it, which means that you should be able to walk around freely without tripping over anything. "Like a winding nature path, the flow should be effortless and organic. Nothing is in your way, but you’re not stuck with a stiff, geometric arrangement in which all the furniture is pressed against the walls, creating a black hole of dead space," says Vegas.

Get creative when you do your arrangement. Photo source

5. Light

Proper lighting is necessary to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in your home. "Getting lighting right means thinking about the fixtures themselves (does their style please you? is the level of light adjustable?); the glow they cast (too soft for work? too clinical for romance?); and placement in the room (shadows aren’t always bad, it’s where they are that counts)," says Vegas.

6. Colour and Texture

Is your bedroom or living room washed in tremendous amounts of beige? Then, it's time for a change. Take a look around you and draw inspiration from your surroundings to use textures and contrasting hues. Vegas adds: "When thinking of colour and texture, use your imagination. Look to your destination or vacation spot or maybe one of your favourite moments and translate that experience into a palette." (Learn how to pick out a colour palette here.)

This dining room makes use of smooth, reflective surfaces, but a bubbly chandelier subtly adds textural interest while still keeping within the calm contemporary theme.

7. Details

Here, it's all about art and accessories to give your home a more fun and exciting personality. "They’re fast and easy to change—with your mood, or the season, or the theme of a particular occasion," says Vegas. Update family photos, mount some new artworks, or bring in the flowers!


In this retro chic home, vintage details abound.

Decorating Questionnaire:

Pay more attention to your house pre-decoration by asking yourself these questions:

1. What are the primary functions of the space?

Vegas continues: "Does it suit them? In the kitchen, for instance, you need to be able to work freely, and you need comfortable accommodations for the friends who will gather there. The bedroom, by contrast, should primarily be conducive to quiet time, relaxation, and romance."

2. How does the room look?

Pretend you're a visitor entering your home for the first time. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Do you feel calm or agitated? Is the whole place in disarray? Is the furniture shabby?

3. Is everything working?

Check for those details we tend to ignore like burnt-out bulbs, wall cracks, water damage, torn upholstery. Have them repaired.

4. Does the room feel comfy?

If you think something still feels "off" even when you’re happy with the furniture and everything is in good condition, take a look at the details. "Maybe you have too many hard surfaces and need an infusion of softness and color, like some pillows, a throw, or a new rug. Or maybe the lighting isn’t right. It should be bright enough for the task at hand but also be warm and flattering, not harsh," Vegas concludes.


Got any decorating tip or interior decorating project or makeover to share? Email us at hello@cromly.com.

Cover photo courtesy of Jill Carmel

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