#1 One black thing, whether it be a chair in the corner, a lamp, china cabinet, the frame holding your favorite artwork, or a small accessory. Black creates depth, interest, and even a focal point.
www.nuevo-estillo.com via Greige
Steven Shubel via Decorpad
#2 Excellent lighting. Lighting has the potential to make the people in the room feel comfortable; it can control their mood. Think of a dance club - if the lights inside were very bright, would you really want to dance? Probably not. The fact that they are dim gives people a sense of intimacy and can make someone dancing feel more confident. The same goes for bedroom lighting. You want to feel relaxed in your bedroom (so not too bright) but it has to be bright enough to find that missing sock under the bed. Also think of typical dining rooms - there's a reason why chandeliers are so popular in dining rooms. How are you going to see your food if you're eating with only a table lamp lighting your plate? But chandeliers do double duty, lighting the entire room at the same time they compliment your design scheme and bring the beauty of the room up a notch.
There's lighting for every different style. In my opinion, a nice overhead light to illuminate the entire room (a dimmer switch is a plus) should be combined with a small table lamp or task light. Other options include sconces for bathrooms and hallways, floor lamps for living rooms, and recessed lighting. Always take size into consideration, making sure, for example, a chandelier doesn't hang so low it touches the table, or the table lamp you picked out isn't bigger than the side table next to your sofa.
Alvhelm Malkeri via Cococozy
Cote de Texas
#3 Vertical interest. Don't focus only on filling the room with furniture, think about what might cover the walls, windows and ceiling, too. Consider crown molding for a plain, boxy room. Maybe artwork or mirrors can liven up bare walls. A chandelier might complement the elegance of a space. Vertical interest can also be accomplished by something as simple as putting a valued personal treasure on top of a tall piece of furniture (like an antique birdcage on top of a bookshelf, or collectibles on top of a dresser or armoire.)
Ruthie Sommers, Domino Design Project, via Habitually Chic on Flickr
A slightly new trend, or at least an idea coming back into style, is to paint the ceiling a very different color from the walls. For example, light gray walls and a black ceiling, or white walls and a baby blue ceiling. This draws the eyes upwards. Personally I rely on crown molding and ceiling medallions for my chandeliers, which I think is very classic and elegant.
Room Envy via Maison Boheme
#4 Practical upholstery. Furniture that gets more use should be in a forgiving material, such as a print fabric to hide stains, or leather that can be easily wiped clean. If you're clumsy/messy like me, or have kids or pets, you'll know that this is important, and you'll know that slipcovers make cleaning so much easier. Also, for a well designed look, you can buy extra fabric from one piece to carry over to another piece. For example, say you have a sofa in a brown print and a chair in the same room in a solid ivory, you can get extra material of that brown fabric and make a pillow for the ivory chair. Otherwise, many sofas and sectionals come with matching pillows, and you could put those pillows elsewhere (like on the hypothetical ivory chair) and replace them with different colored pillows for the sofa. You can do the same thing with curtains and blinds. This simple task will tie your room together.
Mi Casa via The Decorista...notice the leather chair and
coordinating pink, yellow and white colors on different pieces of furniture.
This goes for rugs/carpeting as well. They say cowhides are good for pet owners (although I have yet to see if that's true) and shag rugs are bad for pet owners (which is definitely true.) Tile is good for spills but bad for children falling, hardwood has the potential to dent and scratch but is easy to clean.
Emily Henderson Portfolio....velvet may look gorgeous but it is a pain to clean
#5 A balance between shapes, including furniture with and without legs and skirted pieces. Having all skirted pieces in one room, for example, can make the room seem too heavy, bulky, and low to the ground. (Think grandma's house.) All legged furniture, on the other hand, could make a space too distracting, although it could work well if it is planned right. There should also be a balance between square, rectangular, round and oval pieces. My mother will not let me hear the end of it. Every time she comes over she reminds me that I need an oval or round table in my dining room because I have all rectangular shapes and it is hard to walk around each piece. An oval table looks great with a rectangular sideboard, console or cabinet, while a rectangular table pairs well with a rounded sideboard or console. My mother also never fails to mention how it would be safer to have more rounded pieces in my house if I ever plan on having kids. This balance between shapes is usually a benefit in a room with a good amount of pieces that would otherwise all be the same shape: square coffee table/chairs/side tables/tv console/rug, etc. In a room with less pieces it is possible for them to have balance while being the same shape: a single dining room table, a single china cabinet, and a rug. And sometimes the room has that extra something when all the pieces are the same shape, and then this rule does not apply.
Tori Spelling's dining room
Suzanne Kasler...notice the round mirror, arches, and non-square furniture layout
#6 As I've said before, curtains or drapes take a room from bland to grand. Many homes are designed with phenomenal windows that shouldn't dare be covered up, but for the little homes in little suburbs, this is not the case and privacy is an issue. You may not even want curtains, but sometimes the style of your house decides that for you. If you do choose to cover your windows, all curtains in the same room should be matching, hover nicely a few inches from the floor or window sill, and cover the length and width of the window. They shouldn't clash with the overall scheme of the room (think polished, elegant, gray-toned room with hot pink zebra curtains - it just doesn't work.) Nor should they be unwashable. Even curtains get dirty.
Habitually Chic on Flickr
Where The Sidewalk Begins
What do you think of this list? Anything you would add to it or disagree with?