How to Decorate

Decorating Rules to Make Decorating Your Home Easier

In this post: When you are new to decorating it helps to have some decorating rules to follow so that the process is easier and more successful!

Typical designers would like for you to think that decorating your home is impossible if you don’t have a design education, or even worse, those elusive style genes only they supposedly have. But I’m here to tell you that that is utter nonsense – and that there are no such genes! You simply need just a few decorating rules or guidelines to make decorating your home easier.

decorating rules

Decorating Rules I Follow 99% of the Time

Normally, I’m not much of a design rules follower. But these eight rules have merit and I follow them about 99% of the time when decorating. 


1. Plan your large elements first. Couches, chairs, beds, all need to be chosen before anything else. Accessories get chosen later.
2. Use repetition. Use more than one thing in an accent color or pattern. For example not one, but two or three plaid pillows. Two of the same side chair. A collection of similar candlesticks. Repetition works well in decor because it makes your choices seem more deliberate and well-planned.
3. Use odd numbers in groupings. Three, five or sometimes even seven of something adds interest and oddly enough (pun intended) balance.
4. Use a variety of textures. Burlap, shag, velvet, silk, cotton. This tip alone adds so much interest to a space. Think layering of texture.


1. Choose paint colour at the store. I know I have said this already. But the lighting there is so different than in your space. Always bring paint chips home. After you’ve narrowed your choices down to a couple, it is helpful to use sample paint pots and actually test the colors on your walls.
2. Have all your furniture line the walls. Boring! Try to angle at least one piece to add some interest. An occasional chair maybe? Or a table? Just one thing not parallel to a wall will add more interest to a room than you would imagine.
3. “Invest” in trends. Trends come and go. Don’t base your design on a trend. Buy and use classic pieces and then add a few trendy pieces that don’t cost a lot, like pillows or throws. That way you can change them out when a trend changes or when you tire of it.
4. Display every personal treasure you own. Unless you own very, very few. If necessary rotate them to keep it fresh. The key to a well-styled home is editing. I love many more pieces than I could possibly ever display well in my home. That means when I find a piece of art or accent piece I absolutely adore and can’t pass up, I either choose to get rid of (give away or donate) something else to make room for it or I put it into a rotation and pull it out when I’m craving a change.

So, 8 rules total. That’s not too bad, right?

These rules are sort of like having the lines in a coloring book. Once you get the hang of them you can “color outside the lines” all you like!

shannon sign off

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

I'd love to chat with you in the comments!


  1. Don’t think everything has to match. For instance, we bought an entire bedroom suite when we first married – bed, armoire, dresser, nightstands. A few years ago it was all too much, so I put the nightstands in another bedroom and purchased a small secretary table for one side of the bed and brought a table from another room for my side. The style is similar but they’re obviously not a pair and not part of the “group”. The room feels more layered and collected now. And the other bedroom does, too, because the dresser in there doesn’t match the night stands! Win-win.

    I would also suggest not giving up on a lamp just because the shade or the base is the wrong color or the shade is the wrong shape. Paint the base and invest in a new shade or try covering the shade in fabric you love….

    Take measurements and even a layout of your room with you when you shop…. Isn’t it funny how much larger furniture looks in your home than it did in the showroom or how nothing ever quite fits the way you thought it would?

    This could go on for days…. (smile)

  2. Those are some great rules to go by Shannon. Helps people like me that need some direction when it comes to designing and decorating spaces! Haha 😉


  3. Hi Shannon-
    Your rules are perfect and simple which is a winning combo in my book. I’m a huge fan of using texture. I think it creates so much visual interest and adds that ‘cozy’ feel to a room. Also like you, I fully agree to never buy paint based on the color at the store. It NEVER looks the same once you get it home.

    1. Simple rules are best for decorating! Texture is one of my absolute favorite ways to add character and elegance to a room. And yeah, that paint rule. Man, I wish people would really follow that one!