Basic Home Decorating: How to Match Your Furniture & Home Furnishings [PART I]
Updated: Jul 22
So you’ve finally gotten the new keys to your apartment and you’re trying to decide how you want your future home to look. Renovation plans aside, what is the impression you want to make at your new home? How do you want your home style to complement your tastes and lifestyle? Important things to consider when setting aside a budget for furniture and accessories are the number of rooms to decorate, how much decorating and styling do you need, what kind of furniture (customized or store-bought), types of curtains and blinds, add in other essential decorative items and loose furnishings as well such as carpets, and rugs, decorative pillows, dinnerware set, paintings/wall art, mirrors, vases and bowls and many more -- whew! But for now, read on to learn a few key principles and tips to consider when interior decorating your home.
Learning how to decorate your home means learning and applying the basic interior design principles into matching your furniture and home furnishings. These basic interior design principles consist of balance, rhythm, harmony, emphasis, and lastly, proportion and scale. These are the terms important to understand when considering your elements of decor and interior design style. When describing the overall effect of the finished interior, you can say that you want it either casual or formal, traditional or contemporary, or you could even quote a specific interior design style such as Rustic Farmhouse, Americana, Industrial, Modern Luxury, or Mid-Century Modern.
Interior design style photos (each style shown in 2 photos) by Mr Shopper Studio (from L-R): 1 & 2. Casual, 3 & 4. Formal, 5 & 6. Traditional, 7 & 8. Contemporary, 9 & 10. Rustic Farmhouse, 11 & 12. Americana, 13 & 14. Industrial, 15 & 16. Modern Luxury & 17 & 18. Mid-Century Modern
The first easy tip to matching your overall home furniture and furnishings is to start by determining your home’s primary color scheme. How we go about this is to perhaps first determine the kinds of color you would like as an expression for your home. Do you want to use colors that are warm or inviting? Or are you looking at something playful such as incorporating a color you personally love into your living space? Do not be afraid to be unconventional, you do not have to have a home that fits what a normal color scheme should be like! After all, experimenting is the basis of creativity and you’ll never know what will surprise you and you can often find yourself pleasantly surprised at the end of the renovation journey! On the other side of the spectrum, you may also go minimalistic and muted, or light or dark, in your home’s color theme and should never be pressured to go ultra-luxe or bold if traditional, classic, or rustic is something that speaks to your soul.
Color schemes can basically be broken down into 3 categories: monochrome, muted/complementary, and contrasting. Monochrome colors are when you basically have one color palette in all of your furniture and furnishings, such as all-white, or black on black but in reality, homes are rarely completely monochrome as there will often be other materials and textures included at the later stages of your home styling. Complementary colors are when the colors picked are adjacent to one another in the color wheel leading the colors to seem to flow very well together, creating a pleasant harmony. Another alternative similar to the complementary color category is the muted color story. Muted colors are your neutrals; creams, browns, and greys combined together to form a highly pleasing yet calm and minimalistic view at your home. Even when colors are present other than neutrals in the muted color scheme, they tend to have less saturation (colors are muted), and therefore non-distracting to the relaxed eye. Complementary and muted colors are an excellent choice when the space you have is small. That’s because when colors flow well with each other -- even if the complementary colors are chosen are in a dark envelope as compared to light, there’s bound to be fewer breaks to the eye and thus creating the impression of an elongated and larger space. Lastly, homeowners go for the contrasting color palette when they love color and aren’t afraid to experiment with unconventional and new color combinations!
Examples of Monochrome are when colors are derived from the same family
Neutrals are your creams, browns, and greys; neutral combinations depending on how they are paired can either be complementary or contrasting
Complementary colors are when the chosen colors are found beside one another in the color wheel while Muted colors are generally less saturated tones
These are some examples of colorful and contrasting color combinations
2. Rhythm — Prints & Patterns
Similarly, like music, rhythm is all about creating patterns of repetition and/or contrast to add visual interest. Once you have decided on your color scheme, we can start considering adding visual interest via patterns and print into the mix! Technically we group prints and patterns into two categories: geometric vs. organic. Geometric patterns are our lines and shapes while organic prints will feature the more complicated motifs that are illustrated and printed on fabric or wallpaper. Geometrics are easy to pair but there’s an art to it when it comes to matching prints. Once we have an understanding of this we then decide whether we want to decorate our home according to a theme or if we are going eclectic. Eclectic homes usually come about when homeowners themselves are creatives or avid collectors and fans of many types of art, design aesthetic, and furniture styling. So it goes without saying, most of Mr Shopper Studio’s home renovation projects are thematic and would involve working around a particular style for the final delivery.
Harmony is the basic interior design principle that aims to put a person at ease by uniting elements to create repetition that is complementary, and cohesive. When decorating your home on a theme, be it travel, coastal, nautical, rustic, or even an industrial theme, you’ll want to incorporate all of those different elements into the decoration. In inexperienced hands, this could easily go wrong because one thing to note is how easily theme decoration can go overboard! Unlike at events and parties where more is more, decorating for your home takes an impactful but moderate hand. It is extremely important to be mindful of how excessive thematic elements can easily go overboard! At the end of your home decorating journey, the effect achieved should always be tasteful and artful and never tacky.
The next basic in interior design principles is all about creating a balance in the shape, color, pattern, and texture of your furniture and furnishings. You'll want to make sure the elements you have decided for your home to first be in harmony with each other and are complementary before you start adding emphasis or contrasting or statement pieces into your home decor repertoire. As the saying goes, you’ve got to first learn the rules like a pro before breaking them!
You can find balance in your furniture and furnishings through repetition of color, pattern, and texture, and by distributing the visual weight in a room. The format for visual distribution can further be broken down in these formats: symmetrical or formal, asymmetrical or informal, or radial balance. A formal or symmetrical arrangement is when you distribute the colors, shapes, and patterns in an even manner across a room, while informal or asymmetrical is where no intentional form is created except to arrange in a way that flows with the aforementioned balance, harmony, and repetition arrangements in place. Lastly, creating a radial balance is where the arrangement radiates from a focal point/statement piece much like how light rays radiate away from the sun.
Next, let’s also cover the eclectic pattern and furniture matching styles. If you choose to go eclectic, the risk of this is that the overall visual achieved can look very cluttered and distracting. Yet eclectic may be the choice when the homeowner and family have distinct and creative characters. There was a collaboration Mr Shopper Studio did with Aurore Martial from Domus Venus where such a home was conceptualized to express the unique personalities of each family member. With this method being the most difficult of all to perfect, a rule of thumb for eclectic styling is to first achieve a balanced combination of all combined elements from above. It is only then emphasis as a basic interior design principle comes in. Emphasis enhances a room by adding a focal point or contrasting element to build interest. You can play with contrasting elements not only in color but also in statement furniture which adds visual interest in itself. Introduce emphasis in the form of repetition and color echoes that unite the contrasting element with the rest of the color palette together.