We all want our homes to be comfortable, look great and reflect who we are. The trouble is getting there. Here are 10 professional tips to help your home be the best it can be.

By Mary Lynn Bruny

Seasoned interior designers have their tricks of the trade—you know, those little design secrets they’ve gathered from years of experience. So we asked three local interior designers and business owners to share theirs to help readers make their homes more beautiful, harmonious and personalized.

Start with Color

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Tip 1

Color sets the stage for your home. Every year, home stores and magazines tout that year’s “in” colors, but don’t be swayed by trends. “When decorating your home, choose colors you love,” says Connie Brunner of 3rd & Vine Design in Boulder.

Think of your favorite rooms in houses, restaurants and hotels. Rip out pages from design magazines with interiors you like, and dog-ear pages in design books. Notice any color similarities? Chances are your favorite colors are also reflected in your wardrobe.

“If you love a color, use it in a main room and then carry some of that color throughout the house for continuity,” Brunner says. For instance, paint your dining room red, then have a red-and-cream-striped accent chair in the living room and splashes of red in the artwork and accessories.

Tip 2

Choosing paint colors is a tricky business. Remember, paint often turns out brighter than expected. For instance, what appears to be a light, creamy yellow on a paint chip is often garishly bright on the wall.design_4

“Choosing a tone that contains slightly more gray will help the end product look more like your original vision,” says Barbee James of Details Design Studio in Boulder.

Tip 3

When painting a space without natural light, like a powder room, brighten it with metallic paint. “The paint’s reflective qualities will make the room appear lighter,” James says.


Focus on the Furniture

No one wants to make expensive interior-design mistakes, but sometimes playing it too safe is a mistake in itself.

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“Don’t be too matchy-matchy. Good design is not about matching. Matching everything in a room will only make the room become stale and lifeless way before its time,” says Linda Klueber of Niwot Interiors. (Place your hand over the red chairs at left and see how the room becomes instantly boring.)

Tip 5

“One large piece of furniture, when paired with regular-scaled furniture, can act as a focal point and create a dramatic effect,” Klueber adds. Often, what looks like average-sized furniture in a showroom will look huge in your house, because furniture showrooms are large.

Tip 6

“Before purchasing furniture, it’s a good idea to tape out the dimensions of the pieces onto your floor at home. This helps make sure everything fits properly,” James suggests. Another option is to use boxes to approximate furniture size. You can place several boxes together and throw a sheet over them to get the three-dimensional effect of a larger piece in the space. 


Accessorize

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Accessorize from the bottom up with rugs. You don’t always have to use one perfectly aligned rug per room, either. “Layer rugs on top of each other at different angles for an eclectic vibe,” Brunner says. Don’t be afraid to mix it up, too. Combine different patterns and colors for a stunning look.

Tip 8

Lighting can also be a bit out of the box. “One option is to find a unique artifact that can then be mounted with lighting to create a custom lamp,” James says. Say you find an old milk jug or a vintage wooden animal at an antiques store. Many lighting stores can wire these objects and add a shade to create a one-of-a-kind lamp. 

Tip 9

The best home accessories are meaningful as well as beautiful or interesting. “Accessories should be things that have importance to the people residing within the home,” James says. “If you’re an outdoorsy person, incorporate accessories from the outdoors. For example, a bowl of rocks you picked up from a favorite hike or shells you found on your honeymoon.”

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Tip 10

Keep your home inviting. If you have a contemporary home, avoid using only ultra contemporary, minimalist accessories. “To keep it from being too stark, include antiques, artwork and family pieces,” Brunner says. And bring the outside in. “Bring in flowers, plants and bowls of moss and rocks. The natural world helps soothe the soul.”