Design Tips Series #1: Decorating with Style Not Clutter

Decorating with Style

I think we innately all love the peaceful feeling of a home that is tastefully decorated–just the right amount of wall hangings, little to nothing on the counters except a few decorative items, perfectly coordinated pillows set in just the right spots on the couch, and bedrooms that show no trace of actual living except a well made bed and a matching dresser.

I’ve just described every new builder model home in America.

The fact of the matter is that most homes have too many wall hangings because we just love our darn family so much we want to display as many pictures as possible, the kitchen counters have practical items like used coffee mugs from the earlier in the day that just didn’t make it to the sink along with the recipe book you will use tonight and the stack of mail that practically needed the most convenient place to be dropped.  Oh and the couch pillows? Look behind the couch or on the floor–that’s where ours live 50% of the time.


That is the reality of living (well, hopefully this picture is a slight exaggeration!).  So how do we make our homes feel peaceful AND practical?

Both life mess and decorating “overdoo” can cause our home to look cluttered.  When we are raising a family, socks, wrappers, homework, laundry, etc. are just going to exist.  But we can help reduce the overwhelm feeling by having our homes decorated with classy simplicity.

So how do you know if your home is overdecorated?  Take this little quiz (Y/N):

  1. My home seems mis-matched.  I have purchased things over the years like furniture and wall hangings that just don’t go together.
  2. I have a lot of furniture in most rooms. I don’t know what to get rid of.
  3. I have something hanging on almost every wall.
  4. I have several different patterns going on throughout my home.
  5. I don’t feel peaceful in my home.  It seems like my decor is just “off.”

If you answered 3 or more “yes” then this post series is for you!

For most of us, the answer is LESS is MORE.  More peace, more style, more happy.  But we tend to fill our homes with too much which works against that.

People who have a knack for design are able to put a lot of things on a wall or in a room, but that is because they know how to coordinate scale, color, size and patterns very well, like this picture to the rightdesign styleIf you are feeling unsettled in your home, it feels a little chaotic or busy, or just “not right” it may be because those elements aren’t flowing for you.  My word of advice is to pare down.  Take things away, at least for now, until you start to feel calm and peaceful in your home.

This post is one of three on a series of de-cluttering your home.  In this series I will share tips on how to create that peaceful, welcome feeling in your home by discussing three areas:  WALLS, FURNITURE,  and COLOR.

Today’s post will be all about our walls!

Re Working Our Walls

Cluttered, busy walls can easily create a feeling of chaos in a home.  


I was a home stager for several years and walls tended to be one area where homeowners needed the most help.  Here are 5 common mistakes with wall decorations:

2.  Hanging pictures/items on too many walls:

There are only  few areas in your house where you NEED to have hanging/decorative items on walls: fireplace mantles, above beds, above dressers and over couches.

All of these areas have large visual impact on the bottom half of the wall and if we leave the top half blank it just looks unfinished.

The rest of the walls–well they are negotiable.

In rooms that have 3 or 4 walls, aim to have pictures or hangings on one wall only.  Yep.  Now, you can have items on more than one wall, but the truth is most people are not sure how to coordinate the items, or size them correctly, so the room looks mis-matched.   So, if you think you might struggle with this, just decorate ONE wall.   Pick the largest one, and hang away.

3.  Too many goupings of pictures throughout house: Replace small groupings of items with a large item–like a mirror, or a large framed print.  One large item often feels more simple and eye pleasing.

4.  Groupings with incorrect spacing: Hang pictures in a group with about 1.5 inches between the frames.  One mistake people commonly make is to hang pictures in a group too far apart from each other.

5. Hang pictures or wall decor at eye level.  When pictures are too high they throw off the balance of the room.

My challenge to you would be to go around your house and start taking things down off the walls or adjusting what you currently have based on those tips.  Put the extra items on the floor in a back room for now.  Live in your house that has less and see how you feel.

If you find yourself feeling lighter when you are in your home, maybe it’s time to give those items away or sell them.  Organize photos in an album or in some frames on a table.

Here are some pictures of peaceful, calm rooms:

53cd6945356d1_8611PrairieView-297D-021-Master (Large)_1240x800

Just one larger picture above the bed creates a sense of calm.

dining room

No picture on dining room wall–allows focus to be on chandelier and front entry table and mirror.


Only decorative items on the counter and some empty wall space in the background.


Picture over fireplace but not on stairwell wall.


One large picture by dining room table.  Two coordinating pictures/frames over couch.

No matter what your decorating style, you can always declutter, coordinate and simplify your walls.

Hopefully you are able to give some of these ideas a try!  I would love to hear your comments or questions if you do!


Share This:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.