In this post: Ever wondered if your home is over decorated? If you think it might be too much, these home decor tips will help you simplify your space.⇒
I was having a fabulous afternoon.
I’d bought earl grey tea and fresh scones and lit my favorite Baies candle to enhance the mood. Spread out before me on the dining table were all my prettiest teacups and I was happily grouping them by color and shape.
Eventually I found a layout that pleased me, and I tucked them into the cabinet so they could be displayed just so.
Then I stepped back.
And I knew immediately.
It was too much.
I was more surprised than crestfallen, as these were my favorite pieces and I’d spent a good bit of time styling them. But when taken with the surrounding objects in the room, the effect was more chaos than beauty.
This is something that most of us have experienced, at least to some extent, and if we’re at all honest with ourselves and our desire to create a lovely home, it’s something we should pay close attention to and learn from with an open mind.
To be clear, what constitutes overdecorating is in the eye of the beholder and we all have different thresholds for what is too much. And I am in no way advocating stark minimalism.
I am a staunch believer in a warm and inviting home, with all the accoutrements that deliver that feeling.
But I like a calm and tranquil sanctuary and overdecorating shatters that peace by creating visual tension.
So how can you be sure your home is not overdecorated?
Here are 3 things many homes have too much of.
Too Much Color
Using color is an art. Certainly, there are people who can use drama and vibrance and pull it off without a hitch.
But more commonly, people do better with gentler palettes. As a rule, the less confident you are with using color, the more you should lean on soft tones or neutrals.
The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to color is combining pretty colors in such a way as to make them look harsh or unflattering. For instance, buttery yellow can be quite lovely until you put it next to red or burgundy. How much prettier it would look next to a soft blue. Likewise, the burgundy would be better appreciated played off a neutral tan.
If you have a dark dusty sofa, for instance a teal, rust or mauve, don’t add colorful pillows. It would be much better served with textured neutrals like cream or beige.
Poor color mixing is the number one mistake I see in people’s homes and the one that makes the most impact. If you do nothing else, make sure your colors are cohesive.
Tips for working with color
- Choose a limited palette of 2 or 3 colors.
- Use pop colors sparingly – in just a few places – never evenly distributed around the room.
- Consider everything in the room including planters, books, and other functional items. If it’s out, people can see it.
- Balance vibrant color against a white (or neutral) backdrop.
- Avoid mixing clean and dirty colors together.
- Always break up a dark palette with white or natural.
Too Much Contrast
Like color, contrast is one of many tools in the design bucket. But, in and of itself, contrast is neither good nor bad. Sometime it works, and other times, not so much. It should be used to add interest, but not to add discomfort or tension, so always be careful what you are contrasting.
Also realize not all rooms require contrast. Never add contrast for the sake of contrast, as many rooms look best when in complete harmony.
Typically contrast works best when balance is also present.
Types of Contrast
We’ve already touched on color contrasts, but there are many other elements that can be contrasted, as well, including scale, shape, texture, and weight.
I tend to enjoy textural contrasts quite a lot, but prefer consistency in scale and shape. You can get away with varying the scale of small objects, but for me furniture looks best when it’s in a cohesive scale. A diminutive chair in a room with large pieces usually looks more odd than interesting.
Likewise, a room with all straight lines does not require an oddball rounded piece. If you love it, add it, but it’s not balancing out anything that needs to be compensated for. Instead you can just use softened edges.
Too Much Clutter
I know that no one would say they prefer clutter, and yet I’m amazed at how many people don’t see their own clutter. Perhaps they see it but don’t really think it matters. But I promise you, anyone coming in from the outside can’t miss it.
This goes for the two very different types of clutter many people have.
The first and more obvious type is things that are simply out of place. That pile of papers and the stack of magazines from the last decade, the collection of shoes you keep tripping over and the jackets slung over the armchair. The curious assortment of items that are entirely unrelated but somehow got grouped together on a counter as if they had something that united them.
All of these things need to find a permanent home. One that is logical and easy to get to so you always know where they are.
The second type of clutter is a bit more deceiving and it’s exactly the kind that my teacups created. Decorative clutter is what we most have to watch out for, because it’s far less obvious than things that are just out of place.
Of course, it’s a fine line what one person considers a nice vignette and another feels is too much. Here are some tips to help ensure your room decor is not too much:
- Each arrangement should have a clear shape and direction. Objects should relate to each other and not be placed randomly about.
- There should be plenty of empty space around your items and the room.
- Try not to line up your decor across a surface. Create groupings instead.
- Make sure there’s balance among your decorative objects. If you have one composition of several objects, have other areas with only one or two pieces.
- Edit anything you don’t love or that doesn’t coordinate with the other objects.
- Always remember less is more. The fewer pieces you have displayed, the easier it will be to appreciate the ones you’ve selected.
- Use like items together and stick to your chosen color palette.
When evaluating your space, if all else fails you can try this one trick. Stand back and squint at the room and see what stands out. If anything distracts your eye that’s not an intentional focal point, that’s the area that needs editing.
Removing beloved pieces can be difficult to be sure, but sometimes you only have to move it to another room or space. Other times it’s a matter of rotating the items on display.
Ultimately, being open minded and honestly assessing your home is the best way to ensure an inviting and beautiful space…
…even if it means admitting you’ve added one too many teacups to the living room cupboard.
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