Start with art. If you are going to jazz up a room, start with a focal point. A canvas, print or photograph in a central location is a good place to begin. If your favorite piece has been hanging in the same spot for a while, consider swapping it with something from another location or find something new. I like to mix things up, so if I’ve had a traditional oil painting up for a while, I’ll shift gears and hang a bright piece of folk art. Once you’ve made your pick, use the colors as a guide for the rest of the room.
Score on the floor. A good rug can make or break a room design, so while one should be fearless with their art selection, one should tread lightly with floor coverings. Start by determining the best size, and quantity of rugs in the room. Small spaces, and living rooms with multiple doorways usually benefit from one large rug. Multiple rugs are useful in larger open spaces, or places where you want to define spaces within the walls. Another consideration are the pathways in the room and how people will navigate the space. Pathways should be fully carpeted, or left bare, and the rug should cover all four feet of any furniture on it. Once you’ve determined rug size, decide if plain or a pattern will work best. A bold pattern or color will really define a room, and will work best if the furniture is a neutral color. A plainer rug will give you more flexibility with your other fabric choices and wall colors.
Acquaint yourself with paint. Pick your wall colors based on your earlier selections, and keep in mind small rooms benefit from bright colors. If you’re not sure which colors will work, or you plan on selling your home in the next year or two, go with neutral colors like white, gray or beige.
Finish with a flair. Finally, focus on adding finishing touches like new throw pillows, plants, or decorative items. Be creative with what you have, and ignore convention. I recently ran across three black metal Victorian deed boxes and stacked them to make an end table. They are all different and painted black, with the owner’s name painted in a beautiful white script. The end result was part antique, part industrial, and a great place for storage.