If you find yourself scrolling Instagram or flipping through your favourite interior decorating magazine, wondering what magic went into creating these enchanting spaces, you’re not alone. But rest assured, there’s no magic involved, just some creativity and know-how. Many people choose to work with a professional designer or stylist, like myself but if you’ve got some time and the inclination, here are some simple things you can attempt to do to achieve a stylish space.

Before you start, determine your objective, as this will impact your styling strategy. If you’re selling your home, your goal is to appeal to the biggest pool of prospective purchasers. If your home just needs a refresh, your approach will be geared toward your own personal preferences.

Regardless of your reason for styling, the first step is to declutter. “Stuff” can weigh on our homes and our minds, eating up valuable real estate in your home, which could be better used otherwise. You don’t have to get rid of everything, just the items you no longer need or love.  Anything that’s damaged and can’t be fixed, or things that no longer serve a purpose in your current life have got to go. Some great ideas for disposal are to hand them down to a friend, donate to a local charity, or for reinvention and reuse at a recycling centre.

Before getting rid of still-usable pieces, see if you can give them new life and a fresh face. I can attest that a bright coat of paint or some new upholstery can be transformative, and a cost-efficient way to furnish and refresh your home ad well being  kind to our environment.

With your clutter and chaos now under control, you can work with what is hopefully a small but significant collection of furniture and accessories. You’ll also likely need (and want!) to purchase some new pieces to update your space. Evaluate your intended use of the space, and determine what you’ll need to fulfill those goals. Maybe it’s a new armchair for your home library, or some fabulous new chairs to accompany your inherited antique dining table.

When buying new pieces, look for something that will visually complement your current collections. Your goal is to round out the room in terms of function and aesthetics. Find pieces that make a statement, whether through a remarkable silhouette, an unusual material, or a colour or pattern that “pops.” If budget allows, splurge on one or two truly fabulous “must haves” to elevate your space, and make them a focal point in the room. Alternatively, second-hand stores and estate sales are goldmines for one-of-a-kind treasures that can be updated and repurposed.

Now, fill in the gaps with some accessories, such as books, collections, art and textiles. Play with colour and texture to bring the room to life. The secret to arranging your accessories is balance. Regardless if you’re styling a bookshelf, a fireplace mantel or a tabletop, here are a few of my no-fail tips:

  1. Arrange collections in odd numbers, with the tallest in the centre and gradually smaller items arranged outward.
  2. Create visual interests by varying materials and textures, such as wood, polished chrome and organic fibres, for example.
  3. Organize furniture and accessories around the focal point in the space, to help draw attention and congregation to key features and functional areas in the room.
  4. Repurpose and restore pieces with sentimental value. You may not have a use for your grandfather’s old tools , but maybe the old storage trunk they were kept in can be repurposed and used as a fun decorative item!

Rather than envying those magazine-worthy interiors, get inspired by them, make note of what you love and why. Then, peel back the layers of your own home and make a plan to echo and draw inspiration of the look and vibe, adding in your own personal spin.

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