Designers Share the Decorating Secrets Only Professionals Know—Until Now

Throw everything you thought you knew out the window.


Some people have a natural eye for design, but if you're more in the camp of those who can't do anything without consulting Pinterest board upon Pinterest board before making any major changes, we feel you. We'd love to have an interior designer on speed dial before deciding exactly where and how hang to hang that sweet new wall art we bought on a whim, but until we win the lottery, we'll have to settle for trusting our guts, and taking plenty of design tips where we can get them. We've compiled some secrets straight from the pros to help you with all your decorating needs.

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Dustin Halleck via Edyta and Co
Don't Be Afraid To DIY

"If punk rock has taught me anything, it's to do everything yourself. All of my favorite interior designers were self-taught."—

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Lark and Linen
Mix Old And New Decor

"Old and new belong together. A mix of modern pieces and antiques never tires."—

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Richard Powers
Liven Up Ordinary Spaces With Wallpaper

“I love to use wallpaper in mundane spaces. Hallways, pantries, powder rooms—all become moments of joy and funkiness. Areas of transition can be places you enjoy spending time in.”—

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Black Lacquer Design
Choose The Right Bulbs

"Choosing the right light bulb is very important. LED bulbs are energy efficient, and they can look great."—

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Nathan Schroder
Try Out Wicker

“Wicker is an element I love for its texture and versatility. Wicker baskets are so functional for storage, but a wicker animal brings a sense of whimsy.” —

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Courtesy of Courtney Hill Interiors
Upgrade Your Light Switches

“Update your light switches! Elegant controls add a spectacular element to an older home or character to a new one.” —

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Julie Soefer
Invest In Antiques

“Great art and fabulous antiques only get better with age. It’s better to cry once and have a forever piece.”—

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Old Brand New
Trust Your Intuition

"Follow your gut. If you have to talk yourself into liking something, you probably don't."—

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Maura McEvoy
Use The Ceiling To Redefine The Room

“Look up! We use ceilings a lot. Through them, we define the lines and beauty of a space.”—

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Anne Schlechter
Add A Bar

"Every house should have a great bar. It is the central point of a party, and if you entertain a lot, it will be celebrated, so put some thought into it."—

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Annie Schlechter
When In Doubt, Paint It Out

"Never underestimate the power of paint. You don't have to break the bank to achieve a new look. A fresh coat in a vibrant color takes an old piece of furniture or empty white room and gives it new life."—

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Heather Talbert
White Kitchens Are Forever

“Classics never go out of style. I hesitated about doing a white kitchen in my own house, thinking I’d been there, done that. But I’m so glad I did. I will never tire of it.”—

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Lark and Linen
Live In Your Pretty Spaces

"Actually use your beautiful things! I have a chocolate lab and white furniture in my living room. It took some training, but now he knows the furniture is off limits."—

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Black Lacquer Design
Get Inspired By Ancient Buildings

"Pull floor patterns from ancient buildings. One inspired the checkerboard pattern of the marble floors in my Los Angeles home."—

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Courtesy of Larette Design
Go Dark

“Don’t be afraid of dark. I used this rich Benjamin Moore Midnight Blue on an accent wall—darker than I’d ever dared. It made the whole space come to life.” —

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Old Brand New
Collect Art From An Early Age

"Art, art, art! Start young and buy the best you can afford. Its ability to transform a room is unlike any other design tool."—

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Katie Hodges Design
Splurge On A Master Bath

"The splurge everyone should make is a fabulous master bathroom. I used hand-painted porcelain sinks in mine."—

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Erin Nail
Don't Underestimate The Coffee Table

“In an open seating plan, always use a well-proportioned statement coffee table to ground the arrangement and give it a sense of place.”—

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Sarah Winchester Studios
Be Creative!

“Get creative when thinking about form and function. A client in a traditional Georgian home needed it to work for her modern way of entertaining. We opted for an asymmetrical, organic space that encourages guests to float through the room while engaged in conversation.” —

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Black Lacquer Design
Make Ceilings Look Higher With Tall Furniture

"Use tall pieces in a low-height room. Short furnishings would make the ceiling feel that much lower to the ground." —

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Edyta and Co.
Figure Out A Floor Plan

"The most important first step in design is a good floor plan."—

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Heather Hawkins via Studio Ten 25
Invest In Upholstery

"My clients ask about the most important pieces to invest in: I believe in upholstery and art! They help anchor a room."—

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Studio Ten 25
Have Fun

"Make sure you're having fun. What's more fun than making your own home more beautiful."—

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Sargent Architectural Photograph
Create Your Own Light

“When you're given a dark space that doesn't have great light, create your own light. In this kitchen, we used Sherwin-​Williams's sunny Ener­getic Orange, and it turned out just fabulous— so cheerful.”—

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Rustic White Interiors
Know Your Dealbreakers

“Don't settle. If you have your heart set on a piece, don't try to find something similar just to save money. Chances are, you’ll never be completely satisfied with the substitute (or its quality).”—

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Old Brand New
Switch Out Pieces That Take Up The Most Surface Area

"When clients want a quick, impactful update, I recommend the pieces that take up the most surface area, like rugs, paint color, or window treatments."—

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Willie Cole
Focus On One Investment A Year

"Buy one good piece of furniture every year, and in five years, you'll have five pieces. Everything else may change, but these will remain constant."—

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Katie Hodges Design
Reflect Your Personality In The Bedrooms

"In the master suite, decor can deviate from the common areas and really reflect your personality."—

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Paul Costello
Amp Up Your Ceiling Game

“Faux paint, lush lacquer, or wallpaper on a ceiling will garner that ‘Wow’ response.” —

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Black Lacquer Design
Try Using Black

"Black works with any style. The misconception is that dark colors make spaces feel smaller; they actually recede."—

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