10 Steps to Achieve That Picture Perfect Look


Living area of loft apartment.Inspired by media images of the perfect living space, but it seems impossible to achieve that look, especially on your budget?

Getting that stylish look isn’t necessarily about spending money or having the most expensive furniture. It’s more about making the right choices, maybe changing the way you display things and embracing the fact that less can be more – a lot more.In other words, even on a frugal budget, you can make any space look like it belongs in a trendy magazine. Yes, your living space included.

But before you start going through these steps to a new look, take a photo of the space you want to enhance. Then take a cold hard look at that enlarged image.

You’ll actually see that room with fresh eyes and surprisingly, things that you never noticed before, will pop out in full color. Like what you see? No? Well, you can change that, without totally gutting the place. Here’s how you can accomplish it:

1.  Tidy and Organize the Room:

Some of us thrive in a cluttered environment, while others are stifled (aka – depressed). It doesn’t really matter which you prefer, if you want your home to look nice and inviting, it’s about making it tidy.

That includes organizing things, decluttering and finding some storage places for stuff, where only you know where it’s hiding. Some collections can look terrific when they are organized properly, so not all has to go. The key word though is ‘choice’ pieces, meaning less is better.

You might be very proud of all those little vintage cars, but that’s not how everyone else sees them. And collections like tourist spoons or model cars nicely displayed may have been accepted decades ago, but that trend ship has sailed. Sad to say, but there are few people these days interested in collecting things. The trend has shifted to minimalist lifestyle.

Obviously, this isn’t going to be accomplished overnight. You have to find places to store stuff, discard, sell or donate what you don’t use and organize the rest. You might have to get ruthless with the purge. That happens. Don’t fret it. You will survive. There is life after a purge. To reclutter again later, if you so wish. For now, you want a clean slate to work with.

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2.  Clean the Space:

Sorry, but you can’t get that glam sheen, unless it’s clean. Mirrors and pictures can help to reflect the light too, but not if there’s a dull film on the glass, which happens in the cleanest of homes. And light fixtures – yes they do need a wipe occasionally. Dusty shelves tend to look dull too. So once you’ve decluttered, give your room a good cleaning. That includes all the windows and floor or carpet too.

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3.  A Neutral Wall Color:

While a dark wall can enhance the theme or look you’re going for, it’s not always easy to achieve that desired effect. But on the other hand, a neutral wall color gives a fresh look and sets the (background) palette for the next round. If you’re planning on listing your home for sale in the near future, a neutral color is best.

A lighter shade also stays in style longer than dark or trendy colors. White is usually too severe and institution-like, so soften it with a warmer white or light shade of beige, cream or a warm grey. Remember to use paint that will wash well.

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4. Update or Rework Window Coverings:

Curtains, blinds and draperies tend to go in and out of style more quickly than furniture. If you want a clean look overall, minimize window coverings, but keep the privacy aspect intact. Check your local renovation center for drapery or blind inspiration.

Where some like the same neutral color for draperies as what is on the wall so they can  fade into the background, others prefer to accent the room with colorful window dressings. It really depends which one you won’t mind updating sooner – the curtains or walls.

What is best for your space depends on how many different patterns and colors you will have overall in the room. It’s best not to overdo the amount of colors (or patterns) you add to a room, keep it reasonable.

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5. Furniture and Seating Arrangement:

Too much furniture can close in a room and make it look cluttered. Chose the pieces you want to keep and get rid of the rest. Arrange seating to inspire conversation and if you’re working on a recreation room, you might also want to add a home theater lay-out around the television for those important family nights.

Whereas living rooms were designed with furniture placed along walls decades ago, designers tend to group chairs and seating to enhance the space. Give some thought to what your focal point of the room is and work within that scope.

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6. Lighting: Mood or Task?

A reading chair needs a task light, but a living room area requires mood lighting. Light fixtures can be trendy or contemporary, but should blend in well with the style of furniture or overall look you’re going for.

As you’re considering lighting, keep in mind that LED lighting will save you money in the long run and provide better lighting than compact fluorescents.

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7. Bold Accents Give a Punch of Color:

With neutral walls for a backdrop, you now need to add some bold complimentary colors to the space, using one or two colors. If your window coverings are colorful, find pillows or other decor accents to build on that color scheme.

Take a photo and check your progress. Sometimes adding a few choice ornamental or decor pieces that pick up that color can help to complete the look. But, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Take a photo.

8. Add an Area Rug:

Area rugs serve more than one purpose. They can add warmth to the room (or cold floor), can become a focal piece if it has some bold colors or an interesting pattern, and it can also help to anchor the furniture, as well as frame the sitting area. An area rug is very affordable and offers a lot of value, given how it can give the space a signature look.

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9. Well Chosen Wall Art:

Wall art can really bring the room from drab to glam, so chose carefully. And large canvas art is quite trendy right now. Find some that includes the same bold accent colors. Oversized wall art is very popular and can pack a punch. Keep in mind that a ‘clean’ look means less.

And what should you do with all family pictures you usually have strewn around the room? Place your favorites in one multi-picture wall-mounted organizer, make a wall grouping, or display your favorites on narrow shelving, preferably in a hall or on a den wall. Too many photos in a living room can unfortunately work against all the decor improvements you’re making.

Wall mirrors have retained their good looks, but certain frames can seem dated. Look for what’s trendy and know where you will place it, before you buy.

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10. Finishing Touches:

Some well placed plants can add warmth and make the space more inviting. But be careful, it’s easy to overdo it with plants. Minimal table decor items is the better choice. And a small group of candles nicely arranged on a tray can help to set a relaxing theme.

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