Decorating and styling a home can seem like a daunting task. However, with a few insider tips and tricks, it doesn’t have to be. Interior stylists are experts at transforming spaces into beautiful, functional areas that reflect the homeowner’s unique taste and personality. We’re revealing the top 10 secrets professional interior stylists use to create magazine-worthy rooms. Read on to learn how to elevate your home with these expert decorating ideas.

Gather Inspiration from Multiple Sources

Interior stylists don’t rely on a single source of inspiration. They gather ideas from places like interior design magazines, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts, architecture and decor blogs, home tours, furniture showrooms, textiles, wallpaper sample books, and art galleries. Compiling photos, color swatches, furniture brochures, and material samples opens up possibilities. Don’t limit yourself to one style–blend elements from modern, traditional, rustic, industrial, midcentury modern and more for an eclectic customized look.

Thoroughly Evaluate the Space and Architecture

A thorough evaluation of the existing architecture, lighting, layout, dimensions, traffic flow, windows and sightlines is crucial before selecting any furnishings or decor. Interior stylists consider the room’s purpose, who uses the space and for what activities. They identify awkward spaces and opportunities to improve functionality. Taking detailed measurements helps identify the best furniture arrangements and traffic flow patterns. Understanding the architectural style also guides stylistic choices.

Create a Decorating Plan

Rather than randomly selecting pieces, professional stylists map out a decorating plan. This includes an itemized furniture placement sketch with traffic flow mapped out. They also create an elevations sketch showing where to place lighting, art, mirrors, shelves and wall decor. A decorating plan helps visualize the finished space. It ensures furnishings fit logically within the architecture for both aesthetics and functionality. The furnishings, accent items, color scheme, materials, textures, patterns and style work cohesively.

Invest in Key Foundational Pieces

Budget-friendly small decor items can instantly change the look of a room. However, interior stylists advise investing more in foundational functional pieces like sofas, beds, dining tables or desks that get daily use. Higher quality construction and materials–like solid wood over particle board–wear better over time. Classic, neutral foundational pieces also stand the test of time versus trendy statement pieces that go out of style quickly. You can easily refresh their look later with new throw pillows, bedding and accessories.

Choose Versatile, Neutral Backgrounds

Interior stylists tend to stick with versatile, neutral backdrops for long-term flexibility. Neutral wall colors like white, beige, gray and tan, along with medium-toned wood floors or natural stone provide a quiet, seamless foundation. Neutrals allow other elements like furnishings, accent colors, artwork and accessories to take center stage. You can easily refresh neutral backgrounds by changing accent colors and accessories versus redoing more permanent and costly installations like flooring or cabinetry.

Layer Lighting for Function and Ambiance

Thoughtfully layered lighting transforms a space both visually and functionally. Interior stylists combine ambient overhead lighting for general illumination with task lighting to spotlight work areas. Accent lighting adds drama and focuses attention on architectural details, artwork or displays. Dimmer switches allow adjusting light levels for different needs. Mixing lighting types such as recessed cans, pendant lights, sconces, track lighting and table/floor lamps creates visual interest.

Incorporate Greenery and Natural Elements

Plants, flowers and natural materials bring life and a soothing organic vibe into designed spaces. Interior stylists adorn rooms with botanical prints, grasscloth wallpaper, woven textures, wooden accents, fresh flowers and lush greenery. Strategically placed indoor trees, plant stands displaying cascading greenery and potted plants introduce natural beauty. Herb gardens and succulents infuse personality into kitchens. Flower arrangements, wreaths and garlands enliven tabletops. Natural motifs in rugs, pillows and draperies soften the environment.

Use Mirrors to Visually Expand Small Spaces

Hanging mirrors or selecting mirrored furniture/accessories helps visually expand tight quarters. Interior stylists also place mirrors across from windows to reflect views and natural light deeper into dark corners. Strategically angled across room sections, mirrored walls create the illusion of more space. Mirrored cabinets and console tables fitted into tight spaces double visual area and function. Just take care not to overdo mirrors in a small area or the busy reflections become chaotic.

Finish with Thoughtful, Impactful Accessories

After installing foundational and structural elements, a space may still lack personality. Professionally styled interiors artfully incorporate accent accessories for impact. Carefully curated accessories reflect the homeowners’ hobbies, travel memories, collections and interests. Groupings of old books, framed photos, sculptural items, decorative bowls, flowers and candles bring visual interest to shelves and tabletops. Area rugs anchor seating arrangements and define spaces within a room. Throws, pillows and drapes soften furnishings and add color/pattern.

Harmonize Colors Schemes

Interior stylists select color schemes that logically suit the existing architecture and unify the look. Moving color harmoniously throughout the home via accent walls, smaller decor pieces, fabrics and artwork aesthetically connects spaces. Monochromatic palettes using various tints/shades of one color simplify coordination. Analogous schemes with hues beside each other on the color wheel, like blue, green and yellow, also naturally complement one another. Adding pops of vivid colors like crimson red or cobalt blue enlivens neutrals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Interior Styling

What is the difference between interior design and interior styling?

Interior design involves completely planning and renovating room layouts, selecting all structural and building elements like flooring, major lighting installations, construction, cabinetry and executing an overall concept. Interior styling works with existing architecture to furnish, accessorize and decorate spaces through arranging furniture, decor, lighting fixtures and soft elements like rugs, pillows and drapes.

How do you prioritize what to spend more on?

When investing in home furnishings and decor, interior stylists advise spending more on flexible neutral background elements and solidly constructed, comfortable pieces used daily like sofas or beds. You can then decorate affordably with trendy accent pieces easily changed out when styles evolve. Also invest in making functional areas like kitchens and baths as user-friendly as possible.

How do you pull together a cohesive look throughout a home?

Using a complementary color scheme flowing across rooms via accent walls, paint colors, upholstery and artwork aesthetically connects disparate spaces. Repeat classic furnishings and lighting styles to link areas. Use similar flooring and window treatments to bridge rooms. Echo patterns on pillows/accessories from space to space. Finally, maintain common design details like trim work.

What are the best tips for small spaces?

In small spaces, editing down to multifunctional essentials avoids clutter. Furniture scaled to fit the room maximizes every inch. Mirrors visually expand tight quarters. Neutral backdrops keep rooms feeling open. Organization solutions like floating shelves, builtins and concealed storage contain necessary items. Finally, lighting layers allow adjusting ambiance for varied uses.

How can you make rooms more functional?

Evaluate how you use areas and identify problem spots hampering functionality. Add task lighting to illuminate work zones. Incorporate plenty of electrical outlets. Maximize storage with built-ins, closet organization systems and multifunctional furniture to tuck away clutter. Arrange furnishings to optimize traffic flow. Add items like a console table with drop zone by the entry to corral daily essentials.

What are low-cost tips for refreshing rooms?

Quick and budget-friendly ways to revive rooms include decluttering thoroughly, rearranging and editing down furnishings, painting walls or trim, replacing outdated light fixtures, and styling shelves/tabletops with greenery and collected items. Replace heavy drapes with breezy sheers and add textural throw pillows or area rugs. Groupings of candles and fresh flowers enliven tables.


With insider styling tricks like maximizing neutrals, thoughtfully arranging furnishings, layering lighting and accessories, and harmonizing decorative details, ordinary spaces transform into personalized oases. A professional touch hones the aesthetics while improving daily function. Just a few mindful tweaks make rooms more inviting and reflective of you. We hope these top insider tips from interior stylists help you decorate and style your home beautifully and functionally.