You know exactly what you want your house to look like and you’ve got a few hundred midcentury-modern-meets-boho-chic rooms pinned to your “dream home” board on Pinterest to prove it. But for some reason your apartment still feels like a cross between a sorority house, grandma’s attic, and an Ikea catalogue. You’re not alone.
In fact, it’s this very dilemma that lead most of Chicago-based designer Mitchell Channon‘s clients directly into his stylish arms. “It’s that do-it-yourself moment when you know your space is just not you,” he says. “The den should feel bigger but still seems small; the living room with the ‘wow’ factor just says ‘meh;’ you went toward clean and contemporary but you haven’t quite arrived.”
So how do you overcome your ugly apartment? We asked Mitchell to share his best design secrets for decorating like a pro so you can refine you can DIY your way into a space you actually love to live in. Here are his favorite tips (plus a few gorgeous spaces he’s designed that illustrate the concepts).
- To add excitement, look up! Ceilings are an often-ignored fifth plane that can dramatically change the feel of a room. Painting it an accent color or papering it with a bold pattern will give your place a buzz.
- Take that pop of color to a new level by adding it to the back of open shelving.
- To up the drama and expand space, consider one of those large pattern wall coverings that are back in style. The bigger the room— the bigger the pattern. Rule of thumb: If you squint and lose sight of the pattern, it’s not big enough. Go big!
- Looking to make a statement? Hang a pendant fixture over your living room coffee table to both anchor the seating group and create the “wow” factor you’ve been missing.
- For drama and mood, layer lighting like a wedding cake: floor and table lamps for furniture, sconces for the walls, and recessed lighting and pendants for the ceiling. Don’t miss a layer or the “cake” goes flat.
- If you’re looking to create a contemporary look in a home with traditional moldings, do the unthinkable: paint the moldings and walls the same color. Now your contemporary art and furnishings will feel like they belong. See how this adds new life to the traditional dining room below.
- Low-height ceilings got you down? Here are three tips for adding headroom. 1) Hang the drapes at ceiling rather than window height to make the room feel taller. 2) Add wall sconces to throw light up and add more height. 3) Paint a low ceiling a dark or cool color. In a space with lighter walls, the darker ceiling will disappear. Here we painted the ceiling a rich chocolate brown and extended it to the opposite wall.
- Art and accessories really make a place our own, so make sure the envelope that holds them reflects your identity too. The best way to do that is to adjust the variation of things, like turning the volume up or down. Mix solid colors with patterns, warm colors with cool, smooth fabrics with richly textured just as you see fit. Find the geometry of an object and repeat it in new and interesting ways throughout.
- Tune the volume to where you like it, add the accessories, and call it what it is: your own personal style!
Does your space need a refresh? Check out a few of our favorite decor picks for a stylish space: