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As I write this piece about decorating mistakes I feel it should be noted that the way we decorate our homes, much as the way we view art is completely subjective. What is visually appealing is not necessarily so to another as beauty indeed is in the eye of the beholder. As I go on to discuss mistakes that should be avoided, we at Freshome never intend to belittle anyone’s taste or style. As we have learned, all decorating rules are meant to be broken. There are a few rules of thumb to be taken into consideration, and this is merely a guide to improve the look, feel and flow of your homes.

Furniture can be too small for a space. A larger room needs appropriately sized furniture, or perhaps more of the same furniture that you already have. If you are moving to a larger home, you will need to think about the size and scale of the rooms and the furniture you have, where it will be placed and how you will enhance it if need be. I tend to come from the school where bigger really is better. It makes a statement, can be bold, dramatic and very handsome. Yes, a Grand Steinway can rest comfortably in a smaller room. One simply needs to avoid crowding a space. Contrary to what many believe, furniture can make a smaller room feel larger than it is, even that on a larger scale.

Proper lighting is crucial to every room. Natural male lighting changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons. Weather can also affect and impact a room’s lighting. Lighting is perhaps one of the most important elements in our homes. I’m a huge fan of lights on dimmers. There are times when we need our rooms brightly lit, and there are times when we want those lights not to be so glaring and jarring, say at the end of the day, or when you want to create a relaxing, more intimate atmosphere such as when you are entertaining. When thinking of dimmers do not forget bedrooms and bathrooms. Additional light can be layered in with the addition of lamps placed in those area when additional lighting might be needed, on desks, work tables, near couches and beds. Be careful when working with lamps and think about size. Lamps that are too small look silly, out of balance, and most importantly won’t give you adequate light for your particular space. Lighting is especially important when selling your home, as it can help a room look larger and more welcoming. Look at these interior design essentials when selling your home for more tips.

Everything need not match! Rooms benefit from the extra texture, pattern and color from other like items. When additional patterns and colors are brought in, a rooms gains depth and dimension. Try to avoid two couches with the same color and pattern, instead have two coordinating patterns, or one with a pattern and one that’s solid. If you do opt for solid colored couches, such as white, add some throw pillows, blankets and rugs to create an opulent palate. The above photo may not be your taste, but is an example of how the use of different colors and textures to pull a space together.

Test out your colors before you begin painting. Paints, while accurately labeled on the cans can look vastly different once up on the walls. A paint color can vary from room to room and changes throughout the day as natural lighting constantly changes. The best thing to do is to pick up some trial sizes in similar hues (at least one shade darker and one shade lighter) and paint it on a large spot in the room of choice. Another option is to take a large piece of cardboard and paint directly on to the cardboard. The cardboard can then be moved from room to room. You may decide that instead of a the blue you’ve chosen looks much better in your dining room space than in the living room where you had originally imagined it. These extra steps are worth the effort and can end up saving you a great deal of time and money in the long-run.

We all want to save a dime and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping for sales and looking for bargains. Shopping for and decorating our homes is an expensive adventure. But you never want to skip corners and skimp on quality. Don’t buy the cheaper couch simply because it is cheaper. The money you save now won’t matter a difference when you have to replace the couch in 5 years because the material has not held up or the frame is weakening and about to give. Always buy the best that you can afford and if it means saving up for it do. The quality will be worth the wait.

There is no need to showcase all your belongings in one space. This can give your room an overcrowded and cluttered look which can have a very distracting and effect and one that is not at all restful and relaxing. If you have collections, place them throughout the home and group them together, like with like. If your space does start to become cluttered, pack some items away and rotate them in at a later time. This can help keep your space fresh.

As mentioned earlier size matters. While furniture that is too small can throw off the scale of the room and seem silly, you also want to measure your space to make sure that there is room for everything so that there is room for traffic to flow freely around the space. Furthermore, if you are moving in to a new home or are thinking about ordering new furniture you will want to be certain it will all fit. Imagine ordering a new couch or armoir only to have it not fit through a doorway or stairwell. When measuring a space don’t forget to think about height! Often times an interior designer has a better sense of scale and how to make furniture fit in spaces. Look at these 10 reasons why hiring an interior designer could help in your interiors.

Many people have a tendency to automatically place their furniture up against walls. Couches should be brought in slightly if a room is smaller, and more if a room is larger. The goal is to create an intimate space where people can gather, while allowing for flow. Above the dining room table and chairs are in the center of the room and the two chairs to the front of the room are brought away from the windows, just slightly to establish a feeling of intimacy, warmth and inclusion.

The way you decorate your home should reflect your interests, passions, style, past, present and future. Don’t let anyone impose their taste and style on you. If you need help solicit a decorator but leave well-meaning friends and family our of the picture. It’s OK to say no to their suggestions as well as to any piece of furniture they may want to unload on you that’s not to your liking!

This can often happen in larger rooms. Before you decorate, or re-decorate, walk around the room and designate one central focal point. Perhaps it’s a fireplace or an over-sized bay window overlook a lush and lavish back yard. Start by placing the furniture around that focal point and work out. The room above is a good example of just what to do. Here too, you will see the furniture is not flush with the walls and the matching white couches are given depth with coordinating patterns and fabrics of the couches and curtains. The zebra print stool introduces new color, texture and pattern while pulling everything together. The furniture is proportionate, and a sense of flow has been created. In much larger rooms, there may be a need for two focal points and two separate entertaining areas.

I’ve mentioned 10 potential disasters, but there are more. What are some things that I have not touched on that you think should be avoided? Do you agree or disagree with the advice I have given?

These days, the living room is one of the most important rooms in the home — and also the breeding ground for some of the most serious interior design mistakes. Luckily, whether the issue is sofas lining the walls or ignoring aesthetics in favor of strict functionality, most of these problems also have a fairly easy fix.

If you think you may be guilty of one or two living room mistakes, keep reading. We’ll show you how to identify the issue at hand, explain why it doesn’t work, and teach you how to make the necessary changes to bring your design to the next level. Sometimes small tweaks make all the difference.

Proportion is one of the key elements of interior design. Essentially, this concept boils down to the way in which items in the room relate to one another. Ideally, each component of the room varies in shape and size to keep things visually interesting, yet still come together to make the space feel properly unified.

To do this, most designers make use of the golden ratio. This equation says that furniture arrangements are most aesthetically pleasing when kept to a 2:3 ratio. Take the picture above as an example. You’ll notice it features a coffee table that’s two-thirds the length of the couch and a couch that’s two-thirds the width of the area rug. Aim to mirror these proportions in your own design.

You probably won’t have to break out any rulers to pull this look off. Use your perception to find the proper proportions. As you arrange your space, pay close attention to how these set-ups make you feel. If something feels “off,” play around with the arrangement until you feel more at ease. At that point, your proportions will likely be in order.

We’ve all seen a living room or two where all the furniture is pushed up against the walls, leaving one cavernous space in the middle of the room. While this initially may seem like a great way to make the room feel bigger, it ultimately leaves the space feeling off balance. It also vastly limits the amount of usable space.

In this case, rather than using the walls as your guide, your goal should be to create distinct groupings with your furniture. Start by picking a focal point for the room — such as a fireplace, some built-ins, or even a sizable TV screen — and build your arrangement around that point.

Most living room designs will center around this main grouping. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be the only one. If you have enough space to create an area that has a secondary function — like a reading nook or work desk — arrange those items in a grouping of their own. The important thing is that every piece of furniture feels as though it was purposefully placed to work with the rest of the items in the room.

These days, living rooms are some of the most-used spaces in our homes. They’re where we go to kick back, relax and unwind after a long day. However, as these rooms have become progressively more “lived-in,” they’ve also fallen victim to prioritizing function over form to the extent that the space ultimately feels incomplete.

When your space is lacking that aesthetic touch, effective layering is the key to bringing it back to life. A complete design is made up of a combination of the following elements: Wall coverings: Paint, wallpaper. Flooring: Wood, carpet, vinyl. Furniture: Beds, chairs, tables. Textiles: Pillows, blankets, area rugs, bedding. Lighting: Overhead lights, table lamps, ambient features. Wall hangings: Photos, artwork, mirrors. Decor items: Flowers, coffee table books.

Your best bet is to look around the room and take stock of any layers missing in your design. Then, over time, make an effort to include them. As you add items, be sure to choose items that come in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, so you’ll also see the benefit of additional visual interest.

Sometimes, our living rooms can become collections of the design elements we’ve collected over the years rather than a single, definitive style statement. Whether it’s a result of combining households or several moves, a touch of unity is usually all it takes to pull even the most eclectic design together.

In this case, color is your secret weapon. Take a second to look at the photo above and notice how the vast majority of items fall within the same color palette. Even if you’re not a fan of matching that much, adding a few coordinating shades can help pull the room together. Barring color, you could also use pattern or texture to create a common thread.

Now that we’re spending increasing amounts of times in our living rooms, their design has taken on a greater level of importance. With that in mind, we believe it’s time to move beyond some of the faux pas that have plagued these spaces for years. We’ve outlined some of the most common living room mistakes and how to fix them. Read them over and take a keen eye to your own interiors. Sometimes a few small changes are all that’s needed to completely refresh your look.

Adding an outdoor living room has become an increasingly popular home upgrade and it’s not hard to see why. To start, it’s a relatively straightforward — and stylish — way to give everyone in your home more room to spread out. Plus, it creates an additional area for you to entertain. If you have the room, there’s really no reason for your living space to stop at your back door.

As for how this space should look, that’s entirely up to you. Some are little more than artfully done seating areas that encourage conversation. Others are more extravagant, boasting everything from outdoor kitchens to huge television sets. However, there are a few features that the majority of these areas have in common.

If you’re thinking of adding a dash of design to your home’s outdoor space, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a few of the best outdoor living room ideas to help you get started. Take these and make them your own. There’s no wrong answer here.

We’ll let you in on a little secret: In spaces like these, seating is king. If there’s not plenty of room for people to sit and relax, it won’t matter what other features are added to the space. Proper seating, especially when its plush and unbelievably easy to stretch out on, is the thing that will ensure your outdoor living room gets plenty of use.

With that in mind, when designing your space, remember that comfort, quantity and size matter. Since outdoor furniture can also be a sizable investment, it’s crucial to know you’re buying a set that fits your needs. If you can, test out the furniture at the store before you make a purchase and match the pieces’ dimensions against measurements of the space where you’ll be putting it. If you’re buying online, be sure to read reviews so you’ll know the product meets your expectations.

Once you get your outdoor furniture home, it’s all about the placement. Seating works best when arranged into small groups that allow people to gather and talk. For personal use, one seating area will suffice, but if you entertain often, you may want do consider creating multiple areas.

Keep in mind that most seating areas are arranged around a particular focal point, or a design element that draws the eye. Where outdoor living rooms are concerned, a heat source like a small firepit or larger built-in fireplace is a particularly good choice.

Not only will this feature lend a sense of drama to the space, but it’s also incredibly utilitarian. Adding a heat source to your outdoor area will increase the amount of time you can spend enjoying it. It will allow you to weather chilly nights and seasonal changes that would otherwise render the area unusable.

That said, live flames aren’t the right fit for everyone. Families with young children or those who simply don’t want to take the risk should look into purchasing a heat lamp. They typically run off of propane and, in the past few years, have become increasingly easy to find in home improvement stores like Lowes.

In addition to adding a heat source, you’ll also be able to extend the utility of your outdoor living room if you include a covering from the elements. Though the amount of coverage you’ll receive depends largely on the which type of covering you choose, it’s safe to say that you and your guests will certainly appreciate it in less-than-ideal weather. This design element will come in handy when facing everything from scorching heat to heavy winds and even rain.

When shopping for coverings, there are plenty of options to choose from. Recently, pergolas like the one shown in the picture above have seen a spike in popularity. However, umbrellas, awnings, lanais or even indoor-outdoor sunrooms are on the list of potential options.

Since coverings often require building an additional structure, your best bet is to hire a qualified contractor. Be honest with them about how you’d ideally like to use the space, as well as your budget. They’ll be able to recommend the type of covering the best suits your needs.

Once you have all of your desired features in place, your next task is to turn an eye to interior design. For the most part, the same rules apply to any space, regardless of whether it’s within walls or not. However, outdoor living rooms do have a few unique considerations you’ll want to be aware of as you’re bringing your vision to life.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that, since outdoor seating is often sold as a unit, it can look monotonous if left alone. You’ll need to add in other design elements with a variety of patterns, colors and textures to create visual interest.

Adding in textiles like accent pillows or an outdoor rug is a great choice because they can bring in lots of visual interest, but can be easily switched out as trends change. Incorporating different types of greenery is another natural choice since you are in nature. Even structural elements like pathways, decks and patios can play a role in your design, if you choose complementary materials and finishes.

Outdoor living rooms are an area of your home that can truly be tailored to individual tastes. Some are simple and cozy while others are extravagant undertakings that feature plenty of high-end amenities. In fact, there are so many choices available that it can be difficult to determine where to start. Use this guide as a resource to help you take the first step in your design and we know that the finished product will quickly become your new favorite spot.

Many small living room ideas revolve around tricking the eye into making the area appear more spacious. Such strategies can transform an area that feels cramped and claustrophobic into one that feels cozy and aesthetically pleasing. Decorate in a way that maximizes light and space, and pay attention to how you use color, scale and weight. It can make quite a difference.

It’s interesting to try new things. Sometimes traditional ideas about living room decor aren’t the best solution for a small space. Instead of using blinds for window treatments, use long, flowing drapes because they draw attention to vertical space, thus expanding the area of the room.

Your living room, regardless of size, should be able to function as a space for relaxation and entertaining. Here are some of our favorite ways to make it feel more spacious.

Designers often place mirrors strategically in small places in order to make them feel larger. One of the most common small living room ideas is to hang a large mirror in a central location to create a focal point. To reflect light and add a nice ambiance, put it behind a light source such as a candle or pendant lamp. If possible, position a mirror across from your window so it will reflect the view and give the illusion of another window.

A room has a vertical dimension as well as a horizontal one. If your living room has a high ceiling, make the most of the extra space by decorating it in a manner that draws the eye upward. Floor-to-ceiling drapes are a stylish way to accomplish this goal.

Another idea is to fill the vertical space with a menagerie of small to midsize artwork. This technique will make the room feel larger than it actually is, because it invites the eye to roam beyond the eye-level horizontal space that may feel confined.

One of the most popular small living room ideas is the use of neutral colors on walls, floor, ceiling and furniture upholstery. A palette of off-whites or beiges will expand the space by appearing to push back the walls. Soft hues also tend to illuminate a room by reflecting light. In addition to enlarging an area, a neutral palette imparts instant sophistication and creates a calming environment.

When you shop for furniture, consider its visual weight. This concept refers to the perceived heaviness of an object based on size, color and design. Pick out pieces that have a lightweight appearance, as heavier ones will seem to constrict a space.

Opt for pale colors over darker ones, and select pieces that have legs while avoiding those that are boxy. Glass coffee or end tables will take up less visual space than wooden ones because you can see through them. Any furnishings that don’t obstruct views will make an area seem more open.

A list of small living room ideas would not be complete without the recommendation to select furniture that won’t overpower the room or appear to dominate the space. A sofa with thin arms and a tightly upholstered back is preferable to one with substantial arms and a multi-cushion back.

If space is tight, you could do without a couch completely, either choosing a loveseat or opting to position four chairs around a coffee table. When picking out chairs, consider armless ones because they will take up less space than a model with arms.

Is your space all set up with the perfect furniture, but still feels kind of vanilla? Do you live in a modern tract home with big, impossible walls to fill? Are you having trouble deciding what size or type of wall decor to choose or how to hang pictures? These wall decor ideas and tips are going to help you conquer those problems.

Once inside your front door, the first room your guests and family members are likely to encounter is your living room. You host gatherings in your living room, snack on the couch while watching TV, listen to children practice musical instruments, and just generally hang out in this multifunctional space. The way you design your living room can set the design feel for your entire home. You may also change your living room décor at various times of the year for different holidays and seasons.

Because you spend so much time in your living spaces, physical and visual comfort is important. You don’t have to compromise on style and décor in favor of comfort, however. In fact, you can fill your living room with furniture that is as functional as it is beautiful. Similarly, you can choose accent pieces and floor coverings that also boast comfort and usability.

Another important aspect to consider when designing your living space is durability. Due to the high traffic your living room will likely experience, it is worth spending a bit more on higher-quality furniture and floor furnishings to realize extended use and not necessitate constant repair, refurbishing or cleaning. Choose fabrics that are both pleasing and durable. In addition, choose colors that transition well when you set out new décor items each season.

More extensive living room remodeling projects may include structural changes. These can include changing windows and doors, replacing walls with ceiling beams to create an open concept, and refacing or replacing fireplaces. If your project includes these in-depth changes, you’ll need to research local building codes and permitting requirements. Changes that include electrical or plumbing work may require working with a licensed professional under special permits. If your interior changes impact your exterior design, also check with your homeowners association to ensure you are staying within regulations.

No matter how many ways you use your space or how many times each year you change out your tchotchkes, you can find living room ideas in the collection of inspiration pieces we’ve gathered and shared below. From ultra-formal to ultra-comfortable, your living room can become the blank slate upon which you introduce your home’s design.

As with all the uniquely designed rooms in your home, you’ll want to have a focal point for your living room. This focal point is where your eyes are instantly drawn when you enter the room. Without a focal point, your room can feel like an overwhelming mix of decorating themes, each competing with the next for attention.

A centerpiece is a great way to create a focal point in your living room. Living room centerpiece ideas can include floral designs, an elaborate design piece like a monogram or a stunning fireplace. Your own furniture can be a great way to create your living room centerpiece. Classic designs usually place sofas or seats along walls, creating empty space in the middle of a room. Instead, you can center your seating furniture to create both a great visual and a cozy conversational area. Don’t be afraid of angles, either, when you arrange your furniture. Often, placing facing pieces on the diagonal can change the entire feel of your living room.

Maximize your living space with minimalist designs, clever pieces of décor that make a small space feel bigger or pieces that serve multiple purposes. When it comes to small living room ideas, the common theme is that less is more, both in the colors you choose for your walls and the furniture that fills the space. Oversized furniture can make an already small room feel even more cramped, and change a space with a lot of potential to a space you can’t wait to exit. Likewise, overly vibrant paint colors can make your walls look like they are closing in on your room.

Instead, aim for a light and airy feel, with smaller or more delicate-looking furniture, and emphasize light and bright through neutral hues, lots of natural light and mirrors to create the illusion of extra space. Wicker or Victorian-era wooden furniture can instantly open a small space. Light blues and yellows can make a cramped space seem larger, and less bric-a-brac on your tables and walls can create an uncluttered and hospitable design.

You can choose between one of two schools of thought for living room decorating ideas — a variety of pieces that all reflect one unified theme or a simple design that can be the backdrop for décor pieces representing many styles. To begin designing your living room remodel, literally begin from the ground up. If your living room is part of a much larger open concept space within your home, you can choose a different type of flooring, like an area rug, to set off the living area. On the flip side of that design, if you have a small living room, unifying the flooring with surrounding areas can lead to the feel of a much larger space.

In addition to flooring type, you can change up the style and color of your flooring to create different feels. A vivid geometric design is a great addition to a modernist space, while refinished hardwood floors can harken back to a historic home’s past. You can use complementary hues between your floors and walls to create the overall color palette.

A can of paint is one of the easiest, fastest and least expensive ways to completely change the look of your living room. Two great living room paint ideas include adding an accent wall and adding texture to your walls. If your living room lacks a focal point, or if you want to further emphasize a focal point, an accent wall can emphasize a particular shade, or you could use a complementary design like stripes or two hues separated by a chair rail. In a small room that a bright tone may overwhelm, you can still incorporate your favorite shade on one wall while the others boast a more neutral color. If your décor pieces can best be described as eclectic, an accent wall can pick up on a common hue and make each item pop.

Textured walls are also a great way to change the feel of your living room. You can use either visual or physical texture to fulfill this idea. With visual texturing, your wall may feature a feather design with contrasting paint to the main wall color. This type of design is still flat against the wall and often called faux painting. For physical texturing, your ultimate design may encompass the look of a plaster wall, a swirl effect, a Mediterranean or Spanish knife texture, or nearly any other texture your mind can imagine. Once you pick your room’s overall design, texturizing your walls is a great way to show it off.

If you’re struggling to find the best living room ideas to update your home, use our vast library of design inspirations to get started. For eclectic collections, read about creating a unique vintage feel. When it’s time to redecorate for the holiday season, use our Christmas design ideas for inspiration. If you can’t figure out where the TV should be placed, we have advice on that too. And don’t forget to check our infographic that provides guidance on laying out your furniture to maximize results. When you spend extra time thoughtfully planning out your design, your living room will become the wonderfully welcoming space you want it to be.

The living room is often the first room that visitors see when they walk through your front door, and the space sets the tone for how guests feel about the rest of your home. Your living room is also a place for entertaining friends and relaxing with family and its design should reflect that.

While making the space physically larger would involve expensive remodeling, there are many ways to make the room look bigger that are simple to execute and budget friendly. Check out the following easy-to-do and creative living room decorating ideas.

The floor takes up a significant amount of square footage and thus is one of the most high impact spaces in your living room. Ue one flooring material, such as wood or carpet, throughout your living room and adjoining rooms to visually expand the space and create flow with your design. In that same vein, avoid interrupting the eye with contrasting floor coverings. Use sofas and cabinets with legs, so the floor fades under the furniture rather than stopping suddenly at a wall of wood or fabric.

The place where the walls meet the floor defines the size of a room both physically and visually. You can’t alter the location of your walls without a construction crew, but using living room decor that emphasizes the wall’s height draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. To accomplish this hang floor-length curtains close to the ceiling, use tall bookshelves to compel guests to look up or install crown molding.

Uninterrupted movement is one sign of a large space, so arrange your furniture in a way that allows everyone to move easily from one area to the next. Determine how someone enters the room and where they’re most likely to go, such as to a sofa or desk chair, then arrange the furniture so people can use paths without obstruction. Make sure to allow enough space to perform tasks common to the room, such as opening and closing window coverings and reaching for light switches.

Emphasize a focal point or accent piece in order to take people’s attention away from the size of the room. This can be anything from a feature wall to a mantle, or a bold piece of furniture that creates contrast with the other walls. Another option is to add a contrasting accessory. Look for an object in a style that differs from the rest of your decor. For example, if you primarily rely on traditional pieces, try something avant-garde like some modern art. If you prefer minimalist modern furniture, choose something that’s traditional, such as an antique armoire, as your focal point.

Mirrors push walls away and reflect light, which makes the space look bigger. Use them in front of your most attractive decor, such as flowers or rich drapes or windows, to reflect beauty and please the eye. Avoid using a mirrored wall, which can look too retro and alter your aesthetic. Instead, rely on one large framed mirror propped on the floor, or group several smaller mirrors on a wall.

Our home is our sanctuary away from the chaos of the world outside. But is it really a sanctuary? How much pollution and toxic chemicals are you bringing into your apartment without even realizing it? You’d be surprised that in many cases, it’s not even what you’re bringing in — the culprits that affect the air quality of your home may be the very items you live with!

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 8 global deaths are due to air pollution exposure. Luckily, it’s not hard to “green” your apartment. Small changes can make a huge difference. And there are three added benefits to striving for an eco-friendly apartment space:

1. Eco-friendly apartment ideas are often cheap or free. People who insist on an eco-friendly apartment will find that they save big bucks by recycling existing materials, choosing vintage furniture or skipping finishes and materials that are often more expensive and loaded with less-than-green chemicals. Creating an eco-friendly apartment is all about going “back to basics.” Natural materials, plants, sunlight and fresh air are low cost or free design options.

2. Eco-friendly and incredibly stylish living go hand in hand. Uncluttered minimalism is on point. And nothing looks more contemporary than bare floors, glass furniture and other alternatives to traditional wood or dark and lacquered furniture.

3. Eco-friendly apartments are low maintenance. When you choose durable, natural furniture and materials, you essentially simplify your life–and your cleaning routine. A perfect example of this is carpet. If you avoid wall-to-wall carpet in your home, you not only save yourself from dust allergies but also the exposure to the chemicals that are constantly off-gassing out of the carpet. No carpet? No daily vacuuming, giving you time for more important things in life.

Ready for some high style, earth-friendly apartment ideas? We’ve collected these high-end designs from some of the most stunning homes. We hope to inspire you to apply a version of them in your apartment or space.

Here are our ten earth-friendly apartment ideas to make your space chic, clean and green (and why they make our list):

1. Add plants to your space. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are released by most synthetic products. They’re not good for us and build up in our enclosed spaces. Studies by the EHP and NASA show that plants are better and cheaper than the HEPA filters you can buy for your vacuum or ventilation system to filter out these toxins.

Plants take in carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air instead. They also absorb toxic chemicals and release harmless by-products, as well as soaking up heavy metals deep into the plant tissues–away from you.

Add some plants to each room in your apartment. Choose plants that are indoor friendly and easy to maintain. A herb garden can serve double duty as food and air filter. For a cool design statement, hang a wall herb garden or a version of a “living wall” like the main bathtub image at the top of this guide.

2. Choose natural floor coverings and textiles. Off-gassing happens when an item gives off chemicals over time. Have you ever bought an area rug that smells odd for weeks? What you’re smelling is the chemicals releasing or off-gassing from the item. But just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s no longer off-gassing. In fact, some of the most dangerous chemicals don’t have an odor.

To be safe, skip the synthetic materials in area rugs, sofas and bedding and go with natural, washable fibers. Because area rugs are often the top offenders of off-gassing, if you do nothing else, swap your area rug for one made of jute, sisal or wool. These materials are not only earth friendly but add design and texture to your space.

And if other fabrics in your home have that chemical smell, wash them or hang them outside to air out a couple of days.

3. Embrace vintage or retro furniture. New furniture may contain chemicals that have years of off-gassing into your space ahead of them. Vintage or recycled furniture is less likely to give off chemicals for 2 reasons: vintage furniture is often free of toxic chemicals and vintage or retro furniture has probably off-gassed any chemicals years ago.

Retro styles like Mid-Century Modern, Vintage and Art Deco are big now. And it’s still easy to score a great deal on select pieces at flea markets, thrift shops and antique dealers.

4. Use low-VOC paints. You’ve learned that area rugs can be toxic. Another VOC culprit is the paint on the walls. Luckily, there are paints on the market today that are easily found and not outrageously expensive that keep some of these toxic chemicals to a minimum. Three of the best low VOC paint options you can find at most home improvement stores are:

Benjamin Moore Eco Spec Paints, Dunn-Edwards zero-VOC Ecoshield Paints, Olympic zero-VOC, low-odor ICON Paints, It never hurts to request that your landlord gets your apartment move-in ready using a low VOC paint. And if it’s not possible, let the apartment air out a few days before you move in.

5. Decorate with alternative materials like bamboo, stone, steel and glass. Wood is beautiful but comes with a host of issues. Chemicals that coat and seal the wood are big VOC offenders. Deforestation and irresponsible wood harvesting are other problems. But alternatives like bamboo, metal, stone and glass are plentiful. And they require a lot less care and maintenance, due to their hard, durable surfaces.

Some great places to work with alternative materials include:

Kitchen counters and other surfaces, Floors, Walls, Cabinets (bamboo kitchen cabinets shown above)

6. Control room temperature with curtains. A simple fix to drafty or hot rooms is the use of curtains or window treatments. Window treatments insulate a room by blocking out cold drafts and keeping heat from escaping during the winter and shading against the hot sun in the summer.

According to “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%.” That will save you some cash on the air-conditioning bill. Not to mention that window treatments add a good design element to a room.

7. Skip wall to wall carpet. New carpet is perhaps the most toxic item in your house. According to Mercola: “The ‘new carpet’ aroma is the odor of 4-PC off-gassing, which is an eye and respiratory-tract irritant that may also affect the central nervous system. The adhesive used to affix the carpet to the floor typically contains benzene and toluene, some of the most harmful VOCs.”

Avoid carpet if you can. Go with greener flooring materials like concrete, stone, tile, bamboo or wood. They’ll add a contemporary look to your apartment and be far easier to keep clean.

8. Ventilate, Today’s windows are so energy efficient that they seal your home too well. Which means indoor toxins and chemicals never have a chance to escape. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you make it a habit to open the windows or doors and let fresh air circulate regularly. Even in the cold winter, if just for a few minutes.

9. Pick furniture made with certified materials. Retailers today love to tout the eco-friendly label. But what makes their product eco-friendly? Ask and many may not have an answer for you. Luckily, you can look for certification.

If you really love the element of wood for your furniture and can’t live without it, look for the Rainforest Alliance’s little green frog seal on furniture. Or shop for products that are FSC certified. FSC certified products ensure that the wood was grown and harvested responsibly. West Elm and Crate and Barrel are two top retailers selling FSC certified wood furniture.

Other certified, alternative materials on the market today include soy-based foam and water-based, low VOC finishes.

10. Be mindful of the candles you’re burning. Candles add ambiance to a space. They cast a warm glow and are relaxing. But do you know that the cheaper waxes are made of petroleum? Some candle companies add a bit of metal to a wick to keep it burning upright. And scented candles may not always use the best quality fragrances. In fact, a study found that selected scented candles and products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.

Lighting a beautiful candle can mean you’re heating and releasing diesel fumes, chemical fragrances and metals into your home. Choose candles made with natural materials like soy, vegetable or beeswax. And avoid the gimmicky metal wick–it’s not necessary for a safe burn. Skip the scent or choose one that’s made with essential oils or better quality fragrance.

You now have some good, eco-friendly apartment ideas that are study-backed to help you make the right decisions for your health and home. Which small changes will you make today? Cheers to green living!

Though trends are an important part of the interior design landscape, nothing can overtake the necessity of understanding the fundamentals of how design works. Which is why, today, we’re going back to basics. We’re about to take a look at why asymmetry is a crucial component of design in our homes.

Keep reading to learn more about what exactly asymmetry is, why it matters and how you can pull it off in your own interiors. We’re sure by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to make a few adjustments of your own.

Put simply, asymmetry is a type of balance that’s often used in design. Typically, when people consider balance as a concept, they stick to working with symmetry — or mirror images — in their interiors. While that’s always a viable option, it’s far from the only one to choose from.

In reality, there are three distinct forms of balance you can incorporate as part of your design. They are as follows:

Symmetrical/formal balance: This type of balance is created by taking the room and splitting it into two halves that mirror each other. It could, for example, include a living room that features two sofas with a coffee table between them. Asymmetrical/informal balance: In this case, the room is balanced by the repetition of similar forms, lines and colors, but there is no mirroring or exact duplication. A living room done in an asymmetrical style might feature a sofa with an end table on one end and a floor lamp on the other. Radial balance: Radial balance is the most infrequently used option on this list, but it involves similar objects being placed around a common center point. It’s most often seen in dining table arrangements where the same chair is used throughout.

Now that you know what asymmetry is, it’s important to take a more in-depth look at why people use it in their designs. The most common reason is that it adds more visual interest. Where the repetition of symmetrical arrangements has a tendency to feel monotonous over time, asymmetrical looks keep us on our toes.

There’s actually a psychological basis for why this occurs. It has to do with the way our brains process information. They aim to pick up on as many patterns and repetitions as possible, so the mirroring effect of symmetrical design makes those rooms very easy to figure out. In asymmetrical spaces, the patterns are less immediately obvious, so it takes our brains a bit longer to process them and ultimately makes them more interesting.

Take the picture above as an example. While the room features a consistent color palette, the same number of chairs on either side of the coffee table, and even a symmetrical layout, it was probably the fireplace that caught your eye first — and held it. Asymmetrical elements are a good tool to use when you want to call attention to a feature of your design.

Take a second to think of all the mirror images you’ve seen in interior design. More than likely, the images you’re thinking of are stately living rooms that feature double couches or a long dining table with two rows of identical chairs. This rigid duplication of symmetrical design has a tendency to present as more formal and even a little stuffy.

In contrast, asymmetrical designs aren’t constrained by the same level of perfection. The allowance for differences in their arrangement enables the space to feel a bit more casual, a bit more “lived-in.” As such, asymmetrical designs are often favored in high-traffic areas of the home, such as family rooms and eat-in kitchens.

The last step to becoming a master of asymmetrical design is to know how to apply these concepts in your own home. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for this one, we do have a couple of suggestions to get started.

Make it a focal point: If you’re going big with your asymmetrical element (like the fireplace above), make sure it’s something that would be a natural focal point and build the rest of your design around it. It can be big or small: Asymmetry doesn’t always have to make a huge statement. Sometimes even piv0ting a chair at an angle is enough. Use odd numbers: Arranging groupings in odd numbers is a great way to utilize asymmetrical design. Remember coordinating elements: When you’re going asymmetrical, it’s crucial to include a few common threads to help pull everything together. Repeating elements with similar colors, lines and shapes are the way to go. Use your perception: Pay attention to how your asymmetrical elements make you feel. If something feels “off” about your design, you may have to make a few tweaks until everything makes sense.

Believe it or not, asymmetry is a foundational principle of interior design. Read over this post and consider our tips carefully. We’re sure when you learn more about the why and how of this design technique, you’ll be ready to give it appropriate attention in your home.

Once you have chosen the couches and chairs for your living room, there is one piece of furniture that can pull the entire room together instantly, the coffee table. Coffee tables used to be a place to set your drink or to place a book, but in today’s interiors they are multifunctional, decorative, and often the focal point of your living room. From re-purposed barn doors, to sleek and modern, geometrical shapes, here are tips to choose the perfect coffee table for your home.

Make your other furniture envious: When choosing a coffee table, take into consideration what pieces of furniture you want to take main stage, and which pieces will play a supporting role. Coffee tables that have intricate lines, eye-popping colors, or look more like art than a table are sure to grab everyone’s attention. State of the art coffee tables can have lights, remote control capabilities, and even double as an aquarium! You name it; your coffee table can be the head turner for your interior space.

Natural materials can make for a beautiful table: Coffee tables can be versatile and can be made from virtually any material. Natural materials such as rock, wood, cork and other organic materials make perfect finishes for coffee tables. When choosing the right finish for your home, consider the wear and tear from your family and children. Hardwoods perform well with little maintenance, but softer wood coffee tables can show scratches and also indentations from pens and other hard objects. Keep this in mind before choosing a coffee table.

Multifunctional tables are ideal in smaller homes: If saving space is a concern in your home, consider tables that serve more than one function. Many coffee tables have storage inside or underneath of them. Display area for collectibles and treasured books can be beautiful and functional. Ottoman coffee tables that can double as footstools, or nesting coffee tables that stack inside or below each other are ideal for entertaining large groups in a small area. If you’re trying to save money on furniture, consider using trunks, sturdy baskets, or venturing to a garage sale or thrift store to find creative coffee table alternatives to the pricey furniture stores.

Your coffee table can be the source of your color: For many neutral color palette rooms, the coffee table is an ideal way to bring color and texture into your interiors. While your coffee table can be the accent of throw pillows, accent rugs, and furniture textiles, consider what other colors exist in your space. Take color cues from artwork, decorative sculptures, and wall color already in the space. When choosing a coffee table, these factors will help you decide how much color you want to introduce.

Coffee tables can be the main attraction in your home, as well as the blending element that makes your interiors coordinate. Before rushing out to get your coffee table, measure your space, and how much room you need to maneuver between your existing furniture. Remember, your coffee table should compliment your space, not overbear it. Once you decide on a coffee table, end tables are next!

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