1. They demonstrate the basic “rules” of design.
There really are no rules when it comes to what style you decorate your home in or the colors you use, but there ARE guidelines when it comes to placing things in a room in a visually appealing way.
The same furnishings and accessories could come together amazingly well in one space and look horribly distasteful in another depending on how they are arranged. For example, if curtains are hung with an inch of space between the bottoms and the floor, furniture is pushed against the walls rather than drawn closer together, and art is hung on walls that are too large the room will just look “off.” Those same pieces used in a room where design faux-pas are avoided can look stylish and upscale. If you want to learn more about the faux-pas that can destroy your interior style, read this post.
2. They maintain cohesion.
Homes that look put-together tend to keep some elements consistent from room to room. Namely, they rely on a consistent interior design style and ensure that each room contains furniture and décor that reflects it, but not in a way that feels kitschy or obvious. Be sure to read #3 for clarification on that.
In addition to a consistent design style, connecting rooms will tend to share a similar color palette. Perhaps colors are used in different proportions or not all colors from one room carry into the next, but there should be some thread tying all of the colors in main living spaces together. When a consistent flooring material can be used throughout connecting rooms, it does wonders for creating cohesion.
3. They aren’t “themey”
Well-designed homes give off a specific vibe and maintain cohesion without being “in your face” with a particular theme. This means that a coastal style home doesn’t have signs that say “beach house” or “life is better on the shore” or shower curtains with seashells on them. They might instead use varying shades of blues and beiges that reflect the colors of a coastal environment, and textures like sisal, rattan, and crochet that give a nod to materials found on the beach. Most importantly, the décor aims to create a MOOD of what one wants to feel at the beach- relaxed and carefree.
To be sure you’re not tiptoeing into theme-park territory, avoid any and all words in your décor as well as textiles that literally depict items found in your destination. Rather than flip flops, crabs, and seashell patterns, opt for awning stripes or seersucker.
4. They maintain some degree of modernity.
While you may enjoy antique décor and classical properties should certainly celebrate their history, there is a way to achieve an authentic vintage design without a home feeling “dated.” It can be tricky though, and often comes down to having an eye for what looks intentional and upscale rather than unintentional and tacky.
A historical home outfitted in vintage furniture can be stunning when balanced with all modern textiles. You can temper an antique dining set with modern draperies, reupholster a vintage sofa in light, modern fabric, and dress your traditional four poster bed with all white simple linens and modern throw pillows.
Beyond décor, it’s more permanent finishes and fixtures that can really determine whether your house appears stylish. Maybe you can’t afford to renovate the kitchen every time cabinet styles or countertop surfaces undergo a shift in trends, but replacing hardware, painting outdated cabinetry, or updating a light fixture can go a long way to showing that you care about style and show an interest in your home.
5. They surprise you.
Whether it’s an overall juxtaposition of interior design styles that come together in a beautiful way, or little details like a splash of wallpaper behind a bookshelf, the MOST stylish homes intrigue and inspire their guests.
To add little elements of curiosity to your own home, think about ways to bring in your personality, hobbies, or interests. Consider what nooks or small spaces of wall could be treated differently than the rest of the room. Use an item in an unexpected way. Put simply, give your guests something to talk about.