3 Interior Design Tips for Real Families Like Yours - VanDuinen Studio

3 Interior Design Tips for Real Families Like Yours

You're a fan of interior design, but you're also a real person with a real household to run. There are kids running around, there are pets, there are people who don't feel like cleaning every time they stand up. There are too many other priorities in a day. So let's face it: your house is never going to look like it belongs on the cover of a magazine, at least not for any great length of time.

Believe me, I feel you! As someone with ADHD, the common advice to take something with you every time you leave the room is a quick trip to Distractionville, Population: Me. Still, there are a few tips and tricks to keep your home looking fresh and attractive, even if "just declutter!" isn't the magic bullet you wish it could be. I've gathered my three favorites here for you.

1. Pick one statement piece for each room.

The quickest way to give a room a clear personality and inspiration for the rest of your design is to pick one statement piece that you want as your focal point. Maybe you have a luxurious velvet couch, a favorite painting, or an ornate headboard. No matter what the item is, as soon as you decide to highlight it, you can start making other supporting choices like paint color, furniture style, etc. Mix in neutrals and complementary colors that don't compete with your statement piece, and there you have it! A room designed with intention.

Take an example from my living room:

living room statement piece painting

This painting has lived with me for a decade, and it has shaped the way my entire living room looks. The afghan hanging on that couch was made specifically with the painting in mind (thanks, Mom!), our throw pillows have colors pulled out of it, and the rug has a similar color scheme:

living room rug coordinated with statement piece

The rest of the furniture and decor (aside from the kid toys) is fairly neutral, thus allowing the painting to really shine.

2. Get creative with storage.

One thing the magazines rarely feature: useful storage. Sure, there are occasional pictures of floor-to-ceiling shelves with the fancy ladder that pans across, but how many of us can really implement that in our homes? My toddler would never come down from the top!

So in real life, you need storage. And then more storage. And some storage to store that storage. Not all of the solutions will be attractive, but the more creative you get, the more cohesive you can make your storage-inclusive design.

Some of my favorite ideas:

  • Storage ottomans. Storage hiding in plain sight!
  • Pretty baskets in a variety of sizes. You can keep anything from blankets and pillows to toys stored in cute containers that don't stick out like a sore thumb.
  • A portable(ish) mudroom. This one has been a lifesaver in my own home. We don't have a coat closet anywhere close to the garage, so this bench with attached coat hooks keeps the mess from seeping into the rest of the house.

3. Choose personalized art that you love.

Sure, every box store has an aisle full of art you can buy if you'd like to fill your walls, but there's a lot to be said for choosing artwork more carefully to truly reflect your style. A curated collection of paintings, photos, and other wall hangings really makes your house feel like home.

I bought this painting from the wonderful and talented Sophie Adair over the summer, and my bedroom has never looked so sophisticated and pulled together:

sophie adair oil painting bedroom interior design

I'm also in love with this little vignette on top of my dresser, featuring an oil painting from Arthur Voronov and the flowers I held in my wedding (they're made of paper):

Arthur Voronov oil painting and wedding bouquet vignette

Selecting the art kept around your house with intention and joy is the perfect way to make your surroundings feel welcoming and relaxing. Pick the pieces that really make you smile, not just the ones that "match."

If you need some more targeted advice on how to select great art, I've got your back! You can download this free guide I put together that walks you through exactly that.

Happy decorating!