Give your furniture some breathing room. Resist overcrowding a room. Gracious living means space to maneuver with ease. This is really great news if you are working with a tight budget. You don’t need to fill up a space with lots of furniture. Spend more of your budget on fewer but better-quality pieces, and your room will look better than if it’s stuffed to the gills with flea market finds. The high-backed chairs shown here, for example, stand out because they don’t have to fight for attention.
Layered lighting. It cannot be stressed enough: Lighting should come from more than one source in any room. Those well-spaced recessed lights won’t be enough to eliminate the shadowing that inevitably harshens a room. Try to include task lights or spotlights, hanging lights, and table or floor lamps to get light from different directions. An extra advantage is that you can go full bright (as in this photo), then turn off a few lights for a more dim and moody atmosphere in the evening.
Large area rugs. Even when you have beautiful floors, an area rug makes a perfect anchor to a seating area for that layered, photo-shoot-ready look — but only if the rug is large enough. If it merely floats between the seating pieces instead of tucking fully under, it’s usually better to go without one. Try a custom-cut plain Berber carpet to get a perfectly sized rug without spending thousands of dollars.
Furniture walls. Putting up a new wall may not be an affordable solution. Instead, solid, weighty pieces like a sofa table or low bookshelf backed against a sitting area can create a visual divider that elegantly caps off a space, without stealing much square footage or getting in the way of circulation.
Dropped ceiling. Speaking of complicated electrical work, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to add lighting in a space with a concrete ceiling not suited to taking on fixtures. This is where a dropped ceiling works on multiple levels. The drop itself helps define an area below (such as the dining area shown in this project I designed), while providing a space to run electrical to a chandelier or house recessed potlights.
Edit your collectibles. Don’t hang on to a piece that just doesn’t fit. I don’t care if your great-aunt Sally gave it to you. If it’s not working for you, then find a new home for it (maybe in a different room). The unifying theme here is the use of black in the utilitarian pieces. The balance is almost perfect. It reminds me of something Coco Chanel said about accessorizing: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” In design, know when to stop.