As an interior designer, there are common mistakes and misconceptions I see repeatedly with clients -and consumers in general. Since I am here to make the world a more beautiful place, I would like to share some tips that are easy to implement.
1) Yes you can MIX FINISHES within a room or home! Metal finishes on furniture, hardware or faucets such as copper, chrome, stainless steel, bronze, rose gold, matte black, burnished bronze, brass, etc. do not have to match. Also wood finishes and species can be mixed. Don't get so caught up with matching every single item as it can become redundant and boring. With that said, I would say certain finishes just look wrong together like rose gold and antique bronze. Think of the finishes as actual colors. Ask yourself, do these colors look nice together? Is this confusing to the eye? Instead of asking "Am I allowed to do this'? Yes you are. The simple answer: If it looks good, do it. If it looks bad, don't. As with any successful design, some repetition is needed, but you need variety too. Mix tips: Use both matte and shiny finishes. Limit your mixing to three finishes per room.
2) Try to include something UNIQUE AND UNPREDICTABLE from another style or era into your decor so your home does not end up looking like a showroom. After spending many years working as a visual merchandiser and selling furniture out of a gallery, I can really appreciate mixing it up more. To get that 'curated' look, as many designers have mastered, try purchasing an interesting accessory or artwork while traveling overseas. As long as it has something in common with your current style or color scheme, buy it. Choose one really special item over a bunch of mediocre items. Think quality, not quantity. Alternately, you can go to 1st dibs, eBay, etsy, etc and find unique items from every style and era.
3) Buy ORIGINAL ART! As tempting as the low prices are at blockbuster furniture stores for framed reproduction art, try and limit these to your non-featured rooms. Even if your budget does not allow for bidding on an original Picasso, there are many art galleries featuring local, undiscovered artists that are budget friendly. Often, they will allow you to take a piece on approval, or will even create a custom version with the colors you like in the size you need. This will also ensure that the artist gets most of the profit from the sale and can survive and evolve in their craft. Whether your budget is $500 or $5 million, just make sure you love it. If you live in LA, SF or NY there is an abundance of art options for you.
4) MIX SHAPES within a room. Sometimes people think they have to keep repeating an idea forever, such as everything being square or round because there is a curved wall or something. More often than not, it looks best to mix round, square and organic shaped items within a room. Just like music, some repetition is good, but too much repetition does sound like a broken record after awhile. Repetition with a few well timed variations is the key.
5) SMALL ROOMS need not have white walls. Often, the opposite is true. You can create a very cozy vibe by going ultra dark or using lush colors like emerald green, magenta or deep blue. People often are drawn to and feel comforted by the rich colors because you notice the color instead of the size of the room. It's about distracting the eye from the room's flaws and highlighting something beautiful. Remember, it's only paint. Also, try wallpaper for fun!
6) BOOKS AND MAGAZINES ARE ACCESSORIES TOO! Remember, you can use attractive art or travel books as coffee table accessories. Make sure they have the same color/style you are trying to achieve in the room.