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5 Decorating do's and don'ts to create a home you love

Anna Katherine Napier has been a designer for 15 years. She owns her own business called Victoria Lee Homes & Décor. She lives in Palm Coast, FL.

This quick list of decorating tips will help you create a space you love

Decorating your home can be challenging: Where do you start? How do you know what makes a room "work"? Where should we invest for a lifetime, and where can we save? Often, we're so afraid of making a mistake that we keep putting it off. The key is making smart choices that make the most of your decorating budget, while giving you the freedom to express your personality.

5 Home decorating do's:

1. Consider balancing the old with the new. A great way to give a space your own spin is by mixing older pieces with new pieces. A fun, retro "mod" piece can be a great addition to a contemporary room. If your room is more traditional, incorporate an antique piece like a secretary desk — or even a collection of antique cameras or glass. Blending older elements with the new ones makes the room look like it was filled over time with important pieces, rather than purchased all at once for the purposes of filling the space.

2. Contrast glass and metal with wood and flora. If a space feels too cold or impersonal, warm it up with natural elements such as wood and plants or flowers. Even a modern space can use a touch of these natural elements. The key is balance. In a sleek modern kitchen, place a simple flower bouquet on the counter. In a more traditional space, you will more than likely already have visible wood grain in your flooring or furniture, so just add some plant life to liven it up!

3. Have the courage to create an accent wall or ceiling. Choose one wall in your space, and use a stencil or wallpaper to create a fun pop of color or pattern. Accent walls are an excellent focal point, and a great way to make your space stand out. In smaller areas, such as a powder room, put the wallpaper or bolder paint color on the ceiling. This will draw your eye up and make the space feel bigger, while at the same time giving it a fun decorative element.

4. Follow trends… but in a way you can easily change. If you just love a pattern — chevron, for example — feel free to use it in your space. But to prevent your room from being outdated in a few years, avoid covering a big piece, such as a sofa, in a trend. Instead, bring in the trend you love with throw pillows. You can easily swap out or re-cover a throw pillow when you're tired of the pattern.

5. Invest in quality furniture. Your furniture needs to endure many years of guests, kids, and pets. If you spend a little bit more on good quality and that extra fabric protection, you will be much better off in the long run.

5 Home decorating don'ts:

1. Don't have too much going on. When decorating a room, balance is very important. You don’t want to overwhelm your space with too much of a good thing. For example, if you love floral arrangements, use them in two or three key areas only. A little restraint will make each choice stand out more as a design element… and your room will look less like a florist lives there. If you're a fan of patterns, try to keep your choices to three or fewer to bring the room together. If you love a theme, such as nautical or art deco, go ahead and bring it into your house. Just make sure you use only a few key pieces: a focal print/painting, a few throw pillows and a cool accessory. Avoid making the entire room look like a shrine to that theme.

2. Don't make every room look exactly the same. You do want your home to have good flow, but each space must serve its purpose — and, therefore, stand out a little bit. If you like a more monochromatic home, change up the color in a subtle way. Try to accessorize each room a little differently. For example, you can use a collection of glass in the dining room, and then a collection of pottery in the living room. Giving each space its own personality — while still thinking about how it flows well from the adjacent spaces — will give your home more dimension and warmth.

3. Don't stagger two pieces of art. Whether it's framed family photos or works of art, it should look like a collection. Artworks need to be either grouped together or hung solo. If you hang art in pairs, make sure to group the pair either by hanging them side by side, or with one directly above the other. (Exception to the rule: one of the only acceptable times to stagger artwork is along a staircase wall.) Hanging pieces of art too far apart is another mistake to avoid. Make sure each piece is between two and six inches from another to ensure that your works don't look like they are floating on the wall like desert islands in a vast sea of paint.

4. Don't make your entire house a sea of beige or white. A lot of people are afraid of color… so they just choose not to use it at all. This will make your home look devoid of personality. Many people don't realize that green and blue are also neutrals. Use subtle tones of green, blue, cream, taupe, gray and even yellow to give your home the warmth and personality it needs.

5. Don't forget to bring yourself into the space. It is important to infuse a bit of your own life into your home. Frame your kid's art and hang it as a collection. Print out black-and-white photos of your family, your parents, your grandparents. Display a family quilt in the guest room, or your mom's retro blender on the kitchen counter. If it makes you smile and feel at home, do it!

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