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Decorating Diva: Expert tips for a stylish space

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Designer's-eye view

Welcome to Decorating Diva, where every week we share fresh, fun ways to update your home and spice up your living space! The idea of redecorating your home – whether you’re bored with what you currently have or just want to change things up for a new season – can be overwhelming. Having a designer eye isn’t something everyone is blessed with, which is why we wanted to share some expert tips for giving your home a fresh, new look. Read on for some expert home design tips and tricks you can try the next time you’re craving change.

Decorating Diva

Stylish living room

Designer eye

We spoke with celebrity designer, Celebrations.com expert and event planner Michael Russo, a jack of all trades, from home décor to sophisticated weddings. He's popular with many celebs, including Shaq, Kevin Jonas, Joey Fatone, Kathy Griffin just to name a few, and he was in the middle of planning The View's Sherri Shepherd's recent wedding when we caught up with him. Despite his hectic schedule, he was happy to spend some time offering his tips for decorating your home like a pro.

1Getting started

First things first: If you want to give your space a new look you should have a well-thought-out plan before you change anything. Look through magazines and online for inspiration, then create a vision board, Russo suggests. Your vision board can contain everything from paint and fabric samples to magazine pictures and photos of inspiring spaces. The point is to get a handle on the type of space you want to create before you start. "This will help you stay on track and make sure all design elements are consistent and blend nicely," he says.

Next, you want to define the function of the space: What is it for? Who's going to use it? How can you make the most of it? "Absorb all the features the space has to offer and maximize the usability of space," Russo says. "Décor and design all come later."

2Open up your space

Don't overcrowd the room – each room should have specific function, rather than trying to make each one a multitasking space, the designer explains. This will help keep rooms from looking too cluttered. If you do have to have your workspace in the living room or your child's play space in the den, find a decorative way to separate each area – using a bookshelf, dividing screen or large potted plants. That way you won't end up living amid chaos.

Going lighter with color will help a small space appear larger and airier, as will keeping your space consistent with color and accents. Inconsistency and clutter can overwhelm the space because you don't know where to look. If too many things draw your eye, the room appears smaller and overburdened, Russo explains.

3Light it up

Lighting is an affordable way to decorate and instantly improve the atmosphere of a room. To start with, it's a good idea to trade generic overhead fixtures (that can often cast an unappealing light on everything) for something more interesting. Put up a chandelier or any fixture that expresses your personal style and add dimmer lights to control the ambience.

If you have tall ceilings, maximize the space by installing a large, decorative lighting fixture, think about uplighting to add a softer look to the space and bring in different lampshades to add interest and texture. "Lighting is very important because you can create different moods and setting depending on the function of the room," Russo says.

4Go classic –with a twist

While it can be tempting to jump on every home décor trend that you happen to notice in the glossy pages of magazines, focus more on creating a timeless space, Russo suggests. "I love working within classic settings and creating a trendy look within that space," he says, adding that the best way to incorporate trendy elements is with accessories. Rather than decorating in a way that will be out-of-date in a year, use classic anchor elements like sofas, drapery and art as a base, and then add accessories such as pillows, candles, bowls of fresh fruit in solid bright colors and other eye-catching accents to spice up the space and give each room some flair.

Trends to consider when choosing accents:

  • Animal prints
  • Florals
  • Color blocks
  • Pops of bold color
  • Adding vintage-looking pieces to a modern space
  • Mixing different textures within one space

5Ode to individuality

Once you have a plan in place, it's time to start creating the space you want – but don't lose sight of who you are in the process, Russo says. "I would say create a space that fits who you are, rather than what you think it should look like. Guests will know right away that it doesn't fit your personality." The trick is to stick to what you like. If you're a fun person, decorate with a sense of fun. You'll appreciate the space so much more if it does a good job of reflecting your individuality.

DIY chandelier

Learn how to transform an $89 Home Depot light fixture into a funky origami chandelier with just $10 in craft paper.

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