Decorating Diva: Royally ravishing home decor fit for a princess

Apr 22, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Welcome to Decorating Diva, where every week we share fresh, fun ways to update your home and spice up your living space! With the royal wedding fast approaching (our invite must have been lost in the mail ...) we’ve been obsessed with all things British. So before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot on April 29 we thought we’d take a closer look at royal-inspired decor. From princess-worthy palettes to home accents fit for a palace, we spent some time finding out how to take our home from run-of-the-mill to regal – just in time for biggest event of the decade.

Royal Wedding

Think royal – with a modern twist

Decorating like royalty doesn't mean trying to recreate the look and feel of Buckingham Palace, explains Elaine Griffin, interior designer and contributing editor for Better Homes and Gardens. After all, traditional royal decor doesn't exactly scream fun and fresh, so the emphasis here is not on the past but rather on what the modern princess -- Kate Middleton (soon-to-be Princess Catherine) –- would have in her home. Griffin describes this modern take as neo-traditional – taking time-honored concepts and shapes and reinterpreting them in a more contemporary, streamlined way. "The clear influence is there but it's not a copy," she notes.

Make it refined but approachable

Decor worthy of Will and Kate is all about refined, elegant living, Griffin explains, but emphasizes that it's also young and fresh (like the royal couple) versus old and stuffy. "Kate is going to breathe a gust of fresh air into the royal family," the designer says. In spite of the inherent formality (this is royalty after all), there should be a warmth to the space that makes it approachable – you should feel at ease, not walk in and feel like you can't touch anything or actually sit on any of the furniture. Griffin describes this as "elegance that whispers but doesn't scream."

Look into understated luxury

Decor fit for a princess is also about comfort, Griffin says, noting that Princess Diana was notorious for having eight pillows on her bed. Let's face it, what's the point of being a princess if you can't enjoy it? But the modern princess isn't going to rub your nose in her wealth. She will likely decorate in a way that is feminine but not too girly, ultra-chic but not ostentatious or over-the-top. Think understated glamour – definitely not Las Vegas glitz.

Read more about the royal couple and their style >>>

Royal decor

Royal decor how-to

Griffin has some simple tips for giving your home the royal treatment.

1Settle on soft shades

Start with classic English colors such as peach, apricot, cream, light greens and soft pastels. Griffin notes the English use shades of pink and apricot in their living spaces much more that we do, adding "apricot is the white of England." Whether you add an apricot accent wall or simply deck out your mantel with pretty pink and cream vases, it's not hard to add these royal-inspired hues to your home.

Our pick: Set the table for tea in these beautiful porcelain mugs from West Elm ($8) in an elegant shade of peachy coral. We especially love the whimsical pattern and contemporary design -- perfect for a modern princess.

2Focus on florals

We are currently seeing a return to floral prints, a traditionally royal decor element -- but this time around the prints are (you guessed it) younger and fresher. These florals are less literal, softer and more abstract in their design. Think pillows, wall hangings and even wall decals as a way to add a touch of floral charm to your space.

Our pick: We love the fresh look and fun design of this pretty floral pillow from Urban Outfitters (now $14.99). The diagonal seam and intricate pleating detail keep it interesting, while the soft florals give it royal-inspired elegance.

3Incorporate texture

One common way to add texture to a room is with area rugs – and in the case of the royals, needlepoint rugs would have been the traditional go-to choice. But if you've ever seen one, they can tend to be more old school than fresh and modern in their design. Instead of the traditional floral motif, look for rugs featuring bolder geometric designs and eye-catching David Hicks-inspired patterns, suggest Griffin. "They add a subtle layer of chic comfort and texture to the room," she says.

Our pick: Though we couldn't find any authentic needlepoint rugs in a contemporary design, we love this stylized geometric area rug from Company C (from $495). We fell for the Art Deco-inspired design in muted blue, green and copper tones.

4English-inspired furniture

The English are known for using a lot of wood furniture, but in the past it's been darker (often mahogany), which can look staid, Griffin says. Instead, look into paler wood in more streamlined, modern shapes for everything from bookcases to dining tables.

Our pick: We were instantly intrigued by this unique solid walnut bookcase from Crate & Barrel ($1,399). The contemporary design doubles as a room divider and offers ample stylish storage.

5Furry friends

Don't forget the dogs! Queen Elizabeth is known to have a pack of corgis following her around and it's probably only a matter of time before Will gifts Kate with a pooch of her own. Whether you have dog or not, you can get in on the fuzzy fun with puppy-inspired prints, Griffin suggests.

Our pick: They may not compare to corgis in the eyes of the Queen, but just try not to smile when you look at these pug family wall decals from Blik ($28).

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