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9 Smart Decor Tips

Stay stylish by building your decor on a foundation of classics, then bringing it to life with these tricks of the trade.

1. Hang a Mirror.

Not only will a reflective surface increase the visual parameters of the space, but a mirror never goes out of style. Try an oval or round shape to add order to asymmetrical walls, or lay a slice of mirror on any tabletop for a shiny upgrade.

2. Attract Opposites.

Try pairing something sleek or edgy with the warmth of wood. Top an antique table with a stainless steel bowl, or flank a Victorian sideboard with two contemporary side chairs.

3. Lose the Clutter.

Clutter can choke a room’s overall ambiance. Take a long hard look at your extra stuff, and trash the excess. For high-quality items you no longer need, think about re-gifting or donating to charity.

4. See Beyond the Straight and Narrow.

You can work wonders in your rooms by simply shifting the center of focus on an angle. Turning the dining room table askew or setting a bed diagonal to the corner can both open up more space and stylize the room.

5. Make It Shimmer.

Glass and metallic accents create instant pizzazz, particularly in darker rooms with wood accents that would contrast so well with shine. Try a knockout collection of cut glass, a crystal chandelier, a mirror-faced cabinet, or a sideboard topped with a cache of mixed or matched votives and pillars.

6. Love It or Leave It.

Impulse can lead to big, costly mistakes. Instead, pop for classic big-ticket items with staying power — a baby grand piano, a leather tufted sofa or a carved French armoire. But, if a trendy piece would make the look of your room, spring for it. Just remember that its appeal may be short-lived.

7. Pick a Hue.

Walls, floors and upholstery look best in neutrals, from cream to chocolate brown. Against that backdrop, accent your accessories in one strong color such as lemon yellow, sharp crimson or chartreuse. By limiting the accent color, your rooms will become more unified.

8. Mix It Up.

Matchy-matchy will quickly date your decor. Create a lively scene by blending styles and using a variety of textures. Start with an area rug. (Try sisal or jute, sculptured or frieze.) Heighten the textural impact with silk or organza draperies overseeing cut velvet, suede-cloth, denim, linen or chenille furnishings. Blend in a healthy mix of unusually textured accessories, and your rooms will be instantly rejuvenated.

9. Double the Fun.

Most accessories can do double duty — which gives you more design flexibility. That fabulous tabletop sculpture can look equally smashing whether in the dining room or on a coffee table in your great room.