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Interior designers share the home decor tips everyone should know before they turn 30

To live through your early-to-mid-twenties is to live in a state of habitual flux

By Vogue UK | July 20, 2021 | Category

Picture: Unsplash

To live through your early-to-mid-twenties is to live in a state of habitual flux: new apartments! New neighborhoods! New cities!

But as that twilight of one formative decade dims and a new, more stable era is on the horizon, you likely want a more settled, stylish environment. Home decor tips might be needed: The hodgepodge of furniture you inherited from an old roommate frankly just doesn’t fit your style. That bed-frame from Craigslist, bought years ago on your just-out-of-college budget, has seen better days. And your artwork? It’s bland, impersonal, and, unfortunately purchased in millennial pink’s heyday. (This writer may or may not be speaking from experience.) “Turning 30 can spark dramatic life changes as we start to turn our dreams into reality, leaving things behind that do not bring us joy and when our true values start to emerge,” interior designer Candace Rimes tells Vogue. “While we certainly shouldn’t feel pressure to have everything figured out, we do start to feel more comfortable with ourselves and begin to invest our time, money and energy more wisely.”

But the question is—how do we translate our newfound sense of self into interior style?

Vogue decided to ask 10 interior designers about the home decor tips you everyone should know before they turn 30. They stretched from the technical—buy a tape measurer, people!—to the philosophical. “Give yourself permission to experiment! Our homes should be reflections of who we are, and we are always evolving, so why shouldn't our homes?” says Justina Blakeney.

Below, their thoughts—and a general how-to-guide for the home of your more-mature dreams.

On Picking Out Furniture

“Incorporating vintage items you inherited from friends or family or that you discovered at a local flea market is a great way to give your home a timeless look. Trends are great, but vintage is forever.” -Justina Blakeney, Jungalow

“When it comes to mirrors, go big. Unlike artwork which tends to draw you in, a mirror reflects light, enhances and expands space. A mirror on a wall can be as effective as a window. When it comes to mirrors, the bigger the better—as long as it is never wider than what it is hanging over.” -Nick Gagne

“When selecting area rugs remember too big is better than too small. If it is too skimpy it will look out of place. A large rug can spill over into other spaces and still feel appropriate. You can cut down a large rug, but you cannot stretch a small one. When selecting a rug for a seating area always try to have at least the front legs of all pieces sitting on it.” -Joe Berkowitz, JAB Design Group

“Invest in furniture and decor that is made of natural materials. If you are wondering what to splurge on, a dining table made of reclaimed wood, a side table with a marble top, or a rattan shelf are just some examples of pieces that will withstand the test of time and you can use over and over again in different spaces. Natural materials are hearty and can endure a lot of wear and tear so they will serve you well if you take good care of them.” -Justina Blakeney

“Displaying collections can be beautiful but clutter kills a space. Select furniture pieces that offer storage, side tables, armoires or other case pieces, and make the most of available closet space—creating places to put things away is paramount. On bedside tables small, beautiful boxes keeps things tidy. Or investing in a few beautiful baskets to keep things orderly always keeps a space feeling fresh.” -Lyndsay Caleo Karol, The Brooklyn Home Company

On Selecting a Wall Color

“Color changes in a room, depending on the light that fills the room at different times of the day. To help not make the mistake of painting a room in a color that looks good on the chart but bad on the walls, always paint a large piece of paper, 24 x 36 inches, and fix it to one of the walls in the room you wish to paint. Then look at it at different times of the day, the morning, the afternoon and the evening , to make sure it feels good to you at all those times.” -Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design

“When it comes to choosing paint colors or decorating, neutrals and textures will always stand the test of time. Take your time and do your research. Combine those neutrals with dark accents and your space will come alive. I like to incorporate color through artwork and accessories, as color trends change every few years.” -Sara Cukerbaum, SLIC Design

Don’t paint your ceilings white. I’m big on using a monochromatic palette creating an all-encompassing mood for a room. If you take away the white it removes the stark contrast to the walls and even bold colors are more subtle.” -Nicholas G Potts, Designer and Architect

“Wallpaper is a great way to get color and pattern in the smallest of spaces. It creates visual impact that isn't too overbearing because it is in a contained space. There are so many great peel and stick options now that even renters can get in on all that wallpaper goodness! If wallpaper feels like too much of a commitment, you can also try a large piece of art with bold color and pattern.” -Justina Blakeney

On Choosing and Collecting Art

“Commission work from your favorite artists. I think a lot of people are intimidated to commission a piece because they feel that is only for the uber wealthy—but so many emerging artists love the chance to work one on one with a collector to create the perfect work. You will never know if it is in your budget if you don't reach out.” -Lauren Sands, LES Collection

“The most valuable decorating tip I can offer is to start building an art collection early. No matter where you live, you will always have walls that can serve as a clean canvas to showcase pieces that tell your story. And no, art does not have to be expensive! Gradually invest in pieces and artists from your local community art fairs, ceramic studios and screen printers.” -Candace Rimes, Fogarty Finger

“When hanging a series, always hang the works at eye level and don’t space the works more than a few inches apart.” -Candace Rimes

On Putting It All Together

“Less clutter makes a room feel larger and calmer. When a room is minimal and edited, it gives the room a feeling of lightness and breathability.” -Nick Gagne

Scale is everything—learning how to balance furniture sizes in a room, from the perfect sofa size to the height of a cabinet or size of a mirror are vital skills. Using paper templates in the space to judge the correct scale, how it balances in the room or on the wall and how much space they take up is a great decorating trick to solve that to the eye without making a mistake of buying something too large or small.” -Martyn Lawrence Bullard

“One of the essential aspects of interior design is spatial planning—making sure furniture, rugs, lighting, and accessories are the right scale and provide the proper spacing for you and your guests to move about a room. Anyone can block out their desired pieces using a tape measurer, painter's tape, and some cardboard if necessary. If you like to collect pieces over time at antique stores or flea markets, it's great to carry around a pocket tape measurer and booklet with measurements along for the hunt.” -Keren Richter, White Arrow

Written by Elise Taylor.

This article originally appeared on Vogue Living UK.