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Home office set up bright brown

I want to make a confession: I used to not care very much about home décor. As a student, I took on rooms in other peoples’ apartments with stuff I could carry around easily: a single bed that moonlighted as a couch, a simple table as desk, one bookcase, a reading chair (which was a luxury for me) and a desk chair. None of it matched, and it didn’t really matter to me: I was living the life of the mind and as long as I had somewhere to sleep, eat and read, I was happy. Spend money on home design? I’d rather get myself a good book.

And then, inexorable time moved on, and I was no longer a student, and I became a professional writer, and my surroundings grew more important. A year of sharing my office with my partner almost drove me crazy, prompting my recent move to a 3-bedroom home. I realized that the objects, colors, textures and light around me day after day affected my mood and my ability to work.

Help! Nothing I own matches!

After years of semi-nomadic living, I accumulated things based on their practicality and price, not on their design appeal. Green dining set. Red pots and pans. Orange cushions. Fuchsia, orange and red comforter with orange sheets. Light birch desk and bookcase. Dark brown side table. All of this had to match, somehow, with my partner’s dark blue couches and brown coffee and side tables, golden brown kitchen table and chairs and a somewhat random assortment of dark blue, light blue and light brown bedding. Our towels are white.

Confused? Yeah, me too.

But when you think about it, you begin to see patterns. Apparently mismatched colors can actually work together if you give them a chance. For example, I realized that the green plates looked very nice with the golden brown kitchen furniture.

Often, two apparently mismatched colors only need a “bridge” shade to put them together. Blue and red giving you a design headache? Add a little purple, and you can put them back together in the same room. Pink and brown seem kind of weird? A dash of green, and you have a pleasant meadow-like, earthy palette.

Oh my! I can’t stand this couch anymore!

If there’s one good thing I learned from living as a nomad, it’s that everything can be used and reused for different purposes. For example, your ugly couch. Sure, the ’80s tan-brown fabric is covered in stains from your student days, but is it really worth buying a new one? It’s still a solid piece, the cushions are still plump and it’s still an awesome spot to watch movies on. It basically has your body imprinted in it, and you don’t want to give up that comfort.

Same thing goes with chairs and anything that has a fabric cover on it. Don’t like it? Re-upholster! Fabric costs a fraction of an entire new set, and you can use the change of style to harmonize your otherwise disparate living room accessories. I would recommend using a professional to re-upholster a couch, but anyone with basic sewing skills can upholster a chair.

Instead of throwing away a perfectly good piece of furniture because of its look, think about how you can simply change the fabric to make it match your wildest design dreams. And think of the possibilities when you’re not limited to furniture designers’ choices!

My bedroom is crazy!

I find that the bedroom is the easiest room to harmonize. With so many options in fabric and colors, there is always a way to make disparate furniture, bed linens and décor accessories work together.

Choose the focal point of your bedroom–that’s usually the bed. What kind of bed coverings do you have? Do you like them? If you have a favourite duvet or comforter, use it as the basis for your bedroom décor. If not, get one that attracts you and calls to you. Look at the colors in it. Do they match your other bedroom décor elements like the furniture and the accessories? If so, you’re in luck! If not, there are simple solutions to make everything work.

I tend to buy neutral-colored furniture because it matches with pretty much anything else, but a coat of paint is a quick and inexpensive solution to a color problem. With a few cushions and drapes in a complementary color, you can harmonize your bedroom without too much expense or too much time.

Embrace your eclectic life

Of course, you can also simply embrace your past and show off your eclectic collection of home décor accumulated over the years. It makes for quirky and original rooms where you feel right at home.

There are smart ways to display a lifetime of accumulated home décor items, even when they don’t match. Stick to neutral wall colors, add some art or posters and use the diversity of colors at your disposal to build a décor that’s truly “you”. Keeping your home clean and free of clutter is the secret to keeping sensory overload at bay!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.