Ahh yes, finishing a room. Well, THAT never happens around here. Not in its entirety, anyway. The truth is, I’m forever adding and subtracting and swapping things around in pretty much every space in my home. For the purposes of today’s post, however, I’m using that to mean a space that’s ready for its big debut – the one you feel you can step back and know you’re happy with the finished product. The one you might just snap with your phone and share with your friends on Facebook or Instagram. Done in that sense. You know what I mean, right?
Anyway, the problem I often see is that so often people put that stamp of ‘done’ on a space without it actually REALLY being complete. Sure, you may have ripped out the flooring and replaced it or completely painted from top to bottom. You might have moved your new furniture in place. You might have updated the windows or radiators or given the skirting boards a new lick of paint. You might have had tradesmen in to sort out the damp or update the electrics. You’ve lived through the chaos and came out the other side. So the architecture of the room is complete and perhaps the furniture is finally in – but does that mean you’re finished? Sadly, no.
The problem I’ve noticed is that people stop there. They’ve got the furniture in and yet, the room lacks some soul. It lacks personality. It lacks all those little details that actually – and pardon the cliché – make a house a home. In fact, I think there are 8 things that actually REALLY complete a room – those finishing touches that make any space come to life. Here are the things I think every room needs before you can truly call it done.
There is seriously nothing sadder than a room with a bunch of blank walls. I’m not saying every wall needs artwork but please do include at least a few pieces that give a room some personality. And truth be told, it doesn’t even have to be artwork. Hang a huge textile on the wall or create a feature wall with some bold wallpaper (see my tips here), put up some shelving and dot a few plants on top. But for the love of all that is good and gracious in this world, don’t leave every single wall bare and get some interest up there.
These are the things that reflect you personally. So perhaps you are really into photography – set out your vintage camera collection or pop down a few big coffee-table style books on your favourite photographer. Maybe you used to skateboard in your youth and you still have some great looking ones in the loft – get those on the walls as decor. Maybe you love to travel and have bought some gorgeous textiles or pottery back from distant lands or it might just be some pretty rocks or shells from your beach holiday. All of these little things tell the story of you. They become conversation starters and remind you of life experiences. It’s these things that add a little extra YOU to a space so use them to pull some of your personality in.
I’m a sucker for a great decorative piece. Ya know, those things that actually have no real use except to sit out and look pretty. I have an insane collection of pretty things dotted around my home and while you don’t necessarily have to be a complete maximalist as I am (because let’s be honest here, no one loves dusting), you do want to add a little something to your surfaces. So perhaps your mantle can use a lovely vase with flowers or your sideboard might have a small display with a tray and some pretty vintage glassware. Your sofa will welcome a couple of decorative cushions or a throw or a candle to throw off a lovely scent. Filling in some of the negative space with accessories and vignettes will give your room a boost of style.
Here’s an important one. How many people just stop at putting a light fixture up in the ceiling in the centre of the room and that’s it? The ‘big light’ as it’s affectionately known here. Yeah, you can’t just stop there. A room should have various light sources – we’re talking table lamps, floor lamps, wall lights – even candles can count to add some ambience to your dining room table or a coffee table. And the big light? Please put that on a dimmer. No one wants to feel like they are under interrogation whilst eating dinner, believe me.
Plants or Flowers
Of course, I’m going to mention house plants. I honestly don’t think there’s a room out there that won’t benefit from the addition of a bit of greenery. It’s one of the easiest things to give a room some lift. Include plants of different sizes and ones that have an architectural quality to them. Mix up the leaf types and the sizes for the most interesting combinations. They’ll give your room an organic touch, purify the air and add a splash of colour all at the same time. Flowers, of course, will give you a similar benefit, adding colour and fragrance to your finished space. Want some more ideas? Check out my post here.
Something with Curves
The fact is, most rooms are relatively square or rectangular in shape and your windows will be rectangular in shape and you’ll probably have things like tables in the room which will be rectangular in shape. You need something to soften all those hard lines and bringing in curved objects will contrast nicely. Perhaps a large circular mirror or an oval coffee table. It might be a round dining table or a sofa with a gently curving back. Whatever you do, make sure something in your space isn’t totally angular. It’ll give your room a little softness, subtly making it all the more a welcoming spot to hang out.
I’m not saying you need to have ‘swags & tails’ in each room in your home of course (in fact, swags and tails are pretty desperately out of fashion now so perhaps skip them all together). But for most rooms, textiles at your window will soften those hard angles I spoke about above. I know I’ve banged on about it a million times before but if you have curtains, please don’t let them stop at the windowsill. Those curtains should be hung as high as possible (about an inch or so from the ceiling) and hang all the way to the floor. Can’t use full-length curtains? Consider Roman blinds or window shutters instead. Just don’t leave all your windows naked. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule (ie, if you have those big beautiful Crittal windows in your home, they probably don’t need a thing) but for the other 99% of times, get something on your windows even if it’s just some soft muslin or simple cotton, it’ll give your room a little bit of polish.
Finally, while rugs will certainly help protect your floors in high traffic areas, they can do so much more than that. A great area rug will help delineate zones in an open plan space and help pull together what might otherwise just look like a random assortment of furniture in a large area. They can add texture, colour or pull a theme together in a room too. For a smaller space, it’ll ground your furniture and make it look more pulled together. If you have low-pile carpet, layering rugs on top will have a similar effect and can add some colour or texture to your scheme.
So those are the 8 things that I think really polish off a room and make it look complete. Do you agree or disagree with my list (there are always exceptions I realise!)? What do you do to make a room look finished? Let me know in the comments!