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Nine designers’ tips for upping your decorating game

As you study vignettes on your bookmarked design blogs, flip through pages of shelter magazines and binge-watch HGTV shows, it’s hard not to imagine certain design details transforming your own home.

Winter, when you spend more time indoors scrutinizing your four walls and your furniture assortment, is a good time to make a few changes to enhance your living quarters. Design professionals have a lot of tricks that can enliven rooms, whether it’s to make the most of a small space or add a dimension to a larger one.

You can choose to break the rules or honor them. But everyone needs a little inspiration.

“Many people are paralyzed when it comes to making changes in their home, even small ones,” says Sheila Bridges, a New York designer. “People are freaked out by color. They want to have everything look perfect immediately. But decorating is really a process. The longer it takes or the more you slow down and enjoy that process of building and editing, the better your home will evolve. “

We asked Bridges and other top designers to share a best practice with us — ideas they are incorporating into their own work right now, as well as those that have stood the test of time.

Here are their emailed suggestions, suitable for pinning to your “Designer Secrets” inspiration board.

Look to your travels for texture

“My design aesthetic has always been intensely personal. As you look to update a room you’ve lived in for years, or if you’re starting fresh in a new home, begin by curating what you have. I like to bring together groupings of well-traveled objects, textiles, decorative accessories and furniture . . . things that represent the people who live there. Think hand-woven elements, thick textiles, objects that have patina and mix in with beautiful, neutral upholstery and furniture. A well-designed room is one that is layered and feels assembled over time.”

Nate Berkus, New York
The designer and author launched his TV career on “Oprah” in 2002.

Choose a big mirror for big impact

“Whenever presented with a narrow, unadorned space or merely a blank wall, remember that a large mirror acts like adding a window to a room. This simple trick works because the reflection gives the perception of another space beyond, and as you move around, so does the view.”

Patrick Sutton, Baltimore 
The designer’s work can be found in homes, hotels and restaurants, including Azumi and Loch Bar at Baltimore’s Four Seasons hotel.

Think beyond recessed lights

“One of my go-to design techniques that I find adds a timeless touch to modern interiors is the use of flush-mounted lighting and wall-mounted sconces in lieu of a sea of recessed ceiling lights, which can often feel impersonal.”


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