How to use basic design principles to decorate your home | by Julieta Alvarez

May 21, 2018 | By Vanessa Pollock

An intro from Kelly Lombardi of the Pollock Group:

It’s happened! You’ve found the perfect house and now you’re just waiting for closing day so you can move in and make it yours. You have a general idea of how you want to decorate and maybe you’ve even gone so far as to create a few Pinterest boards. But now, how do you actually bring to life how you want your home to look and feel? To help you get started I've asked Julieta Alvarez of Julieta Alvarez Interiors to share a few tips.
I worked with Julieta (and her adorable family) on their house hunt and she was one of the most interesting to guide through the home buying process because she has such a strong sense of style and a truly discerning eye. She could read the flow of a home upon entering it. We had so much fun working together and agreed that her insight would be valuable to our community and clients so I asked her to share with you some of the basic principals of design to help you get started.  If you know anyone looking to find a house so they can turn it into their dream home, email me or call 917-359-8334. I'd love to help, and have fun along the way!


How to use basic design principles to decorate your home | by Julieta Alvarez

If I asked you how you feel about your upcoming move into your new house, how would you respond? I bet you would beam with excitement. The gruesome house hunting has finally come to an end. No more open houses on the weekend. And the mortgage process, which may have felt like a colonoscopy at times, is now a thing of the past. You may, however, feel a sense of anxiety when faced with the task of decorating an entire home on your own. I have been there myself and I have been working as an interior designer for many years. Designing a new home does not come easy for all of us but the process does not have to be stressful. You might be asking yourself questions such as: Where do I even start? How do I avoid making mistakes? We have already enough to worry about and designing a new home should be fun.

The first thing I would do before or right after moving to a new space is to make an inventory of your current furniture, rugs, accessories, etc. Consider selling or donating anything you don’t absolutely love or replace these items little by little. Moving to a new home is a great opportunity to pare down your accumulated possessions to the minimal amount. It’s a liberating exercise and you will be surprised at all the things you won’t miss. 


Resist the urge to buy everything at once. Live in your new home for a while (there is no hard fast rule but I suggest 3 to 5 months) before making any significant purchases. You might have thought initially to replace the wood flooring, but after a few months of living in your home you grew to love it with all its imperfections. It may just need a re-staining job instead and you may save a good amount of money which you can use elsewhere. There is power in waiting. If any renovation work needs to be done, it’s ideally you do those jobs first; if not then keep those rooms for last. 


Now to the fun part! I recommend you choose the color scheme of the house first. Start off by choosing the paint color for all the main rooms, usually the Living Room, Family Room, and/or Dining Room. If you have an inspiration piece, for example a vintage rug or a certain wallpaper you would like to use in the Dining Room; choose one of the colors from the wallpaper or the rug for the adjacent room. You can change the tonality of the same hue for the adjacent rooms and ground the rest of the house with neutrals. A good rule of thumb for choosing a cohesive color scheme for a home, is to keep the darker shades for enclosed and smaller rooms or hallways; and light neutrals for open layouts and bigger spaces. Painting a wall in a bold color is one of the most inexpensive and high impact things you could do without spending a lot of money. You can also use removable wallpaper from vendors like Chasing Paper, Wallshoppe, Tempapaper and many others. 


If you prefer a monochromatic color scheme, make it interesting and avoid the boring beige rooms syndrome. You could add some texture such as open weave linen, silk, wool, velvet or faux fur and try to also use different matte and shiny surfaces like antique mirror, chrome, brass, ceramic, lacquer, raffia, etc. Whatever color you end up choosing, try to include different shades of it. Alternatively, if you prefer patterns over textures in a monochromatic space, choose a combination of three to five patterns. Incorporate different scaled patterns; small, medium, large and anything in between. Large patterns usually works well on bigger items like walls and rugs; while small patterns works well on pillows and chairs.

After you decide on the paint scheme start selecting your furniture, rugs, window treatments, accessories, and art. If you have a “realistic” budget, combine 2-3 pricier items with inexpensive ones. By combining different levels of price and craftsmanship, the room will balance out better and you will notice those statement pieces even more.


When you are ready to start making purchases, start with the biggest items like the rug or sofa; and move to the smaller items like side tables, art and accessories. By carefully choosing the foundation of the room, the rest of the items will be much easier to decide on. Don’t forget to add some vintage pieces, even 1-2 pieces will bring some character and soul to any space. It will take more time and effort but it will pay off and your home will feel homey and inviting. If you have all brand new items, you will run the risk of having a home that feels lifeless and impersonal. 


Every room has its own focal point. Try to identify it and make it the feature item in your space. For example, in this particular space below, one of the first things you see is the fireplace. It was painted in Hague Blue from Farrow and Blue to make it pop out; and the oversized mirror with a geometric frame was added to echo the base of the coffee table. The beautiful Art prints are from the very talented photographer Timothy Hogan. Those were the pricier items because they stand out the most in this particular space; while everything else was a healthy combination of low to medium budget pieces.