Decorate Like a Pro: Secrets of TV’s Biggest Home Design Stars

If you’re like most condo-owners, you’ve watched your share of TV shows on home design. Love It or List It, Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, to name a few.

But can you get your place to look like their place? Can you decorate like you’re on TV? It actually may be possible!

Our friends at House Method researched the styles on ten popular home design shows on HGTV and DIY Network, to discover what the pros are doing.

Modern and Contemporary Looks Most Popular

The two most popular styles used by about one third of TV design shows were Contemporary and Modern, according to House Method. Other popular styles included Transitional, Eclectic, Country and Mid-Century Modern.

Consciously choosing (and sticking to) a style when renovating or remodeling is one of the most important aspects of a successful makeover. You want to your new look to be cohesive and complete.

Neutral Wall Colors Rule

One of House Method’s key findings was the prevalence of unobtrusive wall coloring. In fact, 37% of walls were painted white, and 28% were painted gray. In other words, nearly two thirds of all walls had no color.

This makes sense for several reasons. First, the most popular styles (Contemporary and Modern) are cool and sleek. White and gray lend themselves to that. Second, if you want a style to appeal to a lot of people (viewers at home, for example) you can’t go too bold. Bright colors or overly splashing designs might appeal to a few, but not to everyone. White or gray can be smart. This should be a consideration, particularly if you’re planning to sell in a few years.

Third, white and gray offer a strong baseline from which you can get very creative. For example, primarily white walls with a brightly-colored accent can make a room pop without the color dominating the room’s other elements. Similarly, stylish furniture and appliances are often best showcased against a gray background.

Experiment in the Bedroom (or Dining Room)

If you want to do something a little offbeat, the TV design stars did so most often in the bedroom or dining room, according to House Method.

The bedroom makes a lot of sense. You’re unlikely to show it to guests, so if you have a style that’s all you, or a bit experimental, this can be a good place to test it out. Among design shows, the most common style in bedrooms was Eclectic.

The dining room went another direction. It was most commonly done in Country style, according to House Method, as people seem to want a warm, homey feel in the dining room. That makes perfect sense since the dining room is where you gather as a family and where you host guests. While the minimalist Contemporary and Modern trends may be nice for a cocktail, they’re perhaps a bit cold for the conviviality you want to generate when having a dinner party.

Use Cerused Wood and Marble

These were two of the three most popular material trends on TV, according to House Method. If you’re using them, you’re really decorating like you’re on TV!

One is a trend of the moment and one is a timeless design aspect. Both are popular right now. Let’s take them in turn.

  • Cerused wood. First, what it is? It’s wood that’s painted white. It fits well in styles ranging from Contemporary to Country to Shabby Chic. It’s very popular now, but will it still be popular in five years? Unclear.
  • Marble. It’s expensive and traditional, yes. But it’s also versatile, durable and has been appreciated for millennia. A room with some marble highlights can likely be adapted (while keeping the marble in place) to meet changing trends.

Here’s where the pros excel: They don’t go too far in either direction. If you design only with trends of the moment, like cerused wood, your rooms will feel out-of-touch as soon as trends change. On the other hand, if you design only with enduring classics like marble, you’ll miss out entirely on the contemporary and you’ll never really be in-touch. Better to split the difference and borrow some from what’s hot now and some from what you know will last.

The Future May Include More Color

Speaking of trends, what’s up next? House Method noted a shift towards blue walls. While white and gray were overwhelming favorites between the years 2012 and 2017, blue almost caught up to gray in 2017.

And Pantone’s color of the year for 2018 is Ultra Violet, a very bold hue, shown on this chair from Amazon. Pantone is predicting this will be a year of bright colors. Does that mean it’s time to abandon white walls? Yes and no. White and gray walls are like marble, while bright colors are a bit like cerused wood. One will last, and one will be cool for now.

To be safe, it’s smart to choose a little bit of both.

Author My First Apartment
Alex Starace

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Alex Starace and his wife own a condo in Chicago. Alex enjoys basketball, biking and jazz. His writing also appears regularly in My First Apartment, South Florida Opulence and TriQuarterly.

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