Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Decorating a Room


Storage and Shelving
A built-in shelving unit provides a perfect place to display treasures.

A generous amount of storage keeps every home looking cleaner and neater. Take advantage of every nook and corner. If you're using boxes or baskets that hide what's inside, label them. And don't allot any items -- CDs, clothes, toys -- more room than is necessary. New homes today have about three times as many closets as houses built in the '50s, but it seems that's still not enough. Here are some ideas to help you find a place for everything:

  • Collect Cabinetry: When storage is an integral part of the architecture, the sense of orderliness is enhanced. Instead of simply placing some shelving on the family room wall, for instance, transform the entire wall into a storage area made of continuous materials. The latest trend is to use cabinetry as furniture in home offices, master suites, and bedrooms. In addition to making room for electronic gear, papers, and books, the cabinetry, complete with doors and niches, creates a consistent, pleasing picture. Be sure to research the hundreds of cabinetry choices, and choose a style that will help to provoke the look you want. Styles include a variety of woods that can be stained, glazed, or painted. In a period dining room, a wall of detailed cabinetry in a rich wood tone would set an old-world mood. Include a glass door or two, and let your prettiest china show. Use wood or laminate cabinetry in a home office. But leave the midsection open as a desk to hold the computer.
  • To fashion a berth for surplus china and to separate the dining area from the cooking zone, think about a room-divider cabinet. When company comes to dinner, use the top of the cabinet as a serving station. A cabinet like this is also a good way to divide a bedroom for kids. Paint the cabinet a different color on each side, and include an even number of shelves for each child.
  • Move in Modulars: Modular units are available in dozens of styles and materials from plastic to wood. Assemble a wallcovering configuration in the den, the home office, or a child's room. Flanking a window or arranged on either side of a bed, twin units become receptacles for books and family photographs. Look for "towers" and horizontal cabinets that can be stacked in order to take advantage of vertical space.
  • Find Functional Furniture: Furniture designers know consumers want furniture that functions on a practical and an aesthetic level. A chocolate-stain-and-lacquer-finished media cabinet would be a handsome addition to a traditional or contemporary room. But with a generous drawer for organizing videos and music, it's even more welcome. In addition to classic old-fashioned hardwood bookcases, there are freestanding sculptural shelf units manufactured in retro modern shapes and materials like polypropylene and aluminum. Stylish in themselves, these kinds of units make a convenient and chic display for artifacts or books. Also available are sculptural side tables constructed to corral magazines and newspapers. Parked alongside a pair of modern easy chairs, such artful tables will gather attention no matter if they're empty or filled.
  • Commission a Carpenter: Use those corners! In the bedroom, design a Craftsman-style angled cupboard (with doors) to hold the television. Add two comfy chairs, and you have a private just-for-two spot for watching the news. Hide a tiny bar fridge behind those doors, and you can have a drink or snack without having to traipse to the kitchen.
Delicately designed storage spaces are appropriate in a child's room, and they hide toys and clutter.

Open shelves are another excellent way to maximize wasted corner space. Line a corner with glass shelves in the bath, and display your daintiest toiletries. Open shelves will also work in the space beneath a stairway.

Add a window seat with lift-up top (underneath a decorative cushion) in the family room or kitchen breakfast area. Stash linens or extra blankets (who will know?) inside.

Finally, faucets, fixtures, and hardware can easily and quickly update any room without being a cost burden. On the next page, learn how to select faucets, fixtures, and hardware that fit into your design scheme.

Modular cubes and drawers provide plenty of storage and display space.

To learn more about interior design and get tips and information on decorating your home, visit:

  • Interior Decorating: Get tips on how to decorate your home and read about organizing a project and selecting an interior design that fits your lifestyle.
  • Home Decorating Tips: Learn about home decorating styles and get tips on how to plan and complete decorating projects.
  • Decorating Styles: Are you traditional or eclectic? Learn about decorating styles for your home.
  • How to Design a Kitchen: Create a kitchen that works for you and get tips on how to choose and place appliances and create a decorating scheme.
  • Kids Rooms: Get tips on decorating your child’s room, with information on colors, smart strategies, and money-saving tips.