Laura Rennie

Decorating tips // WHY Decorate?

DecoratingLaura RennieComment

While I personally love to browse barn sales and fiddle with the placement of items on a shelf, I know decorating is not everyone’s cup of tea. Decorating can feel (and actually be) frivolous. Knowing what to buy and where to put it can seem overwhelming. And what do you do if you don’t know what your style is?

Before I get into the reasons why I think there is value in decorating a home, I want to say something I feel strongly about: the most important thing is that your family and friends should feel safe and cared for in your home. Everything else is icing on the cake. 

So, why bother decorating?

Decor has the ability to tell a story

If you were to spend time in my home, you’d eat at a table that’s been passed down four generations. You’d see a portrait of my grandmother hanging in our living room. You’d see rows and rows of books and a smattering of unexpected decorative objects, such as a set of pig bookends and a wooden nose eyeglass-holder. What might these items tell you about me? I love antiques, especially ones meaningful to my family. I read a lot. I have a quirky sense of humor. 


See more of my den shelves here.

What does your decor say about you? It might say that you are into crafting and DIY projects. It might say you’re modern and edgy, or that you love being surrounded by colors that remind you of the ocean. 

When I visited the home of a neighbor I was just getting to know, I noticed pieces of handmade pottery, various plants and colorful accents. I learned she had traveled to Mexico, and we started a conversation about other places we’ve traveled to. Can you think of items in your home that give visitors clues into your personality and history? If not, try to change that!

“I love a well-traveled, eclectic house with furniture and objects, layered one upon the other, that tell a story about who lives there, where they’ve been, and what they love.” — designer Eddie Ross

Decor makes your home unique

You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to re-upholster a chair or the ability to scour dozens of antique malls in order to create a beautiful and uniquely-yours home. We could all buy the same dressers and picture frames from IKEA and the same pillows and lamps from Target and still have very different looking homes, depending on where and how we display them. One person’s tv stand might be another person’s changing table, and one person’s kitchen utensil holder might be another person’s vase. (Chances are you’ve seen IKEA hacks, which offer proof that even the most basic piece can be transformed into a one-of-a-kind treasure.)

However, I don’t recommend purchasing items simply because they’re cheap and easy. If you LOVE a rug from Target, by all means, buy it! But if you’re not excited by a piece, pass it up. 

My most favorite way to add uniqueness to a space is through art. DO NOT buy or hang art just to fill up wall space!!! Display pieces that are meaningful to you and bring you pleasure to look at, whether you hang botanical prints, an oversized map, family photos or drawings by your children. A friend recently framed a poster-size drawing her son made of a ninja.

How fun is that? 

"Even when they are far from perfect, loved possessions add personality.” — decorator Billy Baldwin

Decor can transform our mood

There’s a reason many people want their bedrooms to have the feeling of a hotel — the uncluttered space, luxurious linens and soothing colors help clear our minds and put us in a relaxed state.

Decor has the ability to make us laugh. It has the ability to make us feel nostalgic, or curious, or cozy. On the flip-side, decor also has the ability to make us feel frustrated and stuck. Give yourself freedom to sell or donate items in your home that you already own but don’t love anymore. 

My entryway used to house a piece of furniture that was never my style, but it was something I kept for years simply because it was given to us for free. I finally got rid of it — what took me so long?! Now my entryway consists of a boot tray lined with shoes, a basket to hold our dog’s leash, my yoga mat and my tennis racquet, and a little wall shelf that holds a sweet art print and seasonal decor. I love my “new” entry, particularly the basket — seeing my yoga mat and racquet every day remind me of how I’ve become more active this year. Now my home feels immediately like me when I enter my house.


How you and your family feel in your home is most important, but also consider your guests. The two most common sentiments I’ve heard from sweet visitors to our home is “I just want to curl up with a book” and “your guest room is so inviting!” I always want to create spaces where everyone who enters feels at home to relax. 

Want to know the easiest and cheapest way to make your home feel more lovely? Clear the clutter, do the dishes and clean the bathroom. I promise your home will instantly look upgraded. :)

"It's important how we feel in our homes, because feeling good makes us more gracious. And that makes it easier to welcome others not only into our homes but into our lives." — designer Nate Berkus

a Little Goes a Long Way

The thought of decorating a home can be overwhelming. It all adds up! Thankfully, it truly doesn’t take much to give a room a facelift. A plant gives a room life. A pretty pillow, patterned rug or cozy throw adds warmth and interest. A stack of books or cluster of frames adds personality.

Two of the most dramatic and relatively inexpensive ways you can change a room are by changing the paint color or the window treatments. (Remember how much new hardware and curtains transformed Laurel’s guest room?) 

If the real problem in your room is something expensive to replace, like a ratty couch or a cat-scratched coffee table, don’t try to band-aid the space with a ton of other decor. Save your money and spend it where it make the most difference.


I bought those canvas storage bins years ago and hated how cheap they looked. I finally upgraded to faux leather bins and kicked myself for not making that $26 change earlier! 

“If you wait until you have enough money to decorate and make your home your own, it will never happen. If you wait until you can afford to buy everything new, you are missing the point. It is the old, the new, the hand-me-down, the collected, the worn but loved things in your home that make it your own.” — blogger and author Stacy Risenmay

Next week I’m taking things a bit further and sharing my answers to the question, "why hire a decorator?"