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How to Decorate Your Space Like a Design Expert

Easy tips for using fresh paint, vintage pieces, and things you already have.

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October 25, 2018

We've partnered with Benjamin Moore to help you get the Food52 look at home: a mix of vintage and new pieces, with color and texture to tie them together. Here, we'll show you how to transform your space and incorporate one-of-a-kind finds using colors from Benjamin Moore's Williamsburg Collection.

Whether you’re freshening up a room or decorating a new place from scratch, knowing where to start, or even how to add the finishing touches, can feel overwhelming. (I, for one have been contemplating—and procrastinating—a bedroom redo since I moved into my apartment...two years ago.) To pick up a few pointers, I turned to Food52’s resident design expert, prop guru, and person in charge of our brand's visual identity: art director Alexis Anthony. She's a pro at making any space feel warm, cozy, and inviting (just the kind of place we’d all want to call home).

Alexis suggests starting with a backdrop color that creates the right vibe, and then using one-of-a-kind vintage treasures mixed with some more modern pieces to add personality to your space. Not sure how to get there? Just follow the simple guidelines below, and get inspired by watching Alexis decorate a bedroom in five easy steps:

1. Use color to set the mood.

A room's wall color sets the tone for the rest of the space. In a bedroom, Alexis suggests leading with cool, calming hues. Living rooms or dining rooms benefit from neutrals. But for something like an entryway, consider painting the walls a darker color. “It's like a nice quiet moment that serves as a transition from the outside to the inside," she says.

Whatever color you choose, Alexis emphasizes the importance of testing swatches, because the undertones in a paint color can cause it to look drastically different depending on the light. “When I was choosing a grey for my house, in some rooms the same color looked purple and in other rooms it looked green,” she explains.

Most people pick a paint color first and then set about finding furniture, accessories, and vintage knickknacks. But if you've got a really special piece you love and know you want to feature, consider looking for color inspiration there. Think: an antique patterned rug, quilt, ceramics, painting, or any wooden furniture with distressed paint.

In the bedroom Alexis styles above, she chose Apollo Blue from Benjamin Moore's Williamsburg Collection. Photo by James Ransom

2. Paint furniture to match for a built-in look.

“When you paint a simple piece of furniture the same color as your wall, it really elevates the piece and the whole room,” Alexis says. “Basically, it mimics a built-in without having to actually build in.” While you can do this with any kind of furniture, she usually reserves it for cheaper, pine pieces like bookshelves or wall shelving.

This same trick not only makes a room look more pulled together, but can also make a space look bigger. As Alexis explains, “it blends into the wall and so doesn't take up so much space visually.”

3. Turn up the charm with a vintage focal point.

In the room Alexis decorates in the video above, the eye naturally gravitates to one of the coolest pieces in the room: an antique door she turned into a headboard. (If you try it at home, just make sure there's no sharp hardware sticking out!) Part of why it works is because it brings together a few other design elements that are echoed throughout the space—particularly the wood material, a hint of the blue-green wall color, and a weathered, antique texture.

While Alexis likes mixing vintage with contemporary pieces, she encourages you to just pick the things that speak to your taste and make you feel happy. That said, you might not want too many competing pieces in one room.

For example, in the room she decorates in the video above, she tried adding a vintage lamp, but it was too attention-grabbing and overpowered the space. “But if that’s your pride-and-joy lamp, you would want it to shine and let everything else recede. It's a choice and balance.”

4. Bring in some texture.

"Texture is a great way to add some coziness and warm up a space," Alexis says. They can also help soften the feeling of individual pieces, such as a very traditional dining chair, to make them feel more welcoming. Sheepskin rugs and wool throws are a few of her favorite easy options.

Texture is also a great element to play with from season to season. “You probably wouldn't want a warm, fuzzy sheepskin in your room in the blazing hot summer, but in the fall, it's a really nice way to to bring in some coziness," Alexis notes. "In the summer, you could look for a lighter throw or a linen pillow.”

5. Accessorize!

Here’s your chance to add the little touches that make your space yours. For Alexis, that means accessorizing with additional textures and colors. For you, that could be anything from your favorite books to your grandmother's candlesticks.

If you want to make sure your accessories will give the space a cohesive look, Alexis suggests picking three design elements and repeating them in different places throughout your room. Echoing the wall color in a few other places is a good way to start. You can also think about repeating materials and accent colors. In the bedroom above, we went for the blue-green color, wood grain, and gold.

Make sure your new special antique finds have the perfect backdrop with our partner Benjamin Moore, makers of premium home paints in gorgeous colors, including the Colonial-inspired Williamsburg Collection. This historically accurate collection of 144 colors is the perfect way to blend antique finds with a contemporary design sensibility.

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