Stylists share their secrets: Steven Sabados and Lindsay Agnew offer up 10 tips for decorating your home

Just where to hang that curtain, how far to extend that tile, and more.

Just where to hang that curtain, how far to extend that tile, and more

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

As a stylist working for print publications, on television sets and with clients on their homes, I have made a career out of decorating a wide variety of spaces. I have also had the privilege of working with Steven Sabados on a number of TV shows dating back to the Designer Guys days! We got together recently to talk styling secrets, and I'm here to share our top ten with you. While our most important tip is to trust your instincts, you can let these simple rules guide you too. Here is our list of what to keep in mind when styling your space, to have it looking camera ready.

1. Go oversize with accessories

From pillows to decorative accents, stylists will often accessorize with pieces that are larger than standard. Steven says you should swap out the pillows that come with your sofa (the pillows that are manufactured with most sofas are generally too small and overstuffed) for down or synthetic down pillows in 22-inch, or even 24-inch, squares.

2. Always hang full length curtains  

Curtains should always hit the floor — they can just kiss or graze the floor, but they should not hang above that. From the top, they should hang above the window frame (a rod will usually be hung halfway between the frame and the ceiling). Steven's advice: for a contemporary look, use a ceiling-mounted track and hang the curtains floor to ceiling.

3. Add texture  

A stylist's best trick is to add texture. Adding a variety of textures and materials to a single space will automatically make it feel more cohesive and well styled. Strike a balance. For instance, Steven likes to add a hard element for every soft element, and add a shiny surface to balance out matte material.

4. Don't be afraid of colour

Stylists will often add colour to punch up a space and give it life. This is true in cabinetry, walls and home accents. Steven's go-to colour has been orange for decades. His pro tip: For a sophisticated palette choose muted paints from historic colour collections (most major paint brands have collections of paint colours labeled 'historic' or 'tradition' that are rooted in timeless and nature-based tones).

5. Don't get caught up in trends  

Trends change! This rule applies to all facets of interior design: kitchens, flooring, hardware, furnishings etc. Steven's advice makes it simple to know the difference: Each piece you choose for your home should complement the look of the home's physical structure and your personal style, otherwise keep looking.

6. Hang mirrors

A mirror is a great way to bounce light around and make a space feel larger. Consider hanging them in more unconventional spaces: the end of a hallway, over the sofa or bedside tables and at the entryway. Steven encourages everyone to be conscious of what is being reflected in the mirror. You don't want to see anything unsightly reflected and repeated in your home.

7. Accessorize with plants

Live plants and flowers breathe life into a room. Try herbs in a kitchen, a succulent in the bedroom or an orchid in the living room. Truthfully, any plant will do. Steven's advice: Don't line plants up on a windowsill, and avoid plastic containers not intended for plants (like food containers). Pot live plants in decorative vessels and integrate them into your home the way you would any accessory.

8. Hang art

Art is a great way to create a strong focal point and add instant character to a room. Hang art in any room — from bathroom to bedroom, living room to kitchen. There is always space for a great piece of art. Steven says bigger is always better. "I see — way too often — art that is too small in scale for the room it is in." He encourages people to not be afraid of large scale pieces or layering artwork to create depth and interest.

9. Include one-of-a-kind pieces

A well-styled space will often have interesting, one-of-a-kind pieces included in it, ranging from accessories collected on travels to custom-designed finishes. Steven insists that it doesn't matter what form it takes, a unique, artisanal piece will make your home stand out from the crowd.

10. Extend your tile

You will be hard pressed to find a beautifully styled kitchen or bathroom where the tile stops mid wall. Tile should always have a logical stopping point, like upper cabinetry or a full-length pantry or closet — otherwise it should run all the way to the ceiling or the edge of the wall. If cost per square foot is an issue, Steven suggests a simple yet classic subway tile.


Lindsay Agnew cut her teeth working in the background of design shows both big and small, she has now set her sights on bringing her know-how and impeccable taste to everyone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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