When you see a professionally designed condominium or home, you feel it. Your space could have the exact same furnishings, paint, flooring and accessories, but a professional designer’s expertise helps every aspect of the interior flow together. There is synchronicity between style and comfort.

Not everyone has access to the time or budget it takes to work with an interior designer, and for many of us, that means taking inspiration from advertising, magazine articles and social sharing sites like Pinterest. We’ve gathered some tips to help you put together stylish vignettes and experiences in your home, that are beautiful, and practical, for everyday living.

Accent Lighting

If you work in an office with overhead fluorescent lighting, you already know how uninspired single source lighting can be. It serves a purpose in a commercial environment, but when you get home, you want something that elicits a different kind of mood; relaxation, and calmness. Combine recessed lighting, wall-washing effects and natural light to design your ultimate comfort zone.

Traditional spaces have overhead lighting, and consumers may add table lamps on side tables to illuminate darker areas, but lighting can be far more creative and personalized to your activities and tastes. For instance, you can create some interesting visual effects by using wall-wash lights, to create spotlights or focal points on your favorite art.

Up-lighting is another professional, but underused technique in residential homes. Installation of lighting along the floor, that washes upward onto the wall can creatively light darker areas like hallways and stairwells. Incorporate natural and artificial light for an expert, designer look with more lighting ideas from Houzz, in “Want Gorgeous Interior Colors? Look to the Light”.

Stylish Area Rugs

For a variety of reasons, many renters and homeowners prefer wood, laminate or ceramic tile flooring. Not only is it easy to clean, but hard surface floors promote better air quality than wall-to-wall carpeting, which can hold on to dust and other allergens. Carpets stain easily, require constant cleaning, and are not usually the best choice for households with small children and pets, as they are more difficult to disinfect.

Unfortunately, our feet do not always approve of hard surface flooring. There is something wonderful and luxurious about stepping off a hard surface, and onto a soft rug. Area rugs are the ultimate solution for any interior scheme, from classic themes to contemporary, and the creative journey begins at your quality rugs store.

When it comes to selecting an area rug, size matters, according to Aimee Beatty, in-house stylist for Pier 1 Imports, stating for HGTV that it is important to “choose a rug that extends beyond the coffee table and at least under the first set of legs on sofas or chairs.” The placement of the rug underneath furnishings allows it to be a focal point that ties in all furnishings, creating a definition of that specific space and theme. Professional designers call this “creating a vignette” or a conversation area, where the area rug grounds or anchors the other furnishings.

Because an area rug is a foundation accessory, it is important to tie in the color scheme with other dominant focal points in the room, including wall color, flooring, and even architectural highlights such as fireplaces or cabinetry.

The article “20 Rooms Made Even Better By Show-Stopping Rugs” by Oliva Rassow for Elle Décor demonstrates how area rugs do not need to match furnishings, but can pull together a coordinating color scheme by drawing the eye to accent colors in the room. And sometimes, for a very bold contemporary statement, the area rug can stand alone as the sole color statement in an otherwise monochromatic space.

The Art of Accessorizing

What are interior accessories? Everything from the type of lamps you choose, to the artwork on the wall, accent pillows and throws that elevate furnishings and customize them to your own unique style. When it comes to accessories, the choices are limitless, but they should reflect both consistency to create a designer look, but also embrace some of your most personal and meaningful memories.

Finding unique accessories for your home can start online for commercially produced pieces that you love, but part of the fun is finding the uncommon pieces that make a statement about your personal taste. When it comes to choosing interior décor accessories, remember that “less is more” to avoid a cluttered look, and while accent pieces do not have to match perfectly, they should have one or two color notes that tie in with the rest of your theme.

Accessories can also serve very practical purposes, or solve problems in small places with storage. For instance, if you have a table or counter that has become the unofficial “charging station” for your smartphone, tablet or other devices, Etsy offers some unique, natural alternatives, such as driftwood docking bays that completely hide the eyesore of wires and plugs. Thrift shops are also an excellent, low budget resource to find vintage and uncommon accessories that can be repurposed, or upcycled into unique pieces.

Incorporate photography and cherished family memories into your space artfully. If you are not a fan of the traditional collection of wall frames, think outside the box with some creative ideas, like this repurposed vintage window frame, or this contemporary wire gallery concept.

Go Green

No professionally designed interior space would be complete, without at least two floor or accent plants. Both artificial and live plants have a tremendous psychological and soothing impact on interior spaces. If you are not a “green thumb” type of person, high quality silk and artificial plants can provide the same look and benefit, without the maintenance.

Live plants take some work, but if carefully selected, even homes without a lot of natural light can successfully grow certain all-year varieties. For some guidance on easy indoor plants to add to your space, check out “Choosing the Best Interior Plants” by the design experts at Decoist.

Download some free interior design apps to help you plan your space, track your budget, and visualize how your home will look after each improvement. It is an exciting way to document your design, ask for feedback, and create a space you will truly love.