My mother once told me, "Most people just don't live in homes like the ones you see in design magazines." (She is right). At the time she was telling me this so that I'd feel better about the relatively disgusting hole in the wall apartment I had, which cost almost my entire monthly salary. And for whatever reasons, this statement took hold in my mind and became a personal challenge: Why can't I have a home that looks like something from a magazine?
Seven years later, I've upgraded to a sunnier home and several of my airbnb guests have commented that my space looks like something from a magazine. (It does not, but it's kind of them to say). "How do you make it look like this?" many of them have asked. Here is what I tell them:
Don't have too much stuff.
The key there is that I say "too much," because that's entirely relative. Minimalists and maximalists can be equally stylish or hideous. I suppose a more clear recommendation would be:
Everything must do something.
Everything you add must be intentional and functional. Some folks might argue that an object's function is "looking nice" but I don't really think that's enough. My rooms are filled with things that look nice AND do something else, even if that something else is evoking a desirable feeling or memory. And here again is where the minimalists and maximalists diverge: because you could argue that an object is doing something by adding texture, bringing pattern, etc. I live somewhere in the middle and absolutely have objects around (like plants) simply for the sake of being what they are in the space. Which brings me to my final suggestion:
Your home is where you live.
As my mother said, most people don't live in homes like the ones you see in design magazines. Those homes were designed to be put on display like works of art. Even if someone lives there, they probably had someone clean up and style the space before the photographer came in and worked their magic.
If you throw lavish cocktail parties regularly, then perhaps you need a bar cart in your living room. But if you only have a glass of wine at the end of the day, then having bottles of spirits on display is wasting your space. If having 6 pillows on your bed makes you happy: great. But if you have to take them off every night and replace them each morning, those pillows are wasting your time. If an object truly brings you joy or makes your life better in some way, it could be a good fit for your house. Otherwise, it's a waste. Make your home make sense for the people who live in your home.
And that's pretty much it. No matter what your home structure (size, style, lighting, etc.) is, you probably will have a good looking space if you design the interior so it functions for you. Check out this pinterest board for some thoughtfully styled home inspiration.