4 steps to designing a room you’ll never get sick of

First and foremost, I should mention that, yes, I’m aware I created a post title that ends with a preposition. And yes, I realize this drives many grammarians batty. But I couldn’t think of anything catchier, so I’ll have to ask you to resist the urge to give me the grammar smack down. 😉

Often, I find that the reason people resist decorating, redecorating or even renovating a room is because they can’t commit to a design. Perhaps they fear they’ll invest the money then quickly tire of their choices, yet be forced to live with them for years or even decades.

What if I told you it was possible to design a room that is virtually timeless? There are some tried-and-true tricks I use when planning out and decorating the spaces in my home that make it next to impossible for them to become outdated.

Here are a few of my secrets for how to design a timeless room:

1. Start with neutral paint colors.

Painting the walls in shades of brown, gray or white creates a “blank canvas” effect that offers a lot of flexibility with regard to artwork and accessories. You can check out my paint choices here.




Master bathroom redo


Office/guest room




Laundry room

2. Choose neutral flooring.

Wood floors or neutral-colored carpets or tile continue the “blank canvas” effect in a room. The idea is that you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into one or two color schemes – a recipe for boredom and decorating limitations. Remember those trendy forest green carpets and pink tiled bathrooms? It can be tough and costly to update these choices if they no longer fit your style.





3. Add in neutral furniture pieces and window treatments.

I realize at this point there is probably a lot of eye-rolling going on. (Yep. There you go … another sentence ending with a preposition.) But stick with me. We’re going to get to the fun part soon.

When choosing furniture, think solid fabrics in browns, grays and whites. This is a good opportunity to introduce wood and metal, too. Consider keeping your window treatments neutral as well. You will soon be grateful because you won’t have fabric colors that clash with your fall, Christmas and other seasonal decor.


Living room furniture



 4. Bring in the personality!

Now is the time to introduce patterns and colors in a room. I do this with pillows, throws, artwork and accessories. For example, my living room is currently decorated in neutral shades with a few pops of green and red.


PillowsBut I’m ready to add in some new colors and get a bit more bold and fresh with the space. Within the next few months, I’m planning to create a look similar to this Ballard Designs room:



Fortunately, I won’t have to change out my wall color, furniture, draperies or flooring to create a similar style in my room. I’ll simply be adding throw blankets, pillows, new artwork and accessories and essentially creating a whole new look for under $100! Stay tuned for details on that project.

Styles and trends come and go over the years. We can’t avoid that fact or guarantee that what we choose today will be in fashion five years down the road. But we can avoid the hassle, grief and money involved with changing out flooring, large furniture pieces and expensive window coverings.

Simply start with a foundation of neutrals. Then easily update your room when necessary with artwork and accessories. It’s what keeps my rooms fresh, yet thrifty.

How do you feel about starting with a neutral palette?

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35 Responses

  1. Donna Gibson says:

    How do I feel about starting with a neutral palette? It is what I did my entire house remodeling with. Most of the walls are white, some light beige, and did a bedroom in a baby blue. My son then recently darkened his room with a darker beige and accented the room in hunter green. Then his brother moved out of his room, and the younger took the bigger bedroom and decided to change that light beige to a light blue and highlighted the accents with black curtains and the black beddings. He is a Steeler’s fan, so he has Steeler memobilia which brings out the pop of golds and black. The room use to be in a beign with the colors of the navy blue and white Cowboys, his brother’s favorite team!
    However, all our ceilings are swirled with bright white with a glaze. My family room is in a white and baby blue country theme, split with tile for the blue spa and the other half with a burgandy wrap-around and a rocker. My living room is beige and white with accents of color with moderate blue furniture and curtains. All the woodwork in the house is light oak, including the kitchen, which used to be a light yellow, but was changed to a bright white to brighten things up.
    We put a 40′ front porch on and the previous dark colors made things too dark in the kitchen and the white brought out the bright in the room. It’s amazing what you can do with an old 130 year old farm house!
    It’s home and we are blessed to be able to remodel everything in the past 27 years, a little at a time!
    Beginning with a neutral is the best choice because you can pop any color into a neutral! I love your photos!

  2. Patricia Routt says:

    You are so right about keeping it neutral. It is so much easier to switch out pillows and curtains and throw rugs than sofas and paint, and flooring. It only took me 45 yrs. to learn this.

  3. Sarah says:

    I love your foyer. I’m wondering about what paint colors you chose for your stair trim, hand rail and box newell?

  4. Lauren says:


    What color is the paint in the first photo with the dark hardwood floors? And what color is the carpet? We want to refinish our red oak hardwood floors with a dark stain and paint the walls a beige color. Our coaches are light brown. And we also need a kid friendly carpet color to match. Any suggestions? It seems there is a lot of gray around now. Do gray and brown match (like brown coaches and gray walls?) Thanks!

  5. Sarah says:

    We are looking for flooring. What kind of wooden floors are in the first picture of the entry way and color If you remember? I think they would be perfect!

  6. reyna says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I just bought a New house and I am going to go with neutral colors ; )

  7. Kathleen says:

    Hi Susan, I LOVE with the neutral colors shown in the first entryway photo! Do you have any information about the hardwood floors? They are beautiful.

  8. Amy says:

    I love your rugs with the flowers/print. Where did you get them?

  9. julie says:

    What color carpet is on the stairs

  10. ken says:

    we want to get hardwood floors in our house. The whole house has tile and carpet. What color flooring would go with honey oak trim, doors and cabinets. Also, we have a dog and swimming pool off the deck to the house.

    • Susan says:

      I absolutely love my natural hickory floors. We purchased them for $3.49 per square foot from Lumber Liquidators. We also have a dog and they’ve held up great. They work well with oak, too.

  11. Lisa says:

    Hi. I was wondering what color the dark wooden floors are in the picture. Perhaps a walnut? They are gorgeous! Thanks

  12. Cristina says:

    Hi…I LOVE the wall color in your living room (the pic with the brown leather chair). Do you know what it is called?

    • Susan says:

      That’s actually not my living room, but I can give you two paint colors that would be very similar to it – one is Behr Iced Coffee and the other is Valspar Ancient Stone.

  13. Karla says:

    I love your decor and colors. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the wire basket with the three little topiaries on your mantle?


  14. Kathy says:

    This is my first visit to your blog. Your opening paragraph for this post makes me love you already. Haha!

  15. Mike says:

    I was wondering what kind of wood flooring you used in your entry way, and where you purchased it at. Looks great.


    • Susan says:

      Looks like hand-scraped walnut. That’s not actually my floor, but that would be my guess. I like to get all my hardwood from Lumber Liquidators. They should have a color to match this floor perfectly.

  16. Kim Lord says:

    Beautiful and yes I agree these colors and pieces will always look great! I know this is an older post, but I have been searching for a new chocolate leather chair and I love yours. Where did you purchase?

  17. Claudia says:

    My husband and I just purchased a new house. We went to choose the flooring and kitchen countertops yesterday but what they offer (with the house) is very limited. Our kitchen cabinets are dark chestnut. We didn’t get to pick the color because they were already installed when we bought the house. We both had the idea of painting the walls a light grey, but the lady who helped us told us the cabinet color and grey would not look nice. We ended up choosing brown. Don’t know if that was the best choice. Just feel a little frustrated. I feel frustrated because I can not put colors together in my head. I don’t know what colors look good together or not. I couldn’t agree or disagree with the lady who helped us because I couldn’t visualize it. if the kitchen cabinets are dark chestnut color, what would you recommend for flooring and wall color? Thank you! You just can’t imagine how I feel not knowing which ones to choose.

    • Claudia says:

      By the way, we want to put hardwood floors instead or carpet.

    • Susan says:

      I have darker cabinets, so I prefer a lighter color on the walls – a neutral beige or gray should work well. As far as flooring, I think hickory looks great against a dark wood. We have dark wood furniture in our living room and it complements the hickory floors well. Just a suggestion.

  18. home ideas says:

    A combination of neutral paint and hardwood floors are the best, I love it. thanks for sharing.

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