HGTV Stars Answer Your Most-Asked Decorating Questions

Decorating may be a whole lot of fun, but some decisions can make your head hurt. HGTV pros share with HGTV Magazine how they tackle the biggies.

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Cory Dawson/Studio D

Photo By: Kevin J. Miyazaki

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley


Photo By: David Tsay



How High Above a Sofa Should You Hang Art?

Jasmine Roth, Hidden Potential: "People sometimes think they should center art between the sofa and the ceiling, and I totally get the impulse to make things symmetrical. But it’s best to keep artwork about 8 inches above the sofa. That way, people can enjoy it whether they’re standing in front of it or seated across from it. If the sofa has a very low back, go a little higher up. I’m really into putting woven wall hangings above sofas. They require only a single nail for the hook, fill the space well and look totally awesome."

Is There a Way to Tell How Much Light a Room Needs?

Tiffany Brooks, HGTV Smart Home 2020: "It’s a three-step process. First assess how you feel about the lighting that’s already in place, including recessed cans, chandeliers, and pendants. Basically, the total amount you need has to do with the size of the space and how much natural light hits it. (There are online lighting calculators to help figure this out.) Then consider how you’ll spend time in the room and task lighting. In a living room, for example, you may want a sconce near your sofa or the favorite chair where you do your reading. Start with that and live in the room. Then fill in holes with soft lighting that can also enhance your decor, like a chic table lamp."

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What Are Some Rules of Thumb for Mixing Patterns?

Drew Scott, Property Brothers: Forever Home: "Pairing patterns of different scales is the way to pull it off — think a large, widely spaced pattern with detailed, compact designs. For example, an airy floral on a wallpaper in a bedroom would go well with a bench that has thin stripes. You also want to make sure there are some coordinating colors between the patterned pieces. And if they have bold colors, there should be neutral elements in the room to balance them out — much like how a 'Jonathan' sets the stage for a 'Drew!'"

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Where Should You Start and Stop Paint Colors In an Open Floor Plan?

Mina Starsiak Hawk, Good Bones: "You shouldn’t! Dividing up an open floor plan with colors defeats the whole idea, which is to create a cohesive, airy feeling. I like a light neutral color for the entire space. Two of my go-tos are Alpaca and Rhinestone, a greige and a light gray, both by Sherwin-Williams. Only transition paint colors when there’s a spot that has a natural break, like painting an L-shaped hallway one color on the long part and another color around the corner."

Are There Any Tricks for Blending Old and New Furniture?

Erin Napier, Home Town: "The old console an aunt handed down or that you scored at a flea market can blend beautifully with modern pieces if it’s balanced with at least one other prominent vintage element, such as a rug or piece of art. You can top the antique piece with modern knickknacks to blend it even more. One thing I always do before bringing a vintage piece into the mix is consider what each part will do for the room. As much as I might love the style and shape of a chair, for example, it’s possible the fabric could make the entire room look dated. In that case, I’ll have it reupholstered in a pattern that’s fresher."

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How Do You Know Which Size Rug Is Right For a Room?

Mina Starsiak Hawk, Good Bones: A rug should be large enough that it goes under the main pieces of furniture in the room, typically the sofa in a living room and the bed in a bedroom. Any smaller and it’ll look awkward. That said, a rug should not be so gigantic that it looks like wall-to-wall carpeting. It’s why I leave at least 6 inches of floor on each side between the rug and the wall. Don’t worry if a rug doesn’t hit the smaller pieces in a room, like the TV credenza, because the sofa has already grounded the space.

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When Is It Good to do an Accent Wall?

Orlando Soria, Unspouse My House: "I like it when accent walls call attention to an architectural detail, like a slanted ceiling. They can also delineate a special area in a house, such as an entry. Even an awkward jut-out, with a little paint, can be turned into a design feature. My favorite accent walls right now are dynamic ones with thick stripes; a graphic mural done with paint; or a big, colorful decal. You actually don’t even need a wall; you can paint or wallpaper the back panels of built-ins."

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Roman Shades or Curtains — How do You Choose?!

Tiffany Brooks, HGTV Smart Home 2020: "I love the look of curtains in pretty much any room for the finishing touch they add. However, if I want to show off a room’s window trim, I tend to prefer Roman shades. I’ll also go with them if I already have a tall piece in a room, like a big ornate hutch — curtain rods draw the eye upward and might steal the limelight."

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How Do You Figure Out the Ideal-Size Table for a Dining Room?

Leanne Ford, Restored by the Fords: "You’ll want to assess both the size of the room and how many people will usually be sitting around the table. My dream look is slightly oversize, with a large dimmable light fixture above, to make a room feel cozy. Measure 4 feet from each wall to allow for clearance of the chairs; that’s as big as you can go. Even if you don’t have people over often, don’t skimp — get a table that’s too small and a room won’t feel lived in. It will seem like you are just visiting your own home."

What’s the Best Paint Finish for a Bathroom?

Jonathan Scott, Property Brothers: Forever Home: "Every element in a bathroom comes down to how it interacts with water. For paint, you want a finish that acts as a moisture barrier while providing a surface that’s easy to wipe down — helpful if you notice water streaks or dust. I do! Semigloss is slightly shinier and optimal for water protection, but satin paints can work best in an older bathroom — they don’t show imperfections in the wall as much as a paint with more sheen does."

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Is It Okay to Use Faux Flowers and Plants?

Tamara Day, Bargain Mansions: "It’s more than okay, it’s great! Faux flowers and plants look so real these days, my eye has been tricked more than once. I use them all the time in my projects and in my own house, especially orchids, since live ones can be an expensive habit. The best kinds look like and feel like the real deal — some are even potted in fake dirt. I’ve found beautiful fake ferns and greenery at Target and succulents at Pottery Barn. Terrain is also a good resource. It might feel like you’re splurging to buy a good-quality faux plant, but they pay for themselves in a couple of months."

Is There a No-Fail Way to Put Together a Gallery Wall?

Leanne Ford, Restored by the Fords: "Don’t be nervous! Imperfectly spaced gallery walls with a mix of shapes and sizes and even different frames are the best kind. If you’re worried about messing up, gather all the pieces you want to include. Lay them out on the floor the way you’d like to see them arranged on the wall and snap a pic with your phone so you remember. I like to throw art up freehand, but if crooked is going to drive you crazy, start from the bottom left corner and work your way up for the best chance of keeping things straight. Sometimes I mix in an object like a horseshoe for a look that’s both casual and curated."