How to Decorate Your Home Like an Art Curator

It doesn’t necessarily have to be spring to get in the swing of the season with some deep cleaning. And if you’re going to be getting down and dirty, why not take the time to redecorate and change the vibes in your house? While organizing genius Marie Kondo has changed the way we store our things, home decorating is an entirely different challenge.

We sat down with attorney, gallery owner and art curator Karla Ferguson of Yeelen Group in Miami, and she shared some of her best tips on how to elevate your living space without spending a fortune.

Move things around

It may sound basic, but it’s free, and it’s a great way to feel like you are in a different space. Just make sure to use furniture sliders, dollies or moving blankets for heavier items and to avoid scratching your floors. Moving things around can give the different rooms in your house new life. Another option is replacing something that has been on the wall for a while with something you haven’t looked at in months or years.

Ferguson says, “I move my place around all the time, and when doing so, I would suggest keeping in mind how you use the space. I mean, if you love looking out a sliding door, why not place the furniture in a way that offers a view or put a mirror on an adjacent wall to reflect the view and bring the outdoors into your living space? This also creates an illusion of having another window and more light.”

Keep art personal

If you’re sick of looking at the painting over your couch, then take it down, and put something else up. But make it meaningful. Impersonal art is a bad investment, according to Ferguson.

“Don’t waste your money on mass-produced commercial decorative art; it’s so impersonal. Even the art your kids make at school is more original, and if framed correctly, it will give you joy in your home,” she adds.

As Ferguson likes to say, “The trash is your friend.”

Less is usually more

Follow Marie Kondo’s advice, and only keep items that “bring you joy.” That way you open up space in your house for things you truly love and make you feel happy. Keep that minimalist mentality, and remember the old saying, “Less is more.” Our things sometimes begin to weigh us down, so let this exercise help you to lighten your load (literally) as you usher in a new season.

Feng Shui all the way

If your house isn’t Feng Shui yet, this is your chance to let the good energy flow and bring in the light!

Here are three good Feng Shui techniques to get started with:

1) Change out that hard-cornered table top for a rounded one. If you’re on a tight budget, then take a look around at some local flea markets and thrift stores — you might be surprised at the things people give away!

2) Move the television out of the bedroom! In Feng Shui, there are public and private spaces. Bedrooms are private and shouldn’t have televisions in them. Of course, if you share an apartment with non-family members, this might not work for you. If that’s the case, then make sure to turn the TV off when you’re trying to sleep or have an intimate conversation. It’s bad energy.

3) Paint a door red: It’s considered an energizing color.

Don’t get too matchy-matchy

Ferguson emphasizes avoiding too much color matching. “Too much of anything is often a bad thing; try to work with complementary colors. If this is too difficult, go with a neutral palate, and occasionally throw in a pop of color with a rug, a pillow or a piece of art. It can be a bold statement.”

If everything in the room is just a variation of one shade, you run the risk of creating a room that resembles a crayon.

Get rid of that gallery wall

Replace it with one large piece. You can get a cool poster, and cut foam board to place behind it, making the art look more stable and elegant. Then, place that as the pièce de résistance in your living room. Ferguson notes, “Oftentimes, gallery walls look ridiculous, especially when you have no idea how to level and space out the multiple works you’ve hung.”

If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of your gallery wall, then consider making it into a real piece of art. Ferguson talked about one piece that really caught her eye recently: “At Design Miami 2018, I saw the most amazing piece. An artist/artisan took vintage silver platters and dishes and somehow welded them together to make a giant piece that was then hung on a wall. Talk about keeping your heirlooms in a way that is more modern and always on display!”

Repaint, repaint and repaint!

For instance, Pantone’s color of the year for 2019 is Living Coral. There are lots of ways you can use the official 2019 color and even remain gender neutral. For example, a mixed seaside motif can integrate both navy blue, white, grey and Living Coral. So, even if you don’t live by the sea, you can escape to a warmer, more tranquil space right in your own home or apartment with the right decor.

Or, as Ferguson suggests, you can start small. She says you can begin your redecorating by just painting a door or a small statement wall. She adds, “I personally created a chalkboard wall for my kids, and they go to town with colorful chalk.”

Go gender neutral

Consider gender-neutral rooms for your kids. Angie Lee of FXCollaborative says in an interview with Elle Decor, “Insecurities about girly versus macho color palettes, textures and shapes tend to dampen creative potential and reinforce hidden biases.”

Don’t force it

In a similar vein, Ferguson mentions, “Make spaces reflective of your personality: Don’t force a room’s design. Decorate according to what you like; otherwise, you’ll miss out on the absolute gift of a unique personality.”

Collect ideas & support local artists

One way to get ideas is by going to local art walks or festivals and supporting artists. “It doesn’t have to be expensive to be great,” Ferguson says. “I once bought work from an artist I met via Facebook, and paid less than $300 for two pieces. When they arrived from South Africa, they were beyond stunning.”

If your city doesn’t have an art walk, then visit an art fair (usually in springtime or summer), and look for a deal.

Keep it light

Ferguson believes it’s all about the windows. She recommends playing up the light. “The light is your friend; it makes us feel good and offers vitamin D, which so many people are deficient in.”

If you live in a hot climate, like Phoenix, or your house simply gets too hot with direct light, then consider sheer curtains that you can have down during the sunniest parts of the day, but pull back when the light is less intense. Curtains look better than blinds, and they are usually cheaper.

Make some money

Take your things and put them up on Craigslist or Or, you can take them to a local flea market or bazaar to try and get some money for the things you don’t want anymore. This way, you can collect some cash to reinvest in redecorating. Even if it just buys you a can of paint and a brush, that’s better than having to take the money out of your own wallet.

That’s not to mention you’re getting rid of things that, as Marie Kondo says, “were no longer bringing you joy.”

Don’t OTC

Ferguson says that, in the art world, one of the worst things someone can say is it’s an “over the couch, or “OTC” piece. This means it has no substance or message. In other words, she says, “Art is meant to be deeper and stand on its own.”

If you have a large painting or photograph over your couch, and you are sick of looking at it, consider putting it away in a closet for a season or two while you consider what to do with it. Then, repaint the wall a fun color (or just a nice shade of white) and leave it clean for a more minimalist space; it will make the room look bigger. And if you don’t want to get rid of your art over the couch, at least make sure it’s hung right. This Apartment Therapy article has a guide to doing just that.

Plants are your friend

Take a cue from the now sensationally famous interior decorator and artist, Justina Blackeney, creator of the Jungalow, and add plants. She has 52 houseplants, but you don’t have to go that far.

Certain plants, like spider plants, help to purify the air, and all plants add color and life to your apartment or house. Plus, they are alive, so there is an element of necessary caretaking involved that is good for the mind, body and soul.

Whether or not you have plants in your house, adding fresh flowers in your home can also be incredibly uplifting, both for the space and for you.

French flower arranging

Take Chef Ina Garten’s flower arrangement trick she picked up while living in France. Pick one flower and stick with it. You can have one flower in different colors, all throughout the house.

Originally published at

IHRL attorney & writer. Bylines in: PBS, USA Today, Independent UK, Al Jazeera, Romper, Ravishly, & National Catholic Reporter.