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How to Add Contrast in Home Decor

Ever feel like a room is just missing something? We can’t quite put our finger on it but it definitely seems off. We go down the list of the obvious culprits: furniture seems good, paint is on point, layout feels functional. What could it be? Well, in my experience, there are two common reasons, a space lacks texture or contrast. Good news! These are easy fixes. I’m sharing my best tips for adding contrast to home decor. 

bedroom with contrast of textures, materials, and colors

What is contrast in home decor?

First, let’s chat a bit about what contrast is and why we need it. Very simply, contrast is a difference in two things.  

The keyword there is difference. Often, folks find something they like and then repeat that throughout the space and then it all feels so flat…

The gray trend comes to mind. Gray walls plus grayish wood floors plus gray furniture and it’s no wonder we’re aching for contrast! 

Contrast is more than just color though so let’s dive in and talk about ways to make a space feel authentic, dynamic, and layered. Because, that’s really the goal! 

small bedroom decor ideas with contrast black accent wall
used contrast by painting half black accent wall, geometric rug, and black hardware

Use Color Strategically

Ok, we’ll just get the most obvious out of the way first. When we think of contrast we often think, sure black and white, I get it. In fact, I spend so much time talking about my love for white and black paint you probably thought this is where it was headed. 

And sure, maybe a good black accent wall is just too much for some folks, but there’s a reason it exists. Because it adds contrast. It gives a space depth and makes us say, “oh yes, I can feel the mood up in here.”  

I work with neutrals but there’s still space to add contrast with color. And it doesn’t have to be paint!

If a room has a lot of white or brown, I’ll go for black picture frames. On my dark sofa I use light pillows and on my light gray couch, I go for the black and bold pillows.

modern living room with jute pouf, dresser, and lamp
added shapes with pouf, round stool, hoop wall hanging, rounded vases

Add Different Shapes

Most often we end up with squares and rectangles. Think about it – most rooms are pretty square then we add boxy furniture and rectangular frames or big ‘ol tvs. 

Our brains feel like they’re back in geometry class! 

Add contrast with a mix of both sharp and soft lines, circles, and squares. This can be easily achieved with poufs, circle mirrors, round pillows, and asymmetrical wall hangings.

Go next level with some organic shapes like plants and branches.

boho bedroom with bed and large area rug
added textures with tassel throw blanket, yarn wall hanging, woven wood shades, textured rug

Mix in Textures

As mentioned, texture deserves an entire post, but it’s still a simple one to add to the contrast list. Texture is tactile, it’s how things feel so mixing it up gives a space depth. It makes our bodies want to LIVE there. 

Quick ways to add texture: Baskets and throw pillows of course come to mind. But think about textured walls, floors, chairs, and rugs. Heck, even plants contribute to the texture of a space. 

entryway with minimal home decor with metal railings, black rug, basket light, and solid wood door
mixed up materials with oak wood floors, metal railing, basket light, metal mirror, solid wood front door, woven baskets

Use a Variety of Materials

This one can be a little trickier when it comes to a quick update but something to keep in mind as you make bigger home decor decisions. One thing I notice is that a lot of folks go for the same smooth materials or faux wood – from LVP flooring to coffee table tops to wooden window shades. Our brain is like, yep these are all the same. Flat. 

Look for ways to mix up materials. Bring in live raw wood, go for woven shades, consider a marble top coffee table – you know, just mix it up!

how to add contrast to home decor

I hope this helps break down the concept of contrast in home decor! You can see it’s much more simple to add this design element and take your space to the next level!