The 6 Decor Essentials Every Room Needs

February 28, 2019

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

No matter if you own or rent or have a sprawling house or a tiny one, I’ve learned that every space can benefit greatly from the same 6 things. I started realizing this after I noticing my recommendations to questions like “what would you do here?” or “I’m stuck!” or just simply looking at every room in our own home. If you’re wanting to take your room up a notch or feel like it’s missing something–here lies the answer.

Some items are no longer available and we have linked similar options!

Trays  1 | 2 | 34

I used to think trays were the most unnecessary accessory and now I just think they are the most underestimated. We use them in every room. On our bedroom nightstand to hold jewelry and change and headphones. In the entry to collect keys. In the kitchen to corral our speaker, candle, plant–also be so cute for salt, pepper, and mugs! In the bathroom for soap and lotion. And also in my cabinet to group my perfumes together. In our office, we have a large one that holds the stapler, a cup for pens, a small calendar and a candy dish. In the living room, on our coffee table. While a tray is maybe not necessary, they are essential for making all those cluttery things in your life look intentional. They give those things a home. A really stylish home.

Art  5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Every, every, every room needs art. Every room. Even the kitchen could benefit from art. Although lovely, your family photos don’t count. Art is completely subjective, which is why it adds so much character and personality to a home. While every family can stand in a wheat field and smile for a photo–art tells a different story. We’ve never had someone walk in our home for the first time and not comment on or ask about the on the art on the walls. Hang what you’re drawn to, what you love and you’ll instantly feel more connected to your spaces. I also included my favorite mirror in this round up (I’ve never found a better 37″ round mirror for a comparable price) because in a dark corner–a mirror will save your space.

Lamps  9 | 10 | 11 | 12

I’m going to say something completely serious and not exaggerated at all–If you don’t have a lamp in your living room, bedroom, family room–you’re life WILL change by adding one. Seriously. Your mood WILL change. You’ll feel more relaxed and calm at home. After the sun goes down, you’ll enjoy your home more. It’s true! I firmly believe every room needs at least 2-3 light sources and one of those should be accent lighting like lamps. We control ours with Alexa via Philips Hue bulbs (another thing that will change your life, btw) and right around dinner time, I turn on lamps and turn off overhead lights (if they were on) and it sets the mood for the rest of the evening. Bulb color (kelvin) and brightness (lumens) also make a huge difference–check out this post for our recommendations around that.

Baskets  13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Ahh, the pinnacle of functional decor. Every room could benefit from baskets, whether it’s for storage or texture or both! In our home, it’s lidded baskets for shoes by the front door or laundry in the girls’ rooms. I love a wire basket for books or magazines (even on the kitchen counter for your cook books!). We keep a large basket in the corner of the living room that is intentionally left empty so I can tidy up and put anything left out by the kids in it for them to take care of before bed. I also love using baskets for indoor trees instead of planters.

Greenery 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

Every room needs a plant. Because we have lots of little kids and a pet and live in winter town USA, we tend to go faux and guess what, they make me JUST as happy. A vase of a few stems in the middle of the dining table keeps it cleaner longer. Even faux help a room feel more alive. If you have a room that feels stale or empty, try adding some greenery!

Curtains 21 | 22 | 23 | 24

Curtains can and will truly make or break your space. On the one hand, I thought our bedroom was pretty good, but when we hung curtains (#21) high and wide it completely transformed it for the better. It made it look sophisticated and elevated and finished. However, if you hang curtains that are too short (if you have 8′ ceilings, you at least need 95″ curtains) or not wide enough–we doubled up in our bedroom and hung them so the entire window can still be visible–it can make your whole space feel shorter and cheap. If you’re room is on the edge of being great, turn your attention to the windows and see if there’s an opportunity to elevate it there. I’ve also linked my favorite budget-friendly rod (#23) that we use almost everywhere! It’s simple, classic and no-fuss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What do you think?

  1. Great,Thanks for sharing a great informaton, i appreciate to author.

  2. Lesley says:

    OMG THANK YOU! I needed this! I feel like I’ve just had an ‘ah Ha ha’ moment. I will need to incorporate all this immediately! But I have a question! I have windows that are on two adjacent walls on a foot from the corner (does this make sense?) I have no idea who I can do curtains/rods that close to a corner?! Help! Any ideas?

  3. Kala M. says:

    I love our lamps we got from HomeGoods a couple years ago. Totally transformed our living room. I also picked up a large wicker basket at a second-hand store which we keep blankets in. It makes me smile when I see it. I’ve been trying to find curtains but have trouble finding the color or fabric that is just right.

  4. Lisa says:

    I have purchased items in 4 of the 6 categories since reading this post. You were so right about needing lamps in the living room! Great post

  5. Shobha says:

    Really good post. I would also say 2 other essentials: books and a rug. The ability of both of those to inject warmth and personality to a room is to me unquestionable. Books give you insight into the family and rugs pull everything together.

  6. Christina says:

    Thanks for being so inspiring! Best wishes to you and your beautiful family❤️

  7. Joclyn McManimen says:

    Would love your suggestions on choosing the right frames. Do you frame online when you buy your art? The wave image for example, it’s beautiful but I have a hard time choosing a frame. Pictures of family are easy for me but actual art is challenging for some reason. And I know it sort of depends on style, the color scheme and decor of that room, but what if you are buying for a room that you haven’t begun to re-do but want to start with art? Oh woe is me.

  8. Hala says:

    I completely 100 percent agree and actually think that this post should go viral and get shared among one and all so that it becomes the holy grail of decorating! Love this.

  9. Nawana says:

    I’m laughing my butt off at ‘Every family can stand in a wheat field’ ???????????? is that a quiet dig at typical Mormon decor?

  10. Phyllis says:

    I’m so thankful to have found you on YouTube, love all you share! Thank you ❤

  11. Abby R says:

    This was about your most practical post ever. Thank you!

  12. Robin L. Armstrong says:

    Have you done a post on adding recessed lighting to your living room? I noticed in older pictures your living room did not have overhead lighting, but it does now. I would love a post detailing the process (even if you hired it out!).

  13. Rebecca says:

    Does the plant number 18 look real or it is clearly fake? Love it but don’t want it to look fake

  14. Olivia Young says:

    I have pretty large radiators (with covers) under almost all the windows in my house. This prevents me from hanging curtains up against the edge of the window/frame. i.e. if I hang the curtains as close as possible to the window, a sliver of the wall would still be visible. Any tips?

  15. Christine says:

    What are your thoughts on curtains on windows with plantation shutters??

  16. Megan Burgin says:

    Thanks for the great post! I have a living room that is 2 stories high with 2 great big windows up above. I have been struggling with what to do with them and I think they might need some curtains! Is it ok to you do curtains that you would never touch/move?

    • Julia says:

      Definitely! Curtains are just as much for texture and softness as they are for function. We close the curtains in our bedroom but never in the living room.

  17. Em says:

    We haven’t had table lamps in our living room in a few years because our young kids tip them over and pull the cords. I really miss having lamps and I agree they add so much to a space! What are your tips to keep toddlers and preschoolers from knocking them down?

  18. Allison says:

    Do you have recommendations on curtain rings?
    Having the hardest time settling on some that don’t break the bank but also look substantial.

  19. Betsy says:

    I’m sitting here chuckling at work. My boyfriend moved in just over a year ago with me. About 2 weeks in, he looked me square in the face and told me I had a tray, and basket, hoarding problem. So I laugh at seeing trays and baskets on the list. I’m totally the opposite of a hoarder. I throw everything away, or give to charity, that isn’t in my super small decorating rotation pile. This makes him crazy since he cannot get rid of anything since it ALL has a memory attached. You just gave me permission to find a new tray, and probably a new small basket, for my new coffee table. But don’t tell him he may be right. I do LOVE me some trays and baskets. I may have a few too many around. I give you permission to come and edit my stash.

  20. Karen L. says:

    Great post—thanks for all the links! I will check out the lamp you shared for one I just don’t like anymore (it is ancient). :)

  21. Julie S says:

    Now that you mention it… these are totally spot on. As I look around my house I can see where I have these things and it feels more finished and homey, and I also see spots where one of them would serve me well. As for curtains, we live in on a very private property that doesn’t have people able to see in our home but we put up natural woven blinds in our living room because of TV glare/baking sun and it felt so much better just with that. I have the curtains and rods to put up too and still haven’t gotten around to that a year after moving in… feels like a big project with a reluctant hubby but I KNOW it will add so much to the main living area.

  22. Angie says:

    Great article! I have a question about curtains – how do you feel about fabric pooling on the floor if they are slightly too long. Or do you go custom/have them tailored to make sure the length is perfect for your space?

    • Julia Marcum says:

      I totally don’t mind a little kiss or slight pooling on the floor. The curtains in our playroom were especially long (lots of pooling) and while I think there is a place for that, I just cut some off the bottom and hemmed them myself!

  23. Tiffany says:

    We recently moved and I need to do all of these things in all of the rooms! Thanks for the tips, very helpful!

  24. Katie Kerr says:

    I am an interior stylist and one of the most shocking things that I find in most people’s homes is NO LAMPS! I think it is the number one thing that will change your space. Also love you guys so much and am praying for you all.

  25. kari says:

    Curious if you have a link to your lidded baskets for shoes? Love that idea!

  26. Maria says:

    We stayed at an Air BnB once that didn’t have a lamp in the living room and it was awful. We just went to bed early every night because who wants to sit under an overhead light and read a book? 100% agree that lighting is everything.

  27. cailan says:

    You are not overstating the transformative power of lamps! I would go further and say bedrooms need at least two lamps and living rooms need at least three for cozy, balanced light – down with dark, shadowy corners! also now I need some trays :)

  28. Courtney says:

    I’ve LOVED adding baskets to my home, especially as plant holders ever since I saw you do this!
    I’m wondering your thoughts, we have to large windows that I always want to put curtains on but the top of the window is rounded half circle with stain glass and the bottom is just a normal square window with blinds. How would you go about curtains on that?

    Thank you for your post and insights!

  29. Ashley says:

    AGREE! Plus i think all of the 6 things are my favorite things as well! Thinking of adding curtains to our living room! We have cathedral ceilings and I want to hang them as high and wide as possibly without bumping into the ceiling slant. What do you suggest measurement wise for height and width for curtain rod placement?

  30. Wendy says:

    This is so helpful! I like the idea of small or simple ways to enjoy my space more whilst I continue trying to make bigger decisions on furniture and flooring. What are your thoughts about using curtains over large shutters? I love the functionality and lines of the shutters but trying to soften the room up.

  31. Abby S says:

    I have to agree about the lamps. I tossed one into the mix over the Christmas season and LOVED the transformation it brought to our living room. Evenings, early mornings…. it just makes the transition to/from daylight so peaceful.

  32. Heather says:

    This is a great post! Thank you so much! I am going to use this info and check out all of your links. Hoping your family is doing well after all you’ve been through. . So glad everyone was okay.

all the latest

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

We recently painted the trim and hallway doors the most dramatic shade of red, and I find myself making excuses to pass through this part of our house. It’s so rich and romantic and glossy and inspiring. It’s like the hallway is wearing lipstick. She’s feeling herself :) I can barely remember what it looked […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations