Why Doesn’t My Home Look Cohesive?

Find some easy ideas and decorating tips for tying together rooms in your home that will make your house look cohesive.

Sometimes it can be hard to decorate your house so you are happy with it. Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to re-arrange your decor that will help create the atmosphere and flow you are looking for. Try out these ideas for how to make your home look cohesive, these tips for decorating your home like a designer and these ways to make your house look more expensive.

How to make your house look expensive

One of the questions I get asked often is why doesn’t my house flow?

When you’ve collected furniture and accessories over the years (and especially if you love color like I do), it can be hard to decorate your rooms so they look like they belong together.

Which means you end up living in a house that doesn’t feel settled, enjoyable or relaxing.

Since your home should be your happy place, it’s totally understandable why so many people are so anxious to solve this problem.

Here are some of the reasons why your house may not flow as well as you would like, as well as some solutions for how to make your home look cohesive.

1. You Don’t Have A Whole House Color Scheme

The first way to make your house look more cohesive is to choose a whole house color scheme.

Now you might be asking…Do all rooms have to match?

And the answer is No. This doesn’t mean that you have to paint your whole house all one color. Or even two colors.

It does mean that you need to have picked out the color families that you are going to use in your home.

Then use those to determine the colors you will use in each room and finally to choose the paint colors.

2. You Haven’t Defined Your Design Style

The next thing you need to have defined in order to make your house look more cohesive is a design style.

Contemporary Living Room Photo by Debra Somerville Photography

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com copyright restrictions

If you have a contemporary glam living room like this one…

Modern farmhome dining room via Traditional Home

Modern Farmhouse Dining Room via Traditional Home

Sitting next to a farmhouse dining room like this one…

No amount of color matching is going to make the rooms flow.

But if you’re like me, the thought of having to pick only one design style is scary. Trying to narrow the selections down that far is way too hard!

Well, you’re in luck. You don’t actually have to choose just one style. In fact, I think you should choose 3 styles and mix them together to create your own style (mine is Eclectic Deco Glam).

The trick is to make sure you’re using a mix of them in every room, so you don’t have hard transitions like “Hollywood glam” in the living room and “Industrial” in the dining room.

Click here to find out how to choose your own design style.

3. You Have “Drifts of One”

I first heard the saying “drifts of one” at a garden talk. The speaker was referring to planting only one of every type of plant (when they really look better in drifts).

It’s a common tendency that gardeners have…there’s only so much space in your garden and there are so many beautiful plants, so you buy one of each.

Guess what you get when you do that?

A garden that doesn’t look very cohesive!

Transitional Living Room Photo by MAS Designs

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com copyright restrictions

Well, the same thing is true in your home. To make your house flow, you need to repeat colors, textures, and patterns throughout your room to lead your eye from area to the next.

In this room you can clearly see how your eye moves from the blue bowl on the table in the front, to the blue cushions on the chairs and finally to the artwork on the wall. There’s also some blue in the rug which helps to bring the color down to the floor.

They have also repeated the rectangular black shape with the coffee table, the cabinets on the back wall, the fireplace and the TV.

A side note: Between those repeated rectangles and the focal point artwork, you almost don’t even notice that there’s a TV smack dab over the fireplace. For all those people who are wanting to know how to make the TV not be a focal point when it’s over the fireplace, this is a very effective strategy for hiding the TV in plain sight!

4. You Want ALL The Things On Instagram and Pinterest

Instagram home decor pictures

Speaking of “drifts of one”, that’s a very easy pattern to fall into if you’re always trying to do what you see other people doing on Instagram on Pinterest.

Now you may be saying to yourself…Hold up! You told us to use Pinterest and Instagram to come up with our design style.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Instagram and Pinterest.

But I think they’re kind of like gambling. You need to do it for fun, know when to stop looking, and know when to walk away. (I’m dating myself here…but that reminds me of an old Kenny Rogers song, and now I can’t get it out of my head).

There are just so many pretty pictures and beautiful rooms. And everyone makes it look so easy.

So you think…I should do that in my bedroom (living room, dining room, bathroom…)

Before you know it, you end up with a bunch of rooms that don’t go together at all.

This is where having your design style defined and your whole house color scheme chosen is going to help a lot.

Because you can look at, admire and drool over as many pretty pictures as you want. But to create a cohesive look in your house you’re only going to act on the ones that match your style and colors.

5. You Haven’t Considered Site Lines

Gray and white contemporary living room © Tracy Ben - stock.adobe.com
Gray and white contemporary living room © Tracy Ben – stock.adobe.com

The most important rooms to think about when you’re trying to make your house look cohesive are the ones that you can see into from another room or hallway.

Those rooms with site lines into other rooms will be the most noticeable if they don’t flow. This is especially true in open concept areas of your house, or rooms that don’t have a door.

If you haven’t done it before, go and stand in a spot where you can see into multiple rooms. Then notice whether or not you have repetition of colors, patterns and textures across the rooms. You might even want to take some pictures. Sometimes the disconnects are really obvious when you see it on a screen.

The easiest way to make connected rooms look cohesive is keep the paint colors, moldings and floor treatments the same. Then you can vary the colors (somewhat) on the furniture, curtains and accent pieces within the rooms.

However it isn’t the only way to go.

Eclectic Living Room Photo by Summer Thornton Design, Inc

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com copyright restrictions

These two rooms have totally different wall treatments and colors (although the floors are consistent). Even the moldings are painted different colors.

But it definitely uses the repetition principle.

  • You can see the blue from walls in the front room repeated on the dinette in the second room.
  • And the red from the front room is repeated on the lamp shades in the second room, as well as in the wallpaper.
  • Then the green from the wallpaper in the back room is repeated in the arm chair and the painting in the front room.

5. You Haven’t Followed The Basic Design Principles

First, let me say…I’m not a big believer in following design rules.

I think when it comes to decorating, you should do what you love. After all you’re the one who has to live in and be happy in your house…not a designer, or your fashionable next door neighbor or the Instagram influencer that has a million followers.

Having said that, there are a few basic design principles that will help your rooms to look more cohesive.

Glam living room © zhu difeng - stock.adobe.com
Glam living room © zhu difeng – stock.adobe.com

They’re things like having balance (so not all of the big furniture is on one side of the room), varying the heights of objects in a room to add interest and using furniture that is in the right proportions to your room.

If you’ve missed any of these basic design principles, your room will feel uncomfortable and it just won’t create that cohesive flow you’re looking for.

You can read more about the basic design principles HERE.

7. You’ve Kept Things You Don’t Love

The last tip for how to make your house look cohesive is to do something about anything you have in your house that you don’t really like.

Most of us have accumulated some furniture and accessories along the way that we either bought on sale (because it was on sale), acquired at a different stage in our lives or were given by a well-meaning friend or relative. And we just don’t like them very much.

But we hang onto them because “it’s still good” or we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

If you have that old chair or hand-me-down lamp in a commonly-used area of your house, you’re looking at it every day. And every day, every time you pass it, whether you consciously recognize it or not, you’re thinking to yourself…I really hate that thing!

You are never going to be able to feel like your house flows if there’s something you don’t like staring you in the face every time you look in the room.

Bookshelf painted black and blue

So your job here is to figure out how to get rid of the thing(s) you dislike:

  • Either re-finish or re-cover them so that you like it.
  • Donate it to someone else who does like it.
  • Or put it somewhere in the house so you don’t have to look at it every day. If that ugly painting was a present from your great aunt Eunice, maybe it stays in the closet except on the one day a year that she comes to visit.

I did this with this old settee and side tables that I didn’t like the color of. It’s amazing what a little paint and some angle brackets can do. Now when I wake up in my master bedroom every morning, I love what I see!

Hopefully, you’ve found some ideas on how to make your house look cohesive.

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