Over the last few years, I have met and collaborated with many other designers, photographers and homeowners. No matter how experienced or inexperienced, they have all brought something to the table, and I always walk away from a project having learned something new.

Of course, I do not have enough space here to share all their good advice with you, but I will try to touch upon some key thoughts.

First, before you begin any kind of decorating project, take a good, hard look at the architecture of your home and identify any pros and cons. Look at your windows, fireplaces, doors and staircases. Look for other details that make your home special, like period details or unusual architecture. If there are major flaws and you have the budget, get rid of them. Disguise, hide or draw attention away from the imperfections you cannot remove. Then highlight the beautiful features of your home.

Second, understand that interior decorating is a fashion business. Just like new styles of handbags and shoes come in every season while the old ones are phased out, furniture, fabrics and accessories also have a shelf life. Therefore you should not go shopping for your decorating project until you are ready to purchase. Shopping more than two months in advance can result in discontinued furniture or fabrics and just lead to decorating frustration.

Make sure to make a lighting plan. Lighting is one of the most forgotten elements in a design project during the planning phases. Nobody likes a dark, dreary room so make sure you have enough light, including both natural and artificial.

If at all possible have your television in your family room. If you do not have a special room to devote to entertainment, then try to incorporate the components into the décor, for example in bookshelves with built-ins specifically designed to house the equipment. I know that television is a big part of almost every American’s life, but any designer will tell you that a beautifully designed room does not involve a very large television.

The new rule is that there are no rules. Decorating now is about choosing elements you like and incorporating them into your home. You can have antiques mixed with bold colors and more modern pieces. Don’t be afraid to mix fabrics, textures, woods, glass and metals. This is what makes a room interesting.

I think the most important advice I have ever gotten is to have a little confidence in your abilities. I understand that a decorating project can be terrifying. It can be an expensive undertaking and therefore it is only natural to seek second opinions. When those second opinions turn to third opinions and then decorating-by-committee, you are only making your situation worse. The more opinions you seek the less progress you will make.

Julie Chrissis is a professional home stager and interior decorator based in Nashua and Malden. She can reached at