Underrated home decor heros

Paula Cox
Written by Paula Cox
Russells Consultant
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When it comes to decorating our homes, it's easy to get caught up in trends and popular styles that seem to dominate social media and interior design blogs. But what about the lesser-known home decor heroes that don't always get the attention they deserve? Here are 8 things we think Kiwi homes could use more of.


Lighting is often an afterthought or add-on but it can make a spectacular design linchpin or main attraction in a room. You can use lighting as a physically appealing feature such as a chandelier, feature lamps or big, exciting light shades. Or, lighting can be an ambient feature. You may need a professional who knows more about the art of layering lighting for this task but the results don’t get enough praise! Nothing stands out in a room where everything is lit the same. By picking a focal point (maybe even two) you create interest, intrigue and variety in a room.


They’re more than practical, a little thought about the placement of a mirror can have a staggeringly beautiful affect in a home. And they work in almost any room – bathrooms, dining rooms, hallways and entryways, bedrooms and living areas. Mirrors introduce light and a sense of space and depth. Use them in place of traditional artwork pieces as a stunning decorative feature. How about positioning one close to exit points or facing windows that look out onto gardens to bounce a bit of natural light and outdoor views into the home.


It’s the most underused and underrated hue on the colour wheel. Lots of people are too scared to use it, or seem to dislike it for one reason or another. It is bold, no matter what shade it is, even a light peachy orange is a bit daring. Regardless of whether you use it in small amounts like a feature wall or accessories, or large areas like a whole room, orange is never a cold colour. Try a burnt orange for starters; it’s warm without being over-stimulating. Plus, you’d be amazed how well orange goes with lots of other colours, even red and pink believe it or not!

Russells curtains


We are naturally drawn to shapes found in nature so bringing plants into a room is a sure fire way to add interest, colour and life. The trick is choosing the right plants for the right area. Got a large blank wall? How about a tall or chunky plant that sits on the floor. High ceilings? A plant on a high shelf that dangles down is always a home décor winner. Rule of thumb, big plants should stand or sit alone, smaller plants can be grouped together for impact. Of course, you can also just dot smaller plants around wherever you think they look good.

Feng shui

Regardless of how much faith you put in it, some of the ideas of this Chinese philosophical system make lovely spaces to live in; things like clearing clutter, allowing in lots of natural light and good quality air, living with plants, having a welcoming front entrance, and paying care and attention to the layout and cleanliness of the so-called feng shui "health trinity"- your bedroom, your bathroom, and your kitchen are all generally good home décor practices.

The sideboard

Originally these were strictly a dining room furniture item, but today can be used in any room. Their long, slimline form (a good sideboard is no more than 40cm deep) makes them fit easily into spaces other pieces of furniture look bulky in – try a sideboard in your hallway. Sideboards multitask as both a storage and display item for whatever you have to store or display! In open plan kitchen/dining/living areas a sideboard makes a nice zone barrier to divide the different areas without being imposing. It can function as a bar - enough said. Try placing a sideboard underneath a piece of art to centre and draw attention to it. Sideboards offer classic midcentury modern style; everyone had a sideboard from the 30s to the 60s so keep an eye out for a vintage one.

Silk Road by James Dunlop in Pumpkin

Curtains and blinds

Are your curtains and blinds merely pleasant functional items or are they an eye-catching statement piece that really ties the room together? There’s no reason your curtains and blinds can’t be the feature of a room. Decorative pelmets, tie backs and rods and heading styles (on curtains) are all underutilized home décor techniques that add a lot to a room.

Another up and comer in interiors are sheers. The do what old fashioned net curtains were once used for – retaining privacy while letting in natural light – only these days sheer curtains are so much more stylish and sophisticated and come in such variety.

There’s also the use of decorative curtains to consider. These are curtains that don’t close but are merely there to frame the window. These are great for rooms that aren’t the main living areas where you’d like something to make the windows look nice, but don’t see the point in spending money on full sized curtains when they don’t need to be functional.

Negative space

Negative space is the space in between stuff, space where there is no art or furniture. Well-executed negative space can bring wonderful calmness and/or make other design elements stand out. The key is balance and purpose. To find negative space opportunities in your home, look for things that, if removed, the space would still look just fine. Giving your blank space purpose stops it from looking like you just forgot to put something there. Maybe it’s the nothingness between two evenly spaced armchairs or the blank wall that balances out a feature on the opposite wall? You’ll be able to tell if it’s good negative space because you’ll notice the things around it. If it just feels cold and boring, it’s not right and you should probably fill it.

Learn what to consider in picking the right curtains for your home