After putting lots of work into painting a room, arranging furniture and decluttering to make more space, finishing a room so that it feels warm, welcoming and personal can be a daunting task. The trick is to layer in texture (for warmth and interest) and meaning (for inspiration and joy). 

But adding layers doesn’t equal adding clutter back into a room. Minimalist and essentialist spaces can successfully be layered and feel comfortable and “finished” without a lot of “stuff.” Make sure that what you add into your space fits the tried and true design quote from William Morris, ” Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be functional or believe to be beautiful.” This could translate to adding a fuzzy rug to keep your feet warm in the living room, a painting that mesmerizes you, a side table built by your grandfather, or books that motivate you. The layers you add will be personal to you and different from anyone else’s home because they’ll be meaningful and a reflection of your values and the life you live (or want to). 

How to finish a room by adding layers, not clutter

Layering texture and meaning into a room can be accomplished by choosing items from some or all of the categories below. Not all have to be introduced into your home to make it feel warm and finished, but choosing some will help.

1. A rug (or two). 

Rugs are a wonderful way to add texture to a space, as well as visually define and finish a room. They’re comfortable underfoot and add a literal layer of warmth. Choose natural and neutral like a sisal rug or a colourful and classic like a Persian rug. You can even layer an area rug over wall-to-wall carpet or one over the other for added texture and personality. 

How to layer a room without it feeling cluttered

2. Window treatments.

Window treatments add softness and privacy – two things every room needs. A comfortable, warm and welcoming room is one that feels safe and secure, so make sure to have curtains, shades or blinds on your windows so you can close them at night. Many windows with beautiful trim can look lovely on their own, but curtains do add softness to the hard edges that’s soothing to the eye. Opt for neutral curtains most often, as they’re an investment piece and also because they’ll feel less distracting than a colourful pattern. 

3. Small furniture. 

Once you have your main pieces in place, such as a sofa, chairs or a bed, consider adding in smaller pieces of furniture that will be functional and add texture to the room. A coffee table or large ottoman is a great place to put your feet up. A wood stump stool beside a chair makes for a naturally beautiful place to set your cup of coffee. A small bench in the entry is a good perch while putting on your boots, and adds character. A chest of drawers in a workspace provides closed storage and a chance to add warm wood or playful paint. Mix up textures by pairing antiques with modern, smooth pieces. 

How to finish a room by adding layers but not clutter

4. Comfort. 

Even in an uncluttered, simple home, comfort is key to living happily. For me, that includes pillows, cushions, throws and duvets. These comforts keep me warm, allow me to sit with better posture, and help me rest more easily. They’re good for my wellbeing. So toss a few cushions on the couch and stacks some beautiful throws on an open shelf or in a basket to add soft texture and function to your space. 

5. Lighting.

Lighting is an important layer to add into any space to make it functional as well as warm and welcoming. In every room, you should make sure you have ample ambient lighting (general overhead lights or daylight), task lighting (floor and table lamps, pendant lamps, under-cabinet lights) and accent lighting (picture lights, puck lights in a cabinet, or even a string of white Christmas lights). Try to balance light in the room through either overhead lighting or by adding some in all corners. 

How to add layers to finish a room without clutter

6. Wall art. 

Whether it’s artwork, photos, a quilt, or antique relics hanging on your wall, layering in something of interest to you makes a room feel complete and helps tell your story. You might display some of your own abstract art, your kids’ creations, or a piece of junk you found on a favourite trip. Make it meaningful and it will bring your joy on a daily basis. 

7. Accessories.

Use accessories sparingly, but with purpose. Us them to add a layer of personality, colour and/or dimension. Think of ways they could be practical as well. You might use a colourful basket to hold magazines or knitting supplies, or a handmade ceramic tray to house remote controls. You could display a collection of unique mugs in a glass cabinet or mix your favourite books and family photos on an open bookshelf. Wood cutting boards picked up from local markets are interesting and handy when leaned together against a backsplash. Pretty hats can be beautifully hung on hooks and ready when you need them. 

8. Nature.

Plants, flowers, branches, driftwood, shells, rocks and wood used inside your home brings the ultimate layer of beauty that will complete the space. I love plants to add life and texture to a room and also to clean the air of toxins. If you enjoy collections of shells or rocks or other bits of nature, collect them together in beautiful jars, vases, trays or bowls so that they make more of an impact and feel less cluttery than if they were spread around the room. 

How to finish a room by adding layers, not clutter


After you’ve added in texture and meaning to your room, stand back and look at it with a critical eye. You may even want to take a photo and then look at that. See if there’s anything that needs edited out. Check to make sure there isn’t anything that seems off balance or out of place. The final look at the overall room should give you that “ahh” feeling like you want to curl up and stay there forever. Now you’ve finished your room! Enjoy. 

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