When I posted my recent interior decorating blog, reader Allison left a comment asking me how to decorate a room over time. It’s a great question!

I am a firm believer that a room should not be finished in one fell swoop. A truly unique room grows over time as you add to it. That said, we all want our rooms to look as chic as possible from the get go. Here are some tips for designing a room over time:

To keep a room feeling fresh while you accumulate accents and objets d’art, try rearranging the furniture. If you have your furniture lined up around the perimeter of the room, bring it to center and create small groupings.

Decorate with flowers. A vase of fresh flowers adds a beautiful pop of color to any room, and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to accessorize a room while you save for a more permanent centerpiece or focal point.

While it’s lovely to display original art, it’s not at all necessary for tying a room together. Find a print or poster of one of your favorite paintings or photographs and buy a wooden frame for it at a store like Wal Mart, Target, or Ikea. You can even try lacquering the frames in a high gloss for a more modern or regency look. Or, for a more antique look, try painting the frames white or off white and then try sanding them in areas. You can also print out and frame a favorite family picture or a great still life. I’m loving the pictures I’ve been taking on my iPhone with the cross process, or instagram app, which give photos a retro finish. Or try a family shot printed in black and white, or even sepia. When you’re hanging your photos, cluster them in groupings on the wall.

Make a point of buying one thing for the room you’re decorating each time you travel. Your purchases can be as small as a beautiful coaster or as large as an antique mirror. Over time, the objects in your room will remind you of all the places you’ve been and the fond memories you’ve made.

What’s your most recent addition to a room in your home? How did it change the room?

More in Dwell:

Redecorate a Room in Five Steps

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