Stores That Take the Guesswork Out of Decorating

couple looking at swatches
Couple Looking at Swatches. JGI/Tom Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

Just as some people have a green thumb and others don't, some people just have the "decorating gene." You know the type. Their home always looks like a page right out of a magazine and they seem to pull it all together effortlessly. If you feel as though you don't fall into this category but still want a home about which you can feel proud, you may be tempted to hire an interior designer to help you out. Hiring a professional is not in everyone's budget; however, there are some solutions that are completely affordable--even free!

Each of these home decor retailers offer services, products or shopping experiences that help take the guesswork out of decorating. Whether you're short on time--or just lacking that "decorating gene"--you can get help giving your home a professional-looking polish if you know where to look. 

The New Bed in a Bag

You've probably heard of a "bed in a bag." These perfectly coordinating sheets, comforters, shams, toss pillows--and sometimes even curtains--come in a neatly-packaged clear-plastic bag. Sure, they eliminate the hassle of trying to coordinate bed linens yourself, but they have a matchy-matchy look that tends to look a little pedestrian.

Dormify, however, has elevated the idea of a "bed in a bag" to new heights. Rather than pre-packaging all of the bed linens, Dormify delivers a guided buying experience that invites shoppers to choose from coordinating options in steps. The shopper starts by picking out a duvet, then layers on sheets, pillows, a throw, and finally add-ons like curtains and wall tapestries to create a customized look that is anything but passe. 

Subscription Boxes

Subscription services that deliver curated collections of things are all the rage these days. You can arrange to have almost anything--from clothes and makeup to kids' activities and books--to arrive in a box right to your front door, saving you time and energy. 

Gable Lane Crates is a subscription box service for home decor. Some of the themes of past crates include: Mixed Metals, The Black and White Gallery Wall, Office Crate, Mantel Crate, The Lodge Collection, and Fall Tablescape. Unlike other subscription services of its kind, however, you can pick and choose which crates you want as well as the frequency of their arrival, and there's no monthly commitment.

ArtCrate takes more of a personal approach. Think of it as Stitch Fix for your walls. Get started by answering a few quick and simple questions about where you live, your favorite retailers, your budget, and your taste in art, then get matched with an art curator with whom you can chat about your art needs. He or she will guide you to a print or collection of prints--framed or unframed--that match your style and budget. In essence, you and your art curator pack your art crate together, and you'll eventually receive a collection of art you've had a hand in choosing.

Curated Collections

Shopping online does have its challenges. Navigation to the area of the "store" you need tops the list of frustrations, especially when an online retailer has a huge assortment. To help, most sites include filtering abilities so shoppers can narrow their search results by price, brand, or color. But sometimes that's not enough, and you still find yourself scrolling through dozens and dozens of irrelevant results in search of what you want.

Lulu & Georgia takes the standard navigation bar one step further by allowing shoppers to narrow first by price and color scheme, then by style. The style collections include: Glamour Girl, Bohemian, Girl on a Budget, Coastal, Organic, Regency, Romantic, and Vintage Eclectic. This approach shortens search time and prevents shoppers from trying to guess which search terms to use to get them to the style of home decor they prefer. These collections of home decor curated by style ensure you'll never have to guess what goes with what.

Similarly, Value City Furniture's Accessories on the Go are collections of home decor grouped by style. Unlike Lulu & Georgia, however, these "sets" of accessories come pre-boxed and are priced at either $200 or $300, depending on the size of the box. You can choose a box that works with your room's decorating style to quickly create coffee table vignettes, fill built-in bookcases, or style a nightstand like a pro. Accessories on the Go are available in seven different styles: Coastal Vibes, Modern White, French Farmhouse, Gothic Reflections, The Refined Bohemian, Countryside Revival (i.e. Americana), and traditional Home and Garden.

Minted continues to be one of the best places on the web to find original art prints, and this feature makes it even better. Two pictures--even three or four--come in handy when one just isn't enough. Plus, they look great layered and propped on a mantel, and work wonders at tying a group of different items on a gallery wall together. Many big-box retailers sell picture pairs, but they are practically mirror images of one another. Minted's pairs, on the contrary, coordinate in color, pattern or even style, but aren't too matchy-matchy. Take the guesswork out of coordinating artwork and give your wall a professional look by choosing from one of Minted's many pairs of prints that work well together, but aren't a matching set.  

Try It First

Finally, don't ignore the power of free shipping. Many home decor sites these days offer free--or extremely low--shipping costs, such as Wayfair, Overstock, Amazon Prime and Nordstrom. Exorbitant shipping costs used to be the reason not to shop for things like rugs or furniture online, but that barrier no longer exists. Free shipping means you can take home decor for a test drive without the hassle of getting it to and from the store yourself, or being out a ton of cash. Now, instead of wondering if those curtains will work with your wall color or if that rug will look right in your bedroom, you can see for yourself.