15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive

I’ve been adding helpful interior and design related posts to my calendar based on the topics you submitted, and this was one that came up frequently… how to make your home feel cohesive. While I touched on this a few years ago, I wanted to share really specific tips in an itemized way, while giving examples from our current home. Click through for my best interior design tips for curating a home that feels interesting (yet intentional), well designed, and cohesive…

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

Before we dive into the specifics, creating cohesion in design is all about repetition, intention, and creating a common design thread that carries throughout. I also try to keep my personal aesthetic in mind, while staying true to the architecture of the home. Check out this post for Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home. For broad examples on designing a cohesive house, definitely check out this post I shared on How to Design a Cohesive Home That Flows. I think it’s also helpful to define your style, create a plan or the overall story you want to tell within your home, or stick to some parameters you’ve set. Sometimes a handful of words can also be helpful. Mine are: traditional, comfortable, eclectic, approachable, quality, and classic… I keep these in mind when bringing things into our home and determining whether or not they have a place.

1. Keep Millwork Consistent

If you’re updating your home or are planning to renovate, one easy way to create a cohesive look is to choose millwork from the same family. Check out this post on How to Select Millwork Profiles (and to see the profiles I selected for our current home). Our crown, base, panel moulding, chair rail, architrave, and filler pieces are all apart of a traditional collection. We use & repeat variations of that same profile throughout our entire home for consistency.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

2. Repeat Flooring Material, Finish, or Color

In our current home, we opted for oak flooring on the main and lower levels, and carpet upstairs in the bedrooms. While we installed herringbone hardwood flooring on the main floor, we installed that same flooring product in a regular running bond pattern throughout the hallways. It looks different, yet similar. We also used a totally different oak hardwood material in our basement (that is wet rated), but all of our flooring feels cohesive being of the same species and color family. It’s ok to mix and match, but choose a common thread to tie materials together: stain color, species, installation pattern, etc.

It’s also ok to use one material throughout your entire home. When replacing our upstairs carpet, I decided to keep it all the same. All of the carpeted rooms throughout our home contains the same product, same color, and same installation method.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

3. Make Sure Your Doors Match

Along with trim, you’ll also want your interior and exterior doors to feel cohesive throughout your home. They don’t all have to perfectly match, but choose doors from the same family, with the same profile, panel style,… or if they’re inconsistent, perhaps you could paint them all the same color for cohesion. It’s all about finding that common ground. When selecting interiors doors, I opted for a simple three panel door style. No matter the width or function (interior door, bifold closet door, etc) they all have three panels, are solid core, and despite being painted different colors- they feel cohesive.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

4. Repeat Tile & Stone Choices

Another way to add cohesion to your home is by repeating your favorite tile or stone choices. For example, I love the handmade tile in our main kitchen, so I decided to repeat the look in our basement kitchen renovation. While the tile in our main kitchen is gray and smaller scale, we used the same tile in our basement with a larger scale and different color- white. They feel like siblings that live under the same roof… and those cohesive threads are what ties a home together. If you’re choosing a marble slab for your renovation, maybe you can repurpose remnants from your kitchen counter into a shower niche in the bathroom. Connecting the dots via material is a great way to be intentional when designing your home!

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

5. Rely On Rugs to Create Cohesion

Rugs can help to define a space when floor planning, but they also help connect each room. I like to stick to 2-3 styles of rugs for a cohesive look. I personally gravitate toward neutral woven area rugs paired alongside vintage rug picks. The vintage rugs add character while the neutral rugs add a classic touch. No matter what room you’re standing in, you can always find one of those two types of rugs. Choose a few of your favorites and stay within that broad family (vintage rugs, natural woven rugs, flokati rugs, etc).

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

6. Duplicate Window Treatments

When specifying window treatments, keep your entire home in mind. For example, I love pairing a woven wood shade with soft drapery panels for a layered look. You can find that pairing or those materials repeated in multiple rooms throughout my home… in the maroon guest bedroom, our formal living room, as well as the basement media room. All of the wood shades match and are of the same color family. Are all of my window treatments identical? No two rooms are alike, but they feel cohesive since I’m using variations of the same material.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

7. Repeat Hardware Selection

Just as I mentioned above, you can do the same with door and cabinetry hardware! Find a way to make things feel consistent or create your own design “rules”. To use hardware as an example, all of our interior doors have the same brass door hardware. I made the mistake of choosing two different exterior sets (Grandeur vs Emtek exterior door hardware) and I wish they were the same- or at least the same matching brass finish. It’s easiest to stick to one brand throughout. Whether your hardware has the same style / profile, same finish, or same scale… choose an element that is repeated.

For cabinetry hardware, I keep things cohesive within the room, as opposed to the entire home. That’s just my personal preference to keep things more interesting, but that could also be another common thread- especially between a kitchen and laundry room.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

8. Choose Complementary Paint Colors

Paint color seems like the obvious choice for creating cohesion when designing a home. It’s certainly an easy way! My best recommendation is to choose hues that look like they belong together under the same roof… maybe they’re of similar value, perhaps they’re complementing colors (my preference), or maybe they’re just colors you really like. Pull the swatches together and see how they work together as a unit or family. Does one stand out? If they feel like they belong, you’ve got a nice cohesive color palette. Check out this post for my timeless paint colors and favorite pairings.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

9. Keep Plumbing Fixtures Cohesive

Plumbing fixtures (sinks, faucets, toilets, etc) are another element that can make your home feel coordinated. Whether you’re using the same finish throughout your home, are sticking to a general aesthetic (which is what I do… traditional fixtures), or are making selections from the same brand, it’s an easy way to find commonality. If you’re looking for some guidance, check out this post on How to Mix Metals and Choose Kitchen Plumbing Fixtures.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

10. Rely on Decor to Create a Common Thread

Decor is the easiest way to create a cohesive look at home. I’d like to think someone could see a photo of my home or styling and recognize it came from me. I have a few common decor threads I rely on for styling in our home… I rely heavily on displaying our books (I love styling with lots of books), artwork, candles, and pieces brought home from traveling. Almost every room in our home contains all of those things. Whether you like a minimalistic look or skew more maximalist, choose some things to include in every room that represent your aesthetic or personality. Decor can go a long way in creating cohesion!

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

11. Create a Consistent Lighting Plan

Lighting also comes into play when trying to achieve a cohesive home. While no two light fixtures in my home are identical, they all work together to create consistent lighting when turned on, ensuring the house is evenly lit. Make sure to include a variety of sources in each room (overhead, lamps, sconces, recessed, picture lights, etc), and make sure the scale & finish of each works together throughout your home. Check out this post for my best Tips for Layering Lighting Like a Designer!

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

12. Mix Old & New For a Classic & Current Look

Contrary to the belief that your home will feel like a mismatched hodgepodge or thrift store, mixing vintage pieces and antiques into your design plan can enhance the cohesion throughout your house, melding classic and current. For example, when shopping for vintage furniture, look for pieces that are the same age, same finish or color, or have the same aesthetic. Installing those unique and attention grabbing items throughout your home creates a common thread.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

13. Keep Scale Consistent

Scale is super important for consistency. Whether your home is large or small, once you begin investing in furniture, fixtures, and decor, make sure they’re consistent in size. If you’re short on space and your home is really small, you might opt for apartment sized furniture. Just be sure to continue that scale throughout your entire home. If your home is larger or open concept, you’ll want to invest in larger items to fill your space. An apartment sized sofa wouldn’t make much sense and would look awkward next to larger furniture or fixtures. Check out this post for Tips for Getting Scale Right.

14. Floor Plan for Functionality

You’ll also want to keep floor plans consistent- with functionality in mind. The size of your traffic paths set the parameters for your entire home. For example, an open concept room with spacious walkways would most likely open into a similar room with plenty of negative space. It would be jarring to see a room in that same home packed with furniture and tight walkways. Consistency in floor planning is key, so furniture should be spaced accordingly and consistently throughout.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

15. Stay True To Your Personality

Last, but not least… stay true to your personality! I fully believe a home should reflect its inhabitants. Display your interests in coffee table books, artwork, items brought home from travels, sentimental objects, photos, etc. By inserting your personality throughout your home, it adds cohesion. Trust your instincts on what is working, and what is not!

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com


Should each room feel cohesive?

Here is my take… think of your home as a family unit. The rooms are all apart of the same family. Perhaps they’re siblings or maybe even cousins, but they’re all related. While they may look similar and you can tell they are cut from the same cloth, they have plenty of differences and are also unique. My short answer? Yes… I do like each room to feel cohesive, as well as belong to the home in its entirety.

Is it ok if your home does NOT feel cohesive?

Absolutely! It’s your home, and if you’re happy- that’s all that matters. Period. Sometimes a mismatched aesthetic can actually create a cohesive aesthetic style, unintentionally. I also wanted to say- even my home is not totally cohesive at this point. You can visibly tell which spaces have been renovated, and the rooms that have not… and I’m ok with that. I know eventually we’ll finish this house and it will feel like all of the spaces under our roof have a common thread of cohesion. We’re not there yet (and probably won’t be anytime soon), and that’s ok. Home is whatever you want it to be.

Could an interior designer help create cohesion through a home?

Absolutely. That’s a big part of our job description. If you’re curious, here’s What It’s Like To Work With An Interior Designer. That might help shed light on their job responsibilities and duties.

Where do I look for inspiration for creating a timeless home that feels cohesive?

If you’re not sure what you like or want to peruse timeless interiors for a classic look, check out The Best Interior Design Books for Timeless Home Inspiration. I organized all of my favorites into that post! I get a lot of inspiration from printed materials- like books & magazines.

15 Tips for Designing a Home That Looks Cohesive - roomfortuesday.com

Do you have any additional questions for me? I’m happy to help! I know this was a long post, so thanks for sticking with me! I hope it thoroughly answered some of the questions you submitted and was helpful. What are some of the words you’d use for your home? If you’re curious about anything in my home, in terms of sources… remember, you can find everything on my Home Tour & Sources page (including paint colors)! Ok, signing off. Have a great day, friends!

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  1. Good morning! So much to digest! While I do think my home is reasonably cohesive, I confess that I absolutely failed at numbers 1, 3, 7, 9 and 11. Hahaha. That sounds like a lot when you type it out. Most of those features were already part of our 1946 home. Some are original and others probably the result of previous renovations, but I’ve embraced them as part of the charm. One element that I enthusiastically changed was a mishmash of floors. Our modest (1700 sq ft) home had six different flooring materials! My blood pressure dropped dramatically when we remedied that. I also streamlined counter materials; our small kitchen had three! SMH. As for the rest, I have a pretty confident (cough Leo) sense of style, but, especially in the beginning, I used four words to guide home purchases and decisions. They are colorful, comfortable, casual and cool. (The 4 Cs because diamonds.😉) We’ve been in our home almost 17 years (mind-blowing!), and though my taste, and knowledge, has evolved and grown, those four words still apply. I do love a narrative with a strong point of view; maybe it’s the reading teacher in me. Considering architectural style and an overall palette are always in the back of my mind, but I also want my interiors to tell our story! Too sentimental? Anyway, great primer on creating a cohesive home! You really do provide SO much helpful content. We are having a snow day today, so more shoveling is on my agenda. Ha. Have a fantastic day, Sarah.
    PS As I was cleaning bloody paw prints off one of my vintage rugs last night, I hoped I wouldn’t have to eat my words about their durability. I am pleased to report that both rug and pup are 100% fine!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Peggi! I think you just need a handful of these to provide cohesion. Our house probably has half, who knows! Ha. Flooring is a huge update in helping with cohesion, and keeping all consistent… I can imagine the difference! We ripped so much mismatched linoleum out of our last house (built in the 50’s). You’re the one who turned me onto using the words for home, so thank you for that!! I love hearing that yours still apply. I also want our interiors to tell a story- I think that’s half the fun of creating a home you love and playing with design. Another snow day?! We’ve got more on the way. Oh no- bloody paw prints? Are they ok?! I hope it was nothing serious. That’s so scary! I’m glad your rug held up, but am worried about J & J! No blog post tmrw, as I’m working late cleaning up the paint mess before the painters come back tmrw. Hope you have the happiest Friday though! xo

  2. Good morning! These tips are a functional guide I will keep referring back to. We were blessed with certain aspects of uniformity in this home. While the millwork may not be the profile I would choose for this style of home, (and the scale is all wrong), it is repeated throughout the house. The same goes for our flooring. The footprint we’ve been given is a fantastic one to work with, and it’s functional. I struggle most with creating cohesion in my selections of furniture, art and decor. My likes are all over the map. The words I would use for the look I’m going for are transitional, modern, traditional. Where that translates to art selections and decor is a struggle. Now that I’ve typed that out, I’m thinking about them as a common thread- I love abstract art, which always leans modern; my landscape selections usually read on the transitional side, and my more eclectic choices tend to read traditional. Can the cohesive thread be that each of these is a repeated mix throughout our home? Does the subject matter? You have my wheels turning this morning, looking at and analyzing my home in a different way. I need to take notes, ha! Decor is another story. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to decor- again, all over the map. 😂 These tips are incredibly useful to me, thank you for getting the gears turning in the right direction. I needed these reminders. I hope everyone is staying warm and cozy next to the fire- it’s cold here (for California), but nothing like what you’re all experiencing. Let’s make it a fantastic Wednesday friends!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Lauren! I loved reading about your home words- it’s always so interesting to hear what people pick. Peggi turned me onto that idea! I definitely think your art can be the cohesive thread. I don’t think subject matter matters (ha). Is it warming up in CA? We’ve got more snow on the way. We’re in an exciting paint mess at the moment, so no blog post tmrw, but I’m working on a BIG renovation recap for next week. It’s one of those survival weeks. Hope you’re having a good one! xo

      1. California is having one of the coldest winters I’ve experienced in a long while. Granted, I am close to the mountains and higher in elevation than most of the surrounding cities, but still. We typically are in the mid 70’s during the day at this point, with overnight lows in the 50’s. Not the case this year. We’ve had weeks of sitting in the mid-40’s with overnight lows in the 30’s. A lot of icy wind too. I wouldn’t mind this cold if snow production came with it- but so far we’ve had none. Just frozen cat and dog water, ha! All in all, I can’t complain. We did have an interesting weather report earlier this week; it was claimed Southern California wouldn’t see the Sun for the next 2 weeks due to a weak storm. I’ll admit the skies are hazy, but the sun is shining on, LMAO. Anyway, that was a long winded answer. Happy Friday Sarah!

  3. Great post Sarah and good morning!
    Cohesion is definitely a tricky thing and accomplishing your 15 step process would be amazing 😍 Our Florida home definitely has more cohesiveness. It’s a relatively new build (2013) so matching doors, hardware, plumbing, flooring, paint, mouldings, window treatments are all compliments to a new home. We selected all the finishes so its our style and we purchased all new furniture so scale wasn’t an issue. Our home in Burlington however is definitely much less cohesive and unfortunately it will probably never be totally cohesive. We have maybe half of your 15 step process in that house but your guide is excellent and I’ll definitely strive for it someday. Fixer uppers take time but what I really cherish about that quirky home is it’s comfortable, definitely a collected and cozy feel and it has some of my most precious things within that house. It fails on scale which is a big one for me. Downsizing is tough as the scale of our furniture was larger as the home was much bigger. I’ll keep referring to this list and maybe someday I’ll have more or at least most of these excellent steps complete. Thanks for such invaluable info! Hope your week is productive and fulfilling 👍 ps. We are enjoying the warmer weather here and it’s been wonderful catching up with all our friends and neighbors ❤️

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Thank you, Colleen! I’m so happy to hear you and Andrew are having the best time catching up with your friends & neighbors! I definitely don’t think you need all 15 of these items, even just a few provide cohesion. Home really is about that cozy comforting feeling in the end, regardless of what it looks like! Fixer uppers definitely take time. We’re in a paint mess at the moment, but it has been so fun to watch the painters. They’re a million times faster than Emmett & I. Somehow I totally missed your email from December and I’m squealing with excitement for your family and Sarah!! Congratulations to her and the lucky fiancé. I bet you all had a fun and festive holiday season. Thanks for the sweet note- I’m so sorry I missed it! The holidays got away from me, as I completely signed out for a week. PS: no blog post tomorrow (I’m cleaning up a paint mess)! xox

      1. Happy Friday!
        Sounds like a very productive week at the Gibson house. Yay! Can’t wait to hear all about it next week 🥂 I bet it’s all coming together beautifully and it will feel amazing once it done 🥰
        Thanks so much Sarah for your congratulatory message, my Sarah has finally found her Emmett ( named Bryan )😜 and the engagement on Christmas Eve definitely added an extra element of excitement to the holidays 💖 It was epic!
        Have a wonderful weekend and cheers to getting stuff done 🥳 xoxo

        1. Sarah Gibson says:

          I LOVE this so much for Sarah and Bryan. What a super fun Christmas Eve- so romantic!