5 ways to create airy, open spaces in your home without spending a fortune


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Photo: Tessa Neustadt

As the renter of a very modest urban-center apartment that features few windows, sometimes I feel like a hobbit living underground. Unless I rely on circadian-rhythm-disrupting interior lighting throughout the day, the vibe of my Los Angeles-based home is more Iceland-in-the-winter (read: near 24/7 darkness) than it is Cali-chic.

Lusty Instagram scrolling through pics of dwellings that favor the bright and airy aesthetic of which I dream from over here in the Shire has cultivated in me an obsession with interior design pro Amber Lewis, the founder of Amber Interiors, and her envy-inducing feed. Natural light, negative space, and a palpable breathability are throughlines to the account. To help me replicate their effect (on a freelancer’s budget), I asked Lewis to part with a few of her expert tips. Turns out, it’s easier to go from hobbit home to haven than I thought!

Keep reading for 5 simple ways to steal the Amber Interiors vibe.

amber interiors design inspo
Photo: Tessa Neustadt

1. Update the paint. The first order of business is to focus on the basics, says Lewis. “Paint makes a huge difference,” she explains. When I ask what color she recommends most for brightening, her answer is emphatic. “White, of course!” she says. “It’s my most-used interior paint color and if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with it.” Lately, she says, she’s been specifically loving White Dove by Benjamin Moore and Milk Glass by Dunn Edwards.

2. Let the sunlight in. If you have a lot of windows, especially large ones, this is an easy task; however, when your windows are smaller or less abundant, you’ll need to help them out a bit. “Cut out drapery to let light come in where it can,” advises Lewis. (Sidenote: The Jungalow founder Justina Blakeney once tipped me off to the somewhat obvious fact that clean windows let in a lot more light than dirty ones, so regular washes help, too.)

amber interiors design inspo
Photo: Tessa Neustadt

3. Avoid clunky furniture. Though she loves big vintage pieces, Lewis says you may want to avoid them if you’re trying to give your space a brighter, airier vibe. “Go with clean, lighter pieces,” she advises instead.

4. Accent in neutrals. You’ll want to maintain that light touch with details, too, says Lewis. “Add some pretty neutrals and earth tones in your blankets, pillows, and rugs,” she suggests.

5. Practice tidy minimalism. Any Marie Kondo devotee knows Lewis’ last piece of advice is an effective one when it comes to making spaces feel lighter in every sense of the word. “Decluttering and cleaning make a huge difference,” she says. Use these five MK-approved organization hacks to get started and remember, cleaning absolutely counts as a workout.

Still not satisfied? Adopt these 10 seasonal decor trends ASAP, and once you’ve finished giving your home serious summer vibes, these pro tips will help you do the same outdoors.

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