Why is it called decor?

Decor is a term used to describe the furnishings, style, and aesthetic choices made to enhance the interior spaces where we live and work. But where did the word “decor” originate and why do we use this term to refer to interior design elements?

Why is it called decor?

Origin and Etymology

The word “decor” comes from the French word “decoration” which translates literally to “adornment” or “embellishment.” In French, decoration refers to the objects and visual styles used to ornament something.

“Orner” is another French word meaning “to adorn” which has given rise to similar terms used by English speakers when referring to enhancing the aesthetics of interior spaces.

So decor is really about adorning – adding decorative visual elements to spaces to make them more ornate, beautiful, stylish, or reflective of certain tastes.

Why Do We Call It Decor?

We use the term “decor” in English for a few key reasons:


It’s quicker and easier to say “decor” than to always refer to “ornamental furnishings that enhance interior aesthetics.” The single word encapsulates an entire category of movable decorative objects used to style rooms.


The word “decor” has Latin and French roots familiar to English speakers, making it easily understandable and adoptable even as an import from another language. Its similarity to words like “adorn” makes the meaning intuitive.


Using “decor” sets decorative interior elements apart from more fixed architectural details and structural finishes. It focuses specifically on movable embellishments added to personalize a space.


“Decor” encompasses the vast array of aesthetics, designs, styles, and objects that can be used ornamentally – from antique furniture to modern artwork, cozy textiles to sleek lighting designs. This broad applicability makes it widely relevant.

The Purpose and Function of Decor

Decor may add beauty, but it serves many practical functions as well:

Express Individuality

The decor choices we make reflect our tastes, interests, and personal aesthetics. Decor allows us to make spaces truly feel like our own.

Influence Moods

From energizing bright colors to cozy natural textures, decor can elicit certain moods and emotions within a space.

Support Functions

Decor elements like lighting, rugs, and storage support spaces’ intended activities whether they be cooking, working, entertaining, exercising, etc.

Create Themes

Cohesive decor themes – like rustic, midcentury modern, coastal, etc. – help convey a specific aesthetic style within a room.

Provide Comfort

Decor selections like plush seating, soft cushions, flexible lighting, and more can optimize spaces for physical comfort.

Enhance Architecture

Thoughtfully layered and positioned decor makes architectural details like high ceilings, ornate trims, large windows, etc. shine.

The term “decor” refers specifically to these supplemental design factors added to the fixed bones of any interior space.

The Evolution of Decor Styles and Trends

Just as architecture and fashion continuously evolve with the times, so too do popular decor preferences. What was once au courant may eventually fall out of favor and vice versa.

A few major influences and drivers of this constant change include:

Technological Innovations

New materials science supporting smart glass surfaces, 3D printing, sustainable textiles, and more gets adapted for cutting-edge decorative applications.

Sociopolitical Movements

Art and design often reflect major events, issues, and paradigm shifts like increasing environmental awareness spurring nature-inspired aesthetics.

Changing Lifestyles and Priorities

How we live shapes decor needs and desires – for instance open-concept homes require lighter, multi-use furnishings.


Ease of international exchange leads to fusion decor as far-flung cultural styles mix across geographic borders more fluidly.

Revisiting Retro Eras

Nostalgia prompts cyclical revivals reinterpreting popular aesthetics from previous eras alongside current sensibilities.

Of course personal preferences, budgets, regional traditions, and more also determine how decor manifests for individuals over time.

Key Takeaways

  • The word “decor” comes from the French word for “adornment” and refers specifically to movable ornamental objects used to beautify interior spaces.
  • We say “decor” for brevity, accessibility, distinction, and inclusion of the vast array of aesthetics that can embellish rooms.
  • Decor serves many functions like expressing individuality, influencing moods, supporting activities, creating themes and enhancing comfort and architecture.
  • Stylistic trends continuously evolve based on innovations, globalization, changing lifestyles and more.
  • Decor allows us to make interior spaces functional while also infusing them with personal meaning and beauty.


The French notion of “decoration” concisely encapsulates the interior design concept of embellishing spaces by layering them with movable decorative elements.

This supplemental process of curating and arranging furniture, lighting, textiles, artwork and accessories we call “decor” serves the essential purpose of optimizing interiors for practical everyday use while simultaneously making them more beautiful, interesting, comfortable and personalized.

Decor selections allow individuals to put their stamp on the spaces they inhabit daily. And the possibilities for doing so are as boundless as creativity and imagination allow thanks to an ever-evolving array of materials, styles, inspirations and innovations past, present and future.

So next time you admire a well-decorated room, understand it didn’t just happen by accident. Thought and care was taken to choose and position each item of decor to bring out the room’s potential and reflect the personality of its inhabitants. That’s why enhancing spaces in this purposeful, artistic way will forever be known simply as decorating.

Frequently Asked Questions About Decor

1. What are the basic elements of decor?
The main categories of decor include furniture, lighting, rugs and carpeting, textiles like curtains and pillows, wall decor like art and mirrors, storage and organizational items and accessories like vases, baskets and trays.

2. How do I choose an interior decor style?
Consider your personality, lifestyle and tastes along with the architecture and functionality of the space. Decide if you prefer traditional, modern, minimalist, eclectic, cottage core or other established aesthetics then decorate to bring that cohesive theme to life.

3. Where should I splurge vs save on home decor?
Splurge on high-quality beds, sofas and seating since these get intensive use. Save on accent decor you can easily swap out for an affordable refresh later like toss pillows, vases and decorative trays.

4. How often should I update my home decor?
Redecorating every 3-5 years keeps your environment aligned with your evolving taste and changing lifestyle needs without getting too costly. Freshen up accent pieces seasonally.

5. What decor colors make a room look bigger or smaller?
Light, bright, muted colors like whites, neutrals and pastels visually expand space. Dark, bold, saturated hues like navy and emerald green make rooms feel more intimate and cozy.

6. How do I decorate my home on a budget?
DIY projects, secondhand scores, rentals, swaps, budget-friendly stores, reusable items you already own, and simple embellishing of what you have are all wallet-friendly approaches.

7. What common decorating mistakes should I avoid?
Don’t overcrowd rooms. Measure furnishings before purchasing. Avoid overly matchy-matchy coordination for visual interest. Establish functional activity zones in open concept floorplans.

8. How can I maximize storage through decor?
Look for dual-purpose furniture like storage ottomans and beds. Use baskets, attractive containers and organizers. Install shelving for books, displays and collections.

9. What decor tricks make a house look clean and tidy?
Hide everyday clutter in storage furnishings and cabinets. Choose easy-to-maintain surfaces and fabrics. Minimize knickknacks requiring dusting. Corral loose items like toys when not in use.

10. How do I decorate with houseplants?
Choose plants suited to your space’s light and humidity. Group similar plants together for impact. Use plant stands for visual interest at different heights. Add decorative pots or planters.

11. What small decor upgrades have a big impact?
Just a few meaningful additions like an entry console, gallery wall or plush area rug can pull a whole room together. Upgrade lighting and hardware for shine and style.

12. How can I incorporate vintage or antique pieces into my decor?
Mix eras and styles for interest but bind them together with common color threads, coordinated textures or contained vignettes. Upgrade furnishings with new slipcovers, cushions or paint.

13. What questions should I ask an interior decorator?
Discuss your budget, lifestyle, goals, tastes and timeline expectations. Ask about their rates, specialty, process and previous client work that reflects your preferred style.

14. How do I choose decor if I might move soon?
opt for versatile neutral backgrounds allowing you to easily incorporate colorful accents now and later. Select multi-functional and portable furniture pieces without custom sizing.

15. What decorating tips make a rental feel homey?
Infuse personality with gallery walls showcasing your photos and art plus decorative accent pillows and throws you can easily pack and take with you. Seek landlord approval beforehand.

16. How should I decorate my first adult apartment after college?
Blend must-have functional basics from budget stores with DIY, hand-me-down and sentimental pieces carrying memories. Splurge on a statement decor item like an eye-catching floor lamp.

17. What should I know before redecorating a child’s bedroom?
Involve them in plans to suit their evolving personality and needs. Build in multi-functional features sure to work now and in the future as interests and priorities change.

18. What special considerations are there for decorating a nursery?
Prioritize safety in all design choices featuring secured furniture, cord covers, safe materials, easy-clean surfaces and strict use of nontoxic finishes and paints.

19. How do I achieve a cohesive decor look throughout my home?
Repeat color threads, textures, materials, patterns and style eras in different rooms. Vary and balance lighter and darker accents. Unify open concept rooms through consistent flows.

20. Where can I find unique budget-friendly decor inspiration?
Scope out thrift stores, online resale sites, vintage shops, yard sales and reusable materials. Follow DIY, tiny home and budget decor bloggers and influencers for clever tips.


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