Designing the perfect space is hard! You think that you may know what you want, but when you put it together, it still doesn’t have that professional look that you were going for. You think to yourself, if they can do it, why can’t I? I have soooo been there. While designing your dream space takes patience and a creative eye, it isn’t something that can’t be done with the right interior designer tips and tricks in your arsenal. After years of research, trial and error, and personal experience, I have discovered and utilized the design tips and tricks that I am sharing with ya’ll today. I just got really excited! Did you?! Good. Let’s do this!
1. Symmetry is one of my Tried and True Design Rules. If you place a sconce on one side of a mirror, you had better place one on the other side! Think pairs in nightstands, lamps on said nightstands, chairs, picture frames, etc. Symmetry creates a cohesive look in the space and gives the eye a place to rest. Note: Please don’t confuse this with matching. Everything doesn’t have to match. Symmetry refers to the placement of objects not the patterns and textures of them.
2. Dress walls not windows. Hang your curtains so that they are touching the ceiling. Do not place the panels in front of the window, place them on either side with just an inch or so covering the actual window. This creates the illusion that the window is much bigger than it really is.
3. Tired of an old piece? Want to dress up the cheap looking desk you got from IKEA? Add some custom hardware to it. This is a quick and inexpensive way to add a custom touch t your furniture. The little details all come together in a room!
4. While I don’t suggest matching colors and fabrics throughout your entire home, pick a central hue that you love and build your accessory collection around that. Ex. My design savvy mother loves cobalt blue. She has been collecting serving dishes, vases, bowls, knick knacks, etc. in this color for decades. She doesn’t display them all at once, but she is able to disperse this gorgeous shade of blue sparingly throughout her home to create a cohesive look. I mean hey, who wouldn’t want their salad bowl to coordinate with their decor?
5. When designing a room, choose your paint color last. Let the rest of your space and design dictate what color you select for the walls.
6. The fastest way to make yourself look like a complete design amateur is selecting a rug that is WAY too small for the room. Rugs can get expensive, but forking over the few extra hundred dollars for the correct size will really pull the room together.
7. Pay attention to the visual weight of your furniture. Create an appealing balance of lighter pieces, with grounding, sturdier pieces. For example, you wouldn’t want to furnish a bedroom with (shudder) a matching set of furniture, but especially not a matching set of heavy wooden furniture. Mixing in leggier pair of nightstands would really help to break up the visual weight in the room, making it appear larger.
8. Tables shouldn’t be limited to table lamps. Hang a killer pair of pendant lights or sconces over a set of nightstands for a chic look that frees up extra space.
9. Pay attention to the size scale and proportions of different objects in comparison to one another. For example, I often see people make the mistake of getting a lamp for a sofa or console table that is too small. The larger the wall the piece is in front of, the larger the lamp. This is also true in relation of lamp to furniture size. Big table, big lamp. Purchasing a taller lamp brings the eye upward and makes the space feel larger than it really is.
10. Don’t have money for a large art budget? Make your own! Here are a few examples that can make a beautiful statement:
- Blow up a favorite photograph to statement size such as 34 x 34 and get it framed! Talk about cool looking!
- Buy a big canvas and make your own abstract art! I have a large scale custom piece that I did myself over my bed!
- Create large decorative panels by covering foam core board in your favorite wallpaper and hanging!
11. All white linens and towels will always remain a classic. They add a clean touch of luxury to any space.
12. Fake the look of custom pillows by buying pillow inserts that are at least 2″ bigger on all sides than your store bought pillow covers. This will keep your pillows looking plump and expensive all day long!
13. Get creative with wallpaper! Cover the inside of your closet with a bold print. Wallpaper your bathroom ceiling with a subtle pattern, the options are endless!
14. Re-purpose your belongings. Use a mint julep cup as a pencil holder, use a female bust to wear your necklaces, etc!
15. Don’t forget to style your closet. Use matching hangers, and storage bins to create a clutter free, designed look in your closet.
16. Avoid lining your walls with furniture. Float at least one piece in the middle for a more dynamic look.
17. Fresh flowers do wonders for a room. Even if you can only afford them once in a while, it is so worth the little splurge.
18. When ordering fabric, always order 2 extra yards. Think of it as your accident insurance policy!
19. Install your door knobs at 34″ high, not the standard 36″ high. It will add elegant proportion to your door and make it seem taller.
20. Start a collection of something meaningful and find a pretty way to store it. For example, one of my favorite interior designers Emily Henderson collects decorative brass shoes. Talk about random. But look how beautifully she displays them!
21. Don’t be afraid to mix styles! I love mixing contemporary with traditional. Seeing the new with the old creates a unique style story and always adds a lot of interest to the space. Using contemporary light fixtures is one of my favorite ways to do this!
22.. Never match your wall color to a color in a fabric choice. This will come off too bold! Instead, use a muted version of the color.
23. Are you really unsure about the direction that you want to take your space? Play it safe and design with neutrals. Add in temporary pops of color in the form of pillows, curtains, art, etc. that can easily be replaced if need be.
24. Not everyone can afford to design their space using only expensive pieces. Mix the expensive with the inexpensive! Invest in a showstopping rug or sofa and dial down the expenses in other areas such as with accent furniture.
25. A good rule of thumb when painting ceilings is to use the trim color plus 50% white.
26. Don’t place sconces over mirrors as they will cast unflattering shadows. Flank the mirror with sconces placed on either side to cast a more flattering light.
27. Throw a portrait light onto a stunning art piece to add more detail to the room and to draw attention to your gorgeous art. Portrait lights don’t have to be old fashioned looking. There are so many contemporary options that will beautifully accentuate your piece!
28. The perfect height to hang a mirror over a mantel is 7″ from the mantel top.
29. Don’t forget to take into consideration how YOU will look in your newly designed space! If you don’t look good in orange, then don’t design your space with large amounts of orange. Choose colors that are flattering on you instead!
30. Command Strips = Your new BFF. Use them on the back of hanging art to secure the frames to the wall. No more straightening pictures! They are also great when hanging art on top of mirrors or bookcases.
31. Mirrors are one of my favorite pieces to style because they can do so much for a space. However, mirrors do not count as art. Your space always needs art.
32. While it may sound counter-intuitive, using small pieces of art will make the room feel smaller. Using a large over sized piece of art or mirror will trick the eye into thinking that the wall (and room) is bigger than it really is.
33. The max break from the floor to the bottom of the curtain should be 1″. Any larger than that and it is going to look like your windows are wearing pants that are too small for them. No one wants that.
34. Always dress your windows, they need love too. While every room in the world might not need window dressings, 85% of them will. Curtains or shades finish off the look of a space nicely.
35. Use a glossy glaze on the ceiling to enlarge the feeling of a room, and likewise use a matte paint to enclose and minimize the space. Note: Never use a roller with glossy paint or you will end up with the orange peel effect on your walls.
36. Was your house or apartment not blessed with crown molding? No fear. Paint your own! Home Depot has a great tutorial here, although I wouldn’t do such a wide band. The “crown molding” should stop just before the top of the curtain rods.
37. A properly sized dining room rug should extend 3′ on all sides from the edge of the table. No chairs should hang off!
38. Please don’t put a rectangular shaped table in a square room, or a square table in a rectangular room. It will skew the proportions of the room and disrupt the eye.
39. Every room needs at least one large scale piece to balance it. Go for the huge art piece, or the over-sized coffee table. Live large! Baboom chhh.
40. Get creative with your bookshelves! Lay all of your books horizontally for a change, or organize them by color. Who says functional can’t be pretty?
41. Always make sure that the furniture can “talk” to each other in a room. Create arrangements that allow for an easy flow of conversation between future guests in your space.
42. When you are designing a new space in your home, you always need to create a concept, or mood board. This board allows you to visually see how the different elements of your design work with one another in your space. This can be done by physically compiling fabric swatches and photographs, or digitally using a free program such as Olio Board, or paid software like Photoshop.
43. When planning a gallery wall use pieces of butcher paper to map out your frame placement ahead of time.
44. Use art that is proportional to the wall it is on. Unless you are doing a gallery wall, small pieces have no place on large walls.
45. Design using the rule of threes. When arranging decorative accessories on a table for example, use groups of three. Even numbers leave the viewer wanting more, while groups of three, five, or seven feel finished.
46. Don’t rely on overhead and recessed lighting to brighten your space. A good designer always uses table and floor lamps to light the room and add interest.
47. Desk chairs don’t have to be boring and generic! Get creative! As long as it is the correct height for the desk and comfortable for you to sit in, there is nothing stopping you from using a showstopping wing back as a desk chair!
48. Accent lighting can add such a unique visual element to the space. Show off a gorgeous vase or bowl in a bookcase by lighting it from behind or above!
49. Don’t used colored curtain sheers. Because- just don’t.
50. If you want your space to look professionally designed, keep an excess of personal photos out of the main living areas. I keep mine in my bedroom!