Have you ever walked into a room where everything just ‘works’ perfectly?
Sometimes the room has obvious highlights like a lovely piece of furniture. But sometimes what makes the room special is more subtle: the layout, the colours, the details… it’s all oh-so-flawless. And you wonder: how’s it done?
You’re about to find out! I’ll share some interior designer’s best-kept secrets so you can create that wow factor in your own home.
Create depth with texture and layering
Here’s a simple trick for adding interest to a bland room: mixing up your textures. Contrast rough finishes with smooth, especially if you’ve a limited colour scheme, and your room gets a new dimension. Take a look at this matte backdrop paired with satins and a velvet sofa:
Layering is another great way to give your room depth. The idea is to arrange furnishings and accessories so they overlap, leaving some items partially hidden. You could drape a throw over a chair for example, or let foliage spill over artwork. This makes the eye work to decipher what’s underneath, and creates intrigue:
Add enough layers to keep things interesting, but not so many that your space becomes cluttered!
Scale and proportion can make or break a room
Furniture needs to be the right scale to fit the room. For example, a bulky sofa wedged into a small room will look ungainly and take up valuable space. And while the furniture looks perfectly cosy in this small living room, it would be lost in a more spacious area:
The size of each piece of furniture should be in proportion with the pieces near it, too. Imagine how odd a tall side table would look perched next to a low-slung sofa. You’d be more comfortable with a table that sits close to the arm.
But if everything’s exactly the same height, there’s nothing to catch the eye and you risk a room that’s boring!
So it’s a good idea to vary the size of your pieces, especially if your room is large. Generate enough contrast to lead the eye around the room, with nothing so big or small it looks out of place. This Art Deco inspired room achieves this beautifully:
Apply the rule of 3
Things are more pleasing to the eye when grouped in odd numbers, and we like groups of three most of all. It’s just how our brains work – while one is too boring and five too busy, three gives us a centre point and harmony that we love to gaze at.
You could apply the rule of three to accessories, like a display of three vases or three pieces of wall art. Or you might want to apply it in your choice of furniture, and even the colours and textures in your room.
Your group of three can be identical to achieve a pleasing balance:
But you can also create an exciting contrast by varying the items, say with different sizes or patterns:
Use the colour ratio 60–30–10 for flawless results
If you’re using a colour scheme of three colours, there’s a trick for expressing them flawlessly in your room - apply them in the ratio of 60-30-10. Here’s how:
Choose to cover 60% of your room in your main colour – say your walls and larger furniture. This acts as a backdrop for the other colours. Your main colour will often be your lightest colour, or a neutral shade.
Next, add 30% in your secondary colour, perhaps your curtains, a rug, and smaller furniture. This builds another layer.
Now, the fun bit! The final 10%. Add a pop of bold accent colour with your accessories, say on cushions, lamps or wall art.
Rather than piling one colour in a corner, disperse your three colours in this ratio throughout your room, for a balanced look that’s irresistible to the eye. Here’s the rule in action with a white, grey and blue palette:
Don’t forget your ceiling
So often neglected, the ceiling is actually a key element in your room. Think of it as your fifth wall. It’s especially important if your room has features that draw the eye upwards, like a statement light fixture, a high curtain rail or stairway.
To give your room a funky, modern look, you can contrast pale walls with a bold ceiling:
You can add detail to frame an overhead light fixture, like this Art Deco inspired sunburst:
Or you can even enhance the light in your room by choosing metallic paint. Take a look at how this glamorous foyer has been brightened by a gold ceiling:
If you’d rather avoid the challenge of doing too much with your ceiling, choosing a paler shade than your walls looks much better than leaving it bare white!
Move your furniture away from the wall
It might sound counter-intuitive, but pushing furniture against the wall makes a room seem less spacious. Move it away from the wall, even if it’s only by a few inches, and your room instantly appears more spacious, and more inviting, too:
Living room furniture in particular needs to ‘talk to each other’, for example facing each other across a coffee table.
Giving some thought to how your furniture’s arranged will really pay off. Most rooms benefit from a focal point – something your eye is drawn to when entering a room, with furniture placed around it. And placing your furniture on a diagonal instead of parallel to the wall gives your room an exciting, dynamic feel:
Lighting is often overlooked when decorating. Too often, a room ends up with one harsh overhead light. It’s more flattering (and practical) to choose several light sources at different levels. Not only does this make activities like reading and dining easier, but different light sources will create a brand new mood in your room. For example a pendant light promotes energy, while low level lighting will make your room feel cosier:
Lighting can also be used to enhance your favourite features. A well-placed lamp could bring out metallic surfaces on furniture, while a statement pendant light can emphasise a high ceiling.
But don’t be afraid of the dark
You might be tempted to shy away from dark colours, worrying a room will look smaller or cave-like. But darker shades can really transform the ambience of your room, projecting luxury and sophistication.
Dark accents in a bright room can create a contrast that’s edgy and modern:
And if you’re daring enough to paint your walls dark, the dramatic expanse of bold colour can actually give the illusion of more space. To prevent the room looking gloomy, contrast your dark walls with vibrant art and bright furnishings, like this funky living room with vivid jewel tones:
When choosing dark paint, go for something with sheen, like silk or satin, and you can highlight the deep colours lustre with well-placed ambient lighting:
I love to transform a room into something gorgeous with these designer’s secrets, and I hope you will, too! Have fun and experiment with them in your own home to achieve a space that’s stunning, from the texture of your fabrics and the layout of your furniture, to colours that pop in all the right places.
What do you think of these tips? Are there any decor secrets you’ve found effective? I’d love to hear all about all them! Feel free to share your insights in the comments