Interior Design – Top Tips

Ok, so just to warn you, some of these steps you may find quite boring, but trust me – you will be pleased with the end result!

Form & Function

It is vital that you start with a scale plan of the room or rooms you wish to furnish.  Don’t panic if you find this a daunting step, there are online tools for you to use, and all you need do is put in the room measurements.  This will guide you to choose the optimum layout and size of the furniture.  If you require any constructional or contracting work, (taking a wall out?) you would be best advised to seek the advice of an interior design architectural practice.  You should discuss the individual needs for the room to ensure it serves you well now and in the immediate future.

  1. Set your budget range

Lists! Some people love a list, others not so much, but here lists are essential.

List the furniture and furnishings you feel you need to buy

List the existing furniture and furnishings you expect will remain

List any tradesmen you may require to assist in this transformation

Having done this, you will need to put realistic costs for all items on these lists.  Finally you will need to allow for the hidden costs that always seem to just turn up . . . so add ten percent.

2. Now where do I start

Ok, you’ve done the practical (boring) bits.  You have a good idea of what you want and the budget – now what?

If you have existing items you need to incorporate, its best to start there.  If it’s a blank canvas, you should start with the dearest item to replace.  This could be the furniture, carpet, seating or a special decorative object that you’ve set your heart on.  This should give you a style and possibly a texture or colour from which to start.

3. What to do with those inherited heirlooms

If you are naturally good at placement then you can style your interiors with objects both past and present, to bring vitality and meaning to your home.  If this isn’t your skill, there is a lot of advice online and Robin Guild has written two great books to help you on your way – ‘Finishing Touch’ and ‘Homeworks’.

4. Does your room look stark?

This is so much a matter of taste.  Some of us prefer a minimal, easy to clean, almost austere environments; others prefer busy, almost fussy spaces – full of memorabilia and objet d’art.  It’s your room so there’s no right or wrong way to personalise it.  But be aware, placement and texture can change the feel of a room instantly.

Multiple patterns with the same tones but with a different scale, will add to an eclectic, easy feel to what would otherwise be a plain palette.

Textures on the other hand, will bring a sumptuous feel that you often see on well dressed bedding.  They can all be similar colours, often neutral but different degrees of shine – velvet, satin, mohair, cotton (flat and woven).

Obviously good lighting is essential when using textures.

5. Link colour or tone

It usually works well to form a link through several spaces in your home.  This can be done with a pattern or style theme.  The most inexpensive way (and to change) is a flash colour, something strong and identifiable.  A primary colour works well but restricts your colour palette throughout the house.  This is why so many designers use tones (black, grey, white).

If you flick through interior magazines you will see the use of black on picture frames, cushion piping and sometimes woodwork.  It’s subliminal but effective.

6. Making the most of cohesive groups

This can be pictures, wall hangings or objects to create areas where the eye can stop, relax and stay awhile.  Group items together and create a talking point for when your friends call round for a coffee.

Some people have this grouping skill naturally, others find it quite a challenge.  There are numerous easy methods of acquiring this skill which is often used when setting up show homes.

7. It’s your home

You may take all the advice in the world but never forget it’s your home.  There may be areas that you wish to create to impress others but essentially it’s where you relax and recoup with friends and family.  The areas should express these needs and your personality.  It may be your favourite artist, your hobby or a current fashion statement – make it all speak of who you are as you have fun creating your own personal masterpiece. You are unique – your home should be too!

8. Let your style fit your budget

Your interiors don’t have to be opulent to be good but they do need to be considered.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of forming something ‘showy’ and flamboyant.

If your budget is small, embrace it.  You may be a student furnishing the first space you call your own or you may upgrading the home of your dreams after a windfall – sometimes this can be a bigger problem.

Keep it simple, clean and classic and only incorporate on trend items in the less expensive range – you will tire of them.

9. Lighting

Lighting can be the last thing on your mind, until the nights start drawing in – but the impact of good lighting can be massive.  There are three main elements to consider when lighting an interior – ambient or concealed lighting, general lighting and function lighting.  Ideally it would be better if you could start again and not have a single source in the centre of the room or a single switch by the door.