The world of interior design can be overwhelming at the best of times. With so many rules to follow, so much lingo, and so many ideas for furniture, decor and layouts…it’s enough to make your head spin.
We can’t all be experts, but there are a few tricks of the trade that can help you achieve the enviable interior style. We’ve broken down five of the most basic rules and recommendations. They’re easy to follow and will help you navigate designing your home like a pro.
It was renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright who coined the phrase “form and function are one”. Meaning, things should look good, but they should be practical too. So before you plan the design of your room, these are the two things to keep in mind.
Starting with your furniture. You might fall in love with the style of a sofa, but is it comfortable? And sure, that desk is practical, but is it clunky and outdated? There’s no point ruining the whole look and feel of a room for a piece of furniture that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Same goes for a piece you may have bought on a whim, only to discover it never gets any use. So before you buy, always question if it has great form and is also functional. Choosing designs that tick both boxes means they work and you’ll have them for long.
Be well measured
Once you’ve determined the purpose of a room, it’s time to plan. You have the key pieces of furniture ready, so before you go full-force moving furniture and hanging wall art, stop and think. There’s a few simple tricks when it comes to arranging a space, and it all comes down to measurements.
You’ve probably heard of the 2:3 rule, otherwise known as the ‘golden ratio’. Ideally, every room should follow this. Start by dividing a room into two sections – the larger one should measure 2:3 of the space, and be the area for big pieces of furniture such as your sofa, bed or dining table. The smaller section will house secondary pieces such as storage or an extra seating area.
Furniture should also follow the 2:3 rule. This means your largest piece of furniture – for example, a sofa – should measure 2:3 of the area. Then work your way backwards from there. The coffee table should be 2:3 the size of the sofa, and so on. Once the bigger pieces of furniture are placed, it’s easier to work smaller, decorative pieces around them.
Know your colours
When it comes to colour, there’s a few things to consider. Firstly, choosing your colour scheme. Start with one shade that you love – you may already have it picked out. If not, have a look at this year’s trending colours for inspiration. Or this guide explaining the psychology of colours. There’s a lot to consider, and it helps to remember that dark and warm colours make a room feel smaller, while bright and light shades open it up.
Once you’ve decided, it’s time to use a colour wheel. This is the biggest tool used by interior designers when working on colour schemes. We love this colour wheel tool, which does all the hard work for you when it comes to mixing and matching different hues.
To learn more about colour styling, read The definitive guide to decorating with colour.
Light it up
Lighting has the ability to change the whole look and feel of a room. It’s a known fact that darkness can have a negative psychological impact, so make sure you invest in a well-lit space.
Lighting should be both practical and pretty. Consider what you use the room for and what kind of lighting you need. For example, kitchens and laundries should be bright throughout, while studies and home theatres will have more focused lighting.
Use natural light where you can, it’s higher quality and far more energy efficient. You should also try and get creative with different types of lighting. Floor lamps are great for gloomy corners, while overhead lights are a must for dining tables. Mood lighting may not offer as much brightness, but the ambient glow works wonders in a lounge area, or installed along dark hallways.
Don’t forget that the lamp itself can also act as a highly stylish decorative element in your home. Choose one that will look as good switched off as it does on.
Keep it fresh
This last rule of interior design is something to keep in mind for the long term. Keeping your home on-trend doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul every season. Instead, focus on small changes that can help you stay up to date and loving the space you’re in. Get rid of that dusty old bookcase, replace cushion covers with a fun new fabric, or revive a tired looking table display.
The trick is not getting too attached to your belongings. Of course, hold onto heirlooms or pieces with sentimental value. But don’t be afraid to phase out pieces that no longer work. As decluttering guru Marie Kondo says, “discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.” If there’s no longer room in your life for something, get rid of it and make room for something better. Reading Marie Kondo’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a great source of inspiration.