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13 Home Interior Design Tips From the Pros
Decorating your new or remodeled home is fun, inspiring, personal. So is the process of scouting for interior design tips and using your imagination to make them your own.
You’re no doubt seeking inspiration from a variety of sources — that’s why we put together this selection of interior decorating tips from professional designers.
1. Reflect Your Personality with Mirrors
Mirrors have magical abilities. From serving as decorative “windows” to adding light and depth, they are incredibly versatile design elements capable of visually expanding the size of your space.
Dallas-based interior designer Jan Showers loves how mirrors “add style and sparkle to a room.” She says she’s never done a project without mirrors in her three decades as a designer. “ Think carefully about what the mirror will reflect. You want to pick up a great scene, like a pretty chandelier.”
2. Make Your Room Seem Taller
New York designer Todd Romano is also a fan of big mirrors. As someone who works hard to “create strong verticals and avoid the horizontal,” he says they help add scale to a room. “A taller doorway gives the illusion of higher ceilings.”
Two other ways to make a room feel taller include:
- Opt for low-slung furniture
- Raise and align doorways
3. Your Windows and Hue
The most common ways to “finish” your interior trim is usually painting it a neutral white, or staining it to match the other woodworking in the room; but you can also add a pop of color to the trim, like Meg Braff, Locust Valley, N.Y. based interior designer. “Window trim is an often-overlooked opportunity to make a statement”.
In general, Braff says, a splash of paint is a way to create powerful visual impact at a low cost. “It transforms a room, whether it’s the walls, ceilings, moldings, or even floors”.
Designer: Mary Douglas Drysdale, (202-588-0700) | Source: House Beautiful | Photographer: Francesco Lagnese | Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-555-0886
4. Try the 50/150 Rule for Paint Color
For the perfect color family, mix one batch of paint 50% lighter than the base and another 150% darker. Mary Douglas Drysdale, a designer, describes this technique as “a very architectural way of using color.”
5. Sizzling Your Chandelier
Chandeliers come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you figure out how big yours should be?
Alexa Hampton, owner of Mark Hampton LLC on Madison Avenue, offers this advice for making sure your lighting fixture is not too small: “A great rule of thumb that I learned years ago is to take the width of the room in feet, double the number, convert it to inches, and that is the minimum dimension for your chandelier’s diameter.”
New York-based designer Joshua Smith explores the significance of light as a design element — both natural and electrical — in a blog post, for Conscious Home, emphasizing the need to “control the quality and quantity of light in our environment.”
In the design world, electrical lighting inside the home is commonly broken down into three categories:
- Ambient lighting (illuminating an entire room)
- Task lighting (illuminating a specific function, such as a table lamp at a reading nook)
- Accent lighting (most often used for highlighting artwork)
Joshua is also a strong believer in harnessing a space’s natural light, saying it “makes everyone and everything look its best.”
7. Illumination Inspiration: The Dimmer Switch
Martyn Lawrence Bullard has seen the light — and it is adjustable. The Los Angeles-based designer deems the dimmer switch to be an indispensable — and inexpensive — design element. “Lighting is everything…and this little device can make or break a room.”
With dimmers, you can manage the lighting in every room from the mudroom to the kitchen, to create the right ambiance or just brighten up your entry for a late night arrival at home.
8. Don’t Rush with the Brush
Toronto designer, Judith Taylor, offers this advice to home decorators moving into a new space: Pick the paint color last.
“There are thousands of paint colors with various tints, tones and shades. And each one looks different from home to home, because light sources vary…You want the color that best complements your upholstery, artwork, rug and whatever else. You can pick that color only if your stuff is actually inside your home.”
9. Show Style with Tile
Tile offers seemingly endless possibilities and comes in an extraordinary array of materials, patterns, colors and creative designs. Terrazzo and terracotta, marble and porcelain, ceramic and slate. They make a great backsplash for a kitchen or bathroom, add them to your walkway or patio, or decorate your stair risers for a custom look. You can even combine them with your favorite wide plank wood flooring.
Combining tile with wood flooring can create a truly extraordinary, and luxury look for any room, or you can create a custom design as a focal point in a kitchen, hallway or entry. This hallway featured in a custom home, built by Wyatt Anderson Construction uses marble and wide plank walnut flooring to create a custom look throughout the hallway, and main level of the home.
10. Draw Inspiration from Nature
Florida-based home design/lifestyle expert Ronique Gibson is fascinated by the interior design possibilities offered by natural wood and water, sunlight and sustainability.
Whether it’s a bubbling zen fountain in the living room or a rugged natural rock wall in the kitchen, she says in a blog post for Freshome.com, people love the natural and organic appeal of “elements that make them feel calm, at peace and above all welcomed into a space.”
This Solano Beach, California home looks out across the majestic Pacific Ocean, from its clifftop roost. The home creates a welcoming environment for the outdoors with oversized windows to let in the views of the surrounding landscape while incorporating natural elements throughout the interior of the home as well. This includes reclaimed heart pine flooring, nautical decor, and indoor plants.
It is with good reason that many designers now refer to the ceiling, once overlooked, as your “fifth wall.” It usually represents the largest expanse of uninterrupted space in a room, so it can have a profound impact on the ambiance.
“Don’t be afraid to paint your ceiling in a color. As long as the walls are painted in a darker shade, the ceiling will feel light.”
— Lucy Gough, Designer
12. Silver and Gold, Together at Last
Let those precious metals shine! That’s a nugget of advice about metallic finishes from Los Angeles-based designer John De Bastiani. “I don’t know why people don’t mix gold with silver more often — they look so smart together…The key is to use a lot of both; you can’t be shy with one or the other.”
Once you install a wide plank floor, the last thing you want to do is cover it up, but there are some circumstances where you may want to install a small area rug. Some examples include in front of the kitchen sink, a runner down a hallway or entryway or perhaps under a coffee table or dining room table.
If you are going to use an area rug, a round rug can make a small room feel much larger, says Virginia Based Interior Designer, Barry Dixon. “The circle represents infinity…and a round rug brings that esoteric idea of ‘no boundaries’ into reality as a visual element.”