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10 Simple Interior Design Tips for Big Impact

Updated on January 17, 2018

As a designer I notice simple things that can be changed in every home, often for little or no money. These changes can make a huge difference in the wow factor of your interiors. They can change a bland normal room into a pleasant and interesting one. Here are my 10 interior considerations...

1. Hang the curtains high

Hang your curtains as high as you can - height is so important in a room and curtains make a big impact. Full height curtains hide the fact that windows aren't all the same and are a little bit pokey.

2. Use the symmetrical layout in the bedroom

This tried and tested layout works for the most elegant of hotels down to professionally designed domestic interiors. The calming effect of a symmetrical layout is perfect for the bedroom. Its easy to pull this look off so try for yourself.

Step 1. Place the bed on the opposite wall to the door. Ideally centred between two windows or against a window.

Step 2. If there are no windows in the right spot, try faking some with mirrors and curtains OR use feature wallpaper or a darker colour.

Step 3. Add a large circular art piece above the bed OR have a fabulous headboard OR some other eye-catching symmetrical art. Be bold.

Step 4. Add two matching bedside tables.

Step 5. Add two lamps with large lampshades. Be brave with the size of the lampshades.

This layout works with any style you can think of so go wild with your favourite colours, patterns and textures. Try not to go too crazy with the scatter cushions - the calming effect of the design shouldn't be negated by the daily removal and restoration of the scatter cushion fort.

Symetrical layouts are really good for hallways, console tables and sideboards too.

3. Say NO to matched furniture!

It is really hard to stop matched furniture from looking cheap! Instead, try to choose two different styles - some wood and some painted for example. Look for bargain antique furniture or have good simple solid furniture built by a carpenter.

Try to work with the concept that the only things that should be 'matchy-matchy' are items that are put into symmetrical layouts opposite each other.

4. Its good to oversize

Oversizing the things you love about your home is a great way to personalise your space. If you love art have art covering entire walls in gallery style picture walls. If you love to lay on the sofa have huge oversize sofas in the living room. Have a huge dining table, buy the biggest chandelier, allow a beautiful coffee table to dominate. Tiny things make clutter, big things make statements.

5. Colour coordinate books

Do you ever notice how interior magazines show only neutral or blank books on the shelving? Looks pretty right? Well you have to either only buy pastel books, cover every single book in paper, or turn your books pages side out. All three are ridiculous!

The great way to get a coordinating look on your shelves is to colour coordinate your books into a rainbow. Its surprisingly easy to find the books you want without your previous cataloguing-by-subject or by-author method, as the brain remembers colour well. The different sizes blend together too making a more attractive display.

6. Add height

Large spaces of wall between your floor based furniture and your ceiling make your room look empty and 2-dimensional. 'Height' or the designer trick of 'drawing the eyes upwards' is pretty important to make a room look good. Hopefully some well placed art and curtains will achieve this, but if your room needs more then consider: eye catching ceiling mounted lighting, large lamps, and floor to ceiling book or display cases.

You can also add shelving at just above eye level, or a bureau with a large mirror or centrepiece.

The bedroom classic of course is the four poster bed. Offset the cost with the fact that you don't want to go to fancy hotels anymore because the bed won't be as amazing as yours! You can get a similar look by hanging ceiling mounted curtains above the bed, or attaching posts at the corners of the bed you have.

7. Clutter - you know what to do

Yes, yes, I know. You get that sinking feeling or the panicked flutter - I can't get rid of these things, they mean so much to me!

Is an item worthy of placing on a small shelf on its own as a piece of artwork? Then try to do that to add to the gallery/picture wall look.

If not, you have a few options:

  • Store with scrapbooks/memory boxes to look at once in a while
  • Collect many of the same pieces and have them mounted in a frame as their own artwork collection. NB It is best to frame in a contrasting colour to the wall.
  • Store most items away but bring out 'themed' items at certain times of the year, or rotate nick-nacks on a display shelf.
  • Tuck your loved items in places only you see - pin them inside cupboards or in drawers. You get the memory pleasure without the clutter guilt.

8. Use your own colours

If you are at all interested in Interior Design you've probably heard that you should stick to one of the following colour schemes:

  • Monotone or Monochromatic: Everything is the same colour or is in different shades of the same colour
  • Complementary: Opposite colours from the colour wheel but where one is more muted and the other more vibrant
  • Harmony or Analogous: Colours from next to each other on the colour wheel.

To all that I say this: Some of the most beautiful, unique, fun and amazing designs throw all that out of the window. Find your favourite colours. Find a pattern you love and steal the colours from that. Stick them next to each other and if it pleases you then do it. By using your favourite colours then you will love your own home and not stress about trying to copy others. The benefit is that by truly embracing your own style, others will be able to appreciate 'the look' and see the beauty too.

9. Fitted furniture

Its one of the first things a professional Interior Designer will think of when figuring out solutions to interior needs. Custom built furniture will always look great as it gets rid of sizing gaps and makes full use of every available inch... but don't panic! Fitted furniture does not have to mean a hefty bill. Speak to some local carpenters to see what the real cost is, and if that is out of your budget try these tips:

Try using two standard shelving units at either end of a wall and have the middle section filled with a cut-to-size desk or shelving. Desktops can be made from kitchen countertops (great wood selections) and can be custom cut at IKEA and most other outlets.

Consider several made-to-size floating shelving to fit between the units - Shelf Direct (No affiliation) does this in the UK for prices on par with standard size shelving and you can choose your finish.

You may even be lucky enough to find that you can buy standard sized furniture to fit the gaps, or find a piece that is just right on ebay.

If it all doesn't quite work, you can block in spaces with wood to get the custom fitted look.

Make sure you plan your space, measure carefully, and source furniture to fill the space properly.

10. And finally... think!

Lastly, don't go crazy for a 'look'. Think hard about what you want each room to do for you, including multi-use areas, and have it do that job. 'Big impact' is not just for looks but it's for real use too. Search for 'hacks' which will make your life easier and plan them into your space. Try some of these for size:

  • Screw extension cords to the bedside tables to make charging your phone easier.
  • Label your cords before pushing the heavy furniture against the sockets.
  • Have your computer monitor and lamp sit on a shorter sturdy shelf that is 4-5 inches above your desk, that way the keyboard and mouse slide neatly away underneath.
  • Mount cupboard doors on a multiuse-office area in the living room so that work can be 'shut away' at night to properly de-stress.
  • Leave the dining table laid with placemats, salt and pepper. It saves time and still looks good.
  • Keep bathroom items in small baskets for each person, and keep spare products in storage elsewhere to keep the bathroom serene and to stop all the products getting out of hand.

Your tips...

So what do you think - do you have any tips to share with other readers? Please leave comments below as I'd love to hear from you!

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