One of the most common design mistakes that non-designers make – especially in open-plan spaces – is cramming too much furniture into an area without leaving enough room for people to walk around comfortably. The most frequently-used thoroughfares in your home should be at least 90cm wide – just enough for two people to pass each other.
MAKE FLOORING COHESIVE
Using the same flooring throughout different rooms or areas in your home is an easy way to make the space feel much bigger than it is. If you have large, open-plan rooms, use rugs to break up the continuity and divide the space according to use. This will create the impression of distinct sitting and dining areas that still pull together as part of the same, larger whole.
COLOUR BLOCK WALLS
Block painting walls with harmonious or contrasting colours can alter a room's sense of space and also give your scheme a fun twist. To get a crisp finish, always use masking or decorator's tape. Get an instant style fix by marking out geometric shapes and fill in the blanks with a variety of colours that reflect your personality.
STYLE BOOKSHELVES RIGHT
Learning the art of display makes the difference between practical storage and a beautiful feature. Here's how to make your bookshelves Instagram-worthy. Do not overcrowd the space, choose accessories in the same colour and group items together in odd numbers. Use books as objects and exhibit them both horizontally and vertically for interest. Aim for two-thirds books, one-third accessories and make sure to include either plants, foliage or flowers too.
LET IN NATURAL LIGHT
There is no substitute for natural light. It not only benefits our health and wellbeing but it also affects how colours appear. Always look at the light in your room before you decorate it. South-facing rooms benefit from the maximum amount of light whereas north-facing will be darker, therefore, paint colours can seem a completely different hue in one room to another.
WALLPAPER THE BATHROOM
You don't necessarily need to stick to tiles in the bathroom. Wallpapering bathroom walls can make a beautiful style statement and it's a great place to use bold pattern and colour you might not use elsewhere. Large prints look especially striking in small spaces so feature wallpaper can transform cloakrooms and downstairs toilets, too. Look for specialist bathroom wallpaper that is wash and splash-resistant.
PLAY AROUND WITH SCALE
Going supersized gives you instant interior design brownie points. Not only does upscaling a key accessory or piece of furniture make a striking style statement but it also creates a comfortable, cosy atmosphere in a room. Lamps and pendant lights offer the perfect way to play with scale, as they can create a big impact without taking up too much space.
NAIL THE FLOORPLAN
Speaking of leaving enough space, it’s also important to make sure there is room to move around in less busy areas of your home. For example, you should ideally leave about 45cm between sofas, chairs and coffee tables in your living room. This gives you plenty of space for sitting and moving around without having to stretch too far for your cup of coffee or shout across the room to have a conversation.
BALANCE YOUR COLOUR SCHEME
Want a failsafe way to proportion a three-colour scheme? Stick to 60% for your dominant colour, 30% for your secondary colour and 10% for your accent colour and you’ll find it hard to go wrong. To add a fourth colour into the mix, split the secondary colour or, at a push, the dominant colour, but never the accent.
HIGHLIGHT A FIREPLACE
Brightly painted fireplace surrounds have become an on-trend feature – we especially love this geometric design by The Otto House. What's more, you don't necessarily need a period property to achieve the look. A colourful fireplace surround can become a feature on its own as an original storage solution. Fill the centre with books or candles and use the top shelf to lean art and display house plants.
DESIGN AROUND YOUR LINE OF SIGHT
The best height to hang or stand a TV is at eye level in the position you’ll be watching it from. So in your living room, you’ll want it at the same height as your head when you’re sitting down. In a kitchen, you might want to hang it at your eye line when you’re standing or sitting at a breakfast bar. The ideal TV viewing distance is about 1.5 times the diagonal span of your TV screen.
INVEST IN DESIGNER PIECES
Designer furniture only gets better with age, so it's well worth investing. Iconic pieces with dramatic shapes make a great focal point in any room. A Fritz Hansen chair, Ercol sideboard or Arco Flos floor lamp will always attract attention and will never go out of fashion.
LAYER TONAL SHADES
Using multiple shades of the same colour immediately makes a room look polished and pulled together, and it's a trick that you can't get wrong. Layer the same colour or vary hues, adding texture and pattern into the mix. Start with a failsafe array of sofa cushions and then move onto larger items and structural parts of a room, for instance, painting a piece of furniture the same colour as the wall behind.
SWATCH YOUR PAINTS
Before you commit to a wall colour, it's important to paint a swatch and observe how the shade looks in different light conditions. For a mess-free method, paint swatches on A3 pieces of paper and move them around the room throughout the day, observing how they look in different corners of the space.
THE POWER OF THREE
Three is most definitely a magic number when it comes to design – as are odd numbers in general. Grouping odd numbers of items – be it cushions, vases, pictures or candles – forces the eye to move around the display, creating a level of visual interest that symmetrical, even-numbered arrangements simply can’t compete with.
UPCYCLE DRAB FURNITURE
Being able to transform old furniture is an interior decorator's secret weapon. Whether turning mass-produced flat-pack designs into one-off pieces or sprucing up junk-shop bargains into shabby-chic heirlooms, repainting furniture is a simple way to add colour and character in your home at rock bottom prices. Go for an all-in-one paint that doesn't need primer to cut down on prep time.
THE 70-30 SPLIT
Here’s another handy trick for getting your proportions right and balancing different styles within the same space. A guaranteed way to give a room character is to decorate about 70% of it in a particular style then complete the remaining 30% in a completely different style. So you can spice up a largely traditional scheme with a smattering of contemporary items, or vice versa.
ADD PANELLING TO WALLS
Wooden wall panels aren't just for period properties. This decorative feature adds character and texture to contemporary homes too and is a growing trend. What's more, it may look expensive but budget versions made from wood alternatives like fibreboard and OSB are super cheap and, once mounted, can hide wall surfaces that have seen better days. Tongue and groove panels make rustic schemes warm and cosy while framed and mid-height styles suit traditional looks and create a refined finish. Paint the panels in bold or muted tones for up-to-date appeal.
ACCENT WITH BLACK
There is a misconception that black makes things look closed in and dreary but this isn't the whole story. Interior designers use it as an accent because it can actually enlarge the feeling of space by placing the darkest tone on an area you want to 'push back'. The key is to use the bold shade sparingly to ground a room and tie the scheme together. Against a pale backdrop and used in repetition, the overall contrast adds a striking punch and looks undoubtedly chic.
DRESS THE BED
A bedroom should reflect your personality and as the bed takes up so much physical and visual space it certainly needs attention. So, what better way to make an impact than with versatile bedlinen that can easily be changed whenever the mood takes your fancy. Look for good quality bedlinen in colours and patterns that complement the surroundings and then layer like a pro with propped pillows, a throw blanket and decorative cushions for a hotel-chic vibe.