You know it when you see it—a beautifully curated, fabulous and functional room. It takes a trained eye to be able to create a space that’s both useful and artful. And there isn’t one magic formula to the perfect room. That said, there are some rough principles that can guide you to ensure a great result. Follow these basic seven design tips for creating beautiful interiors. Consider this a foundation for developing your own creative, rule-breaking intuition.
1. Use Proper Scale & Proportion
Space planning is possibly the most important part of the interior design process. If the room does not meet the first criteria of functionality—it really won’t matter how beautiful it looks! Apart from functionality, a space can just feel awkward without proper proportion. A tiny coffee table in a spacious living room can make the room feel uncomfortably empty. Tall furniture in a room with low ceilings will feel claustrophobic. Consider things like the purpose of the space, how many people will be using it at one time, and the room’s natural walking flow.
2. Show Off Investment or Sentimental Pieces
An 18th century antique table that’s been in the family for generations, or a rare writing desk you found in a Paris flea market should not be tucked away hidden in a corner. Place your most treasured pieces front and center. Better yet, design the room around your most treasured piece or furniture or décor. If it has sentimental value, you’ll love seeing it every day. It’s simple: put the pieces you truly love on display.
3. Vary textiles
Different textiles–pillows, rugs, upholstery, and curtains–instantly add depth and interest to a room. The trick is incorporating color, pattern, and movement into an interior space in a cohesive manner. This can be achieved by playing with patterns but sticking to similar colors. Textiles can also contribute to the feeling of proportion in the space—big-scale patterns have a “shrinking” visual effect, while small, detailed patterns will have an enlarging effect on the space.
4. Display Great Art
There’s virtually no wrong way to display art in a space. That’s the great thing about it. Buy (or make) the art you love and display it. It doesn’t have to be expensive or valuable to provide you with great pleasure on a daily basis. Plan a space around a piece of art, or purchase something based on the room’s color scheme. Hang your pieces at the right height (eye-level), make a grouping of similar colors, create a grid by expertly measuring out the spaces in between or, better yet, break all these rules! It’s entirely up to you how you chose to use art in a room—as long as you use it!
5. Anchor with Area Rugs
Rugs set boundaries for the furniture it holds. Those that are too small or too large for the pieces of furniture or square footage of the room will immediately make the space feel inadequate. In a living room, the rug should be large enough so at least the front legs of the furniture are on it. It defines the conversation area. In the bedroom, you want to feel the rug on your feet when you get out of bed. This means around two feet of the rug extends beyond the boundaries of the bed. You can also try layering smaller rugs to achieve a larger anchored area.
6. Invest in Lighting
Lighting is a delicate design touch that many of us tend to overlook and underestimate. Great lighting pieces set the tone and mood in a space. A crystal chandelier or mid-century floor lamp can make everything else look significantly more luxurious. Not only will a high-quality light fixture do wonders, but a well thought-out lighting plan is crucial to the functionality and comfort of the space. The best way to achieve lighting balance is to layer light sources. Whether it’s ambient, task lighting, or accent lighting, it’s important to invest in pieces that will not only be functional, but will stand the test of time.
7. Mix & Match Décor and Furniture
It’s easy to buy an entire set of matching…well, everything. However, it’s much harder, yet much more interesting, to carefully curate different pieces that work together as whole. Side tables don’t have to be the same, as long as the lines and colors are similar. In the dining room, use antique chairs with a modern table, or vice versa. Even tableware can be mixed-and-matched with beautiful sets of antique china and silver flatware.