If you don’t like a specific musical style, the theatre bores you, or you’re not attracted to works of art, you can almost always avoid them. Architecture, however, is different. A poorly thought-out project will affect the lives of many people consistently and for a long time. With interiors, this effect is even more amplified. Humanity is spending more and more time indoors, which directly impacts our well-being and health. In periods of compulsory retirement, as in the current pandemic of Covid-19, we understand how important interior spaces are for our well-being and even for the prevention of diseases. Designing an indoor environment is a huge responsibility for a professional. An interior designer must plan, research, coordinate, and manage these projects to obtain an adequately healthy and aesthetically pleasing environment for the people who use the space. But what is interior design?
Not infrequently, interior design is confused with decoration – a misconception that comes with many prejudices and misunderstandings. The choice of coverings, colours, and finishes is, in fact, one important aspect of interior design. But it is not its only characteristic.
First, it is essential to understand user behaviours and desires to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. The organization of movement is a starting point, which can be achieved through basic layout manipulation. This division of space can be accomplished through walls, but also through furniture and even objects. At the same time, interior design must pay attention to comfort conditions (whether thermal, lighting or acoustic) and ergonomics, which dictates the best dimensions for furniture and objects. Finally, the specification of coatings and materials constitutes the most visible and superficial part of interior design but is no less important. This final touch composes the face of the project, transmitting the designer’s vision as well as the desires and needs of the users.
The Basics of Interior Design: 3 Design Principles
When getting started with your designs, there are a few interior design basics to keep in mind:
- Style. Selecting an interior design style, in the beginning will help you keep your space cohesive and focused. There are plenty of decorating styles to choose from—like shabby chic, Tuscan, mid-century modern, industrial, Scandinavian, or farmhouse—and many of them come with their unique design elements, colour schemes or colour palettes, window treatments, floor plans, and even styles of wall-art. Acquaint yourself with several different styles, including what design trends are popular right now, to get a taste of what styles and decorating ideas you like.
- Focal point. Each room should have a focal point: an interesting or beautiful piece that draws viewers’ attention, such as a piece of art, a fireplace, or a nice couch. Take care not to go overboard here: if you have too many focal points in a living space, it will start to feel overpowering and unfocused.
- Balance. To achieve balance in every room, you’ll need to distribute the visual weight of your furniture and accents. Consider scale (large and small items), texture (hard and soft items), and position (high, eye-level, and low placement, and left and right placement). If you pay attention to subtle contrasts in a single space, you’ll be able to create rooms that feel complete and balanced.
5 Interior Design Tips
Feeling ready to dive into the world of living rooms and coffee tables? Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to getting you started with your next interior design project:
- Spend carefully. When you’re just getting started in interior design, it’s best to take things slow and decide which items will be your big-ticket ones. A good rule of thumb is that the best pieces of furniture to splurge on our couches and beds—they’re visually heavy items that will draw attention, so you want them to look nice. Once you’ve found those, you can fill in the gaps with your accent items and DIY home decorating.
- Remember to think about lighting. A well-designed room can be spoiled by improper lighting, so make sure to factor lighting into your budget. Windows (for natural light), floor lamps, overhead lights, accent lighting, and white- or light-coloured walls and furniture are all great ways to open up a dark or small space.
- Make good use of accent pieces. Some interior designers focus on the “big” pieces in a room—things like couches, rugs, dressers, and tables—and forget about the small things. Accent pieces are a great way to make a room feel more personalized and more visually interesting, so keep an eye out for things like bowls, books, and other decorations you can use to jazz up shelves and coffee tables.
- Give your furniture room to breathe. When you get a new piece of furniture, it’s natural to push it up against the wall, but this can make a room feel stiff and flat. Instead, keep your furniture at least a few inches away from the walls to give your room an airier feeling.
- Your home is not a showroom. If you’re currently working on your own home’s decor and interior, don’t try to make it look like the professional photos you see online or in interior design classes—those are meant to show off design principles and furniture rather than be lived in. Instead, throw in more eclectic or sentimental pieces so that your house has the perfect balance of gorgeous design and liveability.
12 simple Dos and Don’ts for interior design beginners
Whether you live in a city flat or farm cottage, you want to make your living space as comfy and appealing as possible. But achieving that drop-dead gorgeous look that appears on design shows isn’t always easy – and yet they make it look so effortless.
Here’s a secret: those show hosts are professional decorators or get their ideas from expert Interior Designers/Decorators. And we are just regulars who are prone to design mistakes. But that is no reason to give up and be contemptuous with your mismatched settings and not-too-snug environment.
Designing or decorating a space without a strategy is pretty much the same as cooking or baking without a plan: it could end in disaster.
So, to save you some time and money, we’ve compiled some easy interior designs for beginners, including well-known dos and don’ts.
Don’t push all the furniture against the walls.
Furniture placement is not a Tetris game. Your furniture needs breathing space to make your room seem like a much more interesting zone.
Even if it’s only a few centimetres away from the walls, allowing the furniture to “float” can help to create a conversation grouping, for example, in your living room.
Don’t pick your paint colour first.
Sometimes interior design tips are downright strange, like this one telling us that deciding which tones to splash on your walls should be one of your last decisions. You have an entire rainbow of colours to choose from, and seeing what furniture pieces and decorative items are placed in a room can help you pick out the perfect colour.
Besides, in terms of simple room design, it is much harder to find upholstery or accessories that perfectly fit with your wall colours than vice versa.
Don’t mix up your colours too much.
You want your home to have a cohesive feel, and therefore you do not need to paint every room in a different colour.
Choose three main colours to use throughout your house to make it much easier on yourself. Then opt for different hues of those main colours for a fresh look that is still consistent (for example, Arctic blue differs considerably from cobalt blue).
Do use dramatic colour in a small space.
Small spaces that you pass through can show off colour in a striking way. While it’s true that dramatic colours can make a room feel heavy or dark, painting your pantry or hallway in a dark tone is a different matter.
Opting for dramatic hues in small spaces makes the entire house feel colourful and bigger because it turns a tiny area you might not notice into a special spot that grabs your attention.
Do make the most of your lighting.
You should know by now that lighting will be mentioned when it comes to interior design ideas for small houses. In fact, lighting should always be planned into your budget – never as an afterthought. A well-chosen light fitting can transform the look and feel of a room considerably.
Don’t be afraid to show off your personality with a statement piece. And remember: a dimmer switch gives you the ability to create the perfect mood whenever you please.
Don’t be selfish with seating.
There’s truth in the “less is more” saying, but don’t expect your guests to keep standing while you entertain. For the living room, you will need the sort of chairs that people can pull up and space together to allow for a flowing conversation.
And if space is an issue, make sure you have a couple of sexy dining chairs that can be pulled into the living area.
Do use different textures.
Texture adds dimension and interest to a room. It appeals to our visual and tactile senses when we perceive a space that makes use of smooths, roughs, shines, and dulls – just not in an overkill fashion.
Add some texture with a rug, a piece of wall art. A scatter cushion on the couch or an interesting coffee table.
Don’t tease your walls.
We mean that don’t opt for small pieces of art or mirrors on large, bare walls. That big empty space will swallow them whole. Either go big or go another route.
Modular shelves add charming character to a wall, and so does busy wallpaper. Or share in the hot trend of wall decal words to spice up that big wall.
Do pay attention to your hallway.
Your hallway is a fantastic opportunity for you to make a statement about your style. And yet, it doesn’t have to be anything grand – any statement is better than none at all.
Use paint or patterned wallpaper to add colour and personality, and perhaps hang a beautiful mirror or painting. A mirror is especially clever, as it reflects light and creates the illusion of more space.
Use a table to place mail, keys, and other small items when you enter your house.
Don’t use tiny potted plants.
Like everything in your home, the plants should make a statement – or else leave them outside. And although small planters were fabulous in the 1970s, the modern interior style has moved on.
Rather opt for one large tree or plant in a pot. A series of itty-bitty indoor plants will just make your space seem cluttered.
Do use accent pieces.
If you love beach houses, for example, display a stylish collection of seashells or coral on a side table or on your bookshelf. This is going to look far more sophisticated than designing an entire beach-style room.
Don’t let everything match.
Interior catalogues are designed to sell furniture, not to show you how you should be living. Nobody lives that way, so don’t try so hard to match that look.
Rather create a lived-in look by making your room’s design eclectic, not a showroom. Use different pieces and accents that catch the eye and add interest to your space.
Even when it comes to a simple interior design, your choice of colours should never be an afterthought. That’s because colour therapy tells us that different colours have different meanings (and, thus, affect us differently).
- Red: Bold, powerful, passionate
- Orange: Optimistic, charismatic
- Yellow: Energetic, friendly, fun
- Green: Growth, prosperous, generous
- Blue: Content, intelligent, authoritative
- Purple: Creative, compassionate, devoted (can also be seen as a royal colour)
- Black: Elegant, mysterious, confident
- White: Wise, pure, innocent.
Keep in mind that if you want to enhance or lift these characteristics, even more, you need to influence the value, lightness, or darkness of the specific colour.
Tips to Get Started With Your Decor
A major pitfall that traps untrained decorators is editing. However, a good interior decorator can scan a room and understand what items work in a room and when something is too much, tasteful, or requires embellishment. A few tips in this area can make or break your room’s design choices.
One room element that can usually use an editorial eye is how pillows are placed. Pillows can be a nice accent adding to the room’s colour story, or in some cases, even create a focal point for the room. However, some people tend to overdo it with pillows. Avoid overloading a sofa to the point that a guest has to move all the pillows just to sit down.
Choices of artwork can be important for a room, but equally, consider how you display it. A rule of thumb is to set wall hangings at eye level. Similarly, the height you set the chandelier matters. A common mistake people make is hanging a chandelier too high or close to the ceiling. Instead, drop it low enough that it brings light into the room and is noticed. If you hang it above a table, make sure that your or any taller guests cannot knock into it when you sit up from the table.
Furnishings are a big investment and account for a large part of the budget of room decor. If you are on a tight budget, there are some items you should splurge on. The two most important pieces of furniture—likely the items that will get the most use—are your sofa and bed. Spend more on those pieces. Save on area rugs, accent tables, and wall art. A mixture of high-ticket items with less expensive options is a trick of the trade that makes the room still feel stylish without breaking the bank.