Interior Design Tips: 100 Experts Share Their Best Advice

2 Aug 2019

colourful cushions on a white sofa

Interior design is such a popular topic because it is accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be an interior designer or even own your own home to participate, it’s all about making a space your own with whatever you have available. Styling your interior can mean using a luxury blow-out budget on designer wallpaper in a 10 bedroom house, restyling lighting throughout your family home, or crafting and upcycling furniture in your bedroom in a shared house. Whatever your budget and interior style one thing that always helps is a little expert advice. We've gathered over 100 industry leaders and forward-thinkers to share their best interior design tips for every space and budget…

Planning Tips

green velvet dining chairs

“When planning a self-build, spend the money on the stuff that is there forever. Think of the architecture, glazing and core materials” Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs Live “Avoid impulse buying by working within a tight colour palette and plan carefully to ensure the finished scheme works as a whole” Jo Hamilton, Interior Designer

“When you first move to a new place I would start by having an inspiration session with some friends. Find people you trust and love as they will most certainly give you good advice based on what they know about you and how they envisage the space will work for you. It’s really important when deisgning a new scheme” Cristian Zuzuzaga, Designer

“The best interiors are those that take you & your lifestyle into consideration. When focusing only on the final look, it will lack soul” Shaynna Blaze, Interior Designer

“If one is guided by a designer, take their advice – don’t play safe” Anita Kohn, Interior Designer

neutral bedroom

“Always keep functionality and practicality in mind when designing” Janine Stone, Interior Designer

“Consider the location of the property and sense of place, this often dictates what styles and materials are appropriate” Katherine Pooley, Interior Designer

“Interior Design is very personal, but to create a dream interior I always base it on the same philosophy which I keep in mind while for designing for my clients at my firm the Toronto Interior Design Group (www.tidg.ca). The philosophy consists of creating a décor aesthetic of richly layered rooms that blend serious style and playful individualism. I achieve this look by playing the game of old and new giving older forms a modern twist. It’s my recipe for design-success!” Yanic Simard, Interior Designer

“Injecting personal style and items with a story are what turn an average room into a stunning home” Monica Lenore, Interior Designer

“Instead of always following the latest design trend, decorate with timeless pieces you love” Sarah Gunn, Interior Designer

industrial interior

“Be brave enough to be yourself and trawl the trends for what you love, not what’s fashionable. That way you’ll still love your home next year, and the year after, and the year after that too” Sian Astley, Interior Designer

“Make your home a reflection of its inhabitants” Jen Bishop, Interiors Writer

“Everyone raves about Pinterest but I personally I really love and actually by far prefer the real slice of life and action into interiors that Instagram gives. Find a blogger/designer/interiors nut you love and then follow their every move – you will find inspiration for your new home project everywhere and it can come less styled and overly ‘done’ that sometimes it appears in other media” Ciara Elliott, Acting Editor of EKBB

“Don’t forget to plan your ‘look’ and create a moodboard to help you visualise the end result” Jen Stanbrook, Interiors Writer

“Don’t worry about what others will think. Design the room the way YOU want. Surround yourself with things that make you happy” Stacy Risenmay, Interiors Writer

dining table setting

“Quality always matters. It will cost more to have to redo or replace, so make sure you are working with the best people and highest quality products” Courtney Price, Interior Writer

“Try to really push your own boundaries. Your home is the place to experiment and create those wacky ideas you have in your head. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe!” Sarah Akwisombe, Interior Writer

“Start with the end in mind. Know what you are trying to achieve by setting a brief, getting clear on what the mood and style needs to be and build a visual representation of your objective so you have something written and visual to refer to so you can stay on track, on brief and end up with a result that you’ve planned from the beginning” Darren Palmer, Interior Designer

“Don’t be tempted to jump into a project straight away. Before you get into the styling, think first about how you need the space to work for you and plan accordingly so that you get it right first time” Tiffany Grant-Riley, Interior Stylist

“Create your own concept boards through Pinterest” Karen Howes, Interior Designer

“Plan, plan….and plan. Always produce scaled plan drawings and set out every single item. It will tell you everything you need to know about how the space will function at a very early stage. If you’re spending the money, you should get it right from the offset. We plan down to the finite detail – we want to know how far you have to stretch for the bedside light switch. Detail is everything.” Gurjeet Hunjan, Interior Designer

colourful dining table

“Listen to the client and observe how they live. Keeping a sense of humour also never hurts” Bunny Williams, Interior Designer “The best design advice I can give is three fold. First, always remember to layer a space. Even the most expensive design concepts look unfinished when visually flat. Second, like my company motto states, “Life is in the details, style accordingly”. A successfully designed space should be planned down to the smallest of details. And finally, always make your design choices look intentional. Even when faced with a challenging space, incorporate the challenges into your design rather than trying to work against them” Shai DeLuca-Tamasi, Interior Designer

“Do NOT listen to neighbour’s, friends or family for decorating advice. Everyone has an opinion they think is best and will often offer theirs. However, each person has their own style that may or may not match yours, figure out what works best for your lifestyle and then hire a professional, experienced decorator to pull it all together so that it makes sense and works” Melanie Langford, Interior Designer

“Try not to rush into interior design decisions. Live in the space, find out how you use it and make organic decisions to create a room perfect for you” Katy Orme, Interior Writer

“Small Space: limit surface space to prevent clutter from piling up” Typhanie Peterson, Interior Designer

Furniture Tips

animal print bed linen

“Pick plain colours as backgrounds for the patterned pieces but try to choose interesting fabrics” Rebecca of In Style Melbourne

“Round tables in small rooms make the space flow better & you won’t bang your hips on sharp corners” Annabel Bird, Interior Designer

“My main tip would be to invest in bespoke pieces for your home so your home really reflects your personal style. It’s really important that there is a synergy between the design of your home and your tastes because this makes you feel truly comfortable in your own home.” Faiza Seth, Founder of Casa Forma

“Benjamin Franklin said: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ Good storage is the key to a well-designed home” Kate Watson-Smyth, Interiors Writer

“Statement hardware is a perfect way to update an old piece of furniture. It’s jewellery for the home” Beth & Carolina, Interior Designers

turquoise cushion on a white sofa

“A rug that is too small for the room will look as if you have arranged your furniture around a postage stamp, avoid this look by ensuring your rug comfortably fits the front feet of your seated furniture on top” Emma Blomfield, Interior Designer

“While designing interiors, especially for a small space, do not place everything on the floor as this would clutter the floor space and make the room appear visually smaller than it actually is. Try to utilise vertical wall space for storage units and other wall mounted fittings to achieve this purpose” Atiq Ur-Rehman, Founder of The Canvas Prints

“Wall hung, or propped, mirrors are the ultimate way to add instant glamour to a room and create an illusion of space, while cabinet doors can be enhanced and customised with subtle mirror detailing” Jenny Gibbs, Principal of KLC School of Design

“Reupholster a tired existing piece of furniture in a beautiful fabric – an easy quick fix to lift a room” Sarah Barclay, Interior Designer

Finishing Touches Tips

cushions on a grey sofa

“Don’t stop decorating too soon! The accessories turn a room from drab to fab; they’re the 5-minute facelift of the decorating world” Abigail Ahern, Interior Designer

“Adding one accessory that is oversized and out of proportion will make a room far more interesting” Ally Kim, Interiors Writer “Accessories, art, plants and flowers bring “life” to any room. Always keep a little in the budget reserved for these finishing touches. Otherwise, even a space with the most beautiful furnishings will look like a showroom, not a living room.” Linda Merrill, Interior Designer

“Use muted for floors, walls & sofas. Indulge trends through inexpensive items like cushions & lampshades” Ceri Murray, Interior Designer

“Your home should reflect your personality, so buy things you can’t bear to walk away from. It’s better to have bad taste than no taste” Charlotte Duckworth, Interiors Expert

floral bed linen

“Edit, edit, edit. Purge items when rooms get overly cluttered and display only what you love” Cristin Bisbee Priest, Interior Designer

“Interlined and contrast line your curtains, they will hang beautifully and look great from outside” Lindsey Coral Harper, Interior Designer

“While designing interiors, especially for a small space, do not place everything on the floor as this would clutter the floor space and make the room appear visually smaller than it actually is. Try to utilise vertical wall space for storage units and other wall mounted fittings to achieve this purpose” Alicia Soret, Founder of Dali Decals

“Throw in at least one item from a different era or culture to give the eye something to mull over” Nicola Holden, Interior Designer

“Banish scratches, watermarks and fingerprints from stainless-steel appliances – just rub over baby oil to make them gleam” Rachel Ogden, Interiors Writer

cushions on a white sofa

“I always like to have a ‘hero’ build the interior from there. A statement rug, a wallpaper feature wall or beautiful design classic are all great starting points to build layers upon” Steve Cordony, Interior Designer

“You can never have too many cushions” Vicki Murdoch, Founder of Silken Favours

“Get the small details looking as good as the rest for a luxury feel to your room” Yasmin Chopin, Interior Designer

“’Accessories are the jewellery of interior design’. From the Georgian silver bowl to the cherished shells from your beach vacation….. use them to make your rooms personal and interesting. They tell your story and people love looking at them” Christina Haire, Interior Designer

“Do what brings you joy. When creating a home, fill it with things that make you happy. They should stir fond memories and help you make new ones” Gwen Hefner, Interior Writer

cushions on a neutral sofa

“My best advice would be to live with what you love. And the quickest way to change the feel of a room is to change your lampshades or entire lamps or fixtures.” Jonathan Legate, Interior Consultant

“I use mirrors in every room. They can be made to any size, found in any style and are cheaper than art” Carole King, Interiors Writer

“Avoid big changes but keep the Home alive and desirable, adding small touches, for example cushions, lamps, flowers, a new rug, etc” Rosita Missoni, Founder of Missoni Home

“Go with your gut and fill your home with products you love. Don’t worry too much about trying to create an overall look and don’t overthink things.” Stacey Sheppard, Interior Writer

“If you can’t make a decision between a few options you like, always choose the one that scares you most. I always say, never choose the safest option… Take a risk and it will make a huge difference. Go with your emotions” Ryan Saghian, Interior Designer

“I believe the most important element in successful design is to only acquire and surround yourself with meaningful objects that inspire you and take you on a journey” Faye Resnick, Interior Designer “Add decorative objects to make it feel like home and not as a show-home” Maurizio Pellizzoni, Interior Designer

“My best advice is to create and embrace your own authentic style. Design is a personal journey and no one knows better what you like than you” Kelly Berg, Interior Designer

“With rising temperatures, the fragrance for your home has to be light and fresh” Nicola Elliot, Founder of Neom Organics

“Naval motifs are perennially cool, celebrated for their easy nonchalance. Go for all-over white with navy accents or emphasise ocean blues for a more masculine look” Jo Jaggs, Head of Design for Sheridan

Room Specific Tips

white kitchen

“Introduce the colour yellow in a Dining Room which is regularly used for entertaining, this bright colour will stimulate conversation” Kelly Davies, Interior Designer

“Instead of a huge drippy chandelier, try two oversized glossy white lanterns over a dining room table” Lynni Megginson, Interior Designer “Make the most of your bed! A padded headboard, real feather mattress topper, fresh linen sheets and the best mattress you can afford all make for a good night’s sleep” Maxine Brady, Interior Stylist

“When you are looking for new dining tables, the chairs you choose to go with your table can really define the style of the space” Suzanne Lasky, Interior Designer “Add unexpected elements to your home by using traditional pieces in a new and interesting way. For example, turn a vintage cabinet, or antique trolley into your new bathroom vanity to bring personality to your space” Kishani Perera, Interior Designer

Lighting Tips

dining table setting

“Don’t leave the lighting until last, it can make or break a room” Hilary J White, Interior Designer

“My number one tip is a very easy and totally affordable, yet vital to all spaces. The dimmer switch” Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Interior Designer

“The most important aspect of a designed space is lighting. Make sure your lamps are appropriately scaled to the space and the furniture” Ramona Griffin, Interior Designer

“Dramatic lighting, whether LUX or minimalist is the crown jewel of any space. Think OVERSIZED” Robin De Groot, Interior Designer

“Great lamps can make a room look stunning as well as giving a good ambience” Sallyanne Holmes, Interior Designer

white bed linen

“Experiment with different reflections and light-play to add drama to table settings” Sam Hood, Founder of Amara

“Lighting can make or break any space. From brightness, to bulb type, to fixture style, it all has an effect. One simple lighting tip is to always install a dimmer switch so you can easily achieve the perfect amount of light” Jennifer Woch, Interior Designer

Colour & Texture Tips

green velvet sofa and purple cushions

“Paint walls white so you have the flexibility to add pattern and colour in as small or large a dose as you fancy” Emma Kay, Interior Stylist

“Colour and florals can transform an interior entirely, creating a fresh and uplifting atmosphere” Fi Douglas, Founder of Bluebellgray

“Take inspiration from nature and try to adapt your scheme by picking out colours from the seasons. It’s an easy way to instantly refresh your home you should mix in trend pieces or colours with your classic style to always keep things interesting and eye-catching” Kristina Lindhe, Founder & Designer of Lexington Company

“Mix it up a bit! Introduce contrasting textures to your home to avoid a flat soulless feel” Hannah Trickett, Interior Designer

“Stay neutral: a master bedroom is your sanctuary. Keep it light, keep it bright” Jamie Herzlinger, Interior Designer

white bathroom with a coral towel

“A subdued colour palette along with a symmetrical furniture arrangement creates a harmonious feeling of comfort and livability” Jeff Andrews, Interior Designer

“Lacquer low ceilings in high gloss paint to make the ceilings feel higher and enlarge the room” Jeffery Alan Marks, Interior Designer

“Always make your scheme personal and remember those key accent pieces that tie a look together. My favourite trend of the moment is charred finishes alongside warm metallics. Inspired by the ancient art of Japanese scorching timber, burnt finishes are coming to the fore” Victoria Bain, Embroidery and Textile Designer

“Work with rooms with little natural light, moody & jewel-like colours are great in hallways, small lounges & dens” Lucy Burt, Interior Designer

“Always keep a camera with you. You will find colour and fabric inspiration for your home in the most unexpected of places” Lucy Gleeson, Interiors Writer

cushions on a white sofa

“Don’t be afraid to paint your ceiling in a colour. As long as the walls are painted in a darker shade, the ceiling will feel light” Lucy Gough, Interior Stylist “Add a jumble of bright colours and pattern in neutral rooms for a multi-layered and wonderfully vibrant room, that still feels contained and controlled” Mally Skok, Interior Designer

“Introduce clashing patterns with cushion collections, just be sure to keep the colours similar to make for a modern & eclectic living space” Sian Elin Thomas, Interior Designers

“Try painting the skirting boards in a statement bright to introduce an accent colour into your colour scheme” Will Taylor, Interiors Writer

“Don’t be frightened to add colour into your space. It’s not all about painting large walls. Think about accent colours like painting a small area at the back of a shelf or a stool to add visual pops of colour. Decorate with colourful accessories against a neutral backdrop until you feel confident of what your personal colour palette is” Geraldine Tan, Interior Writer

grey bedroom

“Always start with the rug when designing a room. You will only have a few rugs that you fall in love with but there will be dozens of paint colours and fabrics you will love. So start with the rug and then select your paints and fabrics. It makes for a much easier process. You won’t be searching forever for the right rug to fit into the rest of the room and then end up compromising your design because of it” Meg Caswell, Interior Designer

“Be bold! Use brights to create focal points to plain rooms” Sarah Myall, Interior Designer

“If you have doubts about a pattern don’t use it. Instincts are usually right” Sam Brine, Interior Designer

“Keep your interior simple, adding flashes of colour that are symbolic to your personality and style” Carina Svensen, G&V Royal Mile Hotel

“Be yourself and find your own style, do this by keeping an ideas folder over time of interiors, colour schemes and furniture you love, and your theme will soon emerge” Susie Miles, Founder of Susie Miles Design

grey living room

“For an easy way to instantly update the room try a few pieces of brightly coloured or patterned soft furnishings. A statement throw or a few bold cushions can really change the feel of a space, and are a great way to keep up with the latest interiors trends without making a big investment” Amy Wong, Editorial Assistant at LifestyleETC

“Paint the skirting boards to match the walls to create height in your room. It’s an old rule that says they must be white. Ignore it.” Kate Watson-Smyth, Interior Writer

“Three colour maximum when decorating – When designing a scheme, try to stick to a maximum of three colours: Main, complementary and a highlight, this will make your scheme easy on the eye” Pippa Jameson, Interior Stylist

“When deciding on a new colour palette for your home, look to nature for inspiration. Chances are that if the colours work in a landscape they will be work perfectly in your space!” Lucy Gough, Interior Stylist

“Not many professions allow you to be creative yet remember to have fun, as creativity begins with drawing a line from your imagination” David White, Interior Designer

“For a speedy, low cost makeover, you can’t beat a bit of paint. Change a room dramatically, but painting from white to a dark grey or blue in a tone that fits with your furniture. Add in a couple of bright cushions and you’ll have a whole new look on a tiny budget and over a weekend” Zoe Brewer, Interior Stylist

“Balance period features with well-designed classic modern touches & don’t be afraid to experiment with colour” George Clarke, Grand Designs Live

“For a cohesive decorating scheme, use your carpet as a focal point and opt for a pattern or bold print which you can pick out colours from to inspire the scheme in the rest of the room” Lynne Pound, Product Manager at Brintons

“Pick plain colours as backgrounds for the patterned pieces but try to choose interesting fabrics” Laura Oakes, British Designer