Decorate in triplicate
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 blocks of accent colour – forces the eye to move around the display, creating a level of visual interest that symmetrical, even-numbered arrangements simply can’t compete with.
Repeat home accessories
Repeating shapes throughout a scheme is a subtle way to help the human brain read a space as a harmonious whole. Here, for example, a selection of rectangles – in the pictures, sofa and scatter cushions – echo one another, as do the pair of round mirrors, round coffee table and vase. The central ampersand purposefully disrupts the repetition so the scheme doesn’t become too predictable.
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.
Orchestrate indoor lighting
Lighting is often the last thing most people think about when coming up with a new design scheme, but it really should be the first. You need to carefully plan where every single light, switch and socket will go before turning to decorating, making sure you include a good mix of overhead lighting, task lighting, mood lighting and accent lighting. Using the right colour and brightness of light bulb for the right tasks will also help your room look and perform its best.
Embrace dark colours
What’s the best way to make the most of a dark room? The instinctive answer might be to paint it bright white to reflect as much light as possible. But this can give a dingy room an off-putting, grey-ish tone that feels needlessly gloomy. Instead, embrace the dark side and paint your walls in deep, rich hues to create an irresistibly cosy scheme that draws you in. Lighten the mood with a few bright accents and make sure you include plenty of layered lighting.
Take design tips from nature
You don’t have to spend hours scouring through pretty pictures of interiors to find your dream scheme. Look around and you’ll start to see inspiration everywhere – from the soothing texture of pebbles on a beach to petrol shimmering in a forecourt puddle. Take photos and use them to help you create a concept board to inform your design. This living room draws on the coastal landscape, from the lobster-pot light fitting to the whitewashed wood walls.
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.
Go large with oversized wall art
When it comes to art, it’s a very much a case of the bigger the better. You can fake it to some extent by clustering smaller pictures into a gallery wall, but nothing compares to an oversized artwork that grabs your attention the moment you step into a room. If oversized art is outside of your budget, trying offsetting a smaller piece above a sideboard or sofa – hanging it centrally will make it look lost.
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.
Get your rug right
Rugs are the ultimate way to draw an interior design scheme together. But go too small and the rug will look lost and your scheme will fall flat. Ideally, a rug should be big enough that some or all of your furniture’s feet can sit on it – using a tiny rug under a coffee table will only make a room feel poky. In a dining area, you should be able to sit at the dining table with all four of your chair’s feet on the rug.
Run riot with a stair runner
Want to make a narrow hallway or staircase look wider? Rather than covering it all in carpet, fit a runner leaving about 8cm of bare floor on either side. The runner divides up the space, drawing the eye into the distance and tricking it into thinking the area is wider than it is.
Opt for non-toxic paint
When choosing paint, it’s easy to put colour first and forget other factors, such as how the paint might affect the environment or your health. Consider buying paints made from natural materials that contain no (or very low quantities of) harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They may be a bit pricier, but they’re a worthwhile investment, especially for a children’s room or nursery.