Interior Design Ideas

Foolproof interior design ideas for a fabulous home

From balancing colour schemes to hanging artwork, planning lighting and even positioning curtains, Stage Me have a box of tricks that can turn an average scheme into a fabulous space.

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 Instaworthy. Do not overcrowd the space, choose accessories in the same colour and tone and group 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 well being 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.

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.

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 very variations mixing 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.

Invest in designer pieces

Designer furniture only gets better with age, so it’s well worth investing. Iconic pieces are visually shapely and superbly functional and so without a doubt will be the hero piece in every room. A Fritz Hansen chair, Ercol sideboard or Arco Flos floor lamp will always attract attention and will never go out of fashion.

Play around with scale

Going supersize 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.

Warm with wood

If a room lacks warmth and character, there’s no better antidote than wood. While timber accessories and furniture are an easy way to lift a scheme and add texture, a 3D wall can really work wonders in a space without a focal point. It doesn’t have to cost the earth either – this chic beach house-inspired design can be achieved with narrow strips of reclaimed wood. For something more rustic, sand down the surface before installing.

Measure dining room dimensions

Dining tables often get squeezed in as an afterthought, but it’s worth thinking carefully about how much space you need to avoid bumping elbows while you eat. The ideal dining table height is 74cm, with 45cm of leg room and 75cm of space between the table and the wall so you can get up and sit down comfortably. Each place setting should be about 65cm wide.

Call on complementary colours

The colour wheel is an interior design essential. It can help you to plan your colour pairings or guide you out of a design rut when you’re struggling for inspiration. Use it to help you come up with complementary schemes (using colours from opposite sides of the wheel), analogous schemes (using colours next to each other on the wheel) or bolder schemes such as split complementary or triadic, which use three colours.

Obey the golden ratio

The golden ratio is a proportion often seen in nature and has served artists well for centuries. Interior designers can put it to good use too and create schemes that feel effortlessly harmonious. It works by dividing spaces into approximately two-thirds for one section and one third for the remainder. Here, the bed and beside table take up roughly two-thirds of the arrangement, while the shelving unit takes up around a third, creating a sense of balance without feeling too formal.

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.

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.

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.

Be punchy with pattern

Combining different patterns in the same room can be tricky, but a good tip is to use varying patterns in similar colours, or the same pattern but in varying scales. For example, try small florals mixed with big blowsy blooms, or go for bold geo shapes in different colourways as shown here.

Use your whole room

Don’t feel you have to line your furniture up along the walls… If you have a big living room, bringing sofas and armchairs into the centre of the space will create a cosy and much more sociable seating space. This works particularly well in open-plan spaces and you can always place a console at the back of your seating so you’re not looking at a big expanse of sofa. If your room is too small for a central sofa, keep it against the wall and arrange a few armchairs at angles (facing towards the sofa) to get the designer look.

Don’t be scared of negative space

As tempting as it is, fight the urge to fill every wall and shelf, otherwise you’re in danger of your room scheme feeling cluttered. Instead, leave a few areas free to gain some much-needed breathing room and a better sense of space. Painting a door and its frame the same colour as your walls is a good trick, as it helps the woodwork to blend in, giving the illusion of a larger blank area.

Go large with oversized wall art

When it comes to art, it’s 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. Double up and place two complementary pieces next to (instead of over) a fireplace for maximum impact. 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.

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.

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. Consider using them in different ways, too – whether it’s a few rugs overlapping each other or even hung in place of wallhangings.

Run riot with a stair runner

Entrance looking a little lacklustre? Interior designers know that even the most hardworking hallway decor needn’t scrimp on style. 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.

Layer soft textures

Texture is key to creating a successful design scheme, especially if you’re working with a neutral colour palette. To keep a room interesting, incorporate different tactile materials throughout the space, from soft woollen throws to silky cushions, rough brick walls to glossy mirrored finishes.

Start with a sofa

Trying to design a successful open-plan living space? When you’re working with a blank canvas, it can be difficult to decide where to start. Rather than getting bogged down with accessories in your living room, start with the sofa. Usually the largest piece of furniture in the room, it’s easiest to plan your layout around this key feature. When it comes to positioning, consider the light, thoroughfares and any views you might want to utilise. This also works for other rooms, whether it’s the bed in a bedroom or a dining table in an entertaining area.

Add atmosphere with mood lighting

Mood lighting can instantly create the right atmosphere. Dimmer switches give you the power to use the same bulb as either general lighting or mood lighting, so installing them in every room will instantly boost the versatility of your lighting scheme. If you’re using LED lighting, make sure you choose dimmer switches that are LED-compatible so the bulbs glow brightly enough and don’t flicker. Lamps are ideal for creating a cosy glow at night, and candles, lanterns and wall lights will all help add to your room’s overall ambience. Also, try using LED-strip lights to highlight an alcove or under shelving to highlight your favourite features.

Hang curtains high

Curtains can make or break a room. Opt for a luxurious fabric, such as velvet, to create an opulent frame for your windows. One of the most common curtain mistakes is to hang them just above the top of the window frame, making the window – and the room – feel squat. Hang them high to create a grand impression and make the room feel taller.

Plan thoroughfares

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.

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.

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 eyeline 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.

Play with pendant lighting

One of the most common questions interior designers are asked is how high to hang pendant lighting. The answer depends, to some extent, on the size and style of your light, the height of your ceilings and the height of the people living in your home, but here are some useful guidelines: in a living room or hallway, hang your light about 2.4m from the floor, above a dining table, leave about 75cm between the tabletop and your pendant. If you’re hanging them above an island for statement kitchen lighting, leave about 80cm between the countertop and the bottom of the light shade.