10 Important Things I’ve Learned So Far as an Interior Designer

10 Important Things I’ve Learned So Far as an Interior Designer - Being an interior designer has been the greatest thing in my life. If you're interested in being an interior designer, or just want a peek behind the scenes, todays post is about ten of the most important things I've learned, and how you can use them in your own home!

Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I’m still relatively new to the interior design industry. It’s been one of the most eye-opening and enjoyable experiences of my life, and hopefully will continue to be the same for years to come. One of my favorite things about interior design is that there are no rules. There are guiding principles that we follow, passed down to us from designers before us and refined by every new generation. Today’s post is on the ten most important ones that I use in every design.

Pick your paint colour last

A lot of people pick their paint colour first, but it’s much better to pick it last. I like to pick a colour scheme first, but wait until all of the furniture pieces have been chosen so that I can use a tone that will go with them. There are much more paint colours than fabric colours, and you can always get a colour custom mixed just to go with your furnishings.

Invest in fewer, higher quality pieces

When your budget is restricted, it can be easy to go for cheaper pieces. If you are going for the cheaper route, make sure that it’s simple pieces you can customise, and won’t mind if they get damaged. It’s better to save up for a bit and purchase better quality items. It may take longer and cost more initially, but you’ll get a lot more wear out of them. When you dress a room, it’s also a good option to take the advice of Coco Chanel and remove one item. It’ll feel less cluttered and more luxurious.

Hang your artwork correctly

Artwork can be the hardest thing to get correct. If you’re not sure about the placement of your art, take a photo of it. It can be a lot easier to see what’s wrong in a photograph. Galleries and museums hang art so that the middle of the piece is at the average human eyeline – 57 inches. However, there are so many chic ways to hang art so you’ll be able to find a way that works for you.

Put a fresh spin on a popular trend

I love themed designs – Cape Cod, Scandinavian, rustic. But themed designs can look carbon copy if you’re not careful. Put your own unique twist on the trend to make it personal. Try using minimal accents to get the feel of the trend without going completely overboard. The image below doesn’t have much nautical imagery, but the colors and patterns are still represent the trend.

Always consider sight lines

It should be easy to see a focal point from room to room to help create easy flow for the eyes. Clear sight lines are especially important in smaller homes, because they help to create the illusion of more space. My favorite ways are to either have a clear view of a window, or of a piece of art. A sight line is a trick to help draw people into the room – so make sure your focal point is interesting.

Edit your displays

One of the easiest things to get wrong is displays on bookshelves or on top of coffee tables or mantles. Less is always more in this case, otherwise it can quickly get cluttered. The trick is to start with what you’ll be using the surface for, and then layer in your decorative elements. Vary the height and style of them to create more visual interest, but be ruthless in deciding what stays and what goes. If something doesn’t fit your theme, try it in a different room or put it in storage so that you can use it later.

Layer your lighting

If you only have basic lighting, you’ll know how non-functional it is. Apart from a ceiling light, add ambient lamps and task lighting. Having multiple lights will make it easier to do simple things like reading, cooking, or working. A dimmer switch is another great option, especially in a dining space to create an intimate ambiance. I also like to add candles, which will look beautiful in a dimly lit space.

Mix design styles for a more custom look

Most people’s tastes won’t fit perfectly into one design style. It’s best to take things from different categories and create your own aesthetic. I like to mix glamorous and sleek things with romantic styles. A mirrored vanity looks beautiful with a vintage skirted stool, or using an industrial table with a bohemian rug. Sometimes unexpected combinations produce the most beautiful results.

Plants will work in every space

Every room will be improved by adding plants. Whether it’s a peace lily, a bouquet of hydrangeas or a big and beautiful fiddle leaf fig, bring something green into your home. Not only do they clean the air, but they help to add a fresh touch. I’m the kind of person who can kill a succulent, so silk flowers are my go-to. Plants can be an afterthought in a lot of designs, but it can be an easy and lovely statement. Try a single large plant, or a bunch of smaller plants dotted around to add texture. I even like to add something in the bathroom, but you have to be careful to select something that won’t die in damp and humid conditions.

Make your home into a space you love

Let’s face it – if you don’t love your home, you’re always going to be searching for the thing that’s missing. And that’s okay! Sometimes it takes a while for us to learn to love the unfinished imperfect things that our home has. Even if your home isn’t perfectly styled the way you ideally want it, it should be a place where you’re happy. So take down the ugly vase that your aunt gave you, and give into the urge to buy a super fluffy rug. Experiment with wall colors, and rearrange your furniture whenever you feel like it. As long as you are happy in your space, it’s perfect.


Of course, if you use my advice, you should make it work for you. Every designer is different, every client is different. The only true rule that I live by is this quote from Bunny Williams: “If you love it, it will work.” I want to give my thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am so far – my family, my best friends, my tutors, my inspirations; and to you, reading this blog. Knowing that what I do inspires and helps you is well worth the work that goes into it. Thank you.

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Header image is from Style Me Pretty, of the desk of the brilliant Alicia Keats. Read some more decorating tips in this article from Houzz!

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