8 design tips to improve any room

1st December 2016
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8 design tips to improve any room

If you’ve just moved into a new house, chances are you’ll be making a few changes. Decorating and buying furniture or other items is fun but, as not many of us are blessed with the talents of Kelly Hoppen or Philippe Starck, it can also be stressful trying to get the look you want.

Follow these simple tips for a sure-fire way to get the improve the look of any room in your home.

  1. Choose your paint last.
    Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Most of us reach for the colour charts the moment we decide to decorate. The thing is, there are literally thousands of paint colours with a seemingly infinite variety of tones and shades, and even if you have one you love in one room, lighting can mean it looks entirely different in another.

    You want a shade that complements your furnishings, flooring and artwork, so you need to choose everything else before you make a final decision on paint colour. Don’t forget to make the most of ‘tester’ pots to try out a few options – you want to be sure you can live with the colour once it’s on your walls.
     
  2. Give your furniture some space.
    You don’t have to fill every inch of a room with ‘stuff’. Try and keep furniture to a minimum, especially when it comes to larger items; this will draw more attention to any special pieces that deserve the spotlight. Make use of clever storage solutions to hide away those bits and pieces we all accumulate in everyday life. We’re not saying you should live in a show-home, but your space will feel more relaxed and comfortable if it’s not stuffed to the gills.
     
  3. Create a focal point.
    It might be a painting in the dining room, a beautiful fireplace in the lounge, or a period dressing table in the bedroom. Choose something that catches attention, and add other items that will take a secondary role; too many key pieces make a room look too busy. You might want to use lighting or colour to add to the effect – the aim is to draw the eye and keep it there.
     
  4. Hang artwork at the right height.
    If you visit an art gallery, you’ll notice that pieces are hung so that their centre is in line with the average human eyeline level – 57” to 60” from the floor. It’s very tempting to make the most of wall space and, especially if your room has a high ceiling, to go higher. But the point of artwork is for people to see and admire it, so don’t be tempted. Better to go for a larger painting than hang a small one far too high up, or add a vase on a table where there’s a gap to be filled lower down.
     
  5. Be ruthless with knick-knacks
    Sometimes, we just can’t bear to let things go. That ceramic figurine might not look right, but we can’t get rid of it because it belonged to Grandma and she loved it. If it doesn’t go with your décor, move it – to another room, a hall table or somewhere else it looks more at home.
     
  6. The power of a rug.
    Did you know that how you arrange furniture on or around a rug will change the feel of a room? Putting everything on top of a large rug is great for big rooms, as it creates a feeling of cosiness, while leaving everything off helps make a smaller room feel bigger. Use rugs in different ways to achieve the right ambience.
     
  7. Play with lighting.
    One central light rarely shows off a room to its best advantage – nothing stands out. Professionals use layers of light to create interest and variety. Place a spotlight over a painting or use interior lighting for display cabinets. Add ambient lighting with table or standard lamps – these could also be a key feature of your room.
     
  8. Be bold.
    Add your personality – it’s what brings a space to life. If you’ve got floor to ceiling shelving, what about a matching library-style ladder for access? Add one brightly-coloured seat to a room with muted colours. Incorporate the unexpected to add charisma. Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ – have fun, and you’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.

While it’s good to have some guidelines when it comes to interior design, don’t be afraid to get creative. Above all, you want to create a space you love and where you feel comfortable. If you want a wall display of 1950s’ shop signs in your lounge, go for it – you’ll soon know if you’ve made the right decision or if it would look better somewhere else.

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