For many people interior design can seem an intimidating and time-consuming task. However, there are some simple and fundamental design rules you can follow that will allow you to transform spaces and re-create beautiful interiors in your own home. People's lives and needs are ever-changing and this should be reflected in our living spaces, so I have put together some of my top timeless designer rules to make it easy for everyone.
1. Know your end goal and research
Like any project, before you begin, it is key to know your end goal - what is it you are trying to achieve or improve in the space you want to transform? From there we can look at how you are going to approach it. For many people this stage of the design can be the most fun, do some research, make a look book or mood board - Establish a look or style that you want to work with such as contemporary or classic. There are great sources of inspiration all around, from magazines and books to blogs. - it is endless, and the skill is to know how to put these beautiful images together to create something meaningful. Look at materials, lighting and colour-ways that will enhance the look together with art and styling.
Budget is a crucial parameter to set in place before you go out actively searching for things to add to or re-vamp your space. Budget for key elements first - I can't say this enough to clients. Your key items include your furniture, lighting and key statement pieces. Focus on obtaining the best quality materials and craftsmanship for these pieces to ensure the space is harmonious and the pieces work together effortlessly. I do not believe matching furniture - eclectic feel will bring originality and personality to the space. I usually make great finds from antique markets or from my travels - it might be a beautiful piece of fabric that inspires the colours for the upholstery for my living room sofa!
How you use and dress the space is an essential consideration to any room, no matter what the size. A simple trick I use to maximise space in a room is to choose fewer, larger objects rather than several smaller items to make the space feel larger. Mirrors also help to make rooms appear bigger.
4. Make your space multi-functional
More and more these days our lifestyles demand a multi-functional element to the spaces we live in; a room can serve as a study, living room, dining room, kitchen and even bedroom at a push with a sofa bed, all at once. You can easily achieve this by picking a theme to run throughout the space and ensuring key furniture brings the look together. Use soft furnishings like throws and cushions to add pops of colour and keep the colour palette complementary throughout.
Symmetry is reflected nature and the everyday and in interior design, harmonious proportion is very pleasing to the eye. Pick a focal point in the room and create symmetry around this point to give a sense of natural coherence to the space. Frame the focal point with furniture and accessories so one is a direct mirror image of the other.
Light is a major player in a designer's strategy. There are many ways light can be used, whether to enhance design aspects or to alter the appearance of a space so don't leave it until the last minute. Think about layering light and remember lighting creates mood, if you want to hang a chandelier over the dinner table do so- but ensure that you install a dimmer switch with it. Don't be afraid to think outside the box either, use light to emphasise design features with down lights, highlight a piece of artwork or shelving using a runner of LED strips, the options are endless. It's also important to think about ways you can enhance natural light in the space for instance as well as making a space feel bigger.
Introducing textures to your interior is a great way to add a sense of luxury to your space. Offset rough textures with smooth, and hard with soft. Contrasting patterns can also work wonderfully - have fun with your interiors! Think about ways in which you can incorporate texture into the actual design of a space. Got some old wood panels lying around? Why not use them as a feature to add some interest to a large wall space as well as a sense of character.
8. Final touches and accessories
You should use smaller items like art work, books, photographs, cushions and so forth to either help amplify or tone down the look of your space. These don't need to be expensive additions - they are simply to supplement your investment pieces and inject more personal touches to the room. Having said that, an investment piece can be that amazing, large artwork which brings the whole room alive.
9. Final expert tip - Stick to the plan
Although it can be tempting to chop and change aspects of the design as you work, avoid changing elements mid-build and stick to your plan. Know the context of the space, and use materials that fit the purpose of the room in terms of durability and longevity. Some materials, such as wood get better with age so consider this in your design. I also plan out a space using masking tape on the floor & walls first to see how big items of furniture or mirrors are before I buy them so it all fits perfectly and locations work harmoniously.