What would the best designers in the world tell you if they could? Here are 20 tips from experienced designers to help you with your design plans.
# 1 Update a Classic
You can’t go wrong with the classics. But that doesn’t mean your design has to be dated, boring, or overdone. Update classics with modern touches that bring your designs out of history and into the 21st century.
Little touches can change everything. Daltile’s Gallery and Showroom Manager, Corinthia Runge, suggests that a chrome finish on classic fixtures can update faucets and hardware to give off a sense of the industrial. It can also lift your design to a new level of luxury.
#2 Don’t Limit Size Because of Space
It’s a falsehood to think that a small space has to have small design. Large tiles, and large furniture can actually trick you into feeling that the space is bigger than it seems.
For instance, small tiles mean more grout lines, and more grout lines cut up the space and shrink it. Large format tiles have fewer grout lines and produce a more cohesive look that can expand the space visually.
#3 Pair Up Pillows
Just one set of throw pillows on your sofa tend to get lost. Get two pairs of pillows with contrasting patterns, colors, or textures. Having two different things going on draws attention and fills in gaps so you don’t have any holes in your design.
#4 Think Tall
Increase the visual size of a room by adding vertical elements. Vertical lines draw the eye up and take the emphasis off of smaller room dimensions. Put your mattress on a tall frame or get a vertically appealing headboard. Let your shelves go up the wall a bit more. Extend your backsplash up the wall.
#5 Go for White
White is always a safe pick for your design. It is the perfect backdrop for anything and everything. You’ll never get tired of white and even if you do, you can easily change up other—less expensive—details in the space to make it feel new.
White is a good choice for adding value to your home for future buyers. It doesn’t lock anyone into your choices and allows them to create with a clean slate.
#6 Don’t Fear Dark Color Schemes
The emphasis has been on white for so long that dark colors almost seem like a no-no. But dark colors can do a lot for your design. They make excellent neutrals to build the rest of the room on—just like white—so wallpaper, paint, and tile in dark colors are a great pick. In fact, a soft black used freely can actually make a room seem larger than it is.
#7 Mix Design Styles
Transitional design is the newest, hottest trend in design. Transitional design mixes classic and modern in ever-changing ways. The whole idea is that designers aren’t limited to one idea or another. They can pick and choose favorite elements from one or the other and blend them to create a whole new, and often, unique design.
#8 Use Lighting
Every space needs several types of light. Ambient is a general background light and task lighting is directional and for specific purposes or tasks. Use both. Neither one is enough for any room by itself. You can also use accent lighting as a feature of your design to take it up to the next level.
Natural lighting is another type of light that you should shoot for in every space of the house. Remember to take existing natural light into account as you plan your other lighting so they can complement each other.
#9 Get Past Tradition
Plenty of designers today are laughing in the face of tradition and looking for new, creative ways to blend functional and beautiful. The concept of a coffee table doesn’t mean you have to have an actual coffee table. One of the hottest trends right now is to let an oversized ottoman double as the coffee table. You can even put a tray on the ottoman to make it more table-like.
#10 Consider the Floor
The floor is the foundation of your design. Even though it’s underfoot, that doesn’t mean it should be out of mind. In fact, everything below your knees in your design could use a little attention.
For example, too many visible chair and table legs might make the room feel a little ungrounded. A few skirted chairs or a skirted sofa can bring everything back down to earth.
#11 Add Metallic
Metallic is an element that you’ll find in just about every design. Though gold, silver, pewter, and the rest take turns being the metal of choice, hints of metallic always stick around. They are an accent that finish your design and add a touch of luxury.
#12 Bring in Plants
Plants soften a space and make it come to life. Not only are they a finishing touch design-wise, they introduce the natural into your space. Plants make your home inviting and give it a lived-in feel without cluttering up a room.
#13 Try Different Seating Options
Who says you have to have identical chairs surrounding the dining table? You wouldn’t do that in the living room. Opting for different seating in your dining or living areas can add depth to your design.
#14 Don’t Overlook the Closets
As closets become more and more important in design, you’ll see more attention given to decorating them. Wallpaper, paint, and pictures on the closet wall can make this space an important part of your overall design.
#15 Go for the Furniture Look
Built-ins are an excellent investment. They add storage and style simultaneously. Then again, furniture looks more classy and high-end and increases value—when it stays with the home. Get the best of both worlds and ask for furniture-style built-ins.
#16 Open Things Up
You’re familiar with the open floor plan, but consider opening things up on a whole new level. Instead of enclosing the staircase, try opening it as a portal to another section of your home. Take doors off of cabinets and rooms to make things feel bigger and more accessible. Even opening armoires gives you an opportunity to use that space in your design.
#17 Work the Chandelier
A chandelier isn’t just for the formal dining room anymore. You’ll find them in the bathroom, the foyer, and even the kitchen. Knowing how to pick the right chandelier for your space is key in making it work for your design.
Designer Alexa Hampton told Traditional Home a little trick to get the size right so you don’t end up overwhelming or underwhelming the space with your chandelier. “Take the width of the room in feet, double that number, convert it to inches, and that is the minimum dimension for your chandelier’s diameter.”
#18 Find Balance
Your design is a balancing act of many different elements. One is the balance between boldness and softness. Little things like wallpaper, fabrics, and florals can tip the scales toward softness. High-contrast and geometric patterns create boldness. You should have some of both to keep the design interesting.
#19 Soothe with Monochromatic
If you are going for a soothing, spa-like retreat in your bathroom design or a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom—monochromatic could be the key. A single color envelops you and eliminates distractions so you can relax. However, monochromatic doesn’t have to mean boring. Add several textures and patterns in the same color to keep your design fresh and interesting.
#20 Find Design Inspiration
Many a great design started with a single pillow, a piece of art, or a favorite tile. If you can find one item to center your designs around—you’ve conquered half the design battle. Your item will give purpose to your design and harmonize all the elements into one.