As purveyors of fine upholstered and wooden furniture, we are enthusiastic about bringing comfort and long-term livability to our customers. Our custom wood furniture creates the “skeleton” for rooms—it’s the structure that will support family members and friends. (And because our furniture is hand crafted, it will often do so for generations!) But selecting furniture is only one aspect of interior design. Customers often ask us for quick, handy interior design tricks that will help with choosing furniture and decorating rooms. For instance, in a recent blog post, we offered a trick to use bed sheets for eyeballing table sizes. Today we’re offering more tips you can use to create comfortable, beautiful spaces in your home.
Interior Design Tips from the Pros
1. Make small rooms appear larger with light paint tones and mirrors. Light colors, such as creams, tans, whites and pastels make any room feel bigger. Particularly when mounted opposite windows, mirrors boost interior light and trick the eye into thinking the space is much larger. Plus, mirrors boost interior light, further increasing the room’s apparent size.
2. Look for unusual places for accent colors. Don’t curb your colorful imagination at the walls. Bookcases, mantels, ceilings, and hallways are perfect places to add accent colors. A white bookcase may appear rather drab until the interior is painted electric blue. These “pops” of color will add personality and visual interest to your space.
3. Hang artwork properly. Many people assume that artwork should be centered vertically—so that a painting on a twelve-foot wall should be hung six feet up. While this may make mathematical sense, it does not honor the human scale. Art specialists recommend hanging art and mirrors at 57” from the floor. This is an eye-strain-free level for most people. If you are hanging pieces near furniture, the bottom edge of the frame should be just 3 to 8 inches above furniture; any higher and the eye tends to rest on the blank gap between the furniture and the artwork.
5. Distribute colors like a pro. To maximize the effect of your color palette, aim for 60% in the dominant color, 30% in your secondary color, and 10% in the accent color. An easy way to think about this is to paint the walls in the dominant color, choose furniture in the secondary color, and add floral arrangements and pillows in the accent color.
6. Create comfortable coffee table measurements. When company comes over, the coffee table is often the centerpiece. To make your guests and family members comfortable around the table, take a measuring tape to the space. Since most couch seats are 20” high, coffee tables should be 15 to 20 inches tall. Place the edge of the table 18” from the sofa; this will allow most people enough space to navigate and lounge comfortably. Overall, the coffee table should be two-thirds the length of the sofa; this is a pleasing ratio for the eyes.
7. Place rugs purposefully. If you have a large space, placing the furniture on top of the rug results in a lush feel. Just be sure to leave 18 to 24 inches of space on all four sides of the rug. In small spaces, having all of the furniture off of the rug works—just don’t use a too-small rug, which will look like an afterthought. You want it to appear that the rug could touch the front legs of the furniture. Having just the front legs on the rug will create a sense of connection, yet openness.
8. Create layers of lighting. Interior designers appreciate the huge impact that lighting has on the human experience. When decorating a room, aim to create different levels of lighting—ambient lighting for background illumination, focal point lighting to bring attention to specific objects or architectural elements, and task lighting for work areas such as kitchen counters. Consider lighting backsplashes, paintings, and cabinet interiors.
9. Consider sight lines and proportion. Designers use classic art guidelines regarding proportion and scale. To fully appreciate an area’s appearance, view it from all angles and notice the lines of sight, if any, from one room to another. Look across rooms to see where focal points should be—often across from doors. With this wider perspective, seek ways to vary scale. For instance, a large golden sunburst mirror across from any entry door may be complimented with a grouping of five sand dollars. The smaller circles of the sand dollars will accentuate the large circle of the mirror.
10. Let your personality shine. While designers do have certain handy tricks in their back pockets, their number one rule is to cultivate personal creativity. The most important thing in any room is that you feel comfortable, and that your own style shines through. Select personally pleasing styles that make you smile. Overly designed rooms only work in design magazines.
For personalized design recommendations, visit or call one of our stores. Our designers can help you select and customize furniture for your space, and they are happy to lend their interior design expertise to your project.
[Header photo by: Karolina Grabowska via CC License] [Middle photo by Kyle Kaotic via CC License]