The basics of interior styling are easy to master and they’ll completely transform your home.
Home styling can often feel overwhelming and never-ending. We paw over gorgeous home and lifestyle publications and aspire for that polished, perfect magazine look. Some of us even seek professional help to achieve the perfectly styled home – and interior designers can be worth their weight in gold. They have fabulous style, are great at sourcing hard-to-find pieces, and they have a meticulous eye for detail.
But the learning the basics of styling isn't that hard and doing so will give you the power to completely transform your home, without hiring an interior designer. Here we share seven simple styling rules that interior designers don't want you to know.
1. STYLING A SMALL SPACE
Just because you have a small space doesn't mean you should have teeny-tiny furniture. In fact, oversized floor lamps, carpets or art can actually make your room look larger. And the opposite is also true. If you're blessed with huge open-plan spaces, don't just select large furniture. Ensure you pair your big couch with small, clustered side tables. Create vignettes of little treasures on your bookshelves and buffet. Group artwork together rather than relying on one huge piece. And place rugs to anchor chairs and tables and create living 'zones'.
2. DON'T RELY ON DOWNLIGHTS
Overhead lights are, quite frankly, a downer. If you just rely on your ceiling downlights you'll struggle to create warmth – and you may give yourself a headache. Ensure you have a good mix of floor lamps, wall lights and small table lights. Point the light sources in different directions to create interesting shadows and to highlight special items like art. And burn candles, lots of candles.
3. COLOUR DECODING
Colour has made a comeback in home styling, and that can only be a good thing. But as a simple styling rule, never mix colour tones. So, if you have embraced bold, primary colours, adding a dusky pink or chocolate brown will completely clash. And don't go too crazy with colour or you'll create a room that's hard to relax in. Stick to the 60/30/10 rule: 60 per cent main colour (let's use taupe as an example), 30 percent secondary tone (now try navy), and 10 percent accent shade, which should complement but contrast the other two (here, we would use teal or burnt orange).
4. SHAPES AND SIZES
While some symmetry can work beautifully in the home, a space that has everything lined up precisely can look clinical and stale. A simple styling rule is 'avoid convention' – use different shapes and sizes of pillows, cluster artworks, have mis-matched dining chairs. Different is always better if you want to create a home you'll love forever.
5. PLAY WITH COLOUR
This is one of the most common styling mistakes that make interior designers cringe. Sticking rigidly to one 'theme' or colour palette will just result in a stale space that looks like a new suburb display home. I have met someone who only bought purple things for her lounge because she was going for a 'purple theme'. It was like stepping into a 12-year-old girl's bedroom. You don't want to do this. Likewise, choosing artwork that matches your soft furnishings is a no-no. Pillows can change, art is for life.
6. DISPLAYING ART
Speaking of art, another simple styling rule is to ensure your art is hung at eye level. You'll lose the impact of the art if you have to look up to see it properly. And before you tell me that your eye level is very different to that of other family members', just aim for a happy medium. But don't hang it at the eye level of the tallest member of the household. And remember to hang your art a little lower in dining areas and living rooms where you are most likely to be seated.
7. PLANTS BRING LIFE
Gorgeous plants bring life into a space and make it feel like home. All stylists worth their salt will include plenty of greenery into your newly styled home – but it's so simple to do yourself! Just select a plant that suits the amount of light in your home, and whether you're going for height (like a tall, striking bamboo palm) or low and leafy. There are loads of incredible indoor plants to suit your exact needs.