Here's a quick six-step guide for transforming any interior -
1. Create a focal point
A common styling mistake is to let all furniture and interior details take up as much space and attention, leaving the room without a focal point. A focal point is that one element in the room that the eye is naturally drawn to. What is the first thing you notice in the room you are decorating? And what do you want it to be? Is it the same or do you need to redirect attention?
The focal point can be obvious and natural in some rooms, such as a fireplace or a window wall in the living room, or the bed itself in the bedroom. If the room doesn’t have a focal point then you need to create one. A focal point can be as simple as a large piece of art, wall shelves or pendant lighting.
The furniture layout will be determined based off of the focal point. Once the focal point has been established, you can start arranging where to place your furniture around your focal point. Your furniture should aid in moving the eyes to the focal point.
2. Pay attention to the visual balance
Whether you prefer symmetry or asymmetry when designing a room, it’s all about levelling out the so-called visual weight and reaching visual balance. For example, large, warm-coloured and dark elements have more visual weight than small, cool-coloured and light elements.
Because texture gives dimension, heavily textured objects weigh more than non-texture objects. Local white space is seen as empty and has no visual weight, therefore any object in that space will seem heavier because of its surroundings. Even perceived weight within a painting will add to the visual weight; an image of a house will weigh more visually than an image of a feather, because we expect the house to weigh more. Other values to take into consideration are position, depth and density, but it’s not any one feature, rather their combination that determines the visual weight of an element.
Just like a seesaw, your room needs equal weights on both sides to stay balanced. If one side of the room has a black grand piano, the other side of the room would feel imbalanced with just a small chair in it. If one side of the room displays a lot of wood, the other side needs some wood characteristics as well to balance out the visual weight.
3. Mix and match furniture
Picking out a matching living room or bedroom furniture set might seem like the easiest route to take, but mixing and matching furniture pieces can really bring a sense of style and cohesion to a room. Think beyond matching furniture sets, and instead find pieces that compliment each other without actually matching. If you already own a matching bedroom set, disperse the set between a few rooms, or consider painting the nightstands or the dresser to lighten the overall mood.
Try to create a common theme between all of your pieces to help create a unified, unique and curated look without looking cluttered or chaotic. Having visual points of reference helps keep your overall theme on track. Try matching colours and patterns, and stick to consistency throughout all of the pieces to help achieve a cohesive look, or look for pieces that are similar in shape so that even though they might differ in style, they still harmonise. Or simply go with your feeling. Once you’ve envisioned the room and established the feel that you want to create in a space, find pieces that fit this feel. For example, regardless of the style, formal pieces tend to mix best with other formal pieces, casual with casual, and so on.
4. The 60-30-10 Colour Rule
Colour schemes can be really difficult to get right, because they need to be put together in the right proportions and work together in harmony. Luckily, there are a few colour rules that you can use to make sure your colours look balanced every time. Regardless of your personal aesthetic or what you want your room to look like, the 60-30-10 rule will ensure that your colour palette stays balanced.
Your 60 percent is the main colour for your room, from which you want to build your palette. The 60 percent in a living room is achieved through your walls, floors, large accent pieces like area rugs, and perhaps a large sofa.
Your 30 percent is the secondary colour. This could be curtains, painted furniture, side chairs, bed linens or even creating an accent wall. The idea is for the secondary colour to support the main colour, yet be different enough to set them apart and give the room interest.
Your 10 percent is the accent colour. The accent colour adds unexpected excitement to your colour scheme For a living room, this could be a throw, a rug, an ottoman, or artwork. A rule of thumb is for the accent colour to be present in at least three places of the room. That way it feels well thought-out, yet not so much to the point that the accent colour loses its purpose.
5. Artwork on the wall
Art in the home is a great way to capture your personality and creativity. A special piece of art enables you to express yourself with tools like paint colour, on the wall that goes with your favourite piece of furniture, but poorly hung art can really stick out like a sore thumb.
When hanging artwork on an empty wall, avoid hanging artwork too high. The centre of the art should hang approximately 1.5 m from the floor. The 1.5 m standard represents the average human eye-height, so hanging it at eye level might be an easier way to measure it. This standard also helps create balance in the home because all of your art will share a visual mid-line. If you’re hanging more than one frame, place them 10 cm apart, in order to help the eye see all the art as one unit.
If you’re hanging art above furniture, position it roughly 20cm above the furniture. And don’t forget scale - the artwork should fill two-thirds the width of the sofa or sideboard below it. If you are hanging multiple pieces in a group, make sure you place the heavier pieces at the bottom left and the lighter pieces are at the upper right with mid-sized pieces placed in between. The goal is to make the art feel connected to the object(s) below it.
6. Rug size and placement is key
Large, small, luxurious silky, solid or patterned - no matter what the rug looks like, it’s an indispensable detail of the room design. Rugs connect the sofa group, give the dining area personality, create a soft and inviting feel and create beautiful rooms within the room. The right rug can change everything, which is why placement and sizing is so important!
Read more about picking the perfect rug and rug placement here.