10 Interior Design Rules to Follow when Decorating your Home

Do you know the basic rules of interior design? There are some fundamental elements, such as proportions and deciding the best size furniture for your room size, which are key to know before you start decorating your home.

We’re used to seeing tons of ‘before and after‘ shots of home renovations, whether in magazines or on Pinterest or Instagram, and although it might look easy, a lot of thought and steps have gone into making space work.

But help is at hand to make the process as seamless for you too. The interior design experts at Heal’s share their back to basics interior design rules to help you create your own dream home.

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1. Give your sofas space

For a comfortable living space, think about practicalities as well as aesthetics. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 45cm between the seating and a central coffee table – any less than this can feel like a squeeze, but too much more can prove uncomfortable when reaching for a drink or book.

Sabina Miller, Head of Buying at Heal’s, adds: “When you’re choosing the coffee table itself, make sure it doesn’t overpower the room. The proportions are right when the table is about two-thirds of the length of the sofa.”

2. Choose a statement hero piece

study or home office with floral wallpaper feature wall
HOUSE BEAUTIFUL/CAROLYN BARBER

Every room needs one statement or hero piece; something that will surprise, delight, and make an impact in your room, explain the interior design experts at Heal’s. This could be an oversized piece of furniture in a bold color, a fabulous rug, a work of art, or a feature wall – something that guests will always comment on when they enter the room.

Sabina says: “Your hero piece is designed to steal the limelight. It should be the thing you fell in love with the moment you saw it, and that you might be prepared to spend more money on as a key sustainable piece of furniture or even a bold feature wall color. If your stage-stealing piece is a bold color, try using hints of it elsewhere for a cohesive look.”

Get the look: Rugs, Floor Pillows, Throw Pillows, Rectangular Pillows, Side Tables, Coffee Tables, Blackout Curtains, Throw Blankets, Coffee Mugs, Coasters, Serving Trays, Wall Hangings.

3. Fake height

dfs libby sofa, house beautiful collection
Libby sofa, House Beautiful collection at DFSRACHEL

If you have low ceilings, choose low-profile furniture such as sofas and coffee tables to create the illusion of height. You can also mix low-profile furniture with tall, slim bookshelves that draw the eye upwards. Mixing different heights in this way will also create a relaxed atmosphere in your home.

To create an illusion of more space, paint the walls, skirting boards, and ceiling in the same color. This will blur the lines of where the end of the wall and the ceiling begins,” Sabina suggests.

Get the look: Rugs, Floor Pillows, Throw Pillows, Rectangular Pillows, Side Tables, Coffee Tables, Blackout Curtains, Throw Blankets, Coffee Mugs, Coasters, Serving Trays, Wall Hangings.

4. Create layers

sitting room with cushions on the blue patterned sofa, a white floor lamp bent over the sofateamdrips, spotsandsplatter patterns foranimpressionistic look that’scontemporary andrelaxed
HOUSE BEAUTIFUL/MARK SCOTT

To avoid the temptation to throw everything at a room all at once. Think of your particular space in terms of layers and build this up through color, texture, pattern, fabric, surface treatments, lighting, pictures, plants, and books. It’s important that you go with your personal taste, rather than what’s on-trend.

Sabina adds: ‘Layered quite simply means the art of combining a range of fabrics, prints, colors, and textures in a manner that brings character and warmth to a room. Layers allow a house to feel lived-in and homely. Find one dominant fabric initially, perhaps the curtains or rug. Then start layering by adding smaller-scale fabrics for cushions and lampshades.

Get the look: Rugs, Floor Pillows, Throw Pillows, Rectangular Pillows, Side Tables, Coffee Tables, Blackout Curtains, Throw Blankets, Coffee Mugs, Coasters, Serving Trays, Wall Hangings.

5. Choose the right artwork – and hang it correctly

gallery wall in hallway
Ferm Living Plant Box, Nest

When it comes to hanging pictures and paintings, don’t position them too high. They should have a human scale. The perfect height is at eye level, which is approximately 145cm from the floor to the center of the picture.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, as Sabina explains: “If you have a favorite, smaller picture, try hanging it above a side table or next to a lamp, which will give it a more intimate feeling. If you are hanging a gallery wall, the main picture should be hung at eye level, with the others arranged in relation to it.”

Get the look: Mini Art Prints, Framed Mini Art Prints, Art Prints, Framed Prints, Canvas Prints, Metal Prints, Wood Wall, Art Posters, Wall Hangings, Wall Murals, Wall Tapestries, Wallpapers.

6. Add Mirrors

house beautiful modern living collections   new york apartment, spring 2020
Layla Sofa by DFS, Coniston Buttermere Oak Herringbone Wood Flooring by Carpetright, Camo White Pleated Blind by Hillarys – all from the House Beautiful Modern Living Collections POLLY WREFORD

Not only do mirrors add light and depth to a room, but they can reflect views, visually expand a space, and can work as a hero piece in a room. Plus, they’re very practical and all in all, a great investment.

Get the look: Coffee Mugs, Travel Mugs, Coasters, Serving Trays, Cutting Boards, Side Tables, Credenzas, Counter Stools, Bar Stools, Benches, Coffee Tables.

7. Get the lighting right

dining room round dining table, blue vase in the middle of the tablerich palettefor a luxurious look, use the same shade on walls and furniture an accent chair in velvet and polishedbrass accessories add layers of interest in this elegant schemewalls in velvet blue elite emulsion, £4625l, zoffany clay table, £5,845 by desalto bronte chairs in indigo velvet, £399 for two all heal’s manipur ochre cushion, £75, designers guild moritz chair in amber, £299, john lewis  partners lena brass champagne cooler, £72 elsa fluted champagne glasses, £32 for two all rowen  wren bubble glasses in deep blue, £11 each, by memento, the conran shop ripple column vase, £69, heal’s kelp bowls, £38 each, by brickett davda slate linen napkins, £1250 each all the conran shop constantine bay dinner plates, £14 each, by rick stein at unique  unity jenny salad plates, £28 each, 1882 ltd matt gold 16 piece cutlery set, £75 abstract skyline framed canvas, £195 both cox  cox pendant light, £180, debenhams katiya platinum rug, £1,195, designers guild
HOUSE BEAUTIFUL/TIM YOUNG

When choosing the right pendant or chandelier to hang above a dining table, aim for a fitting that is between half and two-thirds of the width of the table, say the experts at Heal’s. This will ensure everything is in proportion.

The same rule can be applied to long, slim light fittings,” adds Sabina. “By maintaining the same half-to-two-thirds ratio, but applying it to the table’s length, the light fitting will be a harmonious part of the room.”

Get the look: Rugs, Floor Pillows, Throw Pillows, Rectangular Pillows, Side Tables, Coffee Tables, Blackout Curtains, Throw Blankets, Coffee Mugs, Coasters, Serving Trays, Wall Hangings.

8. Dress your windows

clarissa hulse goose grass curtains   blue  mustard
Clarissa Hulse, Goose Grass Curtains in Blue / Mustard.

Curtains should never hang at half-mast, to show yours off to their best effect, ensure that they either ‘kiss‘ the floor or puddle elegantly,’ say the design experts at Heal’s. The combined width of your curtain panels should be one and a half to two times the width of the window itself. For extra-wide windows, it’s worth looking at double-width fabrics as there will be fewer fabric joins.

Sabina adds: ‘If you have a small window, give the illusion of something much larger by setting your curtains outside the edge of the window to frame it. Taking curtains all the way across a whole wall will give a room softness and a feeling of space. Don’t be afraid to go floor to the ceiling either, short curtains will make your room look odd. If long curtains don’t suit the room, then go for a relaxed roman blind to give a window some casual elegant dressings.’

9. Mix up shapes

modern geometric designs
MARK SCOTT

Most living rooms will have a lot of rectangles and squares; it’s simply the nature of those bigger furniture items such as sofas, sideboards, and shelving units. If your room is looking like it has lots of lines and right angles, think about adding some different shapes such as circles. A round coffee table, a pair of round side tables, a round rug, a round wall hanging – the options are endless.

You could opt for a round mirror; it’s a great way to break up all those squares and rectangles in a living room as well as straight tile lines in a bathroom. “Go as big as you can,” says Sabina. “Large-scale mirrors make a real statement and can visually enhance the sense of space in smaller rooms.”

10. Finally, take a step back

Something missing? If you can’t put your finger on exactly what your room need, step back, and see the room as a whole.

All interior designers will tell you that viewing a room from a distance often makes it easier to see what needs to be added, replaced or removed,’ says Sabina. ‘Whether that is the empty wall that needs to be filled, the wall that needs a splash of color or the corner that’s crying out for a luscious plant.’

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