When it comes to shopping for furniture, it can be difficult to know where to start. With so many different types of furniture available, it’s not always easy finding whats right for you. We’ve all made the mistake of buying a piece of furniture, getting it home and discovering it’s just not right. Interior design and decor styling doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it have to be time-consuming. With this simple guide, you’ll be able to quickly select a theme, choose a colour palette and find the perfect furniture.
If you’ve recently purchased a new home you might be looking for a fresh start. Quite often, to save money, you’ll keep inherited pieces, buy from Ikea and shop around for purely functional furniture that doesn’t really compliment your home or fit within a specific theme or style. With a new house on the horizon, you have the ability to start from scratch.
Designing your new interior can be broken down into four key stages:
- Choosing an interior design style
- Selecting a colour-matching palette and theme
- Measuring your space and finding the right size
- Setting a budget
It’s also a good idea to document your process and the transformation of your interior. You can then quickly look back over your home makeover to compare the difference over time, including what has worked well and what further improvements you could make. We’ve kept photo books of all our home makeover projects where we can see our favourite transformations.
The interior design style
To get started it’s best to have a look at some different interiors and get a feel for what you like best. There are a number of different design styles to choose from which I’ll list below but it’s important to select one and stick with it throughout your design process. Unless of course you quite like that eclectic or mixed feel to your interior. If this is the case try and stick with similar colours, tones, shapes, lines and scales to pull it all together. It’s also possible to mix two styles together but try and stick with similar colours and shapes for a slick design.
Here are some of the most common design styles for your consideration. I’ll start with some of my favourites.
|Design style||Associated key words, types and colours|
|Industrial||Recycled materials, bare brick walls, exposed pipework, raw steel, worn and used wood. Reclaimed and up-cycled furniture from factories & warehouses|
|Mid-Century Modern||40s, 50s and 60s styling, vivid use of colour, crisp lines, timelessness, comfort, sculptures and graphical shapes. See Frank Lloyd Wright|
|Rustic||Nature, natural materials, woods, chunky wood, log cabin, handmade, earthy tones, reclaimed wood, waney edge wood. Colours: Greens, browns, greys|
|Mediterranean||Italy, Greece and Spain, Columns, sky and water, linen, rich woods, sundecks. Colours: terracotta, whites, blues|
|Contemporary||Trends in fashion right now, modern, mix of old and new, clean lines and smooth surfaces, neutral colours with a dash of vibrant colour.|
|Minimalist||simple furnishings, space, streamlines, necessary, functional, neutral colour palettes.|
|Scandinavian||Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, are minimalist, simplistic, functional, blend of mid-century and minimalist.|
|Shabby Chic||laid back, antique and vintage, distressed, wear and tear, very functional,|
|Boho or Bohemian||Blend of pattern, free spirit, bold patterns and colour, Moroccan, metallic, hand-woven fabrics, lush greens, reds and oranges.|
|Art Deco||Jagged edges, moody, saturated tones, fluted details, bold artwork and sculptures, brass and bold colours.|
|Coastal||Sandy beaches, seashells, sky and ocean, birds, corals, driftwood, linen and glass. Whitewashed natural and blue tones.|
Once you know what kind of design you are looking for, you can narrow down your search and find pieces that will fit well in your home. For example, a recliner couch would be a great choice for a home with a traditional design. And if you are looking for something more modern, a sleek and simple coffee table would be a great addition to your living room.
With your theme selected you’ll have a good starting point for which colours to choose. Try and kick things off with key pieces of furniture. Once you have established the prominent colour with the more expensive centrepiece item, such as the sofa, you can find complimenting items and paints to match.
Finding the perfect colour value is the next step. This refers to a set of colours that are very similar but differ in lightness and darkness. A smaller range of colours will complement each other well. It’s best to try and find one light, one dark and a prominent colour for each room. This then becomes your room-themed colour.
Think about how the light affects the room. Where are the windows and where do the sun set and rise? Maybe your room is north facing and therefore gets very little light during the day. In this case, it’s best to stick with very light colours that will enhance the daylight. Dull pastel colours might not be best in these spaces and the use of white on walls and in other furniture will make a huge difference.
Size matters, especially in an interior.
You’ll want to keep in mind the size of the furniture. You need to make sure that the pieces you choose will fit well in the space you have available. Measure your rooms before you start shopping and take note of doorways, staircases, and other obstacles that could prevent the perfect piece of furniture from fitting.
Depth, height and width all need to be carefully considered. When it comes to sofas, depth can play an important role. Think about the desired use of your sofa. Will it be a lounger or a percher? A good deep sofa is perfect for snuggling up on with loved ones but can take up large amounts of space within your room. If you’re limited on space then a deep sofa might not work and you’ll need to consider alternatives.
Sometimes it helps to mark out an area with masking tape or a piece of string to see exactly how large items will be. You’ll be surprised how much room some things can take up. Even height can play a major factor in the overall feel of a space.
Another important thing to keep in mind when shopping for furniture is functionality. You should always consider how you will be using the pieces in your home. For example, if you need a place to store blankets and pillows, an ottoman with storage would be a great choice. Or if you want a dining table that can double as a workspace, look for one with leaves that can be added or removed. When height matters, there are some types of furniture that can be adjusted to suit your needs. A standing desk can be perfect for those who like to both stand and sit at their desks. A height-adjustable desk with built-in motors allows the desk to be lowered and raised at the touch of a button.
Whatever you decide to go for there is one important rule that will help you design an interior that both functions well and looks great. That is to minimise clutter. Cluttered rooms can make us feel anxious and even depressed and take our eyes away from any purposeful placed items and furniture. Minimise your design and ensure proper spacing between items for a comfortable, organised interior.
The budget will be up to you but you will have far more variety in a larger budget. If you’re working with a small budget then find local second-hand furniture stores, and up-cycle furniture stores and buy from local marketplaces. It might take a little longer to find what you want but be patient as the perfect piece might be just around the corner.
If you’ve managed to put some money aside from a house sale then you can focus on completing one room quickly before focusing on the next. We worked our way around our house starting with the rooms we use most. The kitchen dinner, snug and living room came first. We then moved on to the bedroom and finally the bathrooms.
Hopefully, this article has given you a plan and some important factors to consider. Please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll respond asap. Check out some of these other related articles:
- Easy tips to add plants to any interior space
- Decorations that will refresh your interior in a quick and cheap way
- Four tasks to consider when renovating your home: A guide for budding interior designers
- 6 Simple interior design tips to spruce up your living room
- What colours make a living room look bigger?