Written by Kerena Berry, co-founder and Head of Interior Design at Designbx.com, Australia’s first complete online interior design solution, home to over 12,000 home décor products.
Considering the amount of time we spend in our interior spaces and the way we rely on our homes for comfort, it’s amazing how many people fail to find the right interior design solution. Let’s face it; we’re talking about the setting for our private lives, so the way we design our rooms has emotional and psychological effects on us as individuals, couples and families.
Somewhere between the DIY disasters and exorbitant prices of elitist professional designers, we’re beginning to see compromises, mainly in the form of online templates and tools that at least give homeowners a strong reference point. But whether you’ve got the chops to tackle design yourself, using online interior design solutions or hiring a professional team, here are the five essential interior design hacks you can’t live without.
Five essential interior design hacks
1. Create a Design Brief
This is huge non negotiable, regardless of whether you have an interior designer or not. Be very honest and upfront about the results you’re after and what you can achieve with the budget you have.
Key questions to consider:
- Describe the end result (what’s your vision and why is it the right look for the room?)
- Who does this design need to cater for (make a list of the people that live in the home and their needs and loves)
- Make a list of items in your home that are mandatory inclusions (this can influence design decisions)
- What’s the timeframe for this project?
- What’s your budget?
- How long will this design will live with us (whether it’s a one, two or ten-year plan will influence design choices)
2. Establish your style
You may think you know your interior design style but there’s often a difference between the style you want to be and the style that reflects your personality. There’s also a chance you may be a blend of more than one style. Making the right choice is critical because it’s the foundation for every decision.
How to find the right look:
- Create a Pinterest account and add a folder with images that sing to you
- Sit with a few interior and fashion magazines and pull out any pictures that you love, focusing on colours, textures, furniture, and layouts. Using a flat surface like a table or large piece of paper, arrange images to create a mood board, then take a photo and save it on your phone
- Use online tools like the free Designbx Style Quiz which works by creating a series of yes or no choices and calculating your top three styles, including colour options, brands that may fit and designers
3. What to do before purchasing
Before you shop up a storm, make sure you’ve done your research. You’re buying big- ticket items and you’ll have to live with them for years, so a little research and planning will save you some heartbreak and money.
Top purchasing tips:
- Don’t be impulsive – research in-store or online and build an understanding of what items cost (there will be significant differences in price so research well)
- If you’ve engaged an interior designer, this is part of their job so make sure they’re doing a comprehensive job of finding the best deals for you
- Refer to your design brief and room measurements (a good trick is to tape newspaper to the floor in the shape of items to see if you’re able to comfortably live with positioning)
- Select the hero pieces that deserve more of your dollars (families that love to watch TV and cuddle on the sofa should invest more money in a quality, comfortable lounge and build a space around this key piece)
4. Ensuring you stay on brief while shopping
You’ve done your research and planning, so don’t ruin it with a sudden rush of blood while wielding that dangerous credit card! Your well-defined strategy could turn into a short-lived session of retail therapy, and ruin all the good work you’ve done in the planning stage.
Here’s how to stay on brief:
- Compare each item to your mood board (that’s why you saved it to your phone), checking it fits your colour scheme, is the right material, has the right shape and will physically fit (if you hold your style board next to the item and it looks out of place then it’s probably not going to work)
- If you’re not 100% sure, ask about return policies so you can try it in your home and return it if you’re not happy (seeing an item in your home with your existing items will instantly let you know if it’s going to be a fit)
- Buy what you love but also be sure it fits your lifestyle, especially if you have kids (if you’re about to buy a cotton or silk upholstered sofa in white, alarm bells should be ringing)
5. Take your time
We all like an instant solution to a problem, so it’s common that after the design brief and Style Board are completed, there’s a sense that everything must now be finished as fast as possible. This is a big project and you need to take your time.
- If you can’t find the right products, wait (anyone who buys the next best thing or compromises on a cheaper item will always regret it)
- If you’re really struggling to find something or unsure on a colour or texture, just ask for help (friends are great because they know you and will be honest, while in-house designers in retail stores can be very knowledgeable)
- If you still don’t have your answer then go to a professional (interior design has never been so accessible, and professional designers know products and how to work to a budget)
- Outsource by getting a professional to buy products and schedule deliveries
Savvy interior design isn’t a matter of applying a fresh lick of paint and buying a few new items to inject life into a stale environment. Like any major project, you need processes. With a clear brief, mood board, comprehensive planning and a little help from your friends, you’ll revitalise your space with a lasting look that you love.