What’s the biggest interior design secret? That’s simple… the secret is that there are no design rules. In fact, anything goes, and you should always do what you love!

However, if you find decorating to be a bit overwhelming, these secrets from interior designers will help you create a beautiful space without effort! 

A white dresser enhances the elegance of the entryway, complementing the rustic charm of a brick floor. Perfect for those seeking home improvement inspiration or DIY house projects.
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Some of the best secrets aren’t really secrets at all. In fact, when it comes to the inner workings of the interior design world, you might find that rules are being broken all the time!

Without even realizing it, you’ve probably seen these interior decorating secrets used in every magazine and catalog. I’m breaking them down for you today!

Trends will come and go, but good classic interior design can last a lifetime. If you’re ready to think long term and design a space you’ll love for decades to come, keep reading.

I love chatting home design details with you! Don’t skip these popular posts about choosing a sofa: Pottery Barn York Sofa, Serena and Lily Sofas, and Sectional Sofas.

Interior Design Secrets

Hey, I’m not an interior designer, and I’ve never claimed to be one! However, I love to follow them for inspiration and take note of the design elements they return to consistently.

Step inside our homes and get the tips and tricks that designers use all the time!

An entryway with a coat rack and a pair of boots, adorned with neutral rugs.

Moulding

Want your builder-grade home to feel more interesting? Want to add instant character to any space? Add moulding!

From simple board and batten to beadboard, moulding adds instant character. That’s the simple secret… when the bones of a room are good, the rest will fall into place with ease.

Picture Frame Moulding

This spectacular version of wainscoting goes by a multitude of different names. Sometimes known as shadow box trim, box paneling, picture frame molding, shadow box molding or shadow box wainscoting… the names are endless, but the style is truly timeless.

 

 

Upgraded Lighting

This is where a bigger investment up front will pay you back tenfold in the long run! While higher end lighting can be quite an investment, you’ll find that choosing pieces you truly love will help create a timeless look for decades to come.

Want a more affordable designer secret? Read our guide to light bulbs for insider info on the right bulbs for every space.

Lighting Design Guide

If you’re building or renovating a home, the interior lighting design can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Even if you’re just making simple updates room by room, creating a whole house lighting plan can help you bring your vision to life.

 

 

Be Cohesive with a Palette

You all know I love a good cream color paint. It’s easy to transition, but no matter what paint palette you choose, choose a color palette for your room to keep it consistent.

A good color story typically includes three colors through furniture, pillows, rugs, art and accessories. Limit your purchases to those colors and play with pattern and texture. 

Of course you can use more (I never go beyond five), but you’ll find the best results for amateur decorators (like myself) by limiting to three. Our spa bath is a great example of this! 

Warm Whites

Cozy up your home with the prettiest warm whites on your walls, trim, furniture and more! These warm white paint colors are some of my very favorites.

 

 

Add Wallpaper

I know, I know. If you’ve ever moved into a dated house with wallpaper that harkens back to a decade gone by, you might be cringing at this tip.

However, you’ll find that interior designers adore a good wallpapered space – and it’s easy to see why. It adds instant charm and an elevated, customized look to any room of your home.

Block Print Wallpaper

Block print wallpaper is the prettiest way to bring an organic yet modern statement into your home. It’s charming, worldly, and simple enough to grace any wall.

 

 

Play with Scale

This one isn’t a secret so much as it is a trick of the trade. Learn about the scale of your furniture, accessories and even rugs, to help even the smallest room feel more grand.

Scale can be a bit challenging for those of us who are not interior designers. Start with the basics (in the living room it’s the sofa) and allow that to be your guide. Choose something that you can dress up, dress down and that will grow with you as your style evolves.

In our family room it is a 9′ sofa Belgian Linen sofa. It is a soft, neutral color, classic design and it translates to traditional, cottage and modern. I accessorize it with throws and pillows to transition it with the seasons – or my mood!

When selecting a rug, the bigger the better. A small rug will make a room feel smaller. Floating a seating arrangement on a rug draws your eye in, immediately shrinking the room.

How to Measure Furniture

Properly measuring furniture to get the scale correct can make or break the entire look and feel of your home. Learn how to measure furniture correctly, the first time, in this complete step by step furniture measuring guide.

 

 

Blend Old and New

Old or new, if it’s something you love, it will never go out of style. Incorporate family heirlooms, vintage or antique pieces you’re drawn to. It will instantly make your home feel warm, adding character and personality.

It takes a room from generic to interesting.

You don’t have to maintain a specific style period, but it is helpful to maintain a consistent color palette. It doesn’t have to match – in fact, it’s more interesting when it doesn’t!

Break away from a “set” of furniture and start collecting pieces you love, old and new. This can be a little scary at first, but you’ll be surprised of the depth it adds to your home. It’s a trick that interior designers have been using for decades!

Linen Cabinet

No built in linen closet in your home? No problem! You can buy, build or repurpose a piece of furniture to create a linen cabinet to stow away pillows, throws, blankets, towels and more to protect them from dust.

 

 

Good Art Can be Found for FREE!

This is one of my favorite designer secrets, and in fact, you’ll see many of your favorite brands using free art from the public domain in their art lines.

This little secret is the best one to have in your back pocket for creating a home that is personalized to your tastes, and on a budget, too!

Free Art Sources

Did you know most paintings and prints from your favorite stores are actually public domain art? I’m sharing the best art sources that you can download for free.

 

 

To put all of these elements together, use my trick of how to design a room when you’re not a designer.

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28 Comments

  1. I love that you said that it is okay to not match everything exactly. There are so many people that match absolutely everything. That is a little bit too much for me. Frankly, I think that it looks kind of tacky. What do you think helps when you are trying to save money decorating?

  2. I saw the the white pitcher at Target a few years back and immediately fell in love when I saw it. It’s SO beautiful with red roses in it!! So many lovely décor variations you can do with it!!!

    1. I use it for flowers all the time, I love functional pieces that serve multiple purposes. It’s timeless!

  3. I love your third piece of advice to add something organic to the room you are decorating. I definitely agree that when you add a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit to any room will be easy because, as you suggest, there is little maintenance or skills required! Plus, it will always add a pop of color to the room! Thanks for your insight!

  4. I agree with you on not having items match. Having different pieces is great and fun to look for. I believe it takes more character and imagination to put different pieces together. Great post as usual Julie. I loved seeing that you like Ina Garten. I just posted a video of her on my blog this past week. Wonderful!