6 must-read home decorating tips from an interior designer

6 must-read home decorating tips from an interior designer

Chapter IX: 

6 must-read home decorating tips from an interior designer

Decorating your home is not a big conspiracy – whatever your budget, there are quick and easy things you can do to make your interiors sing. From writing a design brief to finding your style – here are some inside decorating tips to get you styling your home like a professional from interiors expert Jacinta Preston.


The "Style & Error" technique is a fundamental method of solving problems, including design and interior decorating ones. "Style & Error" means repeated, varied attempts, until you find a style that is just right. It can be as unsystematic as you like. Don't expect this to be a finite or static thing either… the "Style & Error" operation will continue throughout your life. Each new life phase or new property will force your hand, to somewhat reinvent your ideas on style. This is the ridiculously fun part – embrace it!


Even if you are going to be your own designer it's important to follow a process. It all starts with the design brief… or perhaps a long wish list. A good design brief should focus on the outcome of the design. A design brief is often referred to as a scope of works. It includes details on all elements that need to be covered in the project, a shopping list of needs and wants, together with ideas on the budget and timeline. It's easier to prepare a design brief room by room.

Draw inspiration from a range of sources. I like to brainstorm all, and I seriously mean ALL my options, from the modest to the deliciously over-the-top. Travel, magazines, journals and trade shows help to keep a designer up to date with new products and materials, and even design ideas.


I love a good sample. A sample pot, cutting, brushout, catalogue. Samples are a very useful tool – at the beginning of a project they represent possible options, a collection of ideas that are worthy of consideration. The sample becomes a reference for many other materials, too. As the project develops the samples represent a record of selections. Always try and keep TWO samples – one is a "working sample" used to reference colour and texture as the project develops. The other sample needs to stay in the master file. This sample will enable you to access the all-important code and colour numbers when you need to.

Once you choose a fabric, always order an extra 3 or 4 metres of fabric – this is your insurance policy. The fabric will be in the same dyelot as your original order which means should the unthinkable happen you will be able to re-cover a couple of large base or back cushions. If you have pets, order enough of your sofa or chair fabric to make a throw-style blanket to cover the sofa or chair. This can live on the sofa day-to-day and be whipped off at a moment's notice to reveal nice clean hair-free furniture.


Great interiors have a variety of layered lighting that can be individually controlled for different times of the day, events or moods. Most rooms require three types of lighting: general, accent, and task. Ambient lighting illuminates a room in a fairly uniform manner.

Accent lighting is used to emphasise a room's features, such as art and decorative objects. Task lighting is all about directional and adjustable light sources – think reading lights and study lamps. Try and illuminate most of your room with an assortment of lights and lamps, preferably all fitted with dimmers. And please, enough already with down lights!


Many stores and suppliers will let you take pieces like artwork and rugs home on "appro". Rugs and artwork are two VIP "try before you buy" candidates. I would even suggest that it's impossible to make a great rug selection without first viewing it insitu. The lovely exception is if you have the opportunity to simply buy what you like and build the perfect room around it.


The easiest way to understand the size of a space is mock it up within a large room (or even a shed!). Include the key items of furniture, either by using real pieces or a stack of cardboard boxes to resemble the volume. Masking tape and chalk can help with this process, too. The idea is to figure out what you need and where you can cheat.

- Queen City Media 



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