7 High-Style Hacks

7 High-Style Hacks


Great interior designers know there’s a difference between a room that’s simply pretty to look at and one that’s inspirational. The specific tips and tricks to add that extra spark are hard to pinpoint.

We ask top designers to help shed some light on the topic by sharing what they believe elevates a space to the next level.

1. Remember architectural details

“While furnishings are very important to a room, inspirational rooms usually have a lot of architectural details like molding, doorways, and paneling,” says Alex Papachristidis, a New York and the author of “The Art of Elegance” (Rizzoli, 2012). “When I’m decorating a room, I always start with the architecture before moving on to anything else.”

2. Add layers

“A room might be welcoming, calming, and pretty, but if the room doesn’t invite you to linger and look at things more closely, I wouldn’t call it inspirational,” says Annie Elliott of Annie Elliott Interior Design in Washington, D.C. “That’s where layering comes in, and it’s easy to do.”

Elliott says to start big and get smaller. “First consider the big items in the room like the rug, upholstered furniture and window treatments. Then add a large piece of artwork to a prominent wall followed by smaller pieces of art,” she says.

“Next, add smaller pieces of furniture and lamps,” and finally look at the surfaces in the room, Elliot says. Think: “books on a table, adding small paintings or drawings set up on a plate stand, or displaying little finds from trips you’ve been on.”

3. Stop playing it safe

“Taking a big risk in a room can pay off with a huge reward,” says Celerie Kemble, a designer in Florida and New York who was named top female designer by Elle Décor in 2010. “For example, there is a great risk in using contrasting black and white to decorate a room or painting the walls in a small room a really dark color, but as long as you follow basic design principles, it can look beautiful and inspirational.”

4. Mix it up

“Never have just one type of fabric, pattern, texture or color in a room,” Papachristidis says. “You need a variety to create a sense that you’ve paid attention to detail. Mix the scales of patterns, combine nature-inspired fabrics with geometric ones, and layer solids with patterns.”

5. Have real artwork

“Thanks to Etsy and eBay, there is no excuse anymore for someone not to own a few pieces of real art in their home,” Elliott says. “I keep a list of accessible, not-too-expensive artists on my Pinterest page so I always know a few to turn to.”

Fill a room with things that are special to you: “You don’t need to spend a lot of money in order to have beautiful things,” Papachristidis says. “If you have something that’s special to you, make it the focus of the room. It’s about the level of beauty, not the price.”

6. Collect away!

“I find collections of small objects displayed together to be enormously inspiring,” says Elliott. “In addition to being visually delightful, you can imagine your host collecting these things lovingly over time and it gets you thinking.”

7. Give a nod to history

“Having items of different ages from brand new to antique makes a room so much more interesting,” says Kemble. “Displaying antiques that were chosen over the course of a lifetime – or that were snagged at last summer’s flea market – shows off your personality and stops the room from seeming trendy.”

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