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10 Tips for Interior Design 



“No time.” 

“No vision.” 

“Overwhelmed by choice.” 

“I’m just not creative.” 

“I wanted something special.” 

These are all statements from our clients on just why they employed us to bring their dream spaces to life. 

Whatever the reason, hiring an interior designer will undoubtedly bring fresh ideas and access to resources you just won’t have heard of or seen before. They’ll open your mind to new concepts for your home while marrying the look you love with your needs and requirements from the space.  

At Studio Arkell, we’re always here to help you with all your design needs. Here are our top 10 interior design tips! 

1. Fully Noted

Get a simple, handy notebook for your project, write everything in it, and carry it with you so you can reference things you see when out and about, list names and contacts for suppliers & contractors, sketch ideas, use an elastic band to secure samples of fabric, colours etc etc – this will become your Project Bible!

2. Start with a List

In two columns list out a) Needs - all the things that the space absolutely must provide and, b) Wants - all the things that you would desire from the space. This helps focus and priority in planning; while you may not achieve everything no in the want column, its important to tick off the whole list of needs!

3. Measure up

Measure your space, include doors and windows, ceiling heights, architraves and fixed features such as sockets, fireplaces, sinks, basically anything you’re not moving or changing. Then draw a floor plan to scale marking on all your fixed features – squared paper is very handy for this. Now measure all the furniture you are keeping or using in your scheme, draw each piece to the same scale and cut them out, so that you can place them on your floor plan and easily move them around to see how they would fit in different configurations – far less exhausting than moving the actual furniture!

4. The Key

Most designs have a key piece that unlocks the rest of the scheme – this could be a picture or painting, a fabric pattern, a book, a rug, wallpaper – basically anything, but for you it is a ‘must have’ in the scheme, something that you are absolutely in love with and that inspires you. This can provide the starting point to work up a colour palette and theme or style for the rest of the design.

using a key for interior design

5. Colour Palette

Taking inspiration from your key, pick a main colour palette of 3 or 4 complimentary colours. For your scheme to be cohesive, remember that its not just walls that need colour; flooring, (whether wood, tile or carpet), ceilings and architraves, (there’s more than just one white to consider), as well as furniture, furnishings and decorative pieces all need to be tonal within the main colour palette to achieve an easy to live with, cohesive design.

It is a good idea to have one main colour that is the anchor for the scheme, for example, grey has been extremely popular over the last few years and makes a great anchor colour that can hold the rest of a scheme together. (An anchor colour repeated through the home helps with flow and continuity from room to room.) Now pick one or two highlight colours – these bring the scheme to life with pops of accent colour, for example, with grey you might choose navy, blackberry, chalky pink, lemon, mustard, teal or old gold to name just a few

6. Patch Test

Next, test your pick of colours in situ in light and dark spots at different times of the day – you’ll be amazed at just how one colour can alter even within the same room! This is easiest to do by painting each colour sample onto a separate piece of card, (write the make and name of the paint on the back), and moving these around, rather than painting patches directly onto the wall. This way you can reposition the cards around the space, have colours side by side for comparison and then remove them easily without being distracted by multiple colour samples all at once. Keep the cards of the final colour choices for later on when you put together your scheme mood board.

colour patch test

7. Sampling

Once colours are decided upon now is the time to Pinterest and Google, search and research, and order samples of everything that could be a possibility for inclusion. Whether that’s curtain or furnishing fabric, wallpaper or trims, carpet or flooring, tiles or worktops; order samples! While you wait for those to arrive collect images and photograph of all the other scheme details you like – these could include handles, lighting, cushions & throws, storage etc, or bigger items such as furniture, bathroom suites, kitchen cabinetry, fire surrounds or architectural details.

using samples for interior design

8. In the Mood

Once you have decided on your colour palette & have accumulated all your samples and pictorial references, you are ready to make a Mood Board for your scheme. Now is the time to exercise some restraint, not get carried away and try to include everything just because you like it all! Instead lay out your colour palette, (your painted cards are great for this), samples and picture references in an uncluttered space and stand back and take a look at which pieces or patterns speak to you or stand out to you as the favourites.

Take these and place them together away from all the other samples on a neutral background – a large piece of white or slightly off white card works well for this. Now see if they sit together well:

  • if they do, then great, you have the start of a scheme
  • if not remove whatever doesn’t work

in either case try adding other samples one at a time, swapping and changing until you have a completed mood board of all the required components needed for the scheme.

9. Take Time

Place your completed mood board where you can easily see it and live with it for a week or two – you might just think ‘I love that’ every time you look at it, but you might think, ‘actually, I’m not sure about this or that’! Either reaction is great news, because you have either achieved your ultimate design, or have figured out that you need to make some tweaks before you’ve invested time and money in implementing the scheme.

10. Bringing it to Life

Once your scheme is just perfect, you need to make it happen. Our advice here is to:

  • Get quotes from and use recommended contractors where you have seen their workmanship firsthand.
  • When ordering anything that needs measuring up for quantities or size, get the supplier or a professional to do the measuring.
  • Co-ordinate & time works and deliveries carefully. You will often need to allow long lead times on large items such as furniture, but equally you don’t want these large items being delivered while major works or decorating is going on.
  • Only undertake jobs yourself where you are certain you can safely and properly complete them, i.e do you have the expertise and tools for the job?


Once you have completed your scheme and the project has come to life, it should give you immense pleasure and a wonderful sense of achievement, as well as delivering a new and exciting space in your home that delivers on both practicalities and aesthetics.

If however you still think Interior Design is too much for you, as always, we are here and happy to help!

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