65 Best Interior Decorating Secrets – Decorating Tips and Tricks from the Pros – House Beautiful

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Some people have a natural eye for design, but if you’re more in the camp of those who won’t do anything without consulting a Pinterest board (or 10!) before making any major changes, we feel you. Even those of us who live and breathe interior design need some inspiration and guidance. In an ideal world, we’d have an interior designer on speed dial to give advice on everything from deciding where and how to hang new wall art to fashioning a layout for a small space. But if that’s not in the budget yet, we’e got the next best thing: The best tips and tricks from some of the most talented designers out there. Ahead, dive into secrets straight from the pros that’ll help you with all your decorating needs.
🏡You love finding new design tricks. So do we. Let us share the best of them.
“We typically cut readily available materials that are in standard sizes into smaller sizes of those same tiles,” Jessica Geller of Toldeo Geller reveals. The design duo used this budget-friendly method to create the custom tile design in this bathroom.
Have ugly appliances or simply want to change things up? Use peel-and-stick wallpaper, as designer Janie Molster did to the fridge and freezer in this kitchen.
You can mix colors and patterns that’ll push the envelope but still remain stylish and authentic. Just take it from designer Anthony Gianacakos, who did so in his own bedroom. “My strong suit is color and pattern combination,” he says.
In a basement room with no windows, Camila Pavone of Effortless Style Interiors came up with the idea to combine two mirrors to fake a window. It brightens up the space and makes it feel bigger.
“We love how this finish surface interacts with light; It is soft, subtle, and welcoming,” says Suzanne Stefan of the stainless steel matte finish in her kitchen, which she created using Scotch-Brite. Learn more about the process here.
“I wanted to fashion a space where you could have a friend over for coffee or tea…and actually use your collected china,” says Marie Flanigan of this tea room she designed. It’s proof that any collection can be a jumping-off point for a room.
A radiator can easily throw off your design vision. Make it a part of the room by building a cabinet over it, as Leanne Ford Interiors did here to reclaim the hallway space and turn it into a beautiful little reading nook.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a personal sanctuary. “I wanted it to feel like being wrapped in a warm blanket,” says Melissa Rufty of this Southern library.
“If someone draws on it, it’s a lot easier to repair than real lacquer!” — Corey Damen Jenkins
“Purchase a few matted frames, and pop in your own sketches of abstract art. The picture mats will look expensive, and you’ll have your own personal touch on the walls for guests to admire.” — Eneia White
“Small, outdoor ceramic stools are great pieces of furniture that perform double duty. They can be used as extra seating or when placed close to a chair or sofa, they can serve as an additional surface to place your laptop during work hours or cocktails and small plates of food during an outdoor hangout.” — David Quarles IV
“In this basement remodel, we would’ve had to spend a ton of money rerouting the HCVA air duct. Who wouldn’t go with ballet-slipper pink instead?” — Max Humphrey
“There was no ceiling molding and no molding around the doors in this apartment, so I added them with paint! —Aldous Bertram
“We were able to work in a lot of pieces from their previous home, which made it feel layered.” — Jean Liu
“Do something groovy on the actual steps! The bolder you go, the bigger the smile when you see them.” — Fawn Galli. Here, a painted runner by Annie Sloan looks just like carpet.
“Murals are a way of bringing more people into the house, so even when it’s just the two owners, it never feels lonely.” — Raji Radhakrishnan
“Old and new belong together. A mix of modern pieces and antiques never tires.” — Caleb Anderson
Improve health and temporarily turn a room a different color with “top-of-the-line smart circadian rhythm lighting.” — Breegan Jane

“I love to use wallpaper in mundane spaces. Hallways, pantries, powder rooms—all become moments of joy and funkiness. Areas of transition can be places you enjoy spending time in.” — Fawn Galli
“If punk rock has taught me anything, it’s to do everything yourself. All of my favorite interior designers were self-taught.”— Max Humphrey
“Choosing the right light bulb is very important. LED bulbs are energy efficient, and they can look great.” — Paloma Contreras
“Wicker is an element I love for its texture and versatility. Wicker baskets are so functional for storage, but a wicker animal brings a sense of whimsy.” — Amy Berry
“Update your light switches! Elegant controls add a spectacular element to an older home or character to a new one.” — Courtney Hill
“Great art and fabulous antiques only get better with age. It’s better to cry once and have a forever piece.” — Chandos Dodson Epley
“These doors were uninspiring and ugly,” says designer Keita Turner. See how she hacked a custom upholstery job here.
“Follow your gut. If you have to talk yourself into liking something, you probably don’t.”— Olivia Erwin
“Look up! We use ceilings a lot. Through them, we define the lines and beauty of a space.” — Julio Salcedo
“Every house should have a great bar. It is the central point of a party, and if you entertain a lot, it will be celebrated, so put some thought into it.” — Jordana Joseph
“Never underestimate the power of paint. You don’t have to break the bank to achieve a new look. A fresh coat in a vibrant color takes an old piece of furniture or empty white room and gives it new life.” — Chauncey Boothby
Can you believe this rental kitchen makeover done with just paint and tape? See how designer Anthony Gianacakos did it here.
“Classics never go out of style. I hesitated about doing a white kitchen in my own house, thinking I’d been there, done that. But I’m so glad I did. I will never tire of it.” — Alexandra Kaehler
“Actually use your beautiful things! I have a chocolate lab and white furniture in my living room. It took some training, but now he knows the furniture is off limits.” — Lindsey Lane
“Don’t be afraid of dark. I used this rich Benjamin Moore Midnight Blue on an accent wall—darker than I’d ever dared. It made the whole space come to life.” — Jean Larette
Take Marie Kondo with a grain of salt. “I think it’s true what she says, but all this stuff brings me joy. Ever since I was little, I liked to collect things, even unimportant things,” says Mary McDonald. Read about why she and other designers think you should embrace stuff.
“The splurge everyone should make is a fabulous primary bathroom. I used hand-painted porcelain sinks in mine.” — Todd Richesin
“In an open seating plan, always use a well-proportioned statement coffee table to ground the arrangement and give it a sense of place.” — Sean Michael
“Use tall pieces in a low-height room. Short furnishings would make the ceiling feel that much lower to the ground.” —Jason Oliver Nixon
“Get creative when thinking about form and function. A client in a traditional Georgian home needed it to work for her modern way of entertaining. We opted for an asymmetrical, organic space that encourages guests to float through the room while engaged in conversation.” — Kate Coughlin
“The most important first step in design is a good floor plan.” — Jessica Helgerson
“My clients ask about the most important pieces to invest in: I believe in upholstery and art! They help anchor a room.” — Ashley Darryl
“Make sure you’re having fun. What’s more fun than making your own home more beautiful?” — Eche Martinez
“When you’re given a dark space that doesn’t have great light, create your own light. In this kitchen, we used Sherwin-​Williams’s sunny Ener­getic Orange, and it turned out just fabulous— so cheerful.” — Matthew Boland
“Don’t settle. If you have your heart set on a piece, don’t try to find something similar just to save money. Chances are, you’ll never be completely satisfied with the substitute (or its quality).” — Brian Watford
“When clients want a quick, impactful update, I recommend the pieces that take up the most surface area, like rugs, paint color, or window treatments.” — Tina Ramchandani
“Buy one good piece of furniture every year, and in five years, you’ll have five pieces. Everything else may change, but these will remain constant.” — Jeffrey Bilhuber
“In the primary suite, decor can deviate from the common areas and really reflect your personality.” — Ali Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta
“Faux paint, lush lacquer, or wallpaper on a ceiling will garner that ‘Wow’ response.” —Leslie May
“Being able to visualize the scale of a piece is critical. In our office, we say, ‘When in doubt, tape it out!'” — Kylee Shintaffer
“Embrace mixed metals. It can feel like the fixtures are curated and bespoke.” — Shelley Johnstone
“The strange bust from the flea market, the weird painting you are drawn to: Buy them all. Curate a space that is truly one of a kind.” — Stephanie Sabbe
“Don’t be afraid to use inherited antiques. Add a backdrop with exciting wallpaper: The combination is simply the best.” —Sara Gilbane
“It’s a bit of an investment, and you can’t take it with you when you leave, but nothing brings va va voom like vibrant wallpaper in a conversation-topic pattern.” —Emilie Munroe
“The least expensive action: edit, edit, edit!” — Katie Sutton
For a head-to-toe makeover, the first step is creating a palette. “I come up with a basic color scheme for the whole house, and then I take that from room to room,” reveals Gary McBournie, a designer based in Boston. “It plays itself out in different ways in different rooms.”
More: 20+ Fresh New Color Combinations to Try

“Use and enjoy your antiques and unique finds, especially in a utilitarian room, like the bathroom.” — Bunny Williams
“Straw, jute, rush—natural materials and neutral tones are always chic. They’re the white T-shirt of interior design.” Meg Braff
Eye-catching tile can make a statement in the kitchen as well as in the bathroom. Cover as much of the wall as the budget allows, recommends designer Angie Hranowsky. Matthew Quinn agrees: “It feels more like a French bistro this way,” he says of this blue-gray backdrop.
Neutral decor can be interesting if you include a variety of materials. “I used a range—from fine-gauge and open-weave linen, to raw silk and taffeta, to cotton velvet and distressed velvet,” says California-based designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano. “Not only that, there’s also the contrast of matte sheens that absorb the light, and lustrous sheens that reflect it.”
For the perfect color family, mix one batch of paint 50 percent lighter than the base and another 150 percent darker. “That’s a fail­safe method for striping a wall. It’s also a very architectural way of using color.” — Mary Douglas Drysdale
Mirrored panels like the ones lining this alcove can be elegant — but don’t just slap them up, designer Jan Showers warns. Large sheets of mirrors will look commercial, so try a sectioned pattern in the traditional French style instead.
“Put your money into a comfortable, well-made sofa that you’ll have forever. You don’t have to deny yourself that expensive designer fabric you love—just put it on something small, like a pillow.” — Krista Ewart
“I’m really into saturated color with white to balance it out so it doesn’t feel overwhelming,” — Joanna Gaines
“For classic side panels, you really have to go all the way to the floor. If you’re looking at ready-made drapes, make sure that they touch the floor, even if you have to buy the next size up and have them hemmed.” Scot Meacham Wood
Glass shower doors add instant square footage. To complete the illusion, run the floor tiles straight into the stall. “It makes the room feel larger,” says designer Alla Akimova. “If I had changed materials, it would have interrupted the space.”
“I don’t do dinky accents…small pillows look like something that came with the furniture.” John De Bastiani

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