The space that surrounds us every day matters. The bedrooms where we sleep at night, the kitchens where we juggle various cooking tasks, even the bathrooms that we use — they all say subtle things to our brains, and they all shape our habits and our moods. A beautiful and functional space can make us more efficient and more comfortable — and it’s not an exaggeration to say that a beautiful place can make us happier, too.
In short, interior design matters. But, as with fashion and other design- and style-dominated areas, it can be difficult for those of us without design expertise to understand why the decor and arrangement of certain spaces works so much better than the way we’ve chosen to organize our own homes. When we step into luxury homes and beautiful public spaces, we can feel their beauty and comfort, but we can’t always see what is making it happen.
That’s why we’re taking this space to focus on what actually sets these elite homes apart from others. If we take time to understand how great spaces function, we can learn lessons that we can apply to our own homes. Here are the things that make beautiful homes beautiful.
Furniture layouts: Cultivating the right kind of space
Every room in your home is defined by its floor, walls, and ceiling. The physical space of the room is, short of a total renovation, more or less non-negotiable. But that does not mean that the size and shape of the room’s usable space is beyond your control.
The ways you arrange your furniture will have a profound effect on your interior space. Large furniture placed in the middle of the room can make it feel smaller — but can also organize the space into distinct “zones” in a way that makes it feel more complete and larger. Furniture placed directly against walls can be a functional choice for a small space, but is bland and does not encourage foot traffic.
Great homes use their furniture to regulate and perfect the flow of movement and the use of their interior spaces. Learn the principles of furniture arrangement, and you’ll find your guests talking to each other more, your chores made easier, and your downtime more relaxing.
Mixing textures in your decor
If there’s one mistake that amateur designers make, it’s this: They don’t focus enough on textures.
Mixing and matching colors is great. Choosing the right paintings and photos to hang on walls can be vital, too. But if you’re not playing with textures, then you’re not going to create a space that feels complete and deeply thought through.
It’s so easy to print to canvas these days (and so affordable, too) that there’s simply no reason to rely on old-school photo prints and glass-covered frames for all of your customized decor. And other flat surfaces, from posters to the surface of your glass coffee table, can limit you if you’re not careful.
If, on the other hand, you pair contrasting textures carefully, then you’ll create a more interesting and more vibrant room (not to mention a more comfortable one).
Interior design isn’t all about the latest trends. In fact, just as with clothing fashion, chasing the latest trends can be ineffective and exhausting. The better choice is to combine a few contemporary elements with a timeless look that suits you, not just “the moment.”
Among other things, that means investing in classic pieces such as antiques and buying quality furniture that will reach antique status if you wait long enough. Great homes don’t always use the latest, hippest furniture, but they also don’t use cheap out-of-date stuff. They lean on pieces that have weight (figuratively and, sometimes, literally) and dignity.