It’s said there’s a world of difference between a room designed by a professional interior designer and one done by a home decorator. From balancing colour schemes to hanging artwork, planning lighting and even positioning curtains, designers have a box of tricks that can turn an average scheme into a fabulous space. We’ve rounded up some of the trade’s best-kept secrets to take your own decor to the next level

swatch your paint

wall panelling

Before you commit to a wall colour, it’s important to paint a swatch and observe how the shade looks in different light conditions. For a mess-free method, paint swatches on A3 pieces of paper and move them around the room throughout the day, observing how they look in different corners of the space

Take design tips from nature

nature tips

You don’t have to spend hours scouring through pretty pictures of interiors to find your dream scheme. Look around and you’ll start to see inspiration everywhere – from the soothing texture of pebbles on a beach to petrol shimmering in a forecourt puddle. Take photos and use them to help you create a concept board to inform your design. This living room draws on the coastal landscape, from the lobster-pot light fitting to the whitewashed wood walls.

Take floor tiles into walls

floor tiles on the wall

Who says you can’t use the same patterned tiles on both walls and floors? Carry them up from the floor to the ceiling for a standout design with maximum impact

Map out gallery wall


A staple in the interior design repertoire, the gallery wall is an exercise in creativity and balance – but not even the experts get it right the first time. To achieve that Instagram-worthy display, map out your design before hand. Cut out cardboard templates of each frame you want to hang and arrange them across the wall  until you find a combination that works, then simply swap for the real thing!

Hang high curtains


Curtains can make or break a room. Opt for a luxurious fabric, such as velvet, to create an opulent frame for your windows. One of the most common curtain mistakes is to hang them just above the top of the window frame, making the window – and the room – feel squat. Hang them high to create a grand impression and make the room feel taller.