We asked top designers for one tried-and-true decorating trick that’s such a winner they return to it again and again. And what we got was pure design gold—simple secrets for making ceilings seem taller (like hanging your curtains higher than your mouldings as shown above), rooms appear larger, and design look more polished. Here are their answers.
“Using the colors and pattern of a rug as the starting place for all the other accessories in a room—the lamps, pillows, mirrors.”—Barclay Butera
“To enlarge a small space, I will install a pair of false doors and mirror the inset for a touch of instant glamour!”—Michelle Nussbaumer
“Custom, colored lampshades.”—Alexa Hampton
“Raising your doors up a few feet higher than normal door height. Your house will suddenly feel like an Italian palazzo!”—Lulu deKwiatkowski
Low furniture to make a room look bigger.
“An element of humor and surprise.”—Erin Martin
“The use of organic materials. They warm up any room and introduce an element of imperfection and warmth. Try out a table of reclaimed wood, cowhides on the floor, clay pottery, raw wool, or natural linen.”—Nicole Hollis
“Painting a powder room dark tone-on-tone color for high glamour.”—Mary McDonald
“Hidden electronics. Opt for a bookcases with doors or an end table with a closed base.”—Amy Lau
If you hang art low, it creates a backdrop for whatever's happening in front. It makes anything look better.
“Dimmers and great lighting.”—Allegra Hicks
“Using contrast to create visually exciting spaces—creating a modern design while respecting historical architecture; combining materials so that one can dominate while the other supports; juxtaposing light and dark, smooth and rough, old and new.”—Jessica Helgerson
“Painting dining rooms and entryways in bold colors. These are rooms you can make a statement in.”—Richard Mishaan
“Using men’s shirting fabric for curtains.”—James Huniford
Really large branches in a big vase add life and quickly fill up space.
“High-gloss paint on the ceiling to make it look higher.”—Kelly Wearstler
“Plexiglass anything!”—Martha Angus
“Jumping at all hand-me-downs. Even if they’re not to your taste, try slipcovering furniture; cutting up textiles into lampshades, cushions, or throws; reusing the frame from a painting you don’t like; making a lamp from a vase.”—Kathryn Ireland
“Pillows and scented candles.”—Martyn Lawrence Bullard
“Ornate frames and double mats to make small artwork look more important and substantial.”—Kenneth Brown
Wallpapering a ceiling.
“Painting moldings the same color as the walls to increase the verticality of the space.”—Vicente Wolf
“I’ve always loved a pier mirror leaning against a wall at an angle that can be enjoyed from several vantage points. It can reflect something visually appealing like a garden or fireplace, or give the feeling that there’s a window or doorway there.”—Windsor Smith
“Adding fake beams to the ceiling.”—Lars Bolander
“Working a bit of green into every room. It can be a pillow or a lamp, or a plant or greenery—the range of colors is enormous. Green gives life to a room; without it, the room is dead.”—Howard Slatkin
“When you’ve come close to finishing a room, adding something that sets the symmetry a tad off. This will ensure that the room isn’t too ‘perfect.’”—Amanda Nisbet
Collections. It’s one of my design credos. If you use enough of something—no matter what it is—it's going to look impressive.