Designer Tips

Expert Advice

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In need of decorating inspiration? You’ve come to the right place: Since One Kings Lane’s 2009 launch, we’ve been lucky enough to speak with scores of designers. Here we’ve culled pearls of wisdom from 20 favorites to help inspire you.

Photo by Grey Crawford; design by Jeff Andrews.

Photo by Grey Crawford; design by Jeff Andrews.

“I generally start with something that makes sense to me in a room, and then I build on that. And though it may seem monochromatic, there’s tons of layers, textures, and subtle pattern that go into making something feel like it’s colorful even if it’s in a more muted palette. Everything is a color.”—Jeff Andrews

Photo by Manuel Rodriguez; design by Dransfield & Ross.

Photo by Manuel Rodriguez; design by Dransfield & Ross.

“Colors tend to be cooler during the summer and warmer during fall and spring. It’s also important to think about when you’re going to use a room, whether it’s a night room or a day room, and to swatch your colors during both times of day.”—Geoffrey Ross

“I approach color very carefully—you will not often see me use a bold color on a wall. I like to just blend a natural wall color into a room and use eye-popping color—my favorite is red—for accent pieces that can come in the form of throw pillows, trims, or case goods. Another clever way to apply color to a room is to paint the inside of a bookcase; it makes the piece of furniture more interesting and becomes a focal point in the room.”—David Easton

“Texture is what makes a space dynamic. It’s what enlivens the room—that rough against smooth, hard against soft. One of the most important parts of what I do as a designer is create that tension in the room with surfaces.”—Beth Webb

“Most people don’t have enough lighting in their home. Every space needs three to five light sources. For a space that doesn’t have a lot of natural light, it is essential to have multiple light sources.”—Nate Berkus 

“I think lampshades and cushions are the shoes and handbag of the design trade.”—Nina Campbell

Photo by Lesley Unruh; design by Mollie Johnson.

Photo by Lesley Unruh; design by Mollie Johnson.

“There should be a harmony between the social spaces of the home—the dining room, kitchen, and living room. They don’t have to be the same color, but you should get a subconscious feeling of continuity.”—Mollie Johnson

“I truly do believe less is more… buy things that you love and that are meaningful to you. A space doesn’t have to come together all at once, and not everything has to have provenance.”—Daryl Carter

“It’s about not being all modern or all traditional or all new; it’s that ratio of old to new. A space with everything custom-made in the room would look like a model apartment; if I did everything antiques, it would feel imposing. You have to thread things together.”Celerie Kemble

“Taking everything out of the room and putting it back in allows you to see the room in a different way, in a short time.”Thomas Jayne

“I believe there are four components of design that take a room beyond pretty or livable and make it extraordinary: contrast, proportion, color, and balance. To me, these essential elements represent hundreds of years of reasoned design choices that are critical to the way I approach space.”Alexa Hampton

“You don’t want your interior look to be like a hot outfit you wear once! You want the type of pieces you’ll want to wear for at least five years.”—Lilly Bunn 

“I like rooms that evolve over time, so I always want spaces to be slightly underdone in terms of accessories. Your kid might make something out of clay that you want to put on display, or you might buy something on a trip. Nothing should be so set that you can’t change it.”—Michael S Smith

Photo by Frank Tribble; design by Daryl Carter.

Photo by Frank Tribble; design by Daryl Carter.

Photo by Lesley Unruh; design by James Huniford.

Photo by Lesley Unruh; design by James Huniford.

“It’s interesting to mix woods or grain materials for contrast. I think it’s more important to have the mix than the match.”—James Huniford

Photo by Nicole LaMotte; design by Hutton Wilkinson.

Photo by Nicole LaMotte; design by Hutton Wilkinson.

“Never compromise. If your inner voice tells you it’s supposed to be blue, it’s supposed to be blue. The minute you second-guess yourself, you’re in trouble. You just have to do it. You will never be led wrong by the inner voice.”—Hutton Wilkinson 

“I like to think of tone-on-tone as more of a gradient or ombré, rather than multiple items in the same exact color. If you’re using beiges, for example, factor in all types of browns, from the lightest coffee cream to the darkest espresso bean. That’s where you get that highlight and contrast, and that’s what keeps things interesting to the eye.”—Ariel Okin

“Try to add something that sets the symmetry just a tad bit off. This will ensure the room isn’t too perfect.”—Amanda Nisbet

“Every room needs a mix: high and low, old and new.”—Kara Mann

“If you are true to your own tastes, then you will have a deeply personal interior unlike anyone else’s.”—Catherine Austin

“Too many people try to make their homes feel like page 27 of a catalog. They rush and consequently don’t connect to the space or the sensation of creating a home that’s an extension of who you are.”—Jeremiah Brent

Need more than just inspiration? One Kings Lane Interior Design can help you with projects large and small. Learn more >

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