Some people have a natural eye for design, but if you’re more in the camp of those who can’t do anything without consulting Pinterest board upon Pinterest board before making any major changes, we feel you. And even for those of us who live and breathe interior design, some inspiration and guidance never hurts. We’d love to have an interior designer on speed dial before deciding exactly where and how hang to hang that new wall art we bought on a whim so we don’t make any major mistakes. But until we win the lottery, we’ll have to settle for trusting our gut—and taking plenty of interior design tips where we can get them. We’ve compiled some secrets straight from the pros to help you with all your decorating needs.
“If someone draws on it, it’s a lot easier to repair than real lacquer!” — Corey Damen Jenkins
“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, 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 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 master 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