Interior design secrets: Top tips from women in the industry

Are you planning a new project or feel like your space is in need of a refresh? To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, I’ve asked five of our favourite female industry experts, from architects to creative directors, for their top interior design secrets.

Whether you’re considering a kitchen renovation, a bathroom remodel or a bedroom refresh, seeking help from the specialists is always a good idea. So, these interior design secrets will definitely come in handy – from taking your time and creating interest to personalising your layout and playing with colours and patterns.

Get your pen and paper out and let’s delve into the industry knowledge of these incredible women…

Interior design secrets…

1. Take your time

Portrait of Aphrodite Kavallieraki
Aphrodite Kavallieraki is the founder and studio lead at Kaap Studio Architects.

“If possible, allow time to live in the property and experience the space during all seasons. When you decide you are ready to start a project, choose an architect you trust and feel comfortable working with.

Renovating a home is a very collaborative and creative process.

Aphrodite Kavallieraki

“The design should be allowed to develop first on paper through consultations, exchange of ideas and trying different layouts before starting any construction.

“To create an identity for your home, opt for open, light-filled spaces, rich materiality, precise detailing and a strong connection between inside and outside living,” says Aphrodite.

Interior design secrets Modern open and bright kitchen extension with glass roof
Attention to detail is key. Explore how you would want natural light to flood each room and ensure you maximise it through double-height glazing and skylights. This is the Glass House project by Kaap Studio Architects. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

2. Personalise your layout

Portrait of Emily Lukes
Emily Lukes is the founder and designer at The Kitchen Lady UK, a kitchen design company in Somerset.

“I believe kitchens can truly change lives. If you don’t enjoy using the space, you won’t cook from scratch as much, so you may not be eating as healthy as you would like. So, get the layout right first.

“Check whether your belongings will fit in your new units, if you have enough storage, and if the items can be kept in the place you need them to be – for example keeping pans near your hob. Once this is cracked, you can start on the pretty stuff such as door styles, colours and materials.

Most things are achievable for any budget, it’s just about being creative.

Emily Lukes

“My golden rule is tell me your dream first, then we can work out the compromises from there,” says Emily.

Multi-functional neutral kitchen with large handles, LED lighting and built-in appliances
Got an awkwardly shaped kitchen, or perhaps living spaces? Think outside of the box and get creative on how you can use every inch. This project by The Kitchen Lady UK uses short walls to add in extra units and work surface.

3. Play with colour

Portrait of Eva Sonaike
Eva Sonaike is the founder and creative director at Eva Sonaike, a London-based design brand.

“I always say: create a scheme that represents your story and don’t blindly follow trends.

When styling a room, utilise colour and apply the 60-30-10 rule.

Eva Sonaike

“60% of the space should be a dominant colour, 30% should be the secondary shade or texture, and the last 10% should be an accent. But if you are colour confident, feel free to add more.

“In my view, the balance of proportion, colour and pattern, lighting and style, all in line with the personality and story of the people inhabiting the space, makes for great interior design,” says Eva.

Interior design secrets Colourful bathroom design with patterned wallpaper, green tiles and basin, grey bath and striking pouffes and bath roves
The CP Hart x Eva Sonaike collaboration in the company’s Waterloo showroom featured the Cielo Delfo vanity in Rovere Natural with ceramic countertop panels in Arenaria matt finish, £5214; Cielo Tito basins in Alga glossy finish, £772.80; Spillo Tech G wall-mounted mixers in brushed gold, £1233; Cielo Dafne freestanding bath in Arenaria matt finish, £6943.20, all CP Hart. Odi Purple wallpaper, from £129 per roll, Eva Sonaike. Photography: Anna Stathaki.

More interior design secrets…

4. Choose the right trades

Designer Lilly Sprankling
Lilly Sprankling is a designer at Pier1 Bathrooms, in Brighton & Hove.

Collect inspirational images from magazines and use apps such as Pinterest at the very beginning of your project.

Lilly Sprankling

“It’s one of the most useful ways to gather your ideas and build a clear picture of what you want to achieve.

“Once you have your design nailed, it’s also crucial to use trusted installers. The finish of a space such as a bathroom will make all the difference in the overall design. And as these rooms are often smaller, every inch matters.

“Be sure your chosen company can implement what is being proposed before proceeding. A good idea is to find out if you can go and see any previous work they have done in person. Talk to friends and family for any recommendations they may have. Word of mouth is very valuable,” says Lilly.

Interior design secrets Bold cloakroom with palm leaf wallpaper, wall panelling, pink basin, gold brassware and patterned flooring
Interior design tips: Make sure the end result is representative of your personality. Use your favourite patterns, a piece of art, or travel mementos to add that personal touch and wow factor. To strike the perfect balance between pretty and practical while making an impact in this small space, this Pier1 Bathrooms project features plenty of colour and pattern.

5. Rearrange repeatedly

Portrait of Laurie Davidson
Laurie Davidson is an interior stylist, writer and content creator.

“Start with identifying your style, whether it’s a neat, symmetrical design, or something more laidback and eclectic, and then take it from there.

There’s no cookie-cutter formula and what is visually pleasing to one person won’t be to another.

Laurie Davidson

“Play around with your interiors and have fun with colour and pattern. Move accessories to different spots, and try different ways of styling objects until you’re happy with what you have.

“I think having creative vision is knowing not only how to position items, but also how to layer and enhance them, too. For example, ensure you look at the materials of accessories that sit together to make sure there is variation in texture. Get a mix of shapes and sizes, too and experiment with accessories in different areas. It’s all in the details,” says Laurie.

Interior design secrets Calming dining room with turquoise paint, blue accessories, lavender chair and textured rug
Top interior design secrets: Dare to be bold – enhance your dining room by cleverly pairing and layering patterns and colours to achieve a unique design. This scheme uses Valspar‘s Salty Sea shade, priced £37 for 2.5 litres of Valspar V500 wall and ceiling matt emulsion from B&Q. Plus, for the finishing touches, some decorations were chosen in the same colour as the wall for a cohesive look. Photography: Chris Snook.

I hope you have enjoyed these interior design secrets from some of our favourite women in the industry. Have you made a note of all these valuable tips? Then happy planning!

Need more inspiration? These are the SS23 interior design trends you need to know about

Illustration: iStock.com/VictoriaBar

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