It’s only right as the year draws to an end, to look back at the lessons we’ve learned and the things that inspired us to create better, more beautiful homes. I was lucky enough to speak to some outstanding interior designers, all unique in their style and approach to modern living, and get their best tips and secrets to help us achieve our decorating goals.
From choosing colors and creating the illusion of greater space, to how small things like making your bed in the morning can set you up for success, it all has one thing in common: telling your story through the mindful design of your modern home. Here's a recap of what we’ve learned in 2023.
1. How to make a room look bigger with wallpaper
We were all familiar with the concept of decorating with mirrors to create the illusion of space and more light, however, Martyn Lawrence Bullard takes it a step further and tells us that it’s not just mirrors that do the trick. 'A metallic wallpaper on the ceiling in a dark room will not only bring in light, it'll raise the height of the ceiling,’ says the designer.
2. Elevating a kitchen by decorating it like a living room
This was another one from Martyn, who says the kitchen makes a great multiple-use space because so many family members spend so much time there. ‘Because we spend so much time in a kitchen it should be decorated like your living room,' he says. 'Create ambiance, and change your kitchen into a space that you enjoy being in. It will suddenly become much more than just a functional experience.'
'People love to add art to kitchens now. Rather than restricting it to your living room and going up the stairs, we're adding photography and paintings into kitchens,' Martyn goes on to explain. 'We'll put a pair of lamps on a kitchen island rather than just having an overhead light. We will add an etagere over to one side that maybe you set up as a bar so that when your friends are over, you can pour them a glass of wine whilst they sit and watch you cook. Rather than having a wood or tile floor, add the extra layer of a rug, which softens the space, it’s pleasant under the foot and gives you that more residential feel.’
3. The must-have living room item to invest in
According to Real Housewives of New York star Erin Licky, we're often missing a trick when it comes to decorating the living room. ‘You can get away with a bad sofa because if you put some great pillows on it, you forget about the couch itself, but you constantly see the coffee table in the living room' she says. 'You notice the coffee table when it’s styled, more than you notice the couch.' By Erin's rulebook, if there's one furniture item to invest in, it's the humble coffee table.
4. How making your bed can change your day
'Making your bed in the morning is something that you promise yourself you’re going to start doing,' Bobby Berk told me earlier this year. 'It may not seem like that big of a deal - it’s just making the bed - but it's something you accomplish, and when you accomplish things you release endorphins in your head and it gives you that sense of accomplishment.'
Besides the visual appeal of a beautifully styled bed to come home to at the end of the day, it's the positive mentality related to this task. 'By the time you get to work your mind has already been trained to accomplish things that day,' Bobby says. 'When you don’t accomplish making your bed, you get to work and are already in that mindset of being ok with not accomplishing the things you set out to accomplish, and so little things around the home can affect even your work performance and your relationships outside of the home.'
5. Choosing a balanced color palette
Dabito is a master of colorful designs so, when it comes to choosing the perfect paint idea, he has some words of advice. ‘People get terrified of mixing color but colors have a magical way of all working together,' he says. 'You look at nature, flowers, the world, it’s all out there, it all works. There’s something liberating about not being stifled by overthinking.'
He recommends choosing a palette inspired by nature, and in his eyes, green can even be treated as a neutral thanks to its versatility and many successful color combinations.
6. Curating a home full of personalized art
In one of his popular Instagram posts, master of minimalism Nate Berkus suggests using pictures you already have in your phone to decorate your space. It can be pictures you took of family, friends, nature, on trips, or anything inspiring to you. But here’s the twist: don’t just print them as they are. Crop them in an interesting and unexpected way before you blow them up to print and frame.
‘This could be the steps of a building, or just an angle of the beach where you had a great vacation,' he says. 'Even just one large-scale piece can have a huge impact over a sofa or over a bed.' This is a more creative way of working with a picture and you’re guaranteed you won’t find it elsewhere. ‘The best thing you can do is find some vintage frames’, explains Nate. Whether you buy them online or in vintage shops, the idea is that they're different from each other, thus culminating in an eclectic style.
7. Build a DIY lamp using a vase
Nate Berkus isn't our typical go-to for a nifty DIY, but a unique lamp hack he shared on Instagram earlier this year really caught our eye. He tells us to take a vase that we love, or a pair of matching vases (if we want to make two matching lamps) and a lamp kit. First, ensure the vases have a big opening and then drill a hole in the bottom or the back of your vase to pull the electrical cord through. It's a genius little bedroom lighting idea, and the best way to curate a home with unique belongings no-one else owns.
Follow Erin Lichy's advice and invest in a beautifully styled coffee table to instantly elevate your living room. Look for reclaimed or recycled materials for sustainable decorating.
Price: $26.40 (S) - $48.68 (L)
Follow Nate Berkus' step by step vase-to-lamp hack to create your own unique lamps at home. This is a sure way to add character to your interior, and it's fun and easy to do too.
Be The First To Know
The Livingetc newsletter is your shortcut to the now and the next in home design. Subscribe today to receive a stunning free 200-page book of the best homes from around the world.
Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.
4 Best Scents to Ring in Spring According to Experts — 'They'll Revitalize your Home for a Fresh Season!'
Look out for these fragrances to make your home feel fresh and vibrant as we welcome a new season
By Imogen Williams Published
How to Start a Vegetable Garden in Your Backyard — 8 Steps to Begin Growing an Edible Garden this Spring
With spring on the horizon, there’s no better time to start sowing the seeds for your own vegetable garden
By Katie Baxter Published