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Interior Design Do’s and Don’ts Every Beginner Should Know

If you're looking to reinvent an entire room or simply spruce up the kitchen counter, here's a great place to start.

Decorating a space can be a daunting task, especially for people who have no prior experience in interior design. Not only does it take time, it also requires patience and creativity.

So we sought out some of the most respected interior designers and home decorating bloggers in the US and asked this question: "What interior design Do's and Don’ts should every beginner know?" Here is what they had to say:






Jaime Derringer, design-milk.com


DO DO go with your gut and fill your home with things that you love that reflect your personality. Create a space that’s truly yours.

DON'T DON’T just follow trends or what the “Joneses” are doing.

Jaime Derringer Jaime is the Founder and Executive Director of Design Milk, a popular design blog on interior design ideas, architecture, modern furniture, home décor, art, style, and technology. She is a renowned expert on design trends, speaks on design, blogging and social media.

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Diane Henkler, inmyownstyle.com


DO DO follow your own personal style. Only buy what makes you smile. Don't buy something or paint a room red because you think it is trendy or your best friend did it. Stick to what you like and curate your own look. It will always be in style.

DON'T DON’T rush out and decorate an entire room all at once. Decorating takes time, let it and your personal style evolve. You will create room(s) that will not only look better, but function better for the way you live in each room if you wait and see how you live in it, what it really needs to be a functional, comfy space, how the light effects the space, etc.

Once you know these factors, then you will be better able to decorate it into a wonderful room/home you will love.


Diane Henkler Diane is a passionate decorator with a background in display. She founded the blog In My Own Style as a platform for her creative concepts and ideas on home decorating. One of the first projects she took on was decorating her first home. She especially believes that you don’t need to spend a fortune to achieve great style for your home.

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Taryn Whiteaker, designdininganddiapers.com


DON'T DON’T be discouraged if your vision doesn't come together overnight. Sometimes it takes time to get it right. It's not just about how fast you can click 'purchase', it's about the journey of transforming a house into a home, finding unique pieces full of meaning and building a space that tells your story.


Taryn_Whiteaker Taryn is the owner and editor of Design, Dining and Diapers, a lifestyle blog on DIY home décor, design, and seasonal crafts. She shares budget-friendly tips on decorating by repurposing, transforming, and smart shopping. She is a regular contributor at The 36th Avenue and Mohawk Flooring’s Creative home blog.

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Tobi Fairley, tobifairley.com


DO DO select your fabrics first for a room. They'll set the tone for your color story.

DO use art to inspire the room's design.

DO use a "connecting color" to help connect the interior design from room to room in a house. It could be a living room painted blue and then a touch of blue in the hallway, and blue chairs in the dining room. Think about how you can help the design flow through the home.

DON'T DON’T select paint first. It should be selected last because it's the backdrop for the other items chosen for the room.

DON’T use patterns in a room without varying scale. You want one "star" in the room as far as pattern, and then you can use one or two smaller-scaled "supporting players." If your fabrics all have patterns of the same scale, your eye won't know where to look in a room - it's too busy.


Tobi Fairley Traditional Home Magazine predicts “Tobi will be like Cher or Oprah, one of those women for whom one name says it all”. Tobi Fairley has redesigned her life and her brand, launching Tobi Fairley & Associates as a full-service consulting and design company. The company provides custom-tailored education, enlightened mentoring, and common-sense tools to help companies and design firms improve their business.

Tobi’s unique combination of degrees in interior design and accounting, and an MBA from the prestigious Sam M. Walton College of Business, gives her a competitive advantage in the design industry, and offers a creative approach to the world of business.

Since establishing her design firm more than 15 years ago, Tobi’s projects have spanned the nation, and her award-winning designs for high-profile and celebrity clients have been featured on television, and in top-shelf shelter publications around the globe.

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Kerrie Kelly, kerriekelly.com


DO DO create a space that is livable and functional while making it uniquely yours with personal touches like family photos, antiques, and heirlooms.

DON'T DON’T mimic a catalogue. Take ideas from Pinterest and interior design publications and add your own personal spin on the style shown.


Kerrie Kelly Kerrie is creative director of an award-winning interior design firm, author and innovative product developer for multiple interior design brands, believing that "Everyone Deserves Great Design.”

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Tracie Stoll, cleverlyinspired.com


DO DO try your best to infuse your family’s personalities in each space. Think travel, sports, art, hobbies....when a stranger walks into your home they should leave knowing something interesting about you.

DO make it easy.... casual and comfortable styles immediately put visitors at ease...

DON'T DON’T get caught up or stuck in a trend. Just because a style is all the rage doesn't mean you need it everywhere...or for that matter anywhere in your home. Go with what you love and others will see the beauty in it too.

DON’T get overwhelmed thinking everything has to change all at once. Just changing a pillow out or a paint color is sometimes all you need to get a fresh look!


Tracie Stoll Tracie is passionate about creating things. She shares inspiring and clever DIY projects, crafting tips, remodeling and decorating ideas for the home on her design blog, Cleverly Inspired. She has made many appearances on distinguished sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, and many more.

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Heather Luckhurst, settingforfour.com


DO DO decide what functions and feeling you want your room to have before you start decorating the space. If you want the space to function as a home office you may need to find room for a bookcase and obtain more storage for office supplies. Want your room to feel cozy? Add lots of comfortable textiles to the room!

DON'T DON’T select wall paint colors at the paint store! The color on a small paint chip will look entirely different in your home compared to how it looks in the paint store. Buy a small test sample and test it in your room before painting all the walls.


Heather Luckhurst Heather is an Interior Decorator, design trend scout, proud military wife and the owner and editor of Setting for Four a design and lifestyle blog. Heather shares her passion for affordable elegance, interior decor and design tips and family friendly DIY projects that won't break the bank or sacrifice style! Heather is also a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens.

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Leslie Stewart, houseontheway.com


DO DO always have a plan before you start any interior design or project. If you don't have a complete idea of what you want, you will end up changing your mind halfway through the process.

DO stay true to yourself. You are the one that lives in space, so it should make you happy every time you walk in the room.

DON'T DON’T try to do everything at once. Your home should be created in layers, over time. It will be less stressful for you. If you become overwhelmed, it will become a chore instead of an enjoyable experience of creating your home.


Leslie Stewart Leslie is an interior decorator, blogger, and DIY/craft enthusiast, and founder of home décor and design blog, House On The Way. She is a television spokesperson, appearing on WTVQ36 demonstrating quick and easy DIYs for the home. Her design style is a good mix of traditional and contemporary.

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Carla Aston, carlaaston.com


DO I recommend every beginner start with the big, important elements/pieces and then work in to the small. It's more important to get the big expenditures right and focus energy and money there than to worry about items that can be added in a bit at a time later on down the road. I often see people wanting to go for accessories or lighting, when they should get their flooring redone or do some other bigger projects first. It's easy to start with the little things, but having a big picture and working toward a goal, building on over time, is a good way not to waste money.


Carla Aston Carla is an experienced interior design expert. She has had a string of involvement in corporate, hospitality, and high end residential projects. She currently leads her own design studio in Texas, focusing on residential interiors.

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Jessie Kok, mixandchic.com


DO DO take your measurements with you when you go furniture shopping and consider the scale of each items in relation to each other especially the size of a room. A big room with small sized furniture or a small room with oversized furniture will never look right.

DON'T DON’T purchase furnishings before determining the layout of the room. Once the layout is determined, measure the room.


Jessie Kok Jessie is an interior decorator with a keen sense of style and color. She believes that creating a beautiful home can be achieved through any budget with creativity and smart shopping. She always had a strong interest for home interiors and home decors at an early age. Her passion for the craft later grew and in 2011, she founded Mix and Chic Interiors, an online decorating service.

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Amanda Gates, gatesinteriordesign.com


DO DO go large with less than decorate with a lot of little things that look messy. Many beginners get scale wrong. My motto has always been go big or go home.

DO invest in drapes, period. Cheap drapes from a box store look like cheap drapes from a box store. Good quality drapes completely change the look of a space.

DO surround yourself with quality items you’ve collected and are proud of, rather than cheap stuff you ran out and bought on a whim because company was coming or you were in hurry. That's the best Feng Shui.

DON'T DON’T go with poly pillows - they break down, have no shape, and make a space look flat.

DON’T add artificial plants. I find that those who aren’t confident in decorating over do it with the fake trees and plants - nothing says amateur like a fake ficus!

DON’T hang art way too high. It should be eye level with an average 5’6 person. And like the drapes, invest in the good stuff. Cheap art makes a home look cheap, period. It’s not difficult to find local artists in your area, so start a collection.


Amanda Gates Amanda is the owner of Gates Interior Design, an interior design firm based in Franklin, Tennessee. She is an interior designer, Feng Shui practitioner, and master numerologist. She has over 15 years of design experience and has worked with a number of clients including music artists, writers, and painters.

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Sarah Macklem, theyellowcapecod.com


DO DO follow your heart when decorating and only purchase things that you love.

DON'T DON’T try to decorate your home to impress others or let friends and family influence you too much. Nothing is more beautiful than a home that is a reflection of the family living there.


Sarah Macklem Sarah is Michigan-based professional home stylist and owner of online design service, The Yellow Cape Cod. Her work has been featured in many notable media outlets including Better Homes and Gardens and HGTV.com

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Kirsten Grove, simplygrove.com


Design is a very opinionated subject. Everyone has thoughts and opinions concerning interior design.

DO DO invest in great lighting options, including ceiling lighting, floor lamps and table lamps. Another design do is to include art in any space. It takes a space from boring to beautiful!

DON'T DON’T forget about lighting. An overall practical design no-no is neglecting good lighting. Lighting can make or break any space.


Kirsten Grove Kirsten is an interior stylist with a long-time passion for interior design. She started her interior design blog, Simply Grove, as an inspiration space for beautiful design and décor across the globe. She has an extensive design and styling experience for a wide array of clients both for residential and commercial spaces.

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Yvonne Pratt, stonegableblog.com


DO DO buy classic, time honored big ticket furniture pieces. They will stay in style longer.

DO buy trendy accent pieces. They will update classic furniture.

DO think of decorating as a big leaning process.

DO spend time in a room you want to decorate or add decor to. Sit quietly… no phone, no noise… and take in the room. Look from top to bottom. Write all your ideas down. Daydream about what you kind of decor you would love. This is just about the best advice I can give a novice decorator. You will be amazed what you will come up with!

DO find images of things you love and your style. Pinpoint what you love about them to help to develop your style.

DO copy. We all do it! It will help you define your style as you grow.

DO develop your own style. You will be happier!

DO learn to love the home you create.

DON'T DON’T be afraid of making a mistake. It’s part of learning. We all do it!

DON’T rush out and buy home furnishings. Take your time and think things through.

DON’T fall into the comparison trap.


Yvonne Pratt Yvonne is the owner of Stonegable, a home and garden decorating blog. She features tips and ideas on dressing up the home and provides inspired DIY craft tutorials. She specializes in easy home decor tips for creating designer looks anyone can do themselves

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Margaret Smith-Logan, dkorinteriors.com


DO DO love what you do every day. Find a learning experience with every new step. Design is creativity. Creativity is thinking out of the box; doing something new. Sometimes new things don't always pan out as expected. But the great thing with creativity and design is that there is no exact answer. So the outcome can always be positive.

Timeless is key when designing. At DKOR interiors we always make sure that the core of the space is a timeless approach of materials that speaks with the client’s style. Fun colors and trends can be added through accent furniture and accessories. Items that don't require a long term commitment.

Keep it simple and keep it special. Don't overdo it with the design features and bold accent items. By adding too many items to a space, the pieces compete with each other and lose their own specialness. With each space, establish what you would like to be the focal point, whether it's a feature wall or accent chair, then pick simple pieces to complete the 'wow' item.

DON'T DON’T always be cautious with trends. Fall in love with design trends. It is exciting! But apply them in a way that effective for long term use. Accent paint colors, hardware accents, and accessories are a great way to bring in trends to a space without a long term commitment.


Margaret Smith-Logan Margaret is the lead residential interior designer at DKOR Interiors. The strong creative confidence reflected in her designs is derived from her clients’ trust and belief. Her design concepts are fuelled by her commitment to client satisfaction.

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Ashley Thurman, cherishedbliss.com


Interior design is such a difficult field to get a grasp on because a lot of it is based purely on opinion, but there are always a few do's and don’ts for the beginner.


DO DO trust your instincts. Almost always my first thought ends up being the one I end up navigating back to. Sure you might need to mold it to fit perfectly with your design, but your instincts should carry a lot of weight in your decisions!

DO plan out your lighting. Lighting is one of the most important elements in interior design. If you can't see what you are looking at, then you might as well not be in the room!

DON'T DON’T buy on impulse. We all buy random things, I'm not saying you can never buy anything without a whole design plan, but when making the preparations for a room it's always best to plan it out. It's very easy to find a piece that you love, but at the end of the day it's not going to work. Then you try really hard to incorporate it no matter what and ultimately aren't happy with your design.

DON’T buy sets. Matchy-matchy is a thing of the past. Add interesting elements to your decor by pulling in different pieces and offering contrast.


Ashley Thurman Cherished Bliss is a lifestyle blog focusing on do-it-yourself projects, home decor, furniture building, and seasonal crafts. In 2011 Ashley started Cherished Bliss as a small hobby, since then it has turned into a passionate career in hopes to inspire women (and men) to create a beautiful home from a simple perspective.

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