Interior design is one of my passions. I just love looking at a space, imagining its possibilities, then transforming it into a place that makes people feel good. Because isn’t that the point of decorating your home? I really, truly believe that when you’re inspired by your surroundings, your mood and mental health benefit. Especially with how much time we’ve been spending at home, I think it’s worth investing time and energy into making a space feel uniquely yours.
It’s only natural that I’ve gravitated toward interiors. My dad is a contractor, so I grew up seeing how houses come together from start to finish. And if there’s an open house in the neighborhood, I always want to take a peek to see how it’s decorated. Although I’m not a professional interior designer, I’ve learned a few things over the years. Like anything else, if you focus on honing your personal style, you’ll get better over time. These are six basic tips that have helped me become more confident with my interior choices—and I’m sharing them in hopes that they’ll encourage you to do the same.
Take your time
Nobody is born knowing what their interior design style is, and even professional designers see their style evolve over time. As much as we all love a dramatic, immediate before-and-after photo, it’s also fine to make little tweaks to a space on your own timeline. That way, you can see things slowly come together as you refine your style.
I find a lot of visual inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram, but also from traveling and film. (I love a spacious Nancy Meyers kitchen and am not ashamed to admit it.) When you see something that speaks to you, save a photo of it. Over time, you can review the visuals you’ve collected, and that will help you find a common thread—certain colors, textures, or silhouettes that keep coming up for you.
Learn from designers
A few years ago, I worked with interior designer Jake Arnold on revamping a 1930s Spanish Colonial. He’s incredibly talented, and I learned a lot from him about combining contemporary pieces with vintage touches. These days, social media makes it easy to get inspiration and styling ideas, and you can learn a lot about design—for free!—just by following designers and decorators you admire.
Let the space decide
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by endless options and changing trends, but I’ve never gone wrong by “listening” to the home. I try to honor the spirit and style of a house, using a feature I love as a starting point of inspiration. Maybe your home has beautiful oak floors or colorful vintage tile in the bathroom. Building a mood around those features will help you make choices that look effortless.
Shop within your budget
An inspiring space doesn’t have to be expensive or filled with custom-made, high-end furniture. What matters is how you put everything together. I’ve found beautiful things at Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, CB2, Z Gallerie, and West Elm. Shopping secondhand at flea markets, Facebook marketplace, and vintage stores can help you find well-made items, too. When you find pieces you love, you’ll find ways to make them work in whatever space you have.
I’ve learned that when it comes to interiors, you don’t have to get things right the first time—and sometimes, a room comes together in ways you hadn’t expected. For instance, a while ago, I fell head over heels for a chair, and I just had to have it. I envisioned exactly where I’d put it: in our second floor landing space. So I confidently bought it despite the store’s no-returns policy, excitedly brought it home, and… it just didn’t look right.
Since I couldn’t take it back to the store, I decided to experiment. I carried it to different rooms and arranged different pieces around it. I turned it this way and that. Finally, when I styled it with a side table in a bedroom, it looked perfect and I loved the chair more than ever. There are lots of ways to make a room come together, and if you’re open-minded, you’ll find that you have more options than you might initially imagine.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear what works (and doesn’t) for you when it comes to interiors. DM me at @frenshe and let us know what’s on your mind.