Decorative room ideas: 20 design rules for a dream home
The whole purpose of interior design is to create decorative room ideas that answer the needs of the individuals living in them while reflecting their personalities with good design, space and functionality.
Beautiful fabrics, textiles and wallpapers are at the heart of every standout scheme, but how do you begin to decide the best approach? Our gallery of decorative room ideas is a good place to start for looks and details that are full of finesse. Follow our simple formulas to get your home ideas and decorating ideas spot on first time.
Decorative room ideas
These decorative room ideas cover everything from the best interior design tips and room color ideas to working with pattern and all the interior design trends to watch out for when designing a room that you will adore for years to come.
1. Invest in the details
Careful consideration of materials and their placement has the ability to transform your existing living room ideas into a decorative room that is truly spectacular.
‘The living room of this Victorian home is anchored by the dramatic veining of the Calacatta Viola framed portal to the kitchen,’ says interior designer Tamsin Johnson (opens in new tab).
‘These materials add glamor yet they don’t compete nor do they overpower the room of this size. The parquetry floors provide warmth against the harsher surfaces of stone and metal, while the steel framed doors to the patio bathe the room with natural light. The pared-back soft furnishings help to create a feeling of luxurious simplicity, allowing the architectural details and materials to sing.’
2. Create personality and depth with soft furnishings
Finding the perfect entryway ideas for your home isn’t always easy, but it should be, and it is one space that certainly shouldn’t be an afterthought.
To create a welcoming entryway, think about the impact the space will have when you first walk in,’ says luxury home accessories maker, Birdie Fortescue (opens in new tab). Take inspiration from this space by designing a cozy spot to sit, layered with piles of cushions for warmth and beauty. ‘If you have space, a rug with a practical texture is a great addition, particularly underneath a well-proportioned entryway table,’ says Birdie.
3. Give furniture a new lease of life
Old or tired armchairs and living room sofa ideas can be given a new, decorative lease of life and become pride of place in your living room, like in this scheme by Thurstan (opens in new tab). When choosing which material to use, it’s important to consider how durable you need the fabric to be – is it going to be in constant use or is this a more occasional piece of seating?
‘Velvets are ideal upholstery fabrics, as they are heavy, tightly woven and durable,’ advises Lee Clarke, director of Warner House. ‘Surprisingly, silk or mohair can wear well and can even improve in appearance over time. For pieces like ottomans, you could opt for style over practicality.
4. Give you powder room a luxurious lift
Keep your powder room essentials firmly under control with design-focused and decorative bathroom storage ideas. Every bathroom deserves a striking focal point and this wall-hung vanity by Humbert & Poyet demonstrates the statement-making potential of beautifully designed storage. The full-width drawer is satisfyingly deep but it’s the slatted design and smooth curves that most impress.
‘Painted wood is not a very noble material, but the notched detail and brass makes the arrangement feel more precious,’ agrees architect Emil Humbert, of Humbert & Poyet.
5. Bring in decorative touches on storage
‘I love a wraparound bookcase – it makes a room feel so cozy, and in a painted finish it isn’t as heavy or traditional as a natural wood finish can feel,’ says interior designer Elizabeth Hay (opens in new tab), who designed this exquisite storage idea.
This wonderfully bright blue colorway is also broken up by the textured wallcovering behind the sofa, allowing the space and artwork to breathe. To create a cohesive scheme, link the paint to the upholstery, perhaps by adding cushions, throws and trimmings in similar shades. It’s worth selecting a second or third ‘lead’ color – done with red and green here – so that you can link in more elements of the space without it seeming too ‘done’ and overly coordinated.
6. Make a statement with a headboard
Want to create a focal point within your bedroom ideas? A standout will help you transform a bland space into a decorative showstopper.
‘Headboard ideas are not just about comfort; with a little thought it can transform a bedroom scheme by providing the perfect blank canvas to try out interesting color and pattern combinations,’ says interior designer Natalia Miyar (opens in new tab).
‘I love upholstering headboards in bright, decorative fabrics that draw the eye to the focal point of the room, elevating the bed itself to a style statement. I often add piping around the edge for an extra pop of color and smart tailoring.’
7. Hang a pretty window treatment
Window treatment ideas are myriad. Both functional and decorative, curtains and blinds can transform a simple scheme into an outstanding one in an instant.
‘One of the easiest ways to create a decorative feature from window treatments is to choose a bold, large-scale design for curtaining,’ advises Hayley McAfee, design director, Villa Nova. ‘This can create a striking focal point and will work best on large windows where the full pattern repeat can be appreciated. If you have smaller windows, opt for a small-scale pattern for a more refined look.’
8. Give you kitchen a color update
‘When planning a painted kitchen scheme, we generally choose the dominant color first, to anchor the space and provide a sense of calmness. We then look at shades that will “pop”, to make it more dynamic,’ says Natalie Forbes of Forbes Rix (opens in new tab). Here, that impact comes from Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow on a floor-to-ceiling cupboard. ‘We recommend a maximum of three colors to keep it from becoming too busy.’
Don’t forgo pattern on floors as well. There are a range of practical and aesthetic considerations when choosing pattern on the kitchen floor. Consider whether you want to make a statement with a strong color, pattern or contrasting texture or whether you want a subtler look with a plain neutral or muted pastel. Bold, large-scale kitchen ideas and designs can create a striking focal point and will work best when used in a small space.
9. Mesmerize with marble
New interpretations and refreshing schemes keep this metamorphic rock an enduring classic for your marble bathroom ideas.
Step outside your Carrara comfort zone and go for stone bursting with dramatic colour and vivid veining, as seen in this combination of Verde St Denis and Verde Luana marble sourced from Italy. The creation of New York-based interior designer Steven Gambrel, this decorative bathroom idea maximizes the marble’s full potential thanks to skilful book-matching and marquetry-style borders that provide exquisite rug-like detailing underfoot.
10. Use color to build up a layered palette
When you typically consider using paint ideas to create impact in a room, the first thought tends to be drenching the walls in a bright hue. While this is a tried and tested way of creating a statement, there are more delicate ways to achieve just as much of an impact.
In this living room color scheme from interior designer Anna Spiro, a high-gloss white paint on the walls bounces around light, making the surfaces nearly appear liquid with shine. Architectural details have been picked out in a beautiful deep yellow, adding not only color, but an excellent grounding element. Living room furniture ideas and accessories in similar but not quite matching tones create a warming spectrum of sunshine across the space.
11. Give storage a decorative flair
Commissioning a bespoke piece of joinery can be transformative; to justify the investment be sure to create a hard-working design. This piece of floor-to-ceiling furniture for a breakfast bar features a banquette seat and plenty of storage as one whole proposition. The joinery was designed by Teco Bespoke for interior design firm Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab). It’s been made with extra tall glass doors to give it a more contemporary, refined look.
Key to the success is the decorative and colorful artwork by Aboriginal artist Bob Gibson, sourced through specialist dealer Jennifer Guerrini-Maraldi. ‘I’m a big fan of a banquette seat, especially if you can add storage and artwork to make it pop,’ says creative director Lucy Barlow.
12. Focus on the small details
‘Trimmings have the ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary,’ says Marisa Gutmacher, executive design director, Samuel & Sons (opens in new tab). ‘In its most traditional application, cords with tape can be inserted into the seams of upholstered furniture, providing the finishing touch and helping delineate the lines of the frame.’
Make sure to look beyond seating for trimmings. ‘Gimps and narrow borders can also be used for wall upholstery applications in the living room and bedroom, working with fabric walling, or as a sophisticated finishing touch running around the skirting and woodwork,’ adds Marisa.
13. Invest in a statement island
Harness the full potential of a decorative kitchen island by choosing bold shapes, materials and design twists.
Generously sized kitchens call for an island with generous proportions to ensure it doesn’t appear lost in the space. Here, Chiselwood (opens in new tab) used chunky worktops and outsized handles for an eye-catching island. ‘The thickness of the worktop was achieved by mitring deep strips around the perimeter. You get striking depth without excessive weight on the kitchen cabinet idea beneath,’ explains design director Martin Holliday.
14. Get creative with fabric and wallpaper
‘Don’t waste a scrap of fabric or wallpaper – there are many uses for a half roll that’s currently lying redundant,’ advises Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). ‘Use it as a clever motif in a glass-fronted cupboard or create a focal point behind your bed ideas with a decorative faux headboard.
In this striking project by Barlow & Barlow, the glass-fronted cabinets are lined with fabric that matches the wallpaper idea in the headboard space. As the eye follows the stripe upwards, the bed area appears taller than it is. For the cherry on top, even the door handles integrate into this smart design.
15. Get the balance just right
Getting the balance right is key when it comes to combining lots of different designs together in one place.
Pick a motif and run with it – here, free-flowing lines are the main star of the show. Using colorful patterns on a white ground help to keep the look fresh and coherent.
When using a busier all over pattern on walls, complement the rest of the room with simpler or more regimented designs – such as stripes; they can provide variation and contrast without detracting from the aesthetic.
16. Decorate with mirrors
Decorating with mirrors is a wonderful way to turn your living room into a decorative room delight. One of the oldest tricks is to use mirrors to maximize light.
In this scheme by K&H Design, a Rupert Bevan slumped mirror fills each alcove. This southwest-facing room already benefited from plenty of light; what it lacked was atmosphere. The mirrors help project the sun throughout the room and increase the sense of space. Use a similar antiqued finish when working on this scale. Not only does it soften the glow of light but anything with a smoother surface runs the risk of tipping into hair salon territory.
‘The decorative lighting adds drama and brings together the contemporary and old with the antique chinoiserie lamp,’ say Katie Glaister, founder of K&H Design (opens in new tab).
17. Double up on decorative details
‘Your home office ideas should be a beautiful thing instead of a mess of files and wires, when it comes to designing the space, consider it as a room with plenty of storage, not just a workstation, says Rodrigo Moreno Masey, architect and founder, Moreno Masey (opens in new tab).
In this tailored space, bespoke joinery offers the best way to take advantage of the space available – vital when designing an office for two. Add decorative touches with details such as brass trims and handles paired with a patterned wallpaper.
18. Style shelves to perfection
You can own some of the most beautiful pieces, but if you don’t style your shelves in an eye-catching way, they can quickly lose any impact they might have had. ‘When styling shelves, ensure to mix heights and depths of objects,’ says Sophie Pringle, creative director, Pringle & Pringle (opens in new tab). ‘Shelving ideas, whether in the bedroom, kitchen or living room, benefit from mixing things up – incorporate art, add plants, use odd numbers of objects grouped together; start with large pieces and build around that.’
19. Color code in a space for children
Isabelle Lomas’ client wanted a fun, inviting space for her kids’ room idea that would still allow for guests to use the room, as it was also to be rented out. ‘We kept the walls plain,’ says Isabelle, who used Willow V from Paint & Paper Library.
‘This allowed us to incorporate a chequerboard pattern on the floor – a fun element that is also hardwearing. The antique iron beds were bought from the previous owners of the house; these are a beautiful green which we used as our main color for the room.’ With the color palette established, Isabelle introduced furnishings: ‘Adding soft touches, such as these mohair throws from Samuel Tweed Fabrics, brings the room together and makes it feel cozy yet decorative,’ she adds.
20. Go for pattern on pattern
The move to maximalism is gathering pace and with it comes a beautiful energy and vibrancy. To mix patterns successfully vary the scale of each design in a room. Large-scale designs work well as a dominant pattern, like this Christopher Farr wallpaper (opens in new tab), especially when combined with medium or smaller patterns in complementary or contrasting colors.
How can I decorate my room?
There are many interesting ways to decorate every room in your home. First and foremost, you should focus on what you love, whether that be certain colors, patterns or textures. Next, think about how these elements can work together to create a harmonious scheme that is bursting with decorative flourishes.
If you are not planning a full revamp, then curtains and blinds are the perfect place to begin adding color and pattern contrast to your space.
‘Texture can be created in a scheme by, for example, pairing more delicately patterned floral curtain fabrics with small checks or block colors for the other soft furnishings, such as an ottoman or scatter cushions,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch. ‘Why not use two types of patterned fabric for your curtains? A larger-scale print when seen from the outside and a smaller-scale design on the inside adds interest and provides a taster for what can be seen within.’