How to decorate well: interior designer tips

How to decorate well: interior designer tips

New research from British furniture company Oka suggests a lot of us are planning a home makeover next year...whether it's updating a room or doing more substantial decorating/refurbishing. So it's put together some advice on how to achieve great results

By Abby Trow
Oka source eclectic pieces of furniture from around the world

Oka's customer research suggests one in two homeowners will be doing a little something on the decorating front in 2018. Lots of us focus on the living room or bedroom as they're easily updated with standalone pieces such as lamps, cushions or coffee tables. But decorating a room so it looks lovely and functions well takes some thought so Oka has produced a infographic full of useful tips. Pictured above: Pisces Console Table at Oka, fir wood top and iron given a bronze verdigris finish. Oka likes the eclectic approach to interior design using furniture and accessories made from natural, sustainable materials. 

Sometimes just moving the furniture around in a room can make a huge difference for the better...while refreshing with newly painted walls, a change of cushions and perhaps introducing a few plants can make you feel you've transformed a dull old space into somewhere you want to be.

Furniture brand Oka has been talking to customers and it's found many of us will redecorate in some shape or form 36 times in our adult lifetime...and 2018 looks to be a year lots of us indulge in a spot of home makeover-ing, with one in two of those questioned saying they were planning some changes in the home, be they small or large.

We all have our own tastes, preferences and, of course, budgets. However interior designers do say there are common traps people fall into when decorating which can result in rooms not looking as good as they could. These include not being clear about the purpose of the room, not choosing colours that work together, having inadequate lighting. Oka has put together a useful guide to help you make the most of your home and spend money wisely.

Choose an unobtrusive colour for walls and bring in strong colour through accessories such as cushions, paintings and vases
Lighting is must be ceiling lights, wall lights and lamps for mood lighting

It's always good to get some tips from from professional interior designers on how they go about decorating and designer and vlogger Georgina Burnett shares hers:

On Style: 'I have a personal rule that if you’re going for a traditional look, a room needs at least one antique. Also think about the fabrics you’re using. If you can’t afford heavy luxurious fabrics then play with textures by mixing more inexpensive ones with the odd piece you splash out on. Lamps need to look in keeping, but you can get inventive by upcycling ornate second hand items to make them affordable but still individual. People can sometimes assume that contemporary means sparse, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Geometric patterns in fabrics can add life to a room. You’re allowed to mix the old with the new now, which can look fantastic in a modern setting where you’re not trying to stay true to an era. Make the most of mixing metallics as well, whether that’s in furniture, fittings or artwork.

On Colour 'It’s really important that a room evokes the right feeling and one of the most important factors is colour. Decide how you want to feel in a room - do you need to be relaxed, inspired, excited? Most likely there will be a couple of emotions you need to satisfy. Once you’ve made that decision start looking at which colours make you feel that way and get it down to a shortlist of three. Take a colour wheel and see how your short list works together - as a rule of thumb colours close by complement, whilst opposite colours on the wheel bring each other alive. This should help you to find your primary, secondary and pop of colour for your scheme. Put together a mood board to check it’s working for you but most importantly remember you have to like it yourself!'

Oka's three founders, Annabel Astor, Lucinda Waterhouse and Sue Jones, also have great expertise in designing a home and their advice on room colour is to keep to neutral colours and accessorise with brighter one.

'In 'blank canvas' spaces, where the walls and floors are neutral throughout, there is much scope for playing with colour and texture in soft furnishings. Scatter cushions are a great place to start,' says Sue Jones

'If you tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to using bold patterns in your home, lampshades are a good way to experiment with print and colour,' says Annabel Astor.

'Consider dirty pink as an alternative to the usual neutral palette of cream or grey. It's warm and light - the perfect backdrop on which to layer bold coloured accessories to create depth and add warmth,' sasys Lucinda Waterhouse

Furniture and accessories - Dos and Don'ts

Do make the most of existing features in a room and scale pieces accordingly. Be clever with narrow consoles, compact sofas and small dining tables, then up the ante with accessories.

Do use traditional materials in a modern setting to soften and add depth to the schem.

Do pay special attention to your accessories. Limited space need not to be an issue when decorating: opulence can be achieved in even the smallest of spaces with carefully chosen accessories..


Don't write off old or existing sofas and armchairs as past their best: they can quickly be updated with a patterned throw.

Don't default to always choosing table lamps. Wall lights can offer a great alternative, especially where space is limited.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match cushions. Use different fabrics and colours, but make sure they all complement one another.

Happy decorating everyone.