YOUR Design Questions: Answered ✔

21 top tips and the most common design mistakes to avoid

1. What size rug should I choose for my living room? 


If we had a thread of wool for every time a customer asked what size rug they should buy for their room, we would be able to knot an XXXL rug on a hypothetical navy, turquoise and yellow MBR loom.

Rugs have the ability to totally transform a room and anchor a space. Our tip: the bigger, the better (within reason). A rug that's too small tends to look a bit lost and doesn't do it's assigned job of zoning a space.

Try and have the front legs of the sofa and the coffee table/accent chair all on the rug. Alternatively, if it's big enough go ahead and plonk all the furniture on there and let the rug be the foundation of your furniture.


2. How do I include indoor greenery when I'm not green-fingered? 

Indoor greenery is the quickest, cheapest and most health beneficial interior update out there. Big leafy plants and cute, little succulents can purify the air, relieve stress and anxiety, aid focus, improve mood and look FAB whilst doing so.

However, if you can't seem to keep plants alive longer than a bunch of cut flowers, don't panic!

There are plants that are hard to kill:

- Jade
- Spider Plant
- Areca Palm
- Aloe
- Snake Plant
- Phildendron
- Rubber Plant
- Barrel Cactus
- Peace Lilly
- Golden Pathos

Still not convinced? Don't worry you can still reap the green benefits (minus air purifying) with gorgeous faux alternatives.

See relating blog posts: 

Step outside: Garden trends of 2019 and blurring the line between indoor and outdoor spaces

Inspired by nature: Blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces

3. Pattern clashing. Where do I start? 


A fail-safe way is to mix up the size and style of your patterns, but keep the colour palette consistent - this helps achieve a cohesive look.

When it comes to using a variety of patterns, don't try and match. Contrast is key, so pair stripes, polka dots or geometrics with florals or abstracts.

Layering contrasting patterns ensures that the final look isn't too lively.

Related blog posts:

Styling: 6 tips to help you clash patterns like a pro

4. Do my kitchen/bathroom fittings need to match? 

Yes, they can but they don't have to. There is so much beauty in contrast, so don’t stress if you have a chrome oven/kettle/toaster but want to update to brass fittings.

A super easy way to mix metallics or steer away from your current finishes is to incorporate black fittings as they're super versatile. The trickiest accent to match is copper, so only include in small amounts or, if you really love it, go the whole hog.

You might like:

MBR x Ideal Home Show: Top tips for creating a family friendly home that works for you 

Seaside style: Create a classy coastal interior by bringing the beach into your home, minus the sand

5. Can I mix materials? 


Yes. That's it, that's our answer.

For example, If you have light wood flooring but adore a dark/warm mid-century wood look, don't let your flooring hold you back.

It's all about balance, so just make sure the different materials and finishes reach a gorgeous interior equilibrium. Need some help? We're here for you.

You might like:

Happy Advent: 24 interior design top tips from industry professionals

6. How do I create a gallery wall? 


We've reduced all the gallery walls in the entire world of interiors down to 3 types: sleek and neat, asymmetrical and eclectic. So take a seat, and let us show you our 3 walls of frames.

1. Sleek & neat:

To execute this look, ensure that all the frames are the same size and style and mounted in equal proportions away from each other (we suggest to leave 7-10cm between each frame).

2. Asymmetrical:

This style is for those searching for the middle ground. A small number of frames (5-8) can create a balanced, elegant layout. For a less rigid look use a larger number of frames and a wide variety of sizes or style, just balance around a mid-line.

3. Eclectic:

You can really have fun with this style, just make sure you mount your artwork in a set space. Use a large frame in the centre and/or play with different colours, styles or sizes.  

7. Other than wall art, how can I add interest to a blank wall? 


In the ever-evolving world of interiors, we are seeing such a shift in wall art.

Love soft furnishings? Try a 3D wall hanging or a juju hat to add texture and character to the wall.

Mastered artwork gallery walls? Challenge yourself by incorporating mirrors and/or 3D finishes.

Is indoor greenery your weak spot? Go a step further by adding some hanging plants or a vertical garden/living wall to include even more greenery.

More 2020 trends:

8. How do I update my kitchen without spending a fortune? 

There are so many pretty simple ways to transform your kitchen without ripping the whole thing out and starting again.

Try painting the cabinets, changing the work top, adding statement lighting, accessorising with artwork or greenery, updating the fittings and/or changing the knobs and handles!

For more top tips:

IKEA Hacks: 12 ways to easily make your affordable kitchen look expensive 

9. Where do I begin with lighting? 

Small Living Room 4-2

It's all about layering! Lighting can change the mood, add interest and zone a room. Lighting is imperative when thinking about updating your interior and how you want to use and style your space.

Main lighting: this is usually a main pendant or spot lighting. If you don't need loads of bright light in the room then a centre pendant allows you to include more of your individual style in your room.

Task lighting: this is lighting that you need to do tasks, funnily enough - i.e. lighting above worktops in kitchens or desk lamps in a study.

Ambient lighting: These ooze ambience (the clue is in the name). Floor lamps, table lamps and decorative lighting add mood and zone those cosy spaces.

Check out our blog post with Pooky for more information on lighting:

Meet the Experts: Pooky

10. How do I decide whether to buy off the shelf or go bespoke? 


This really depends on two things: function and style.

If you don't have much room but need to include storage, seating and a TV unit etc. then a bespoke bench might be the perfect solution.

Also, if this is a forever home or long term commitment then it's worth creating a bespoke space that looks cohesive with the property and works specifically for you.

If you're not planning on sticking around forever and/or you have room to play with then buying off the shelf can be a time and money saver. There is so much variety and choice on the market that you're likely to find a piece of furniture perfect for you and your home.

See our blog posts on bespoke furniture:

Bespoke furniture: Considering fitted furniture? Here's the inside scoop! 

Bespoke furniture can now be bought online. Here's how...

MBR x Ideal Home Show: Top tips for creating a family friendly home that works for you 

11. How do I decorate a small space? 


Firstly, don't try and fight the physical actuality of the room - it's small, so unless you extend, it's always going to be small.

Embrace it! Paint it a dark or bold colour for a statement, cosy finish or push your boundaries and include a WOW wallpaper. This is especially popular in downstairs cloakrooms.

To brighten a small space play with lighting - whether it's ceiling or wall lights. 

Finally, include a mirror to bounce light around the room and reflect the beautiful design you've created!

12. What is the best layout for my bedroom? 


A bed, clothing storage and bedside lights - seems easy enough, right? Nu-uhhh. We get this question time and time again with small bedrooms and bedrooms where there is almost too much space to fill.

Small bedrooms: Don't get a bed too big for a space! Please settle for a double that fits comfortably rather than squeezing in a super-king and leaving no floor space whatsoever. Include underbed storage and bespoke elements as much as possible and don't forget to utilise the walls. Wall mounted bedside tables are huge space savers. Lastly, mirrors can make a space look much larger!

Large bedrooms: If you have loads of space then don't waste it! Zone a dressing area or reading/sitting area with rugs and lighting.

Styling: Step by step guide to turn your bedroom into a 5-star boutique hotel room

13. Where do I start when it comes to deciding on a living room layout? 


Firstly, decide how it's going to be used. Will it be a socialising/entertaining space, a TV room or a secondary playroom for the children?

Then think about the definite items of furniture you need to include, i.e. tables, storage, seating.

If it's a formal living room then you may want a couple of sofas facing each other. If it's mainly for watching movies then the sofa orientation should ideally be facing the TV.

Once you've decided this then it's time to measure up and prioritise! For example, if you need extra seating then you may have to ditch a large coffee table for a storage ottoman, or swap a chaise sofa for a 3 seater and an accent chair.

You might like:

MBR x Ideal Home Show: Top tips for creating a family friendly home that works for you

10 expert tips for decorating your home without breaking the bank

Cut the clutter: 8 clever storage solutions and ideas to keep your home organised 

14. How do I zone an open-plan space? 


Open-plan is amazing until you stop and think 'what do I do with all this space?' Introducing, broken-plan.

Broken-plan is the evolution of open-plan; it retains the sociable openness, whilst using clever layout solutions to make the most of the space, zoning to make distinct areas and allowing the option of more privacy within the open room should you want or need it.

You can zone in all sorts of ways:
- Rugs
- Lighting
- Partitioning walls
- Sectioning with shelving/storage/large pieces of furniture
- Paint

Check out our Ideal Home Show blog for more on this!

15. How do I style open storage? 


There are so many different ways you can style your open-storage, depending on the look that suits you. If you are a bit stuck there's a few general rules that you can follow:

- Play with different textures and finishes
- Experiment with all shapes and sizes
- Include artwork
- Sometimes less is more - don't over-clutter!
- Coordinate your colours for a cohesive finish
- Use lighting to highlight
- Organise and order, use baskets and boxes to conceal unsightly storage
- Keep the balance - make sure the sizes and finishes are ultimately levelled out.

For more advice, check out our shelf styling blog.

16. How do I make my room feel and appear taller? 


A great trick is to fake height with low furniture so that you have more wall on show. Alternatively, do a 180 degree turn and use tall furniture that goes all the way up to the ceiling.

Paint is the unsung hero of deception! Paint as much of the wall as possible to make the room feel taller - this includes skirtings and covings.

Another technique that we love is to position the curtain pole just under the ceiling, rather than just above the window. Longer curtains will help your room feel taller. Nifty!

You might like:

IKEA Hacks: 33 ways to update your favourite affordable furniture in a day

21 new year resolutions for your home that will make your life easier 

Happy Advent: 24 interior design top tips from industry professionals 

17. How do I make the biggest impact with the smallest price? 

Large Living Room 6-1

There are loads of ways to update a room without commiting to a complete transformation.

Indoor greenery is the cheapest and quickest finishing touch that can add life to lifeless corners.

Artwork and cushions are powerful little things that can add pattern and have the ability to completely change a colour scheme. 

Don't underestimate the power of paint. Upcycle and refresh existing furniture with a fresh lick of colour

Check out our blog: 10 expert tips for decorating your home without breaking the bank

18. How do I decide on paint? 

Large Living Room 5-1

When considering paint you need to think about more than just colour (but don't get me wrong, that's important too!).

If you have messy kids or a mucky pup you may want to consider getting an endurance paint, as if anything gets on the wall you can just scrub it right off. You don't need to sacrifice your chosen shade either, you can colour match a designer paint in another brand such as Johnstones or Dulux.

Also, remember to pick the correct paint for bathrooms, kitchens and woodwork. Don't worry, it should be stated on the tin!

When it comes to deciding colour, you really need to see what it looks like in the light of your room. Paint the colour on an A3 piece of card and hold against the wall to see if it's a yay or a nay.

You'll love these blog posts: 

Meet the Experts: Farrow & Ball

9 paint colours loved and used by designers

19. Where should I save and where should I splurge? 


I can't resist a good bargain - so we have heaps of tips on this topic! Save on the finishing touches such as artwork (you can print downloadable prints yourself!) and refresh old furniture by upcycling with new handles or a fresh lick of paint.

You should spend a bit more on your key furniture items such as your bed and sofa - you're likely to use these every single day, after all. When buying large furniture think about two things: Will they last 5 years and will you like them in 5 years?

Pick timeless, quality pieces that won't go out of style.

You might like:

14 reasons why you should consider hiring a professional Interior Designer 

On the West Elm panel: Sustainability in Interior Design 

Fabulous furnishings faster: Collaborate with others to achieve your interior dreams (and funds to do so) sooner 

10 expert tips for decorating your home without breaking the bank

20. Can I design a children's bedroom that will grow with them? 


Don't worry - you can create a kids room that is fun, they'll love but won't need updating every time their favourite colour or 'theme' changes.

Just keep the furniture a timeless white so it can grow with your child and accessorise around it.

Be bold with paint but only in small amounts, rather than every single wall. Use decorations such as lighting, soft furnishings and wall art, wall stickers (they peel right off) to satisfy their expression of hobbies and tastes.

Check out: Styling 13 affordable ideas to design a children's bedroom on a budget

21. How do I update my bathroom without ripping the room apart? 


This advice is similar to updating a kitchen on a budget. Two birds, one stone.

Use finishing touches such as accessories, artwork and plants to update the look.

Changing the paint colour or the splashback tiles is also an affordable way to make quite a hefty impact.

Another simple way is changing the storage solution, vanity or mirrors.

You'll find helpful:

IKEA Hacks: 12 ways to easily make your affordable kitchen look expensive