Interior design tips to spruce up your home

There are 2 types of Malaysians during the RMCO – the ones who will relish in their newfound freedom now that the economy is slowly reopening again, and the ones who will still be extra cautious about hanging around aside, and will continue staying home whenever possible.

Considering how the latter will be spending a huge amount of time at home, especially if the work-from-home situation persists, these interior design tips can help anyone who wants to make their homes more inviting and comfortable enough to spend long periods of time in.

1. Incorporate fresh flowers into your space

interior design tips - flowers in a room
Image credit: @homestylemaguk

If you want to revamp your space without doing anything too drastic, flowers can be the perfect solution. They act as a focal point in a plain room with their splash of colour and bring a natural element that instantly refreshes your area.

Put a few stalks of fresh flowers in a vase and place them on your kitchen counter, the coffee table, vanity table, or work desk, and watch how they subtly change up the way a room looks. They provide a more refined touch and complement the surrounding furniture if the colours fit. You can also go for a different look and feel with different blooms every week.

Most tend to forget that flowers actually serve a function other than looking pretty. A behavioural study conducted by Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff revealed that participants felt less stressed and more positive after a few days of having flowers in their homes.

Because flowers translate to a space being welcoming and safe, they make our environment more relaxing – ideal for both the bedroom and workspace.

2. Use floor-length curtains

interior design tips - floor-length curtains
Image credit: @ieowooden

The ceiling may be the last thing you notice when you enter a room but it’s actually a crucial element in home design. It can make a room look noticeably smaller or bigger, and even influence how a person thinks, feels and acts. According to a survey from the University of Minnesota and University of British Columbia researchers, people can think more freely with a high ceiling, or focus on specifics with a lower ceiling.

Psychological impact aside, high ceilings are usually preferred as they make a room feel less confined as opposed to a low ceiling. But unless you have a say in how your house was built, most of us don’t get to decide on this matter.

You can opt to repaint the ceiling, change the lighting or even install striped wallpaper to create the illusion of taller walls, but an easy, quick fix is to simply hang your curtains from the ceiling and make sure that the ends touch the floor. Even if your window is small, the length of a long curtain gives the illusion of a heightened ceiling.

3. Paint your ceiling a shade lighter than your walls

interior design tips - room with light coloured ceilingImage credit: @norahco_renovation

To take your room’s sense of spaciousness up a notch from the point above, you can paint your ceiling a different shade from the walls, preferably a lighter colour, with high gloss paint. The reflective surface will make your ceiling appear taller.

interior design tips - room with ceiling painted down onto wall
Image credit: Pinterest/East Coast Creative

Another lesser-known idea among interior design tips is to paint the ceiling colour down onto the top of the walls by around 15cm to make the ceiling look higher than it actually is.

interior design tips - room with ceiling painting
Image credit: @devinwatlington

If ceiling height is not an issue in your house and you’re an artsy type, you can toy around with painting an artwork on your ceiling. It draws the eyes up and adds a unique character to the room. You get to practice your skills and upgrade your home at the same time.


4. Use complementary colours to make your room more lively

interior design tips - complementary colours in room
Image credit: @naptimestyle

Not everything has to match. Aspiring home designers who want to experiment with colours, but feel wary of how they might turn out, can start off by understanding complementary colours.

interior design tips - colour wheel

A simple colour wheel
Image credit: Sakurambo/Wikimedia Commons

Defined as two colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple, complementary colours are the simplest colour arrangement to master. It can also transform a room by making it bolder and livelier.

Use one colour as the dominant shade in a room, while the second and opposite colour can act as an accent, thus complementing the primary shade. And because the colours are very contrasting, it’s recommended to incorporate the second colour in small doses. The key is to balance out the entire room with neutrals to provide places for the eyes to rest.

5. Set up your work desk in a room with the most sunlight

interior design tips - window letting natural light in roomImage credit: @cry__sarah

Inviting natural sunlight into an indoor space with windows and reflective surfaces is not only more sustainable and environmentally friendly as compared to using light bulbs, but natural light also improves our wellbeing and productivity.

No matter how bright your lamps are, they can’t replicate the same effects that natural light can bring, as sunlight increases serotonin – the chemical in our body that makes us happy and boosts our mood. It can also prevent our eyes from getting tired easily and thus, helps us stay productive longer.

In fact, a study investigating the relationship between daylighting and human performance found out that classrooms with the most amount of natural light saw a faster learning rate of 20% to 26% as opposed to classrooms without it. Perhaps this is good news for those of us who work from home too – moving our work desk to a space with natural light could help us concentrate.

6. Repaint old furniture

interior design tips - repainting wooden furniture
Image credit: peppermags

For those who don’t have the means to purchase new furniture, repainting your old furniture is a budget-friendly option for a quick refresh. While it does require a number of tools and at least 3 days to complete the task, you might just appreciate the piece more knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating it.

Though painting wood sounds like something we have all done during art classes in school, painting a piece of furniture and making sure the colour lasts is more than just slapping on paint with your brushes and calling it a day.

You have to first give your furniture a good cleaning with oil soap to remove all dust, dirt and residue from years of being used. Then, use sandpaper to remove the glossy finish, so that the new paint will have a surface to stick to – as it may slide off if the old coating is too glossy.

Once that’s done, paint on some primer to cover any stains or discolouration on the wood. And then, you can start painting with either a paint sprayer, brush, or roller. Remember to sand between each new coat and allow 6-8 hours for each coat to dry before painting on a new layer.

Lastly, protect your fresh paint by wiping it down with furniture wax and letting it dry for 72 hours before using the furniture piece again. You can buy all the required items online, in hardware stores or house paint shops.

7. Conceal the clutter with multifunctional furniture

interior design tips - stool and cushioninterior design tips - multipurpose storage stool
Image credit: Amazon

For things that you simply can’t toss out for sentimental reasons, you may have to find a way to hide the clutter so it doesn’t become an eyesore. Not only do unorganised objects hinder your concentration, but too many things in a room also make it look cramped and uninviting.

The key is to cleverly make your home appear organised with storage items, so you won’t even have to do an extreme decluttering. You can either DIY your own organisers or buy multifunctional furniture and decor items that can be used as hidden storage spaces as well.

interior design tips - toilet rolls store cables
Image credit: Pinterest/Angela Strickland

A common woe that most of us share is the unsightly look of cables being jumbled up or dangling around.

interior design tips - wicker basket storage containers
Image credit: ezbuy

An easy, wallet-friendly way to fix this is to use toilet paper rolls to separate each individual cable and store them in pretty wicker baskets.

interior design tips - book-shaped storage boxes
Image adapted from: Shopee

If you already have shelves with a lot of random things on it that don’t exactly scream interior aesthetic, conceal them in a book storage box or buy organisational boxes in the same colour for a neater, uniformed look.

Easy and quick home decor and interior design tips

Houses literally come in all shapes and sizes, and while these interior design tips are generally handy for most, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to revamping and redecorating your home.

The key is to ultimately identify your preferences, study your space, and then not be afraid to get nitpicky with what you like and what works physically to create your most ideal space for you.

For more home inspo content, check these out:

Cover image adapted from: @homestylemaguk, @naptimestyle and @ieowooden

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