How to decorate like a designer

So often we see a stunning interior in a magazine or on a website and think, "Wow". Seemingly effortlessly thrown together in the most spectacular way, it's exciting to picture the possibilities in our own spaces. Yet the fact is, it didn't just happen.

An armchair here, a throw blanket there, an asymmetrical rug - those casual interiors were more than likely carefully put together by a stylist or decorator with an expert eye for detail. However it's not as difficult as you might think. We asked homewares expert Mamta Johl from Early Setter to provide us with her ideas and tips on how to decorate like a designer.

START WITH THE FLOOR

Floors are the one element in a room that are always in your eyeline, yet are often overlooked. So start with the flooring, progress to the wall colours and everything else will flow from there. Plus, it's one of the biggest investments you'll make in your home - you want to get it right. If you can't afford to update the floors or you're in a rental, rugs are an ugly floor's best friend.

Aim for the biggest you can afford and integrate the colours with the interior palette you intend to use or your existing furniture.

BUILD TEXTURE

While white on white is all the rage, you don't want your rooms to feel like clinical boxes. It's important to create depth, warmth and visual interest at a foundational level and this can be done with texture, such as timber or stone, dado walls, cornices or skirting board.

Consider if there's anywhere you can break up the 'white box' with, for instance, a ceiling rose, pendant light or wallpaper. There are even brick-look and timber-effect wallpapers that look amazing.

ELEGANT ALIGNMENT

Take note of the natural 'bone structure' of the room to pick an alignment point in the space, such as a fireplace, alcove, recess or staircase.

This focal point will work as the 'anchor' of the room's composition, with the position of all other elements taking that 'central alignment' into account.

When laying out your interior around, for instance, a fireplace, French doors or primary feature wall, the room will instantly feel more harmonious, balanced and 'on purpose'.

PLAY WITH SYMMETRY

While creating balance in a room is a big part of what interior design is all about, you don't need to be held captive to symmetry. Your central alignment will help you to map out the elements in the room, but perfect centering doesn't equate to perfect design.

Have a little fun and draw the eye with asymmetrical elements, such as a plant in a hanging basket or eclectic wall hangings. These features will draw the eye and add instant visual appeal.

FRAME THE VIEW

No matter how beautiful your room may be, the outside world beyond is terribly important. Views offer a subconscious freedom from the confinement of the four walls and nature always evokes a sense of calm.

Of course, rooms can be incredibly cosy with limited or no windows, but you certainly don't want your spaces to feel claustrophobic. So emphasise the views with large windows to frame the garden and draw in the light. To open up enclosed rooms, use indoor plants and table lamps to create the illusion of nature.

CELEBRATE STORAGE

While many of us long for the clutter-free designer spaces we see in exclusive catalogues, living in the real world comes with a lot of baggage, like clothes, toys, paperwork and kitchen appliances. But just because you need it doesn't mean it needs to be on display. There's no such thing as too much storage in a house, from built-in wardrobes to trunk-style coffee tables. Tuck all the eyesores away with plenty of savvy storage solutions.

LET IT FLOW

In addition to being functional for household needs and a beautiful setting in itself, each room in your home should flow into the next to be cohesive as a whole. That doesn't necessarily mean matching wallpaper, drapes and colour schemes throughout - what works in your three-year-old's room probably won't work in the formal lounge.

Rather, use complementary elements or colours to tie the home together where one room spills into another or there's an open plan space.