4 min read

So you've done most of the hard work, now comes the time turn your eye to interior design, where you get to think about shaping, constructing and manipulating an interior space.

It’s important to understand the basics of interior design.


So, you’ve done the hard work. Saved your deposit and found a block of land and are planning to build your dream home. Now, let’s turn our eye to the interior design and layout. Our team has put together a list of handy hints on the basics of interior design to help you get started.


What is interior design?

It is commonplace for interior design and interior decorating to be mistaken as the same thing. Decorating focuses on the surface appearance of a space, interior design focuses on architecture, space and furniture design. Interior design is the process of shaping, constructing and manipulating an interior space. This is done through the use of specific design techniques and elements.

In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators don’t design.


Planning for real life

While there are no specific rules of interior design, specific actions can actively transform a space, making it more habitable. The first step in interior design is to plan the space to be lived in. The goal of planning for real life is to increase efficiency, making your life more comfortable. Every room has its imperfections, so it’s important to figure out what isn’t working then find exciting ways to make the space more liveable for you.


Think about a lasting and durable design. Don’t get caught up with what’s the latest trendiest finish - Rob Graham, Co-Head of Design

What’s your vision?

If you want your home to be cosy, perhaps you want to create an outdoor haven. Every great space has a concept behind it, so work out what yours is before you begin. Your ideal floor plan may revolve around kids and creating an incredible space for them to grow up in. Or, perhaps you want your home to be built around entertaining. Great interior design always revolves around an idea, not just things.


“Look for usable furniture layouts on the plans that represent how you live and think about how your furniture fits into this space.” - Rob


Focal points

Each main room works well if it has a focal point. A focal point is the ‘thing’ that will draw your eye; it is the point of interest and attention. A focal point should create a mood and have an impact in a room.


“Good focal points are statement pieces like windows or a fireplace. Pieces like these make rooms more interesting and spaces more habitable.” – Rob


Scale and proportion

These two terms are used by interior designers a lot. Scale refers to the size of things. If you’ve ever walked into a small room and seen an enormous king-size bed, you know that the scale of that piece isn’t right. Proportion, on the other hand, refers mainly to the shape of individual pieces. Consider scale and proportion for your interior.



Compared to things like focal points and scale, harmony is a more ethereal, intangible tenet of interior design.

The goal of each room should be to create a feeling of unity, with each element creating the same lasting impression.

Imagine a bathroom that was completed with a matte finish, then you added gloss fixtures, the room would be out of harmony. Aim to keep all elements working together.



Contrast is another essential element of interior design. Opposites do attract. Think of things in terms of hard and soft, black and white, light and shade – placing these things together creates contrast within a room. Contrast is important to create a feeling of unity within a room.


Variety is the spice of interior design. Things like feature walls, art, rugs, floor runners and so on. Just little surprises throughout a home that can add to the overall design aesthetic.


Colour does more than give you a feeling. Colour is a great creator of illusion and mood.

Even if you inherit a white or beige colour scheme, you can lift your interior with a mid to dark shade of paint, allowing your white skirtings and woodwork to pop. Don’t be afraid to break out of ‘white wall syndrome’. Use colour to your advantage - deep blue gives off the illusion of comfort, green is playful, while red is the colour of luxury.


“Art and pictures are a fantastic way to lift your room. Add one above a bed or sofa to give a focal point, or above an entrance table to create a neat vignette of passing interest.” Darren Palmer – The Block.


Other handy design tips

Consider your negative space - negative space refers to dead zones. Spaces like this are confusing, but they’re also opportunities to add to the overall design of a room. In some cases, negative space can mean that you need to change the layout of your room, or at the very least fill the negative space with something.

The final word

As always, make sure you’re designing your space for you and your family. Everyone has different tastes. After all, no two people are the same. These handy tips are to get you thinking about how to turn your first house into your first, incredible home.



You can find more tips and tricks on how to easily make your home your own here.

Click here to go back to Stage 4: Making your house your home


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