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70 Genius Decorating Tips From Interior Design Pros

Get ready to take notes.

By Caroline Picard, Hadley Mendelsohn and Medgina Saint-Elien
preview for Pro Designers Share Their Best Bookshelf Decorating Tips

Let's be honest: If we could consult an expert before making every interior design decision, we would! Having access to your favorite designers' decorating secrets would cure the analysis paralysis you feel every time you need to buy a sofa or choose a paint color at The Home Depot. Imagine the peace of mind you'd feel if you had an authoritative source to answer all of your burning questions, like: "Are navy blue kitchen cabinets still in?" or "Will I regret doing shiplap?" We all need a guru who can help us tell passing interior design trends from timeless ideas that are cycling back into style. That kind of knowledge is invaluable when you're making permanent decisions about your home.

Every design lover can benefit from having a pro in their corner cheering them on. Even if you have an expert eye for interior design, you probably look to your Pinterest board for confirmation before you commit to a change in your home, right? It takes special expertise and years of experience to develop interior design sources and knowledge about things like lighting and floor planning. An interior design pro's input is helpful whether you're a DIY genius or a novice.

If you don't have an interior designer on speed dial, don't worry. We tapped 70 of our favorite pros for decorating secrets they usually share only with their clients. Below, you'll find clever tips and tricks that can solve every pain point in your home, whether it's a studio apartment or a farmhouse. Ahead, get 70 of their best interior design ideas totally gratis.

🏡You love finding new design tricks. So do we. Let us share the best of them.


Lighten Up a Room With Cane

green mudroom
Lauren Miller

In this elegant mudroom designed by Ashley Montgomery, the caned cabinet fronts serve practical and decorative purposes. They "provide airflow" to cabinets that hold farm clothes, boots, hats, and gloves, and their natural color breaks up the green woodwork. Such high-traffic areas can feel cluttered, but thoughtful details like caning can help calm the chaos.


Combine Strong Colors and Prints

vintage decor in bedroom
Stephen Paul

While the concept might seem to clash, this bedroom designed by Leah Ring of Another Human includes rich colors and prints from patchwork textiles to ceramic items and paint, so it's only fitting that the artwork is multidimensional and unique too. "The bedroom gets great light throughout the day, so we wanted to go for a peachy color on the walls that would give it a nice glow with the sunlight," Ring explains. The bedroom "feels layered in a comfortable way but not too busy—[you] feel very serene when you’re in the room," Ring says.


Add Charm With a Cabinet Skirt

Chaunté Vaughn

Meta Coleman was inspired by tile and color to give a California kitchen a refresh. She borrowed square footage from the living room to build this bright walk-in pantry. It's complete with plenty of storage, tons of countertop space, and adorable cabinet skirts that soften the room.

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Blue Goes With Every Color

blue living room
Barbara Corsico

The lesson here is that there are no downsides to practically any shade of blue. Designed by Kingston Lafferty, the artwork above the fireplace sets the tone for the bold color-blocking happening throughout the space, including the light green ceiling, the tonal walls and mantel, the Sputnik light, and the patterned chairs and drapes.


Tile Is Timeless

Lindsay Brown

Avery Cox of Avery Cox Design, who loves a classic subway tile, can be found using mosaics and penny tiles as well. "If I'm really going for something special I'll select a hand-painted or marbled tile from somewhere like Balineum," she explains. Bonus tip: Customizations are having a moment in the tile industry, whether it's in your bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom!


Cut Tile for a Custom Look

black, white and gray tiles, bath tub, square wall tiles, wall art
Stephen Karlisch

"We typically cut readily available materials that are in standard sizes into smaller sizes of those same tiles," Jessica Geller of Toldeo Geller says. The design duo used the budget-friendly method to create the custom tile design in this bathroom.

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Update an Appliance With Wallpaper

contact paper for countertops
Bjorn Wallander

Have ugly appliances or simply want to change things up? Cover them up with peel-and-stick wallpaper, as designer Janie Molster did to the fridge and freezer in this kitchen.


Balance Playful and Sophisticated

one room challenge, yellow wallpaper, teal side table, teal head board
Anthony Gianacakos

You can mix colors and patterns that'll push the envelope but still remain stylish and authentic. Just take it from designer Anthony Gianacakos, who did so in his own bedroom. "My strong suit is color and pattern combination," he says.


No Window? Use a Mirror

yellow chair, desk
Allie Provost

In a basement room with no windows, Camila Pavone of Effortless Style Interiors came up with the idea to combine two mirrors to fake a window. It brightens up the space and makes it feel bigger.

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Soften Up Stainless Steel

wooden kitchen, wooden bar stools, ceiling lamp
Kevin Scott

"We love how this finish surface interacts with light; it is soft, subtle, and welcoming," says Suzanne Stefan of the stainless steel matte finish in her kitchen, which she created using a Scotch-Brite sponge.


Use Your Collections

whole home 2020
Emily Minton Redfield

"I wanted to fashion a space where you could have a friend over for coffee or tea…and actually use your collected china," says Marie Flanigan of this tea room she designed. It's proof that any collection can be a jumping-off point for a room.


Hide a Radiator With a Cabinet

radiator cabinet ideas
Leanne Ford Interiors

A radiator can easily throw off your design vision. Make it a part of the room by building a cabinet over it, as Leanne Ford Interiors did here to reclaim the hallway space and turn it into a beautiful little reading nook.

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Create a Personal Oasis

melissa rufty louisiana house
Kerri McCaffety

Don't underestimate the importance of a personal sanctuary. "I wanted it to feel like being wrapped in a warm blanket," says Melissa Rufty of this Southern library.


Try Lacquer Wallpaper

sitting room with blue lacquer wallpaper
Werner Straube

It's much more child friendly too. "If someone draws on it, it's a lot easier to repair than real lacquer!" says designer Corey Damen Jenkins.


Make Your Own Art


"Purchase a few matted frames and pop in your own sketches of abstract art. The picture mats will look expensive, and you'll have your own personal touch on the walls for guests to admire," says interior designer Eneia White.

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Use Multifunctional Furniture Outdoors

hanging black seat with yellow stool and big red planter next to it

"Small, outdoor ceramic stools are great pieces of furniture that perform double duty," says interior designer David Quarles IV. "They can be used as extra seating or when placed close to a chair or sofa, they can serve as an additional surface to place your laptop during work hours or cocktails and small plates of food during an outdoor hangout."


Transform an Eyesore With Paint

interior design, room, furniture, pink, ceiling, wall, building, table, floor, architecture,

"In this basement remodel, we would've had to spend a ton of money rerouting the HCVA air duct. Who wouldn't go with ballet slipper pink instead?" — Max Humphrey


Create Your Own Character

designer tips
Aldous Bertram

"There was no ceiling molding and no molding around the doors in this apartment, so I added them with paint! —Aldous Bertram

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Shop Your Home First

entryway with grand piano

"We were able to work in a lot of pieces from their previous home, which made it feel layered." — Jean Liu


Fake It 'Til You Make It

decorating tricks
Annie Sloan

"Do something groovy on the actual steps! The bolder you go, the bigger the smile when you see them." — Fawn Galli. Here, a painted runner by Annie Sloan looks just like carpet.

Headshot of Caroline Picard
Caroline Picard
Contributing Writer

Caroline is a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience. From 2015 to 2019, she held various editorial positions at Good Housekeeping, including as health editor, covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and dreams of the day Northwestern will go back to the Rose Bowl.  

Headshot of Hadley Mendelsohn

Hadley Mendelsohn is the co-host and executive producer of the podcast Dark House. When she's not busy writing about interiors, you can find her scouring vintage stores, reading, researching ghost stories, or stumbling about because she probably lost her glasses again. Along with interior design, she writes about everything from travel to entertainment, beauty, social issues, relationships, fashion, food, and on very special occasions, witches, ghosts, and other Halloween haunts. Her work has also been published in MyDomaine, Who What Wear, Man Repeller, Matches Fashion, Byrdie, and more.  

Headshot of Medgina Saint-Elien
Senior Market and Partnerships Editor

Medgina Saint-Elien covers everything your home needs. She writes about exciting new product launches, hands-on reviews, and the "lightbulb" moments in every maker's story. In overseeing key HB editorial franchises, including the Live Better Awards, Saint-Elien champions the work of BIPOC entrepreneurs in the design and beauty industries. In addition to House Beautiful, her work has been published in Byrdie, Snapchat, and more. Outside of work, the writer and poet can be found documenting her travels on social media and saving memes for future use.

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