13 Interior Design Secrets For A Designer Look On A Budget

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Creating your designer home is easy when you know the top interior design secrets used by the pros. Whether you can’t afford a professional designer (right now) or just love decorating your own space, these designer secrets will help you achieve a beautiful, polished home without breaking the bank.

Designing your home can feel overwhelming which is why it’s so important to educate yourself on the steps before you begin. The biggest difference between designers and the average homeowner is how much planning goes into a designer home.

By the end of this post, you’ll learn valuable tips and tricks designers use to create cohesive, stylish spaces. Plus there’s a bonus secret at the end you won’t want to miss.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plan before you buy: Identify your design style and create a cohesive color scheme.
  • Think strategically: Create a floor plan, use performance fabrics, and don’t forget the “fifth wall” (ceiling).
  • Elevate with details: Include statement pieces, create a visual layout, and include texture for a layered look.

This post is all about Interior Design Secrets.

READ MORE>>> Home Design Inspiration On Inspired Design Talk

living room with antique chair interior design secrets

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Creating a Cohesive Look

Interior designers don’t just throw furniture together. They start by establishing a look and feel for the space. Here’s how you can do the same:

Secret 1: Create The Look and Feel

Designers always ask their clients to share inspiration images they’ve saved for how they want their space to look and feel. The best part is this is something you can do yourself.

Look at design books, Pinterest, and Instagram for images of the vibe you’re after. You should be able to imagine yourself living in the spaces and they should fit your lifestyle.

Create a Pinterest board with the images and then narrow it down to 3 with the vibe you’re after.

Secret 2: Know Your Design Style

Designers have a style they’re working with when designing their client’s home. This may be Traditional, contemporary, mid-century modern, California coastal, or eclectic there are so many to choose from.

Knowing your design style makes it easier to shop and create a cohesive look. Do you love clean lines and modern vibes, or are you drawn to the warmth of traditional spaces? Take an online quiz or browse design inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram to discover your style.

Once you know your style you can search for images by room. For example, type modern coastal living room for images of rooms to use as inspiration for your space.

Understanding your design style simplifies shopping and helps create a cohesive look. Different furniture stores carry different furniture styles.

Shop By Design Style

Secret 3: Cohesive Color Palette

Once the look and feel is established designers create a cohesive color scheme. They look at all the spaces together and create a color palette that flows from one room to another.

open concept living room interior design secrets

If it’s a completely separate room like a bedroom or office it can have a different theme but typically the entire home will have a consistent color scheme and style throughout. This creates balance and harmony between the spaces.

It’s visually pleasing and helps carry your eye from one room to another. For ideas to create a cohesive color palette search keywords like neutral living room, colorful living, or monochromatic living room.

By taking your time to research all the ideas you’ll be less likely to follow the current trend that’ll look dated in 10 years. The key is to find your style and create a timeless space so you don’t feel like you need to change it.

Planning Your Space

Before you start shopping, it’s crucial to plan your space. Here are some tips designers swear by:

Interior Design Secrets 4: Floor Plan

Measuring your space and creating a floor plan is a MUST. It’s the only way to know your furniture and decor will fit and you’ll avoid returns.

I recently went to an ASID event at ABC Stone in Brooklyn where designers displayed their projects for a competition. Every single designer had a furniture layout and floor plan for their space. Whether it was one room or an entire house they all had a floor plan.

living room floor plan printable

My design professor once told me it’s the road map for your design and that’s stuck with me through the years.

Download a copy of the FREE how to measure and do a floor plan PDF below. Knowing the dimensions of your room guarantees your furniture will fit and you’ll avoid costly returns.

Adding Designer Touches

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to elevate your space with these designer secrets:

Secret 5: Performance Fabrics

Designers love to use performance fabrics on sofas, chairs, and upholstery pieces. Fabrics like Crypton, Sunbrella, and Revolution are names to look for when it comes to performance fabrics.

They will cost a little bit more but they’ll be durable, mildew, stain, and water resistant. Investing in quality fabric will give you peace of mind when entertaining and for everyday living.

Secret 6: Custom Furniture

Designers create curated spaces that look original and unique with custom furniture. They choose the fabrics and details to work perfectly with the look and feel their clients are after.

Details include the size, arm style, legs, color, texture, trim, and novelty treatments like nailheads. Many stores have custom furniture lines where you can choose your fabrics, wood finish, and cushion style.

Customizing your furniture selection will add style and personality to your home, giving it a designer touch.

Interior Design Secrets 7: Statement Piece

Statement pieces can have a BIG impact on interior design by serving as focal points that draw attention and create a memorable impression in a room. These pieces, which can range from dramatic lighting and bold artwork to unique furniture and striking rugs, add personality and character to a space.

They help anchor a room’s design, providing a central element that other decor can complement and enhance. By strategically placing one or two statement pieces, you’ll elevate your room, making it feel curated and intentional.

It creates a visually interesting space that reflects your unique style and taste. The NYC Kips Bay Decorator Show House is an excellent example of how designers use statement pieces in their design projects.

Be selective with your statement pieces. Choose 1-2 to be the focal point of the room.

Secret 8: Fifth wall

Decorating your ceiling, often referred to as the fifth wall, will have a BIG impact on the overall feel of a room. Here’s a breakdown of the potential benefits:

Aesthetics and Ambiance:

  • Focal Point and Interest: A decorated ceiling can become a focal point, drawing the eye upwards and adding a unique design element.
  • Mood and Atmosphere: The design you choose for your ceiling can influence the mood of the space. For example, dark paint colors can create a more intimate and cozy feel, while lighter colors or patterns can make a room feel airy and spacious.
  • Style Enhancement: A decorated ceiling can complement your existing design style or even introduce a new one. Exposed beams can add a rustic touch, while wallpaper or stencils can introduce a more formal or playful element.
bedroom with wood beams


  • Hiding Imperfections: If your ceiling has imperfections or uneven surfaces, a decorative treatment can help to conceal them. This can be a budget-friendly alternative to repairing the ceiling itself.
  • Acoustic Dampening: Certain types of ceiling decorations, like fabric panels or textured materials, can help absorb sound and improve the acoustics of a room. This can be beneficial in rooms with hard surfaces like hardwood floors or tile.

Things to Consider:

  • Ceiling Height: The height of your ceiling will play a role in determining the best application. Bold patterns or dark colors might overwhelm a low ceiling, while they can add drama to a high ceiling.
  • Lighting: Consider how the lighting in your room will affect the ceiling application. Darker ceilings might require additional lighting so the space doesn’t feel too gloomy.
  • Overall Design Scheme: Make sure the ceiling treatment you choose complements the rest of the design elements in the room, like furniture, wall paint, and flooring.

Examples of Ceiling Decorations:

  • Paint: A fresh coat of paint, in a bold color, pastel shade, or metallic finish, can be a simple yet impactful way to decorate your ceiling.
  • Wallpaper: Wallpaper allows for a wider range of patterns and designs, adding a unique touch and personality to your space.
  • Exposed Beams: Leaving wooden beams exposed can add a rustic or industrial feel to a space.
  • Stenciling: Stenciling allows you to create intricate designs or patterns on your ceiling without the commitment of wallpaper.
  • Fabric Panels: Fabric panels can add a touch of softness and texture to your ceiling, along with potential sound-dampening benefits.

By carefully considering the impact you want to achieve and the style of your space, decorating your ceiling can be a great way to elevate your home’s design.

Interior Design Secrets 9: Window Treatments

Look at any designer space and you’ll notice floor-to-ceiling drapery panels. Hanging your rod close to the ceiling line or 1-4” down will draw your eye up and make your room appear taller.


interior design secrets curtain placement

Another designer tip is to extend the drapery rod 8-10 inches past the window sill. This lets the light in, makes your windows appear larger, and adds fullness at the sides.


interior design secrets curtain placement

Interior Design Secrets 10: Visual Layout

Designers create a visual layout of the spaces they’re designing. The only way to know if your design will work is to look at all the pieces together.

Piece mealing your design will not create a cohesive balanced space. When designing your room pull your furniture and decor into Canva or Photoshop to create a visual of your room.

Look at how all the pieces work together so it’s not busy. Create a room design and place the pieces how they will appear in your space. This will help you visualize your room before you make a purchase.

Secret 11: Antiques And Vintage Finds

Designers love to use an antique or found item in their designs. This can be a piece you love from your travels or a family treasure.

antique living room chair interior design secrets

You can find antiques on sites like 1st Dibs and Charish in every design style from traditional to contemporary and modern. A unique antique or vintage piece will add personality and character to any living space.

Layering and Finishing Touches

The final touches are what truly elevate a space. Here’s how designers achieve a layered and inviting look:

Secret 12: Texture

Designer spaces are filled with layers of texture. A room decorated with only smooth finishes will feel flat and cold.

On the other hand, a room with a mix of textures will feel warm and inviting. Think velvet pillows on a linen sofa or a plush fur throw blanket draped at the edge of a smooth chaise sofa.

The variety of textures invites you to touch and feel while adding depth and visual interest. By strategically including multiple textures in your design you’ll transform your home into a warm, inviting, and layered sanctuary.

Interior Design Secrets 13: Scale and proportion

Creating a designer home requires careful consideration of scale and proportion. A space with furniture and decor sized correctly will create harmony and balance.

This means using furniture that compliments your space and doesn’t feel too large or too small. By being mindful of each element you place in a room you’ll avoid overwhelming a small space with bulky furniture or having a large room that feels empty. 

Accessories And Decor

Aside from the scale of your furniture consider the scale of your decor and accessories. Use a mix of sizes and shapes when decorating your room. It’ll create visual interest while adding your unique style. Mix a tall vase with different-sized candles to create a moment in your design.

white table with pink ottomans


Scale is also found in your pillow selections. For example, mix different sizes and shapes for an inviting experience. Here a 26” pillow is behind a 24” one with a lumbar pillow in front. There’s a variety of fabrics and textures from luxe velvet to matte linen for interest. 


pillows on sofa

Panel Pillow // Abstract Lines Pillow // Black Lumbar Pillow

Protip: Your pillow insert should be 2” larger than your pillow cover.

Prints And Patterns

Scale also includes the prints and patterns used in a room. A good guideline is to start off with no more than 3 patterns with a similar color scheme. You can always add more later.

Mix a variety of sizes from small, to medium, and large. For example, this grandma coastal design has a mix of floral, stripe, and geometric patterns. Each one is a different size but they all have a common color palette. Some have multiple colors while others have only two.

grandmother coastal living room

Bonus Interior Design Secrets: Jumping-off Point

Now as promised the bonus interior design secret is to find a jumping-off point to use in your design to create your color palette. This can be a piece of art, area rug, wallpaper, fabric, print, or pillows.

When I created the color palette for the sitting room I used the colorful artwork as the jumping-off point. Black, white, ivory, and grey neutrals were pulled out with navy and Fuschia pink used as accent colors. Mixed metals of gold and silver add sophistication and luxury to the room.

sitting room color palette

Since this room flows into the living room the color palette is similar but different. Benjamin Moore Classic grey OC23 paint is used on all the walls in the open-concept space.

In the living room, the same ivory, white, black, and grey neutrals were used and mixed metals. The oversized artwork was used to create the color palette and make a statement in the design. It has movement and flow similar to the female art from the sitting room but with a neutral base.

living room color palette

The beauty of using a consistent color palette between your spaces is you can move furniture and decor around when you want a new look. To make your home look designer order swatches for all the furniture and decor of the room.

Look at the entire design as a whole so you can visualize how it will look before you make a purchase. Remember good design takes time so don’t rush the process!


By following these interior design secrets, you’ll create a beautiful and stylish home that reflects your unique taste, without breaking the bank.

Remember, creating a space you love takes time and planning, so don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with the process! With these interior design tips and tricks in your back pocket, you’ll be well on your way to taking action and Creating Your Designer Home!

This post is all about Interior Design Secrets.

Last Updated on June 9, 2024 by Nicole DelaCruz

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