Design Tips & Tools

Design Tips


Do you already have items of furniture, artwork, carpets, or other objects that must be a part of your design scheme? Use things that you already have around you that you love as a starting point and work from there.


Are there any colours that you intensely like or dislike? Keep these in mind as you decide on your scheme. Also, remember that your family may not share your tastes. Paint some large pieces of card and prop them against a wall: you will get accustomed to them, and you’ll be able to figure out which ones work or don’t work in your space.


Are there any outdoor features that you would like to view or hide from view? If you will be looking out at a concrete wall, for example, perhaps it would be appropriate to use shutters as decoration or drape some fabric across your window. The opposite is also true: why cover a window if you have a great view of the lake?


Does your family have similar tastes? It’s often obvious what you like: you might always select similar things in magazines or gravitate to particular forms of furniture when shopping. Try and determine the style that best suits all of you, both aesthetically as well as practically. You can do this by perusing magazines together, picking out what you like and finding a common underlying theme.


Do you want the furniture and fixtures to be the central focus or the space itself? What is the primary function of your house? Is it a place to live, or is it a work of art? Consider keeping one room as the central focus for guests to display your artwork and your sense on style, and keep the rest a fashionable and functional place to live.

Rear view sho of a casual woman and her cute daugther painting the wall and matching colours together in the living room.


Custom painting is recommended only after the first year anniversary of moving-in.


Select high quality paint products. It’s best to start right rather than find out you have to repaint your house and disrupt your life later. If you are uncertain of what you’re purchasing, ask an expert to describe the various products and specifications and determine the one that’s best for your home.


Textured paint is only really appropriate for ceilings that require major work. It is thick and lumpy and reflects the light in multiple directions, successfully hiding imperfections. You may even consider creating patterns in the paint using specialist rollers. It is not recommended for walls as it is abrasive and tends to catch dust.


When considering colour, always use a test pot before you buy paint. Apply it in a space where you can simulate the correct lighting conditions. Remember that it can be costly and time consuming to repaint because the product from the tin looked different from the sample paint chip!


For a quick and easy way to decorating a bare wall or corner, try spotlighting flowers on a small table or stand.


Use separate switching and dimmers to keep your lighting possibilities as flexible as possible.


Be careful if you decide to colour one wall to feature it: it may alter the perception of depth or width in the room which can be a disaster if it was not intentionally planned.


Don’t put valuable art in direct sunlight or near a fireplace or heater, as it will cause discoloration and warp frames.


Think about the long term when purchasing furniture. It’s much easier to change your accessories than large, expensive items like a sofa. If, for example, you use bright bold upholstery fabric today, you may not enjoy it so much a year from now.


If you have artwork you wish to highlight, lighting it properly is very important. Installing specialist lighting enhances this focal point and creates a wonderful piece discussion starter.


If you are installing fluorescent lighting, remember that it comes in a variety of colour temperatures.   Make sure that the one you choose is appropriate for the context by checking with your supplier.


Try moving furniture and accessories around from season to season. You can alter cushions and covers to create different looks and feelings.


Keep convenience in mind. For example, lever door handles can be moved by leaning on them while knobs cannot require a grip; this makes it much easier to open the door if your arms are full.


Balance your lighting layout with natural light sources by using windows or reflective surfaces.


If you are going to use tiles, remember that porcelain tiles have the colour the whole way through: as such, they usually wear better than a coloured glaze tile that only has surface colouring.


We must emphasize that any final colour you select for a wall will look different than the little colour chip sample. Request, if possible, a large sample and view it in the desired space, or obtain test pots to try the paint   directly on the wall.


When choosing furniture, shelves should always be at a height so that you can safely reach it and have legs to allow space for your toes to slip underneath the unit when standing against it.


Envision your home 5, 10, 20 years from now, and plan ahead. You may not be able to build an additional room, ensuite, etc. at the moment, but you just might renovate in the future. By installing the appropriate plumbing and wiring now, you’ll avoid disruption when you start additional work.


For windows, while double-glazing will increase thermal insulation significantly, it will not do much for sound insulation. Use double windows with a distance of at least 100mm or 4 inches between the windows and seal all openings.


To avoid rushed last minute decisions that may cost you extra money, select and purchase as many of the fittings and fixtures as you can at the beginning.


If you want your space to have a certain theme, or look as though it comes from a certain time period/ cultural context, make certain that you have done adequate research. See that the appropriate fabrics, wallpapers, furniture, lights, etc. can be properly sourced and installed.


Use patterns more than once in a room for a sense of presence and continuity. If you intend to use numerous patterns, make sure there is some unifying element that ties them together: a color or design, for example.


Select one dominant colour, two at most, and use other colours as complements and accents.


If you select a monochromatic scheme, i.e. a design with only one colour, use items with texture to avoid a flat, uninteresting space.


Always remember balance! Avoid grouping colours or patterns in one area only: distribute them around the room in varying proportions.


We perceive cool colours to recede from us and warm colours to advance. Dark colours may seem heavy and enclosing, while light colors make the space appear larger and more spacious. Use colours appropriately to fit the tone of your room.


When you’re thinking about which colour and texture combinations to use for your home, creating a rough guide, or swatch board can be invaluable in translating and refining your vision into physical reality.


In designing your colour scheme, try to list a combination of 3-4 principal colours: choose two key dominant colours and one or two secondary ones.


Pay close attention to textile and color conflicts. Do the colours reflect the style, feeling, and tone you intend for the room?


Use cool colours in a room that receives a lot of direct sunlight for balance; for a room that doesn’t receive much light, select a warm colour.


When selecting from small swatches, remember that they will look quite different when applied to large areas. Also, keep in mind that a paint swatch will look darker when painted on the wall.


Consider using metallic paints with halogen lighting to add sparkle to a room.


As a general rule, have lower colours be darker than higher colours. If you want to give your scheme a sense of foundation and grounding, for example, select a dark flooring.


Always visualize your design ideas in the appropriate context, and in three dimensions. View the samples as you would see them when your home is finished: look at wallpaper vertically against a wall; look at a carpet swatch on the floor and not on a table.


If you are using a chair rail in a room, it is easier on the eye if the colour below is darker than the colour above, it grounds the scheme.


Look for fabrics and wallpapers you would ideally like to include in your home. Gather flooring samples, trim samples, bits of furniture, and curtain material swatches and glue them to the board to see if the scheme works together.

We recommend trying Pinterest as your swatch board. Pin pictures of room elements like furniture and lighting, flooring and trim, curtains and paint colours to your pin board. Take a look at the National Pin Boards for inspiration!

Have you:


  • Created your wish-list for your ideal home?
  • List the products and items you would like in your new home (carpeting, cabinets, countertops, etc.).
  • Collected images from magazines, photos, and online sources of your favourite styles to show design consultant for reference?
  • Brought along colour, fabric, paint swatches and other accessories to help visualize and design your home? Bring as many pictures, paint chips, textures, etc. as you like to help you with your decision making.
  • Thought about your lifestyle and the function of every room?
  • Confirmed your appointment?


Our Design Consultants will be delighted to help you make your new house into your dream home.

The following is a reference for conversion between metric and imperial systems. Feel free to print it off and store it in a convenient location.

Imperial to Metric Conversion Factors


Inches to millimetres           x 25.4


Feet to millimetres   x 0.3048


Links to metres         x 0.201168


Miles to kilometres  x 1.609


Square inches to square millimetres        x 654.16


Square feet to square millimetres            x 0.929


If placed correctly, artwork can spice up the feeling and atmosphere of any room.   If you’re thinking of putting some up and aren’t quite sure what to do, here are a few guidelines you can follow!


Decide on what you want to put up and lay all the artwork out on the floor to get a good feel for it as a combination.


Position all the artwork in the room before you start to put any up.


When placing artwork on the wall, make sure that the centre of the painting is at your eye line.


If putting a group of paintings or photos up together, make sure the middle painting(s), the focus, is at eye height with the others surrounding it.


If you have multiple pictures of varying sizes you wish to group together, centre them around a cross formation with the larger pictures on the bottom and the smaller above. This way, it appears that the larger pictures form the base for the smaller.


If you have multiple pictures of varying sizes, and you want to run two rows of them along a long large wall, create a bottom and top line. Line all the top of the selected half of the paintings along the top line and the base of the remainder along the bottom line. Ensure that the left and right hand sides are also lined up.


If you wish to group several pictures of the same size, they work better in a rectangle or square shape, ensuring that the spaces in between are equal and that the sides are level all the way around.


If you want to place three or four similar sized paintings together, line the base of them up and space them out equally.


Never place artwork over a fireplace: the heat will damage both the framd and the art! Choose a mirror instead.


If using accent colours / patterns make sure that you use them more than once so they harmonise with the room.


If you want your artwork to be the focal point of a room, keep the décor simple. Do not fill the space with distracting objects. Highlight the main piece with lighting to give it the space and attention it deserves.


Arrange the furniture so that it does not face the television, but rather, the artwork.


To keep your pictures level, use a small piece of blue tack on the bottom corners of the frame. Be careful, however, as the substance may stain the paint/ plaster of the wall.