At Hammerdown, interior design is something we specialize in. It’s a vital first step to completing any home renovation project. However, when talking with our customers and prospects, it’s often misunderstood or comes with a lot of questions — things like how it’s done or what it actually means to create a design for your home.

So, for that reason, we’ve decided to write this article, which will uncover our best-kept interior design secrets for you. Learn how we work and other practical tips and tricks you can start thinking about for your home.

First off, while this article is called “our best-kept interior designs secrets – revealed!” if you choose to work with us, we always come from a place of trust. We don’t keep secrets – in fact, we want you to feel you are educated and understand the process before we start your project. We love to collaborate with our clients to build their vision – and helping them understand what we’re doing enriches the result of any interior design project.

To get us started, we’re going to take a quick look at interior design principles and cover the golden ratio of interior design. While it’s important to understand these basic principles, you can also have peace of mind knowing that our interior design-focused design-build process is guided by these recognized standards. So, with that, let’s get started and unveil our interior design secrets!

What are the interior design principles?

When working with you on an interior design project for your home, we start from the foundation of interior design principles, to help guide our recommendations for your space. Working from these principles will help us create a harmonious interior without sacrificing the character of your home’s design. The interior design principles that we use to help guide your design project are:

  • Balance
  • Unity
  • Rhythm
  • Scale and proportion
  • Contrast
  • Emphasis
  • Details

Interior design principles: Balance

Used to help form visual stability within a space. For balance, we look to establish symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial – which is usually determined by your own preferences and style.

Interior design principles: Unity

Unity within a space refers to materials, textures, and colours. While we typically don’t stick to a single dimension when selecting materials, we consciously look for elements that complement each other.

Interior design principles: Rhythm

As rhythm is important in music, it is similarly important when designing your home. We quest to use finishes that match or play off one another for projects within the same space – IE: a kitchen renovation or projects across multiple spaces – IE: a main floor or whole home renovation.

Interior design principles: Scale and proportion

This refers entirely to how each of your design elements fit into the space together. Special attention is paid to ensure no single element will stand out because it is too large or small for the space we’re designing.

Interior design principles: Contrast

Perhaps, the most powerful interior design principle, contrast allows us to create visual interest within your home’s design. Often, we will use the contrast of opposites – light versus dark, textured versus smooth to make a statement within the space we’re designing for you.

Interior design principles: Emphasis

With emphasis, our interior designer will work with you to select and establish a visual focal point within a space. Commonly, we look to standalone spa-like bathtubs for bathroom renovations, custom-tiled fireplaces, a waterfall island edge for kitchen renovations, or other unique features that will create emphasis within your design.

Interior design principles: Details

And finally, it comes down to the details. Within the space that we design for you, we fuss over everything to ensure that the blend of the space matches your dream vision. It includes all elements of your home’s visuals from cabinetry accessories, to decorative elements, and anything in between.

The secret of interior design’s golden ratio and kitchen triangle

Now that you have gained an understanding of interior design principles, we will quickly cover the ‘golden ratio’ and how it applies to interior design

Interior design secrets and interior design principles the golden ratio

Golden ratio

The ratio is 2:3 and we apply it to your home renovation project, typically by dividing your space into two sections. One part of the space is roughly two-thirds of the total space, while the remaining space is one-third. Within the two-thirds area is where we look to place larger items required for a home – IE: refrigerators, ranges, beds, sofas or sectionals, bathtubs, shower installs, etc. Then, we utilize the remaining one-third for additional storage, accent seating, or other elements that are purposefully bold.

Kitchen triangle

For kitchens specifically, we attempt to follow the triangle rule, whenever designing for a kitchen renovation.

Kitchen interior design principles the kitchen work triangle rule
  • The sum of the three sides of the triangle should not exceed 26 feet and each leg should measure between 4 and 9 feet
  • No side of the triangle should cut through a kitchen island or peninsula by more than 12 inches with no major traffic patterns crossing each other through the triangle

Depending on the size of your kitchen renovation project, to adhere to the kitchen triangle rule, we may recommend additional workstations or prep areas be created. Spaces in addition to the primary work area may include a coffee nook, an area dedicated to baking, or a secondary all-purpose prep station with a second sink. We help you select what additional space should compromise by getting to know you at our interior design process meetings.

With our quick lesson on the interior design principles, theories, and best practices, let’s get to our 12 best-kept interior design secrets – it’s time to spill the tea!

Interior design secrets: Utilizing material “flow” and colour blocking

Carrying the same material or colour across multiple surfaces or planes allows for uninterrupted visuals and adds drama. We will recommend this for your home to help make a space feel larger – IE: carrying backsplash tile and cabinets up to the ceiling, wrapping a decorative material or wall cladding up onto the ceiling, matching countertops and backsplash, or carrying the same floor tile up onto walls.

Interior design secrets: Maximize and highlight your home’s vertical space

Similar to the above interior design secret with continuing cabinets to ceilings. For your home, we could add interesting visual detail to ceilings to draw eyes upward with crown mouldings or ceiling medallions, different colours on the ceiling or wallpaper on the ceiling.

Interior design secret showcasing how to maximize and highlight your home's vertical space

When finishing your space we would hang curtains at the appropriate height to make ceilings look taller. We could also help you source tall bookcases or shelves installed from floor to ceiling or raised off the floor. In addition, the shelving is a great investment, adding extra storage to your home.

Interior design secrets: Understanding undertones and colour theory

With colour selection for your home, we recommend warmer undertones, as they are almost universally more flattering. More sophisticated colours always are toned with a grey or yellow, versus colours that appear artificial or unnatural as they are usually just pure colour mixed with white. To understand the colour difference, think about the “light blue” bathroom or room that you’ve probably seen that was supposed to feel calming but ends up looking too bright/baby blue – we avoid that. It’s also important to know that your colour undertones will intensify when viewed in an entire room.

Interior design secrets: Don’t be afraid of colour or dark colour

Use colours as a great way to add drama and personality to a smaller space. Our tip is to paint the ceiling the same colour versus leaving your ceiling white – all one colour can actually make your space feel larger because there are no harsh/sharp visual corners.

We also will recommend coloured trim and wall panelling as another effective way to add colour that feels more unique and perhaps, not as overpowering as painting your entire room. When designing your home, we will use accent walls thoughtfully. This means that the accent wall has to be a wall that is an obvious feature or that it makes sense visually to treat differently – not just for the sake of treating it differently.

Interior design secrets: Also, don’t be afraid of pattern

Interior design secrets showcasing an interior design palettes that blends textures, materials, and patterns

The days of extreme minimalism are past and people are more interested in homes that feel unique and cozy. We will help and teach you how to mix patterns – scale, repetition, colour matching techniques don’t have to feel busy if they are handled with intention and done well. Investing in high quality more expensive patterned fabrics in small doses adds a high-end touch. Mixing patterns with solid colours that match a colour in the accent pattern fabric or rug is an excellent way to incorporate more colour into your home’s design without it being overpowering

Interior design secrets: Blend textures and materials

Touched on in our interior design principles is contrast. Our secret of blending texture and materials speaks to that. We can look for combinations of any sort to help punch up a room’s design – IE: textured to soft or smooth, dark colours to light or white tones. The materials themselves can also elevate your space – IE: natural wood textures mixed with metallic finishes, brass-coated accessories with marble, brightly-coloured tiles in a symmetrical pattern paired with cabinetry and countertops that offer clean lines  – the combinations are nearly endless and can really showcase your personality.

Interior design secrets: Lighting is critical, use it to make the difference

Ensuite bathroom renovation showing off natural lighting and layers of lighting as part of an interior design secret

Perhaps we should dedicate an article solely about lighting – that’s how important it is to your space and the design of your home. With lighting, it’s important for it to be multi-layered and to alleviate shadows or dark spots in the highest traffic areas of your home. 

When we refer to lighting as multi-layered we’re talking about three primary types – ambient, accent, and task (bonus: two additional layers are perimeter and architectural) – working together to brighten your space. We can also look to incorporate natural lighting into the mix for a natural element to your home’s lighting situation. When we recommend a variety of light sources for your home renovation as part of your design project, it’s to achieve the balanced effect that lighting needs to have on the space.

Interior design secrets: Mix interior design styles

Using all one style for your home’s interior design will feel very redundant like it’s straight out of a showroom (and don’t get us wrong, showrooms can be beautiful). However, with the same style used, it will give a vibe that feels more prescriptive, versus what you want to achieve which is a home that feels lived in, loved and collected over time.

What we suggest instead is having a “main style” for your overall interior design vision with 1-3 complementing styles mixed – giving you a more natural feel that’s unique to you.

Interior design secrets that show a mix of interior design styles

Some of the interesting style combinations we can take a look at together are:

  • Traditional meets art deco with industrial
  • Mid-century meets arts and crafts with brutalist
  • Classic meets modern natural with glam

These are just examples of a few combinations that will lend a more layered look to your home and can be personalized to suit your unique preferences. What’s important here is that we help you discover a mix of styles that matches your vision and personality. To round out the design of the space, we will also recommend combining pieces from different time periods and investing in quality antiques or vintage items.

Interior design secrets: Art is important

Don’t exclusively buy “off-the-shelf art”, feel free to if you find a piece you love, but know it can be good to get creative by using and mixing pieces purchased from multiple sources that complement each other. Original art doesn’t have to be expensive if you make it yourself or buy from an emerging artist. You can also buy vintage or second-hand art and mix styles and frames, but try to keep everything within a similar colour palette. Another tip is having a special piece professionally framed. Even if it’s small or wasn’t overly expensive, quality framing will make it look 10X more valuable. 

Also, at the time you start your home renovation or interior design project, don’t feel like you need to have all your art figured out, it should be a collection you build over time. Experiment with less expensive “placeholder art”, purchased from a big box store, or even printed off from online, in a spot where you haven’t found the perfect piece yet or if you’re trying to decide what will work best there.

Interior design secrets: See things in person/in the space

Building from the interior design principles in this article, this interior design secret speaks to the importance of scale and proportion. When selecting elements for your home, we will help make sure measurements are properly recorded and that we get the scale right.

However, as the homeowner, we encourage you as much as possible, to see materials and finishes in person rather than on a computer screen. When we help select your interior design palettes for the finishes of your home, we will bring samples and materials together that will be combined to make sure they’ll work cohesively within your space.

Our bonus interior design secret: Quality craftsmanship will lead to a timeline design

That’s where we come in! Hammerdown is known for quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and delivering beyond expectations. Just take a look at our track record through the testimonials on our website – or use independent review websites like Google, Facebook, or Houzz

When you hire Hammerdown for your interior design and home renovation project you’re getting a team that knows how to use these interior design secrets and much more to your advantage. Our professional services will take your home renovation project from the idea in your head, your vision – and complete it with confidence including all steps necessary to deliver the dream home you want.

So, how can you hire us as your interior designer and builder?

If you’re interested in starting the conversation for your interior design project, we make it easy to reach us. Give us a call at 204.793.0500 or online through our contact us form. We look forward to talking with you soon, and we thank you for considering Hammerdown for your interior design project!