Amazing Home Interior Design Ideas from a Design Guru

Large open living room with glass sliders that opens onto a deck

Reading time: 6 minutes

Looking to update your home or give your new home a personal touch? We know you want to make it aesthetically pleasing as well as add value. That’s why Hosts Caroline and Jacqueline welcomed Interior Design Extraordinaire Laurie Smith from the legendary TLC show Trading Spaces to the vipHome Podcast to help inspire interior design ideas for your home.

Watch now and learn more tips below!

Finding that “perfect” space to design

When searching for that new home, most home buyers consider location first and foremost, but Laurie suggests taking a closer look at certain aspects of the home, such as natural lighting.

“When I was just searching for a home in Nashville, the ceiling height was nice because of all the natural light,” says Laurie. “I’m always looking for window light coming in, which is also very eco-friendly.”

Laurie also lists hardwood floors as another part of the home to focus attention.

“Hardwood floors are always a nice thing to look for as opposed to synthetic rugs and carpets that may emit toxicities in the long run.”

In a loft overlooking a living room with wooden ceiling beams and a room with large windows
Search for a home with “good bones.”

While Laurie shies away from using the wording “good bones,” the flow of the home and its visual access should be a priority. Buyers need to focus on the whole home’s layout when standing in the entry way and survey the windows leading to the backyard. Other important features include staircase placement, rooms and their symmetrical or asymmetrical positioning, and any questionable architectural elements.

“Depending on your budget, some people can come in and say, ‘Oh, I’m just going to blow through it,’ and I have plenty of clients who do,” says Laurie. “But if you’re looking for something in the mid-range and really know that your budget is more conducive to repainting, consider putting in some architectural elements like bookshelves or enlarging some windows.”

How to begin the home designing process

a coffeetable in the foreground with catcus on it; a couch with a catcus-patterned pillow
Find your inspiration.

Find a piece of inspiration to fuel your DIY home decor ideas.

“Let’s say you have a gorgeous vase with multi-colors in it,” says Laurie. “That’s your reference. You can find the one unifying color with your textiles, in your rug, this vase, lamps, or whatever you’re putting in the space. It’s the one color that can easily serve as a backdrop.”

Finding a specific color to replicate has never been easier with apps to aid in home interior designing efforts.

“Color is less and less intimidating to research,” says Laurie. “There are apps where you can take a picture of your wall and see the color, then choose a color from their fan books, and superimpose that color onto your wall.”

A living room with blue-gray walls, big windows, two living areas
Painting makes an immediate impact.

The Benjamin Moore Color Portfolio App allows homeowners to upload photos and see new colors on their walls in real-time. The ColorSnap® Visualizer by Sherman Williams lets homeowners see the day and night lighting of the colors on their walls.

“At least these apps give a visual of, ‘You know what? I thought I liked that color, but now it’s feeling a little overwhelming seeing it visually on all the walls.'”

Some apps take dimensions of a room and its furniture, and design a new floor plan. Homeowners can also take a “good old-fashioned” approach to refresh a space by rearranging furniture. Laurie suggests taking a chair from a bedroom and placing it near the fireplace, or taking a coffee table and moving it to another part of the room. Homeowners can even map out the living space with a tape measure and some graph paper.

“Just don’t do it yourself,” warns Laurie. “Bring some friends over and spend an afternoon playing with your furniture.”

Fresh coat, fresh home

Painting offers an instant upgrade to any home or living space.

“It’s an amazing way to make an immediate impact,” says Laurie, who recorded the podcast from her “celery green” dining room.

“I went through five different colors to find this color,” recounts Laurie. “One was too bright, another too dark. It’s more work, but do a two-by-two swatch, two coats, line them up, and look at it at different times of the day.”

Laurie suggests paints that have low to no volatile organic compounds, or using Green Seal certified products. These paints are non-toxic and “still rich and beautiful.” Also, paint a “longtime” home with colors that suit you.

a palate of colors from a store
Pick the color you want for your home.

“Home is a reflection of you,” says Laurie. “Your favorite color may not be my favorite color. What soothes and comforts you, may not soothe and comfort me or the next person, but that home at the end of the day is your nurturing place.”

To reach that comforting feel, a homeowner should focus on the flow of their home, which colors and paints can enhance.

“You can see just a sliver of my living room, and in there, I have a slipper chair with green that appears nowhere else in that room,” says Laurie. “I chose it because it visually connected to this space, which is so open to that space.”

a modern kitchen with a white backsplash, open shelves, and blue accented pots
Use a color three times in one space.

When it comes to design itself, designers – and homeowners – can create a “healthy tension” in a space through accents or triangulation.

“The head of design school instructors said every room needs a touch of black,” says Laurie. “Even if it’s just one little piece, it’s anchoring.”

Laurie recommends using the triangulation rule of design, where an accent color appears three times in a space.

There may be a bold cerulean blue in an abstract painting over the mantle as well as a pair of lampshades. A really bold blue in a lumbar pillow on a slipper chair across the room completes the design.

“There’s just something scientific about this triangular formation,” says Laurie.

Additional quick fixes and home upgrade techniques

a small living room with a black leather sofa, yellow pillows, and palm tree wallpaper
Wallpaper is back, baby!

Wallpaper has returned as a favorite quick and affordable interior design project, and the adhesive type is easy to install. Simply peel and stick!

“If you’re in a rental property, it does no damage to the wall,” says Laurie. “You can have a graphic, accent wall, and do it yourself. They’re great ways to make an impact.”

While natural light is important, adding incandescent or recess lighting can help to brighten an area; however, it’s important to be mindful of the effects.

“Please, please, please don’t make your ceilings Swiss cheese,” says Laurie. “I’ve gone into so many homes where it’s just crazy. There was no rhyme or reason. People just started poking cans in the ceiling.”

Three small dangling lights from the ceiling in a modern home with metal stairs behind the lights
Enjoy some flea market finds!

In living spaces, hanging light fixtures adds more ambience and can be relatively inexpensive.

“One of my favorite fixtures came from a flea market,” says Laurie. “I just cleaned it up, spray painted it a whimsical color, and put in a living room ceiling. It’s fantastic.”

Laurie also suggests adding dimmer switches in the home, which cost less than $10 at a hardware store, but one of the best DIY home interior design ideas is updating lampshades.

“It’s amazing what a new lampshade will do, to completely change the face of a lamp,” says Laurie. “There are so many specialty stores now, and lampshades were so difficult to find 10 years ago. Now you can just buy them at so many home stores and boutique stores.”

a picture of Laurie Smith
Follow Laurie on Instagram for more design tips.

If a homeowner wants to sell their property, Laurie suggests focusing on three main areas: flooring, bathrooms, and kitchens.

“When you have a newly refinished floors that are in great shape, then a homeowner doesn’t have to come in and completely address the flooring,” says Laurie. “That can get overwhelming.”

However, kitchens can be tricky, especially if the home buyers don’t approve of the upgrades, though ceiling-high cabinetry, great task lighting, and marble quartz countertops are great starts.

“Bathrooms and kitchens – if you can get those redone, it takes a lot of burden off a potential buyer,” says Laurie.

Find more information about home improvement and maintenance tips on our app. Subscribe to vipHomeLink now with a monthly or annual membership.

Read more of Laurie’s interior design ideas at Atlas Concorde USA, and follow Laurie on Instagram now.

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