We all aspire to create a beautiful interior, yet the seemingly unattainable allure of unrealistic social media images and intimidating price tags can make styling a home feel daunting.
So, how can we cut through the noise and still style our home to perfection like a pro?
Well, we caught up with Interior designer, and Founder & CEO of Studio Dean, Cathy Dean to learn exactly how we can style and store our belongings with purpose and meaning in our home, just like a pro.
Cathy Dean founded Studio Dean in 2016 with a desire to blend architectural thinking with interior design. Studio Dean now has a team of brilliant designers working to make homes work beautifully across the North East.
Interior Designer Shares 6 Ways You Can Style Your Home Like A Pro
Part of the problem when it comes to styling a home is that over the years we naturally garner a lot of ‘stuff’, so how can we make that stuff look good, yet it’s in practical reach rather than having to try and identify which rattan basket you stuffed said item in the night before?
Cathy says: “Interior design photos are gorgeous, but they are guilty of one thing. They encourage the perception that to have a beautiful home you can’t own lots of ‘stuff’.
If you really think about it, those with stylish homes who are true connoisseurs of art and design are the most likely to own a lot of eclectic pieces that they have collected over the years. The question is – where do they put it?!”
“Getting the ‘interior design look’ does not mean creating a blank space or carbon copy of a magazine. A great interiors expert will never erase you or your things from the masterplan of your home. Instead, they make beloved belongings shine and inject love and personality into the space – in the most stylish, showstopping way possible.”
“People’s stuff is a collection of what they really love. It tells the story of them and is the key to discovering their core style.”
Now, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Stuff’ is okay and good, but to set you up for interior design success, here are 6 ways you can effortlessly store, organise and execute them in your interior so your home doesn’t look like a jumble sale.
1.Analyse Your Stuff
The first step to getting your home looking like a pro styled it is to analyse the stuff you already have.
This can be the most difficult part if you’ve collected a lot of the years, but as Marie Kondo says, if it doesn’t spark joy, it’s got to go.
Cathy says: “Take time to really look at your things. Observe how your tastes have developed. Notice what you don’t like any more, where you might have made a mistake. With the things that still spark joy, think about what you love about it, what drew you to it, why you still love it – then think how your home can reflect what you see in that painting or object.”
“By doing this you can also see which colours you are most drawn to and choose a theme to suit your true tastes. By really diving into what you really love and why, you will escape the trend and algorithm-generated ideas of what you think you like.”
2. Considered Decluttering
Now that you have an idea of what you have, we’d encourage putting everything into piles at this stage.
The keep, maybe and donate/sell pile – this gentle touch of organisation during the declutter stage will make it feel more approachable.
“Not all of your belongings are equal and you must have a good clear out to begin. Don’t keep things just because you have spent money on it. Be ruthless. Everything needs to serve a purpose. If you never wear heels but you have sentimental heels, they need to go. Vinted is your friend. There’s no such thing as just in case. Also – did you know you only need two or three sets of bedding? If you buy a new set, get rid of an old one” said Cathy.
3. Curate Your Collection
Now that you’ve decluttered, your remaining items should feel edited and ready for styling. You may have even come across some treasures that have been forgotten or pushed to the back of a shelf.
Cathy says: “When displaying your objects, some things need their own world. Other things need to look good together. We always like to take inspiration from how nature does it. Look out of the window and you will see different heights and shapes which all work together naturally. Symmetry isn’t natural. Feel free to group your objects asymmetrically, heavier to one side, and with different heights. To pull objects into a group, pop them on a tray to ground them. Prop a picture behind to add height.”
“Remember to also curate your artwork – we always look at the client’s art and what they love and work it into our design schemes and make it really personal. We recommend you stay neutral with your interior design to let your art stand out.”
4. Use Shelves Wisely
Just because you have plenty of shelf space, it doesn’t mean that every inch needs to be used up. There should be enough white space around the items to instil visual interest, and balance.
Shelf styling can feel daunting when you’re armed with a mass of empty space and a box of items to fill it with. Cathy shared, “Say it with me – shelves are for display, cupboards are for storage. Shelves should never be crammed with stuff. If you need to use shelves for storage, baskets are your friend. Get beautiful baskets the right size. These will stay stylish even when full. Make sure to keep the baskets out of eyeline. Think like a supermarket – eye level shelves are full of pretty things. Lower and higher shelves can be filled with baskets.”
Shelf styling principles can be similar to that of styling a console table too – try and start with one anchor item, it will make it much easier to build out.
5. Utilise Storage Space
But, what about the stuff that’s essential but really isn’t for everyone’s eyes?
“Should you display it or store it? Be realistic. We all have mismatched mugs and strange-looking sentimental objects. If you can’t bear to part with them, you need them hidden away, so allow yourself to have storage. A good interior designer works with your real life, mugs-and-all, and will help plan clever storage solutions into your space”, said Cathy.
Interior design isn’t about making your home look like a show home, you can still have ‘stuff’, but utilise your storage space available to hide stuff that isn’t used on a daily basis, and add rattan baskets for natural warmth and rustic charm to keep things accessible, but out of your direct line of vision.
6. Make Considered Purchases
Just like clothing, there’s nothing worse than those impulsive buys for the home. Especially if they are trend or influencer driven, it’s likely you’ll fall out of love with them quickly and they’ll just become part of the next round of decluttering.
Cathy says: “I had an empty living room wall for five years while I was waiting to find the right art. I knew if I bought a ‘filler’ I would never get round to finding the ‘killer’ piece. Art should be bought through love. Art isn’t a commodity; it is a luxury. I always encourage people to go to art fairs and local galleries, instead of shopping online.”
“You don’t need to spend loads – make it part of your social life and have fun looking. Art is not just part of interior design, you can curate it over years. Never go out to buy art. Like buying jewellery or finding a partner on demand, it won’t work – you have to love it.”
Putting It Into Practice: Real Life Interior Design Case Study
Still not sure you can make it work for your interior? Well, Cathy from Studio Dean gave us a real life example of this stunning interior design project in Newcastle.
The owner is a busy doctor who LOVES her stuff. She is passionate about her eclectic collection of art and objects and attaches a lot of emotion and sentimental value to her things. Her stuff makes her happy and the last thing Studio Dean wanted to do is get rid of it. The team built areas to group and curate her objects and dedicated places to display them.
A lovely example is behind the bed, Studio Dean put up a walnut shelf, on it is a green antique vase that was her great grandma’s. It is very special to her so Studio Dean made it a feature she can look at and enjoy.
(We’re absolutely taking note of this sultry and sumptuous half painted wall look too, gorgeous!)