It's All In The Details: Small Investments, Big Impact
Today I’m revealing some of my tried-and-true secrets to elevate your space. Many design projects ask us to think big – today, I’m inviting you to think small! In this post, I’ll share what I tell my clients when they come to me worried that their home's design looks really bad (or nonexistent), and stressed that they can’t overhaul everything!
If you’re bored with your space or you feel it needs to be more pulled together, focus on the details.
Attention to detail can’t fully redeem bad design, but it can definitely elevate a space.
By thoughtfully considering some of the details of your space, you can really make a room look more bespoke and personal; in other words, more “designed”. Compared to buying new furniture, these are much smaller investments – but they can create a big impact.
Here are 4 areas I invite you to think about where small investments can go a long way:
Changing hardware is an easy and relatively affordable fix. Try changing out the handles that came with your Ikea dresser, or put elegant new knobs on your bathroom vanity.
Another detail that often gets overlooked but that can make a noticeable difference are your door hinges. Pro tip: Opting to have exposed hinges in a brass finish instantly ups the design factor.
Changing hardware is simple and takes something from looking generic to one-of-a-kind:
Walnut Beech Cabinet Door Handles from DecorfunHardware (Etsy)
Glass Brass Cabinet Round Knob from ForgeHardwareStudio (Etsy)
MALM 3-drawer chest, gray stained, IKEA
Here's an example that designer Josephine Gunhamre shared on her Instagram:
2. Good Framing
Framing is a really useful trick to improve your design factor. Framing doesn’t have to be exclusive to fine art. And the right kinds of frames can make the most ordinary things look good: concert tickets, a comic book, a piece of clothing, colourful wrapping paper or fabric scraps.
The key is to choose something that is visually interesting to look at (perhaps due to the shape, the size, the colours) or something unexpected (a child's baby dish, or the sheet music to your favourite song). As soon as it is placed in a frame, it becomes a unique statement.
Here, they’ve framed leftover wallpaper swatches, a baby dress, and vintage photos:
Framed Wallpaper project via Stylecaster
Framed Baby Dress project via Miss Mustard Seed (includes DIY instructions!)
Framed Vintage Photo Grid via Yellow Brick Home
There are so many different ways to customize framing: be it through the frame itself, the matte (the material between the art and the frame), as well as the depth of the frame.
Frame: Putting something in a thin gold frame will make the piece look delicate and fancy, whereas white or black frames are particularly effective with photography.
Matte: playing with the matte can make things very interesting. You can go sans matte, which is common in larger pieces or contemporary art pieces (think paintings or large-scale photographs). Or you can have a very large matte, I find this very effective with smaller pieces as it gives them presence (and also takes up space on an empty wall!).
3. Custom Pillows
Custom pillows just look different: more upgraded. Typically this is because they’re more unique and have fine details that give them away such as a well-concealed zipper or conversely, a beautiful brass zipper. The types of fabric used are usually more luxe, and often more exotic in colours and textures.
Duck Duck Small Lumbar Pillow via Designhouse
Dering Hall sitting room via Chairish
Beige and navy windowpane linen pillow cover via CoussinsElegance (Etsy)
Custom pillows can get pricey, so I often recommend mixing some off-the-shelf with some custom. I suggest getting nice solid-coloured cushions off-the-shelf -- if you can find one that has contrasting piping or a chic flange edge, even better.
One trick I use to cut down on the cost of having custom cushions made is to use a great-quality (read: more expensive) fabric on one side, and do a complementing solid colour (less expensive) on the other side.
4. Unique Lampshades
Playing with lampshades is really fun because you can take a generic lamp and completely transform it with a unique shade.
It could be a simple detail such as a contrasting trim on a white shade (for DIYers, a bit of fabric glue and ribbon can go a long way!)
The sky is the limit with lampshade options. You can add loads of visual interest using unconventional colour (not plain white):
Pooky/Farrow & Ball via Sophie Robinson
White with Trim French Drum Lampshade via Overstock.com
Interesting scalloped shapes -- raffia shade with trim via Matilda Goad
Pleated lampshades are also having a moment, and I love how they add a touch of whimsy. They can be as subtle or vibrant as you choose.
Babel table lamp, via Pooky.com
Bespoke lampshades via Fenella Interior Design
The price point on lampshades can range from very reasonable – if you're buying off-the-shelf, Wayfair.com has a huge range – to very expensive for a handmade artisanal product.
The good news is that a little goes a long way. Consider swapping out a white lampshade for a coloured one, or see if you can’t get the interior painted gold, this is a wonderful design trick that will make the light glow when it’s lit.
Another low-commitment place to play with unique lampshades is on wall sconces.
In the powder room below, the designer matched the shade to the wallpaper. White would have been fine, but incorporating the blue really makes the design look intentional and it ties everything together.
Next is another example of how a simple wall sconce can be elevated to a showpiece. These petal sconces could look great flanking a mantle, as much as they’d add some pizzazz to a hallway or dining room.
Blue powder room, Hallie Henley Design via Luxe Interiors + Design
Petal sconce from Soane with Claremont fabric via Quintessence Blog
The purpose of this post was to show examples of how to tie things together in a space by thoughtfully using attention to detail. These are all areas where the commitment is small but the impact is high!
I hope you've been inspired to get creative with the details in your home. If you'd like some assistance, reach out for a design consultation, I'd be happy to get creative with you.