• Wei Shen

Fundamental interior decorating tips that everyone should know

Decorating is an indispensable part of interior design. In my last post, I brought up the concept of relations between "subject" and "background" while decorating our homes. We should always prioritize their relations and interactions instead of focusing only on the aesthetics of each individual item.

In order to interpret my point, I used good and bad examples of residential rooms that were featured in either a piano or a green sofa. (To read that one first, click here.) Today we are going to continue on this subject by studying more sophisticated examples and eventually learn some essential interior design basics which will benefit us all our lives.

Exchange roles of subject and background

You can always change visual priorities between subject and background, as long as the balance is well maintained.

In the previous post, we focused on analyzing interior spaces with a couch as the focal point. When your concept is not making the couch the focus, the couch can also work together with the wall/room as the general background and let other decorative items shine. Below are 2 very good examples where the white environment and other scattered colors proportionally contribute to their harmony.

The couches blend into the spatial background since they are dressed in the same color as the surrounding walls & ambiance. This gesture gives us the opportunity of setting visual focus on other elements such as the neutral-toned wall art frames as well as the accent cushions on the couch in the first image. The accent cushions follow the general color scheme which is calm and restrained, in spite of being an accent, they don't draw all our attention on themselves; instead, they humbly complete the scene with some coziness and peace.

Images from

Below is an opposite example of different subjects competing with each other. In fact, the gallery wall in this room is expressive enough by its dynamic art frames in different themes and formats, and the mustard couch below just weakens the beauty of the gallery wall by its strong, bold color and heavy visual weight. If we change the mustard color into white or black, or even a very pale color like light brown, the entire space will feel much more breathable and appear more focused, therefore, the gallery wall clearly becomes the subject of this scene and the couch plays a role of supporting background.

interior art wall design

Images from

Below are another 2 good examples that show us how the elements in both space that have the biggest volumes work: the light grey couch and the dark grey floating cabinet. In the first image, like examples at the beginning of this article, the couch has a very appealing shape but its color almost makes it disappearing, which gives the performing stage to all other fun objects that reflect the characters of people who live here.

Images from

As we see from the second image above, the dark grey floating cabinet is the most voluminous item but is finished in the same color as the background wall. This makes it possible that 2 of the wall art frames in green and red stand out and become the visual focus. Talking about the design concept, the interior designer gives us no choice but to be stimulated by the 2 frames presented in complementary colors that appear very striking. Try to imagine if the cabinet is in white or some other bright and bold colors. The focused effect will be reduced significantly. This example also tells us that great interior design should be addressed as a monolithic piece instead of picking each object separately although they may be all fabulous items themselves.

Learn how to leave blank space

Let's move on to an issue, that many families who want to have an artistic living environment cannot avoid, artwork walls.

Just like in the image below, many people have their art collections and want to display them all, which is totally lovely. I love it when people appreciate art in their day to day life. The problem is that many of them don't know how to arrange the artworks in a way of maximizing the beauty of them, therefore, eventually adding visual values to their space; quite often, the way of how they hang their artworks is making the wall/room unbreathable, due to the lack of contrast and focus.

All the artworks in the photo are pretty nice themselves, but when hung together, similar sizes, formats, and random spacing between frames make the whole wall quite characterless and trigger visual fatigue. The innate beauty of each artwork is not exerting the expected impact when clustered like this.