Interior Design

Katharine Pooley shares her favorite interior design tips – never make another decorating mistake

The award-winning interior designer and luxury boutique owner reveals her decorating ground rules

Katharine Pooley interior design tips
(Image credit: Edina van der Wyck)

Who better to ask for decorating advice than some of the biggest names in the interior design industry? From the colors to use to the furniture to invest in, these little gems of advice from the experts will save you from committing any design mistakes.

Employ the style secrets the professionals swear by, however, and you’ll soon have a home that makes visitors swoon with envy – and a little black book of interior design tips.

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Katharine Pooley)

Katharine Pooley is one of the most sought-after interior designers working internationally today. 

Most recently, she was named ‘British Interior Designer of the Decade’, ‘International Designer of the Year in Asia’ and ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. Her design vision is unmatched and her influence uniquely far reaching.

Read on to discover the best dos and don't from her.

How to display artwork

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Katharine Pooley)
  • Allow art to breathe. There is something very beautiful about hanging a small, singular piece on a large expanse of wall. 
  • Install a picture rail system, if you like to move art around – they look particularly smart.
  • Pay attention to framing. Contemporary canvas pieces look wonderful in a sleek tray frame with a shadow gap. A traditional frame with a gilt slip adds finesse.
  • Go with what you love but do ask professionals if you need to – a trusted gallery owner or picture framer will be able to help.

How not to display artwork

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)
  • Resist charging ahead. Arrange groupings on the floor in the space you are considering to get an idea of what scale and positioning works.
  • Steer clear of painted frames; they often just look unfinished. Even if the frame is narrow, always consider a gilt or lacquer finish; it’s what the painting deserves.
  • Avoid hanging a gallery wall in a large room. Instead choose big, striking pieces. Collections of smaller items work in compact spaces, such as hallways.
  • Don’t shy away from mirrored frames; the clean lines work in bedrooms and bathrooms.

How to use trimmings

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Barlow & Barlow)
  • Use trims to tie a scheme together – they’re perfect for adding an extra punch of color. Pick out a hue from artwork or other accessories in the room.
  • Enhance existing items such as headboards or lampshades. Trims can be added to make them more interesting and give them a new lease of life.
  • Give greater impact to curtains by layering border trims onto contrasting fabrics to ensure a striking finish.
  • Attach delicate details such as trims with shells, toggles and other small items. They add gentle texture and a beautiful finish to blinds and other window dressings.

What not to do with trimmings

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Catherine Gratwicke)
  • Not everything needs a trim. Simply using a plain fabric as a piping on a patterned cushion allows the main fabric to shine, instead of overpowering it.
  • Don’t add a delicate trim to any upholstery. It won’t cope with the inevitable wear and tear, and will make the whole piece look very worn, even if it’s not.

How to design children's bedrooms

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Andrew Beasley)
  • Involve your child in the design. A room that reflects their personality is sure to be popular.
  • Hang patterned paper. It will instantly make the space feel inviting. Create a feature wall or use the paper on wardrobe doors.
  • Install plenty of storage and use every nook and cranny.  
  • Give a nod to past times. A model ship or beautiful doll’s house will still resonate with today’s young.

What not to do with children's bedrooms

Katharine Pooley interior design tips

(Image credit: Future / Tom Leighton)
  • Try not to shy away from playful design. There is something sad about a room that is tonal and beige. 
  • Remember durability. Use child-appropriate washable fabrics and hard-wearing surfaces.
  • Be careful not to overwhelm the space. A busy wallpaper on every wall will make it difficult to relax. 
  • Don’t forget functionality. A nursing chair (like Olli Ella’s Mo-Ma glider) is as important as a lovely cot.
Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.