Angie's List is now Angi. Learn more

5 pro tips to improve your interior design acumen

5 pro tips to improve your interior design acumen
interior design, interior decorating, design tips, decorating tips

Many clients I first meet with have made common design mistakes, compounded year after year as they’ve tried to balance spaces with esthetics and function — only to conclude they need and want help from a professional interior designer.

These tips can help you avoid common interior design mistakes and give you a jumpstart on feeling better about your home.

1. Get off the wall. Avoid placing all furniture up against the wall, one of the most common arrangement mistakes. Furniture can be angled, moved to the middle of the room or set off slightly off the wall. Otherwise it’s hard to create intimate gathering spaces and over emphasizes the perimeter of the room.

2. Create a focused entry point to a room or space. A bench or a basket for shoes, or a small coat armoire accomplishes this task well. Well-designed wall hooks can give your guests or family a place to hang their coats and get comfortable. The right sized and well positioned area rug gives the impression of a space within another space.

3. Omit unnecessary furniture. You’ve heard it before, because it’s true: Less is more! Ask yourself: Are all pieces in your space there because they truly serve a purpose or because you truly love them?  Or are they merely creating clutter and conspiring to degrade the enjoyment of your surroundings? Find another home or space for useless items or, better yet, donate them to an organization that could truly put them to good use.

4. Pare down on the accessories. When you live with various décor items or accessories for an extended time, you may not notice when some have become - ahem - passé, odd or just extraneous. If you don’t absolutely love it, see Rule No. 3 and get rid of it. Never display something to just fill a space. Keep focal points in mind and don’t hang that artwork too high - eye level is just the right height.

5. Make spaces more inviting. Many new clients who hire me to provide professional interior design services express frustration to me that when they have guests over, no one will spend time in a particular room. These cold and echo-y spaces need help. Remember area rugs, paint, pillows and window treatments can work wonders to reduce echoes and are among the most cost-effective and transformative steps you can take.

The biggest piece of advice is to start small and create a cohesive plan. Start with the furniture selection, then choose paint and window coverings next. Good luck!

About this Angie’s List Expert: Stacey Riley is the principle of Stacy Riley Interiors. Since 2003, Stacey Riley Interiors has provided interior design services in Seattle and specialized in color consultations, custom window drapery panels, romans and blinds, custom bedding and bath, upholstery and fabrics, and more. Follow this #ALExperts contributor on Google Plus.

As of Nov. 13, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.