My Top Ten Interior Design Tips #1






This little mantra for my top ten interior design tips came about after I realised that this is, in fact, something I tend to do in every room and I think it works.

Something new: there’s always something new, just make sure it isn’t everything. In my sitting room (pictured above) it was the sofa. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have a vintage sofa and reupholster it because I totally would. I’ve actually got my eye on my mother’s which came, in turn, from her Grandmother’s house, but it would appear that my mother hasn’t finished with it yet so I’ve had to buy one in the meantime.

Something old: I see so many people who start again when they move house, but I think it’s really important to keep things that have travelled with you through your life. Whether it’s an old chair from your Granny’s house, or even an old chair from someone else’s Granny’s house, a vintage piece will bring character to a room. It doesn’t have to be furniture but can be objects for the mantelpiece,  pictures or books, an old wooden stool. Because actually, this rhyme cheats a little since it doesn’t include wood. Every room needs some natural wood -preferably old – so add a vintage wooden bench and you’ve killed those two birds. In my sitting room it’s the huge coffee table which I found in a junk shop (back in the days when such places existed and didn’t all call themselves antique shops). Also the rugs are all old – some of them I have managed to relieve my mother of, some we bought. Probably we’d like one huge one which would be less of a trip hazard but they are always fiendishly expensive so we have layered in the manner of Gadaffi’s tent.

Something black; a drop of black will anchor the space and bring definition. Otherwise it can end up looking a bit wishy washy. So whether it’s the legs on the old stool, or a collection of picture frames  then always try and include a little bit of black. I’m a fan of a black lampshade and if you want a real showstopper then check out the black feather light by Mineheart.

Feathers Light Black Mineheart lifestyle low res

Something gold: it doesn’t have to be gold but that rhymed. It should be metallic and that can be anything from a mirror to bounce the light around to a brass pineapple ice bucket or – as you see in my sitting room the fabulous palm tree light from Rockett st George. I still can’t quite believe I got this past the Husband but I did and he says he likes it. You can read about how I smuggled it into the house past him and two teenage boys here

palm tree light from rockett st george
palm tree light from rockett st george

These are the four rules within my top ten interior design tips – as long as you include the these four elements in a room you won’t go wrong. But do drop in to find out more about the others over the next few days.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Where is the lamp on your window sill from? I am lookinbg for something similar for my spare room anbd yours looks fab!

  2. I always have a thing fir black.And needless to say,this is just wonderful.Palm tree light is really awesome.I think that would definitely compliment my black and bronze themed living room.The feather light is something very unique.I have never seen such an amazing light before.

  3. We scored a pair of gorgeous silk oriental rugs secondhand, and as they were almost identical, I tried to layer them, but it just didn’t work. We scoured the French version of craigslist and eventually found a very large persian rug, still affordable (under €100) and of very high quality (6200 kpsi). It’s possible! That said, the colors and design on yours are very beautiful.

    1. I’m not entirely sure our layering works but it’s how we’ve had to do it! We have a large one under the kitchen table which could come in here if we got something new for there or a large one is on the long list but then I’m not sure what we would do with these small ones so…

  4. Definately agree with that!
    It brings a softness to certain areas and the shadows are spectacular at night with the right plants.

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