What Makes Great Interior Design!

Posted by Phoebe Oldrey in Interior Design Advice

Design mood baord

Recently I have been working away preparing a TedX talk in which I pose the burning question “what makes us happy in our interiors?”. For every one of you, the answer will be different but I expect most if you will talk about the style of the room and what makes a room beautiful to you. Now this where I get all hot and bothered because to me a “Great Interior Design” is about a whole heap more than just the looks.

Design of anything from Kitchens to New technology is about combining the “Ergonomics” with “Aesthetics” in other words, how it works with how it looks.

For Interior Design I often use a cake analogy with the “room” as a cake.

The “Ergonomics” aka structure, layout and function of the room as the “Sponge” and the “Aesthetics” aka the decoration as the “Icing.”

You have got to get your “bake” right to have a well-designed space!

A room might look stylish but if it’s clumsy in its layout then its horrible place to work and live in. The same as a badly baked cake with beautiful icing. If it tastes bad, no matter what it looks likes, it’s just a bad cake. In design land that just becomes something that is “PRETTY” useless.

Likewise, if you have all sponge and no icing it’s purely functional, and it’s all a little bland.

However when you bring both skills together – you have Great Interior design!

“Does it Work?”

This should be the first thing you address when designing a room. To create design that works for you, you need to understand how you “work” and how you will be living in the space! By Living I mean the “real” you, not “fantasy” you! “Fantasy” me can wear cropped harem pants like a goddess, “real” me – not so much!!

Sometimes I have to push clients to be really honest with themselves, because it is easy to try and picture a magical room that is perfect for Christmas and Parties, but unless that is how you live every single day, then you aren’t creating a house that will work well for your real life. Think of the mundane, like where does homework happen, where is my paperwork kept. It is these niggle things that can create a lot of stress on families because if it isn’t part of the design then is just becomes clutter in a corner as it has nowhere to live. Then when you finally get to have that magical Christmas or Party you spend forever tiding up, making your much longed for occasion a lot harder work to prepare for.

If it’s a family lounge, then create your own design brief by making a list of all the functions that need to be met in this room and list them in priority. If watching TV with 6 members of your family every evening is the most important thing, then start working on your design to meet this key requirement – making sure the sightline to the screen is comfortable viewing and every member of the family has a place to sit.

By getting the key foundation to a room right then this space will be a dream to spend time in as your “life” needs will easily flow in the space.

“Is it Beautiful?”

Just to clarify, I am saying that how something looks is as important as how it work, the two belong hand in hand! I’m suggesting that you need to address the practical first, then embrace the fun. A space that tells your story, full of design that you love and stuff that means something to you is the whole point of bringing an Interior Design together. That after all is what makes it your home. I am often encouraging people to be bold and have as much fun as they like. After all who doesn’t love a Cake iced to the max, it’s what temps you to try it in the first place.



  1. 19/06/2017


    I have often made the mistake of buying furniture just because it looks nice. This is a good reminder that functionality is of equal importance.

    Reply >
    • 19/06/2017

      Smartstyle Interiors

      Hi Joyce,
      A piece of furniture needs to be both stylish and functional. Yes we want great looking pieces, it what makes a room beautiful but they also have to be right with regards doing their job and physically fitting in the space and not compromising the layout. It the great balancing act of begin a designer but I love it!

      Reply >
  2. 22/08/2017

    Alex Fergie

    This William Morris quote springs to mind …’Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’

    Reply >
    • 23/08/2017

      Smartstyle Interiors

      Hi Alex,

      It’s the most perfect quotes for reminding us what it takes to build a perfect home that reflects us and works well for us. What an honor it sprang to mind when reading my post, really chuffed!

      Take Care

      Reply >
  3. 08/09/2017

    Hasena Beds

    This is such a great post. I liked this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply >
    • 22/11/2017

      Smartstyle Interiors

      So Glad you liked it and Thanks for your kind words!

      Reply >
  4. 21/11/2017

    Lucy Clarke

    I enjoyed reading this post, it is amazing how sometimes we just want the space to look and be perfect and we forget the simple things like considering we have to actually live there and to thinking of desing it just for an specific holiday! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply >
    • 22/11/2017

      Smartstyle Interiors

      Hi Lucy, Thanks you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post, it genuinely means so much! With design I always find its about remembering that the true purpose of a room is about to living in it, not just for an Instagram picture or a festive occasions. Of course having it filled with stuff that gives you pleasure is part of the key to making happy spaces which makes it just right!

      Reply >

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