Interior Designer Amanda Nisbet’s Top 10 Interior Decorating Tips

It’s easy to get stuck in a decorating rut. You know what you like and what works — why mess with it? But mixing things up a bit is healthy: it adds interest and new life to your home. You’d be surprised at what a pop of color or extra light can bring to a room and your mood. But where to start? Amanda Nisbet, New York interior designer and our In the Spotlight designer this month, chatted with our Facebook fans yesterday to give them professional tips on how to bring new life into their homes. Take a look at her top 10 tips below.

Keep things balanced. “If you have a dark hardwood floor, avoid darker items on the floor. Use light upholstery, in sand colors and neutrals. If you’re up for buying furniture right now, Pottery Barn’s Clara Sofa has the best of both worlds, the tufted back has an old world look, but the clean lines give it a modern feel. Mix this up with a few heavier pieces to balance the room. Bring in color so it’s not so monochromatic. Kilims, chevrons and polka dots can add a pop of whimsy.”


Start small with color. “Accessories and pillows work well, but lamps are a great way to bring color into the room. I love the glass Pottery Barn Clift Lamps. For a softer look, the Alexis Lamp is wonderful.”

Don’t take things literally. “If you see a pitcher for milk, it can make a great flowerpot. A dessert bowl can hold nuts or jelly beans. Changing the purpose of an item keeps things interesting.”

amanda 2 robins q 2010

Use a single color in different tones.
“People used to think that would clash, but I think it’s a nice way to infuse color without seeming so jarring.  If you look at this picture (above), you’ll see that there are about 5 different blues in that room, and it looks great.”

Don’t stick to a single look. “Some people used to put each room together in different eras and styles. But that doesn’t really work unless you live in a museum, and now I don’t think anyone can afford to do that, which is why I think it’s great to mix and match styles. I like all the rooms in a house to have a little bit of everything. All good things to go together!”

round coffee table

Child safe rooms don’t have to compromise on style. “Don’t worry! You don’t need to use baby bumpers to have a great looking coffee table. Avoid glass tops and glass objects. Put books, baskets and non-breakables on top. Choose a good, heavy table that won’t flip over. The Caden Bench from Pottery Barn has soft edges and would be a great choice. Round is good for children too: I love Pottery Barn’s Round Woven Coffee Table and the Bamileke Carved Wood Coffee Table.”

Play with patterns. “I definitely like to mix fabrics. It makes it much more interesting and adds depth. As a rule of thumb, use one large scale pattern, one small scale pattern and one solid. That’s a nice mix.”

fireplacenook(Photo courtesy of Amanda Nisbet Designs)

Embrace awkward features, like a corner fireplace. “If you have a corner fireplace, I’d suggest making the corner it’s own little nook. Don’t put in a big imposing sofa that will cut off the room. Put in a nice wing chair, like Pottery Barn’s Thatcher Wing Chair and an ottoman to make it cozy.”

Don’t sacrifice beauty in small spaces. “You can get any look on a smaller scale! Look for a loveseat instead of a sofa. Pottery Barn offers a lot of their sofas in apartment-friendly sizes — a size for every space.”

Last but not least: “The most important advice I can give is to go with your instinct, trust your gut and don’t be scared. Buy what you love! If you buy what you love, it’ll all look good together.”




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