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layering in interior design

Layering gives your interior design that professional look. Image: Natalie Fuglestveit Interior Design

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Successful interior design is all about getting each of the elements in a room to work well together while still standing out and making an individual impact. This is done through a process called layering. Though it is not an official principle of design, many of the pros consider it the secret ingredient that makes a room stand out.

If you’re ready to bring your interiors to the next level, this post will show you how to effectively incorporate layering into your spaces. We’ve outlined what this process is and how to pull it off. Use the tips below in your next design project and we’re certain you’ll see the benefits immediately.

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layering adds depth

Layering adds depth to a room. Image: Pearson Design Group

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What is layering in interior design?

Odds are, when you think about layering, it’s probably in relation to clothing. In fashion, designers use layering to make an outfit more dynamic. The addition of a sweater, a scarf or a few pieces of jewelry is ultimately what personalizes a look and takes it from utilitarian to special.

Interior design works in much the same way. Take a second to consider all of the separate elements that go into pulling a room together. While each of these things plays its own role, your design only comes into being once they all work together.

Layering is the act of building the room from the ground up. It’s about taking each of those individual design elements and pulling them together to form a cohesive look. It’s the special ingredient that adds depth to a space and makes it extraordinary.

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styled surfaces

Styled surfaces are the perfect finishing touch. Image: Courtney Adams Design

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Which design elements can be layered?

Once you know what layering is, the next step is knowing how to make it happen. In order to start layering effectively, you need to be aware of each component in a room. Here’s a breakdown of the factors to keep in mind:

  • Wall coverings: Paint, wallpaper
  • Flooring: Wood, carpet, vinyl
  • Furniture: Beds, chairs, tables
  • Textiles: Pillows, blankets, area rugs, bedding
  • Lighting: Overhead lights, table lamps, ambient features
  • Wall hangings: Photos, artwork, mirrors
  • Decor items: Flowers, coffee table books, tchotchkes

Consider each of these categories its own separate layer. Each is an important part of a successful interior design and should be taken into account as you put your room together. Focus on building the room by adding each layer, one at a time.

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incorporate texture

Be sure to use a variety of contrasting elements in your design. Image: Carmen Parker Styling

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Create plenty of contrast

Layers are most effective when you can clearly differentiate between them. The best way to make that separation apparent is through incorporating plenty of contrast into your design. Not only does this help make each design choice stand out more clearly, it makes the room more visually interesting.

Contrast isn’t one-size-fits-all, but here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Colors: Choose opposite shades on the color wheel
  • Patterns: Pair a bold design with a solid color
  • Materials: Contrast metals with natural materials
  • Textures: Juxtapose hard and soft pieces or smooth and rough ones
  • Size: Group big and small items together

Don’t limit yourself to just one of these categories. This is one avenue where more is actually more, so do your best to actively search out opportunities to play up contrast as you pull your design together.

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use wall coverings

Use a few common elements to tie the room together. Image: Lisa Teague Design Studios

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Include some common threads

While contrast is certainly important, it only works if you include a few common elements to help tie the room together. Without them, the room feels as though it’s too busy and doesn’t quite make sense. It’s important to make sure a few of layers are similar enough to make your design choices feel deliberate and purposeful.

Take the picture above, for instance. Most of the design elements feel individual and eclectic, yet there are a few unifying features. Pay attention to the weathered finish on the wooden furniture and the yellow tones on the walls and rugs. Though they’re subtle, they’re enough to make the space seem cohesive.

As you create your design, think about the areas where you’ve focused on contrast. Then put the others toward adding harmony. If, for example, you’ve chosen to contrast solid and patterned fabrics, use a similar color so they work well together.

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layering in interior design

Use these tips to make layering work for you. Image: RDP Architects

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Layering in interior design may seem complicated, but that’s not the case. All this process really means is making a commitment to consider each of your design elements separately before making an effort to bring them together. This one step is often the magic ingredient that separates professionally designed interiors from the rest. If you’re ready to have your designs be on par with the pros, keep this post close at hand. A little layering goes a long way.

Do you make a conscious effort to layer in your interiors? Is it something you’d like to try? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.