Design Tips – Create the Perfect Base by Choosing the Right Essentials

a living room with a neutral palette and blue cushions and artwork

Designing and decorating a living space can be a fun project you can easily handle yourself. However, in order to achieve the desired look, you first need to ensure that the interior base you’re working with is not working against you.

An interior base in design serves as the foundation upon which all other design elements are built. Creating a good backdrop will allow you to seamlessly implement any style you wish, ensuring that all the design tips below, whether they are colors, textures, or accessories, come together in a harmonious manner.

You may not want the end result to be neutral, but the best course of action would be to start with a neutral base so you can build around it. With that in mind, here are some design tips and tricks that will help you create the perfect base, and enable you to turn the space into a truly personalized oasis.

Design Tips for Creating the Perfect Interior Base

a white kitchen with dark hardwood flooring and statement lighting above the island
White is always a good interior base!

The role of essentials in design cannot be overstated. These foundational elements act as the building blocks that give structure, coherence, and purpose to a design.


hardwood flooring in the kitchen with a wooden island, marble countertops and patterened backsplash
Flooring is one of the best interior bases to work with. Shaw Floors –

First, you need to think about flooring. Since the floors act as a literal base for all of the furniture and accessories you’ll add later on, you should ensure that they’re sturdy and durable, to begin with and will fit in with your overall design.

Ideally, aim for either hardwood flooring solutions – which are usually on the pricier side, or vinyl flooring solutions – which are extremely durable, yet a significantly less costly alternative.

Make sure you know what overall style you are going for in the room and choose flooring to complement it:

  • Modern Interiors – light to medium hardwood flooring (like oak or maple) with a matte finish help to highlight a modern look.
  • Contemporary – Wide plank hardwood floors in either a light finish or oak.
  • Industrial – reclaimed wood or rustic-looking vinyl.
  • Mid-Century Modern – Light to medium-tone wood floors, like teak or walnut, often in narrow planks or parquet patterns.
  • Scandinavian – Light-colored hardwoods, such as ash or pine, or white-laminated wooden floors.
  • Bohemian – Weathered or distressed wood with colorful rugs.
  • Rustic/Farmhouse – Reclaimed or hand-scraped hardwood, wide planks, or natural stone-like slate, which can be replicated in vinyl.
  • Coastal – Whitewashed or light-colored wood, natural stone, or seagrass carpet.

If choosing a flooring solution for your bathroom or kitchen, ensure that the option you’ve decided to go with is slip-proof, to reduce the possibility of accidents and injuries.

However, durability and quality should not be your only concern. You can browse offers in flooring stores to see which styles, finishes, and materials there are to choose from. 

Color Palette

a neutral bedroom with green pillows and artwork and lots of plants

The psychology of colors plays a pivotal role in design and for your interior base. Colors have the power to evoke specific emotions, influence perceptions, and even sway decisions.

Colors can be introduced in many ways into a room, but you need to get the base color right first! Selecting the right color palette is essential in setting the mood and tone of the room, creating a harmonious environment.

Start by understanding the primary function of the space. Is it a serene bedroom retreat, a lively kitchen, or a professional office? Every color has psychological effects. For instance, blue is calming, red is energizing, and green is refreshing, so you need to align your color choices with the desired emotional response for the space.

Divide your color choices into dominant (60%), secondary (30%), and accent (10%) hues. This balance ensures the space doesn’t become flat, without overwhelming the senses. Spaces with abundant natural light can handle darker shades, while those with limited light might benefit from lighter, reflective colors.

If the room already has fixtures, furniture, or architectural details, choose colors that complement these elements to help keep costs down. Neutral shades such as beige, gray, or white can offer flexibility in a room and go well with any type of fixture. You can then layer with accent colors to tie in with the room’s purpose.

Finally, while it’s okay to incorporate current color trends, think long-term. Choose timeless shades for larger surfaces and use trendy hues for accents that can be easily changed.

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a vintage floral lamp and lamp shade in the corner of a green living room

Lighting is another essential element of any interior. It can potentially hold the power to entirely make or break the design, so it needs to be approached with utmost care. It’s important to note that we’re not talking about just lighting fixtures, but sources and positioning of lighting in general.

If the space you’re decorating experiences plenty of natural light throughout the day, make the most of it by being careful with your window treatments and not hiding your windows behind them. Additionally, install plenty of lighting sources throughout the space, so can control the amount of light in different parts of the room.

Overhead lighting should be placed in the center of the ceiling unless you’re working with a big open floor space. That would benefit more from having two or more overhead lighting sources.

Task and accent lighting sources can be added later, once all other design elements have been implemented. However, make sure you leave enough room for it during the planning stage. 

Space and Layout

an open plan living room and kitchen in neutral decor with light wood flooring

Spatial awareness in design is fundamental for various reasons. Grasping the nuances of space and how objects interact within that space is vital for any designer, whether they’re laying out a room, a building, or even a piece of graphic artwork.

In interior design, it ensures there’s enough room to move between furniture or that a kitchen is laid out efficiently. Misjudging space can lead to hazardous situations, like a door that doesn’t open fully because it hits a piece of furniture or an overly cramped space that could become a fire hazard.

Understanding how people move through a space helps in creating intuitive designs where users can navigate seamlessly, without feeling restricted or confused.

  • Techniques for optimizing space, especially in smaller areas include:
  • Investing in multifunctional furniture
  • Maximise vertical space with shelves
  • Use mirrors to make a space feel larger
  • If possible, consider an open floor plan
  • Use light colors to make a room feel bigger and brighter
  • Use sliding doors
  • Create distinct zones with rugs or different paint colors
  • Use continuous flooring throughout to create a sense of continuity
  • Buy furniture with raised legs to allow more visibility of the floor

It’s all about being creative and finding solutions tailored to your specific needs and tastes.

Focus and Emphasis

a wood burner in a stone hearth in a scottish highland cottage with bookcases and cozy decor

Once you have decided on the essentials such as flooring, color scheme, lighting, and window treatments, designate a focal point in the room, such as a fireplace, artwork, or a statement furniture piece. This becomes the center of attention and dictates where the viewer’s eye is drawn first, and other elements should complement or lead toward this focal point.

Finally, all design elements should work together cohesively. This doesn’t mean everything has to match, but there should be a sense of belonging among all items in the room. Introducing different patterns and textures adds depth and richness to the space and can make a room feel more layered and inviting.

By following these basic principles when designing a room, all other items like your furniture, accessories, and soft furnishings should fit in easily. This is just the starting point in creating a home that just right for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.

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