1. Add a rug
The power of a rug is not to be underestimated. It’s an easy, but powerful way to cosy up a place, says Caroline Chin Geyler, founder and principal stylist of Arete Culture.
“It breaks the monotony of the flooring, provides soft padding underfoot and adds texture and dynamism.”
2. Size matters
If the rug is too small, it will look like an island, too large and it can make a room feel swamped. Rugs can also be clever tools to divide open-plan areas.
“Make sure your area rug is big enough for your furniture, with a minimum breathing space of at least 15 cm around the border,” she advises.
3. Consider new colours
Paint is the easiest way to change a room and bring it up to date quickly. Contrary to popular belief, experts say that a small room looks best painted dark, as it blurs the boundaries, making the space feel infinite.
“Go bold with warm colours like red and orange for communal spaces, such as your dining room as these tend to incite feelings of passion and energy,” says Caroline. However, opt for a neutral colour palette (sand or taupe) or blues and greys in the bedroom to keep the space calm and tranquil.
4. The illusion of height
Create an illusion of height by painting ceilings lighter than the walls. They will make the room feel bigger than it really is.
5. Use a mirror
Add a mirror, says Caroline. “One simple trick is to position your mirror opposite a window so you can catch glimpses of the outside, indoors. Et voila! Multiple layers of textural contrasts with one accessory.”
6. It's all about balance
Balance the levels, so your space doesn’t feel bottom heavy. “Use pendant lights or chandeliers if you’re trying to increase visual height in your space,” says Caroline.
And always think about the mood you want to create when buying lighting. Try to avoid placement that creates unflattering shadows on people. For instance, hang pendant lights so the bottom is 70 cm to 80 cm above your dining table.
8. Switch out old hardware
Quick-fix refresh – just change your cabinetry handles. You’d be surprised at how smart new kitchen handles can look on old or dated doors. They’re also easy to put on and remove!
9. Invest in a lifetime piece
Quality speaks – Invest in pieces that will last a lifetime. Replacing a major item in a living room is one of the best ways to give it an overhaul.
“A sofa of good design and quality is a must-have for every home, as it is one of the focal points in the living room,” says Terence Neo, design director of EightyTwo.
Pictured: Sofa, $3,725, from BoConcept.
10. Create the mood
“A simple scent can make a dramatic difference in how a home feels,” says Caroline. “Scented reeds or candles may seem like an unnecessary extravagance, but good design should engage all the senses.” Fresh, floral-based scents best complement the weather in Singapore.
11. Make existing pieces work for you
The rule of three is an important one to follow when accessorising a shelf, sideboard or coffee table. In order to create an attractive vignette, choose three pieces that have something in common.
“The idea isn’t to clean out a space, but to create space for only the things you love to be displayed,” says Caroline.
12. Declutter the kitchen countertops
Aim for visual calm by keeping as much of the stuff off the kitchen bench as possible. Also, always go for simple neutral-toned linen tea towels.
13. Use trays
Put the trinkets on your dresser or your favourite fragrances on pretty trays. This will give the space a sense of order and makes it instantly stylish.
Jewellery box, $98.80, from 3LittlePicks (left), and Tray, $60, from Journey East.
14. Go for something dramatic
Try floor lamps instead of bedside lamps and mismatching bedside tables to add interest.
From left: Barometer floor lamp, $79, from IKEA; Flos by Michael Anastassiades, from Space Furniture; Olivia floor lamp, $99, from HipVan.
15. Double-duty furniture
Furniture and functionality must work together in a space, says Terence. When buying furniture, look for pieces that offer storage as well. Sideboards, consoles and entertainment units are fabulous for hiding wires and cords.
Pictured: Aspen sideboard, $3,740, from King Living.
16. Hang up artwork
Inject emotion with artworks and paintings, says Terence. But when hanging art, consider the scale: If the piece is large, use it to balance a large piece of furniture, but if it’s small it is best hung in a group.
17. Pick green
Leafy plants are easier to maintain, and can add drama in a setting, especially with statement flowerpots, says Terence.
Bloomingvale vases, both from 3LittlePicks.
18. Cushion talk
When it comes to cushions, put quality over quantity. One amazing cushion is better than a slew of average ones.
Pictured: Cushion, $69, from FortyTwo (left), and Cushion, $95, from BoConcept.
19. Negative space
When arranging accessories, make sure to have some negative space or empty areas so it doesn’t over-clutter and the eye has someplace to rest.