Armed with a background in fashion and jewellery design, Priscilla Tan of @styledbypt made her foray into the interior styling and design business two years ago. Since then she has also chalked up a following of 34.1K followers on Instagram and it’s not hard to see why – her feed is a collection of dreamy interiors and exuberant textures, prints and colours that we all aspire to.
Below, we tap on her expertise to answer some of your burning interior decorating questions:
Q1 I don’t know what my style is – Where do I start?
If you’re unsure of how to kickstart the decorating process, here’s what you can do:
Create a list of feelings you want for your home
The first question to ask yourself is: “How do you want to feel in your home?” It doesn’t have to be a specific theme like Scandinavian or minimalist. It can be something like, “I want to feel I’m on a holiday or in Greece.” That can already be a strong indicator of the colours and mood you want within your interiors.
Ask your friends and family to describe your style
You may be surprised at what they say. The ones closest to you could give you an insight of who you are and what your style is like.
Look at your wardrobe for colours you might love or hate
The colours and styles you see in your closet are a reflection of your tastes. If you have a colourful wardrobe, it’ll also help you envision these colours in your home, and decide if that’s right for you, or whether you should consider something else.
Get inspiration online
Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic sources of inspiration. But always take these images as a reference and don’t copy them wholesale. Also consider whether a certain trend is for you. A home should reflect your personality and you can never fully follow a trend. But you can incorporate certain elements like the fixtures or colours that speak to you.
Q2 What should I do with an empty wall?
It doesn’t have to be anything major. You can put art pieces, furniture, your kid’s art work, a framed quote that really speaks to you or even a lovely potted plant. Don’t just go for small items. If you go for bigger pieces that are proportionate to the wall, they can really help in making the spot stand out.
Q3 How do I style weird corners or niches?
For odd-shaped corners, you can “camouflage” it – use a plant or lamp for instance, to draw the eye to that area.
Q4 How do I make storage stylish?
Do consider getting nice baskets and boxes which complement the shade of the console, wardrobe or shelf you are planning for. They help act as decorative objects yet function as a hidden storage solution.
Q5 How do I create a beautiful space with kids around?
The number one problem for parents is often storage. Plan good storage spaces for clutter – styling it comes after. You’ll also have to be very disciplined with the children in telling them that there is a specific area for them (to mess up) and the areas that they can’t.
Q6 Which areas do homeowners tend to neglect, and which should they highlight?
People mainly think about big ticket items and feel that a home will be cosy once they get the furniture and lights. It’s the soft furnishing details that makes a house a home – one that feels cosy and lived in. Think rugs, art pieces, throw cushions, candles, flowers and even clocks.
Another thing is that some homeowners plan each room in a similar design, or have the same curtains in every room for instance. Understand that each space should be unique – I think that each should tell its own story. It makes it more fun and it’ll feel like you’re escaping into a different space, too.
Kitchen countertops as well as entryways (treated as storage spaces) are often neglected and not styled. That can be very depressing as the entryway is the first thing you see when you return home.
What are the top interior decorating mistakes to look out for?
A rug should never float on the floor; you should always have furniture legs placed on top of it. Most people also buy rugs that are too small. The key thing about a rug is that it zones a space, and one that is too small makes the room look tinier.
Don’t just have one lighting source in each room. A lot of people tend to only install overhead lights but ignore accent or ambient lights. Having different layers of lights is crucial for creating different moods and adds to the aesthetic of a room. A table or floor lamp can also double as decor.
Mounting curtains too low. Hanging curtains under a beam makes the room look short. My tip would be to hang the curtains as high as possible to give the illusion of height.
How do you mix trends without them looking overdone or too busy?
Go for a maximum of three styles in one room. Take the coastal, Hamptons and Scandinavian looks for instance. These can be easily matched with throws and cushions. Stick to a similar colour palette, and always have a hero piece that shines in the room.
Q9 How do I style a small apartment?
Mirrors are my favourite decorating tricks for small homes. They work especially well in the dining area, which tends to be cramped in small apartments. They reflect light and create an illusion of depth. Statement lighting fixtures and art works are marvellous, too.
Get appropriately-sized furniture, not just pint-sized furniture. You don’t necessarily have to have a white or light-coloured space as well. Painting a small space in a darker colour can make it feel very special. I personally like painting the ceiling, too. It’s the first thing you see in the morning and it creates visual interest.
Q10 What’s an easy trick to instantly spruce up a space?
Get a tray! Anything looks better when placed in a tray. It helps group objects (like your TV remote controls, coasters and some flowers on your coffee table) together, creates a focal point and it looks like you’ve hired a stylist. Also, always add a hero piece in any room. It could be the lighting, the mirror or even the rug or art.
Q11 How do I dress up my bathroom vanity?
Trays are great here as well. Also get pretty soap and shampoo holders. They can be a bit cumbersome to refill but really make your bathroom look put together. Fragrances are great for elevating the ambience of the space. Personally, I’m more of a candle person – the glow and the scent instantly lift my mood.
Q12 How do I keep my space pet-friendly?
You’ll need a good vacuum cleaner! Laughs. Especially for pets who scratch a lot, I’ll use a sofa cover or sofa throw. Having rugs also helps me protect the floor better against scratches.
Q13 What are some classic or staple furniture pieces to get?
Get a good-sized sofa. Don’t skimp on the quality and a good sofa will last a really long time. Even if you decide on changing the design aesthetics of your home, a versatile or classic sofa will be able to fit in with the new look.
Q14 More people are turning to online furniture shopping – what are the dos and don’ts?
Do not shop until you know the dimensions of your space and your final floor plan layout. Don’t be tempted by the sales. There will always be sales. Make sure you really have it all planned out before buying big items. I like Hipvan, Castlery and Comfort Furniture as they have good quality furniture and affordable prices.
Q15 I want to hire an interior stylist. What should I know before deciding on one?
Set a decor budget! You need to set aside a budget for decorating. An interior stylist can’t do her magic without it. It is very different from your budget for renovation and furniture. Those are staple pieces but they won’t make a home cosy. If you struggle to balance your new home with pieces from your previous home, a home stylist can help make that happen for you.