Back to Design School Part One

Shaun Anderson | 02 September, 2021

SEP 1, 2021

Back to Design School Part 1

Some of the best designers in the industry became successful with no experience, so why can't you? Learn how to implement basic design principles in your own home with a few easy tricks.

You don’t have to go to design school to be able to craft and curate a beautiful home. Some of your very favorite designers, like Joanna Gaines and Brian Patrick Flynn, are self taught. Both of these incredible designers have very different styles but both of these designers are just that — designers. You don’t need a diploma or a degree, you just need a few basics, a sense of personal style, and the ability to trust your gut.

As we began venturing into the world of designing products for you home, we brushed up on a few design basics that have since helped us create beautiful spaces and shelves for beautiful spaces.

So with no further ado, here are a few design basics to keep in mind when creating a stunning home.

Watch and Learn

If you want to start curating your own home, or maybe you even hope to curate homes for others, our first tip is this — watch and learn. You don’t need to be professionally trained but you do need to develop a good design eye.

Image Credit:Magnolia Market

Find designers whose style you love and that feels in line with your own taste and then watch their TV shows, follow their social media accounts, read their books, and if you get the opportunity — ask lots of questions. Make a habit of learning. When you see a design you love ask yourself what about the design you love? How is that feeling created with the elements in the room? Start deconstructing beautiful looks and identifying the elements that resonate with you. Then go out and learn how to recreate those elements in your own way.

Balancing Act

Images: Studio McGeeDesigns


All cohesive spaces need balance, or a very intentional lack of balance. And yes, you can tell the difference between intentional lack of symmetry and a room that just feels thrown together. Good balance creates a feeling of stability and calm in a room. Balance does not mean that everything has to match perfectly in a room. It’s about distributing the visual weight of objects in your room. It’s why a small table looks good anchoring a giant picture on the wall and why clusters of pillows look good together on a couch.

If the room your designing feels heavy in one place, try to add objects with more weight to the opposite side of the room. Balancing a room is literally a balancing act and you may have to try a few different looks to find objects that all work together to balance a space.

Size and Scale

Size and scale are really important elements of design. Have you ever watched Fixer Upper and heard Joanna say a chair or a table was too big or too small for a space? Or have you ever walked into a room that despite not having a lot of things in it, felt really cramped? That’s an issue with size and scale.

Messing up size or scale in a room can make a room feel too big or too small. Even if you’re working with a giant room, you don’t want your home to feel like an almost-empty museum. Homes need just a touch of cozy. When you work with elements in the right size and scale, you can make little rooms feel spacious and large rooms feel cozy and inviting without sacrificing style and space.

F is for Focal Point

Though all design rules are made to be intentionally broken, this is one design rule we love to hit in every room we style. A strong focal point in a room helps lead your eye through the space. Focal points can be used to create interest or cohesion or drama, and sometimes natural focal points exist in a room. If you’ve got a room with a built-in fireplace or stunning set of windows, you’ve likely got a focal point to play with already.

Image:Studio McGee Music Room

If you don’t have a built-in focal point, add one and use leading lines to draw the eye right to it when you walk into a room. You can use a cabinet like in this Music Room designed by McGee and Co, or something like large art or an interesting piece of furniture. You can have two focal points in a room if it works in the space. Don’t be afraid to work toward finding the perfect focal point, it may take a little time and patience.

Harmony in Any Key

Ready to learn a few more tips and tricks at Ultra Shelf Design School? Stay tuned for part two. In the meantime, check out our wide selection ofcompletely custom floating shelves for your home.

Written by Maddison Driggs

Maddison is a copywriter who has been working in the interior design and home improvement area for the last five years. From hands on projects to writing for your favorite HGTV home reno couples, Maddison has developed a deep love for a well-styled room with the perfect personal touch.


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