Layering in Interior Design: Some Easy Ideas that will Add Interest to Your Rooms


Most of us innately understand the art of layering in fashion – even if we think we don’t. We do it unconsciously every day. We add a sweater over a shirt and then add a scarf with a similar color scheme. We add jewelry in same colorway…plus shoes, a purse and other accesories that blend. But, when it comes to our rooms, we either err on the side of blandness – or we go overboard with too much stuff.

Creating a Delicate Balance: The photo above just seems so naturally done and that’s how the best layering in design should look.  The person whose room this is from has surrounded themselves with well-loved items and books, some natural materials – on top of a well-loved trunk. The decorative screen in the background seems to envelope whoever is in here. It just seems as if you could plunk yourself here and have a great, relaxing time thumbing through the books supplied. The pencils are there to jot down some notes and there’s a beautiful lamp that provides ample lighting in case you’re reading til the wee hours.

How do you add layers so that your room is interesting and warm – without going overboard. How do you layer effectively without looking like a room in the Restoration Hardware catalogue? In your home, you want your room to look “collected” in a natural, effortless way. Here are some ideas to help you achieve that…

beautiful guest bedroom from Southern Living

A guest bedroom layered with comfort in mind

Layer by Function: Think about who uses the room and how? What type of room is it – is it a guest room, living room, great room, kitchen?  This will help dictate some of the layering elements. In a guest room, layering can be soothing colors and smells…a welcoming robe and fluffy towels…some books and magazines…and some warmth with extra blankets and throws. Perhaps a chair and desk and some stationery…and some niceties like soaps, cologne and shampoos in a woven basket on the dresser.  The layers should be accessories and decorations that will make your guest feel at ease and very “homey.”

"Melissa Warner" living room

Add a punch of color for contrast

Layer with Color:  You can also layer by color in your rooms.  During the Christmas season you can layer with whites, golds or silvers, and/or reds and greens.  You can bring more punch and personality with a colorful piece of artwork. Add more interest to your room by layering in a contrasting color, as above in a predominantly cream and blue room designed by Melissa Warner, a punch of orange was used.  That shot of pink in the blossoms helps too!

Using multiples textures to add warmth in a room

In our great room, I added texture to the wall, floor, furnishings, accessories, window treatments and mantle

Adding Texture:  Texture doesn’t always mean just with fabrics…you can add texture on your walls (with a beautiful plaster or a stried pattern) and on your floors…think of sisal and seagrass for instance.  Adding fringe and beading to pillows and other items also adds a layer of texture.  The textured layer adds warmth to any room – it’s like giving your room a “big hug.”

Using multiple patterns in a room successfully

There are so many patterns in this room – but they all work

Layering with Patterns: Just using solid fabrics and plain vanilla wall colors can make a potentially beautiful room very boring.  You can add some zest and energy to a room by adding patterns. Think about mixing the scale of patterns (one or two large, with some medium and small) as well as the type (geometric, allover, striped, checked). The above room, designed by Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke, is a perfect example of how many types of pattern you can put in a room – and it’s still beautiful…not cluttered or loud.

a shabby chic vignette on a table

Even a vignette on a table can show and reinforce your home’s style

Layering by Style: In the photo above, designed by Sandy Foster of My Shabby Streamside Studio blog, every item in the vignette shows the style of the home – Shabby Chic.  The antique bottles with minimal blossoms, the antique mirror, the lace doily, the covered books, the beadboard peeking out under the shelf – all combine to reinforce the style.  Think of things in your home’s style that you can add to complete the picture.

The Lighting Layer:  You have functional, task lighting, of course, but you can also add lighting that will amp up the interest of your room.  Use an uplight to create some drama in a dark corner. Employ a perfectly placed spotlight to highlight a piece of sculpture or important piece of art. Flickering candlelight or the glow of  a fire can add romance and warmth to a room…fast. Chandeliers and wall sconces are perfect for adding some jewlery, sparkle and personality to a room.

A living room, for example, should have multiple sources of light. Mine has 7 different lamps – 2 wall sconces, a floor lamp by an arm chair, a decorative lamp on a table between two occasional chairs, a piano lamp and 2 good-sized buffet lamps on the sofa table behind the couch. Next week I will be doing a post on all the different light fixtures in my home – so I hope that you’ll come back to see that!

ornnate plaster design on a dining room ceiling

My dining room ceiling says “me”

Layer with Personality: This is what makes the room “you.” Most of the rooms in my home tell anyone who enters who I am and what I love.  My kitchen is very French Country and you’ll see a textured range hood, roosters, toile artwork on furniture and even on my hand done backsplash.  My powder room features monkeys and pineapples, which I love. You will see decorative, artistic work that I have done in almost every room.  I definitely have my personality depicted throughout my home.  So, make sure your home looks like you had a hand in it. Show your personality, your artistry – the things that are unique to your home.

If you have collected items (teapots, plates etc), make sure that they are in a grouping together and not scattered here and there throughout the home.  You’re going for impact here!

So let me know how you’ve added layers in your home.  Your comments below might spark some additional ideas for my readers.  So – let me know what you’ve done in your home!

Sharing this with…

Savvy Southern Style; Between Naps on the Porch; Ivy and Elephants; Katherine’s Corner

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5 Responses to Layering in Interior Design: Some Easy Ideas that will Add Interest to Your Rooms

  1. Great tips on layering. I love your great room. So warm and inviting. Thank you for sharing. Visiting from Ivy and Elephants. Would love it if you would share this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see you at the bash! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse
    Kathryn Griffin recently posted..A Shopping FindMy Profile

  2. Janet says:

    Hi Linda, love your post, great decorating tips….the ceiling is beautiful. Also, love your still life photographs! Thank you for the great information.

  3. Madilyn says:

    Hi Linda! I love these DIY tips. So many layering techniques I never thought of using. I really need to gather all my teapots because they are scattered around, I like the idea of going for impact!
    Madilyn recently posted..Rescue Dogs of 9/11My Profile

  4. Jan Hennings says:

    Gorgeous decor!
    Jan Hennings recently posted..The Shabby Tea Room ChallengeMy Profile

  5. Lovely inspiration you are very talented. You have great taste. thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Wishing you a beautiful day xo
    Katherines Corner recently posted..Book Lover GiveawayMy Profile

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