The Definitive Guide to Layering in Interior Design (What It Means and How to Do It Right)

Successful interior design is all about getting each of the elements in a room to work well together while still standing out and making an individual impact. This is done through a process called layering. Though it is not an official principle of design, many of the pros consider it the secret ingredient that makes a room stand out.

If you’re ready to bring your interiors to the next level, this post will show you how to effectively incorporate layering into your spaces. We’ve outlined what this process is and how to pull it off. Use the tips below in your next design project and we’re certain you’ll see the benefits immediately.

What is layering in interior design?

Odds are, when you think about layering, it’s probably in relation to clothing. In fashion, designers use layering to make an outfit more dynamic. The addition of a sweater, a scarf or a few pieces of jewelry is ultimately what personalizes a look and takes it from utilitarian to special.

Interior design works in much the same way. Take a second to consider all of the separate elements that go into pulling a room together. While each of these things plays its own role, your design only comes into being once they all work together.

Layering is the act of building the room from the ground up. It’s about taking each of those individual design elements and pulling them together to form a cohesive look. It’s the special ingredient that adds depth to a space and makes it extraordinary.

Which design elements can be layered?

Once you know what layering is, the next step is knowing how to make it happen. In order to start layering effectively, you need to be aware of each component in a room. Here’s a breakdown of the factors to keep in mind:

  • Wall coverings: Paint, wallpaper
  • Flooring: Wood, carpet, vinyl
  • Furniture: Beds, chairs, tables
  • Textiles: Pillows, blankets, area rugs, bedding
  • Lighting: Overhead lights, table lamps, ambient features
  • Wall hangings: Photos, artwork, mirrors
  • Decor items: Flowers, coffee table books, tchotchkes

Consider each of these categories its own separate layer. Each is an important part of a successful interior design and should be taken into account as you put your room together. Focus on building the room by adding each layer, one at a time.

Create plenty of contrast

Layers are most effective when you can clearly differentiate between them. The best way to make that separation apparent is through incorporating plenty of contrast into your design. Not only does this help make each design choice stand out more clearly, it makes the room more visually interesting.

Contrast isn’t one-size-fits-all, but here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Colors: Choose opposite shades on the color wheel
  • Patterns: Pair a bold design with a solid color
  • Materials: Contrast metals with natural materials
  • Textures: Juxtapose hard and soft pieces or smooth and rough ones
  • Size: Group big and small items together

Don’t limit yourself to just one of these categories. This is one avenue where more is actually more, so do your best to actively search out opportunities to play up contrast as you pull your design together.

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