interior design trade secrets: wallpaper, fabrics and pillows

interior design trade secrets-j-randall-powers

J. Randall Powers

Continuing with my series of interior design trade secrets, today I focus on some of the fun aspects of decorating: wallpaper, fabrics and pillows. Again, the quotes are those collected over time from sources such as House Beautiful, Veranda, Traditional Home, Elle Décor and Architectural Digest and they serve as a guide … they’re not necessarily the last word on the subject.


interior design trade secrets-madeline-stuart

Madeline Stuart

interior design trade secrets: wallpaper, fabrics and pillows


“I love to use paper-backed linen on the bedroom walls. It gives it a softness that paint can’t match” (Libby Cameron)

“If you love a fabric but it seems too strong, check the reverse side – it may just do the trick” (David Easton)

“Once you’ve used a fabric in a room, never use it anywhere else in the house. Do not match your fabrics! Do not let your fabrics make your room look too decorator-y” (Garrow Kedigian)

“When ordering fabric, add 2 yards to the final order. You never want to be stuck with a ruined cushion and a discontinued fabric on a piece of upholstery. Call it insurance against a rainy-red-wine-day.” (J. Randall Powers)


interior design trade secrets-Lindsay Coral Harper

Lindsey Coral Harper

“Try an even number of pillows on a sofa or even a long kidney pillow. Nothing looks more dated than pairs flanking pairs of pillows” (Madeline Stuart)

“Throw pillows with Turkish corners are so much plumper and more luxe than regular knife-edged squares, and they really soften a modern sofa” (Nick Olsen)

“When making custom pillows, use a stuffer pillow insert that is 2” larger all around than your finished pillow. For example, if you want a 22” square pillow, use a 24” square insert” (Lindsey Coral Harper)

“Use wallpaper in unexpected places: on the ceiling of a paneled room, in closets, hallways and small foyers. A great pattern or texture in small spaces can be a prodigious twist” (Lindsey Coral Harper)


interior design trade secrets-barbara-barry

Barbara Barry

“Use a patterned wallpaper to strengthen a room, and an unpatterned paper to soften the space” (Barbara Barry)

“When doing curtains or shades, take them all the way up to the ceiling – it will increase the height of the room” (Vicente Wolf)

“I like my curtains just 2x the width of the window, not puffy. And a 1” break on the floor – no puddling. I like the look of a long lean line, more column than a ball gown, on the walls” (Christina Rottman)

“The minimum break for drapery panels than hang to the floor is ½”. Anything less is like wearing high-water pants” (Julie Massucco)


interior design trade secrets-Julie-Massucco

Julie Massucco

“The only time white curtain lining should be used is with white curtains” (J. Randall Powers)

“Hang curtains. They make a room seem finished. Think of them as the lipstick of decorating” (Peter Dunham)

“All decorative pillows look better with a detail around the edge – whether something as simple as a welt or a more elaborate trimming such a cords or beads. Pillows without a detail just look cheap” (Richard Rabel)


interior design trade secrets-Peter-Dunham

Peter Dunham

Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a design studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising services.

image credits: interior design trade secrets: Architectural Digest and interior designers as noted.