Everything You Need to Know About Interior Design

What is Interior Design?

Interior design is the research, planning, designing and creation of functional and beautiful bespoke indoor spaces. An interior designer recommends how to best use space to improve user experience and decorate interiors with materials, furniture, lighting and décor to suit their customers’ needs, lifestyles and budgets.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration 

Interior design is the creation of a functional room inside a building, which takes into consideration the interior architecture of the space. On the other hand, interior decoration is when stylish furniture, fittings and accessories, like curtains and rugs, are selected to decorate a property. Interior decorating considers the colour scheme, design style and texture.

An interior decorator will not be formally educated in their area of expertise, unlike interior designers. Interior designers specialise in the planning of space and work closely with architects, they have expert knowledge about building materials and analyse human behaviour. An Interior decorator is generally used for minor changes in the appearance of a room whereas a professional interior designer is consulted for structural renovations such as bespoke kitchens or wardrobe design.

Different types of Interior Design

Commercial interior design

Commercial interior design is essential for business success. The type of materials, colours and furnishings must align with the company’s brand image. There is a wide range of interior commercial spaces.

Restaurants that have good interior design use space well to maximise the number of customers that can be seated, increasing revenue whilst reducing waiting times. Customers also feel more comfortable and enjoy the experience and ambience.

Hospitality commercial interior design style

In the case of retail, commercial interior design can entice potential customers to enter and spend more time in a store. It can help to create a unique in-store experience, which is critical when competing with online retailers.

The interior design of sports facilities, such as the layout and design of the home changing room in football stadiums and training facilities, can help to improve the experience for athletes and staff. The layout of equipment and décor of a gym can improve workouts and increase memberships.

Sports commercial interior design style

Office spaces that have a planned layout and workflow can help to increase productivity and communication between employees. Business spaces that have an attractive and functional interior design can give visitors a good impression and user experience. It also improves the working environment and comfort for staff.

Residential design 

The interior design of private homes and residences can be undertaken professionally or by homeowners. When investing in a new kitchen, for example, some homeowners prefer to use the services of an interior designer to ensure the space available is used most practically and functionally. An interior designer can help to support the homeowner with their design choices and manage the project from start to finish.

Kitchen interior design style

Interior designers are expensive to use so many homeowners prefer to experiment with their unique style that highlights their personality. If you’re looking to do your own DIY interior design, use magazines and websites such as Pinterest for inspiration. This will help you to determine your ideal style. Choose a colour scheme with a mix of three colours or shades.

Other residential interior design spaces include a living room, which needs to have a good seating layout and appropriate lighting. For a dining room, the choice of dining table and chairs needs to be suitable for the space you have available. The bedroom should be a comfortable and cosy place to rest and also have suitable storage facilities.

Other interior design specialities

The interior design industry is vast, with there being many interior designers specialising in different areas. Examples of specialist interior design and decoration include…

Interior design is often used for business exhibition stands which match the brand’s image to attract visitors and stand out from the competition. For special occasions, interior decorators can be hired to help plan the vision, theme, colours and unique décor.

Interior design is used for the creation of film and TV sets including the scenery, furniture, and appearance. This role is usually the responsibility of a production designer, they work on the visual concept and choose the design style.

Museum exhibition design should have a clear workflow for visitors so they are taken on a journey. Exhibitions are creative learning spaces that inspire visitors and provide a unique experience.

Interior Design Styles

There is a wide variety of interior design types and the style you choose will depend on the project you’re undertaking and the personality of the client or of yourself as the designer. Here are some of the most popular interior design styles.


Traditional interior design style

The traditional interior design style is also known as the old-school European style. It’s a classic style that uses plain colour schemes and traditional handcrafted wooden furniture pieces. Wood panelling is also a common feature with antique pieces used for decoration.


Modern interior design style

The modern interior design style is recognisable by the use of muted colour schemes or bold colour contrasts, natural surfaces and materials including wood, glass and steel. It has a simple, sleek and minimal look featuring essential furniture only. This style features open floor plans, geometric shapes and asymmetric design.


Industrial interior design style

The industrial design style is defined by the use of exposed surfaces as rustic features such as bricks, concrete and conduits. This gives it an unfinished, raw look. Usually, industrial interior design works with different spatial concepts and features tall ceilings, metal fixtures and neutral colour schemes. Abstract art works well with this design style.


Contemporary interior design style

The contemporary interior design style is often confused with the modern style but there are clear differences. This may be because interior designers like to mix both styles as they go well together. Contemporary design is distinguished by the use of natural light, open spaces, natural and textured fabrics, wood in light and dark tones, neutral colours and metal accents.


Minimalist interior design style

This interior design style uses minimal furniture, fixtures and accessories. It has a fresh, clean, simple, no-fuss look with clean lines and edges. No vibrant patterns or colours are used in this design style.


Nautical interior design style

The nautical design style has a warm and relaxing feel as it can remind people of holidays and trips to the beach. It uses natural wood in unfinished form and coastal décor such as driftwood with white, blue and sand colour themes. Examples of the materials often used include seashells, jute ropes, and navigation maps.

African style

African interior design style

The African interior design style consists of earthy and vibrant colours with dark and bright shades. Common colour schemes include terracotta, earthy brown, gold and burnt orange with blue and green or purple and pink. African interiors often use traditional woven, printed or dyed fabrics such as mud cloth. Natural materials like sisal, wood and linen are popular choices.

Take a look at the latest African Style Interior Trends and Ideas for home décor inspiration.

The Importance of Using the Right Fabric for Interior Design

The textiles used in interior design are woven products or those that are made from fabric. Textiles are not just a finishing touch; they play an important role in interior design style. In interior design, textiles are used as design elements and include:

Fabric interiors help to set the mood of a room, for example, sofa cushions and throws can create a cosy, warm and relaxing feel. Textiles also unify space in a room especially if they have been carefully selected to match the colour scheme.

Fabric interiors sofa cushions throw

Different types of fabrics

There is a range of fabric types that are commonly used for home interiors.

If you’d like to add a splash of colour to your home interiors, perhaps to spruce up a dull sofa with fun cushion covers, then take a look at Kitenge’s premium African wax print fabrics. Our unique, 100% cotton, woven fabrics wash well and are easy to care for. These bold, patterned, versatile fabrics can be used to make curtains, bed sheets, wall hangings, tablecloths, plant pots and lampshade covers. Pretty much anything you can think of to decorate your home!

African wax print fabric plant pot covers by Tropikala Yellow/red/blue peacock African print fabric lampshade by Tropikala

African wax print fabric plant pot and lampshade covers by Tropikala

How to best utilise textiles in your projects 

Fabrics used in rugs and throw pillows, for example, can be used as a source of inspiration for an entire project to give you a sense of direction. They should be carefully considered at the start of a project as they can help with identifying and choosing a colour palette. Interior designers recommend sticking to your chosen colour palette once you have made a decision. This helps when it comes to choosing the right fabrics as they should match the colours in your palette. It also helps to create a coherent look so the design style is clear.

It’s not advisable to use too many colours but you can have a mixture of different patterns to add activity to a room. It’s important to consider the size of patterns as large patterns are suitable for statement furniture and wall hangings, for example, while small patterns are best for smaller items like pillows.

Living room interior design style

You can also use textiles that have different textures (look and feel) to add visual interest to a room. It works well when you mix and match different textures, patterns and colours especially when layered together to create contrast. Mixing patterns and textures won’t clash if you stick to the colours in your palette. For example, if you have plain coloured walls then you could have patterned, contrasting curtains in geometric or floral prints for a unique look.

Shop African Print Fabric

Getting Started with Your Next Interior Design Project

A great way to start your next interior design project is to create a mood board that displays what you like best so you can decide on your design concept. You can either cut out images from magazines or create an online board on Pinterest. This will help you, or your interior designer, to know which style, colours, patterns and textures you like most. The next step is to decide how you would like the room to feel. If you choose to use bright colours and warm materials, then the room will feel more inviting which is suitable for a living room or kitchen. Dark colours are usually more suitable for luxury, quiet and private spaces.

Interior colour design swatches

Purchasing the right materials for your interior design project 

The materials you choose should match the type of mood you’d like to create and the function of the room. For example, hard surfaces will have a different acoustic effect compared to a carpeted room. The materials will need to match your colour scheme and suit your lifestyle and requirements for the room. If you have children or pets, it’s worth considering which materials are durable and easy to clean.

If you decide to use an interior designer then they will recommend which stockists are suitable for particular materials by using their contacts. If you’re doing your own decorating then you can research online to find suitable retailers and read their customer reviews. You can then visit DIY and home improvement stores to pick out suitable materials that you like the look of. Take home samples and swatches to help make your decision.

Examples of some of the materials you might consider:

What to look for when purchasing fabrics

When looking at fabrics make sure that they fit your budget. Cotton, nylon and polyester are cheaper fabrics compared to silk and wool. To help save money you can use fabrics for small details and accents in a room. If you’re looking for durable and high-quality fabric to decorate your home look for tighter weaves.

Fabric for interior design living room

It’s important to choose sustainable fabrics whenever possible, made from natural fibres that are biodegradable and renewable, to help protect the environment. Try to find out where and how the fabric is produced before making a purchase decision. For example, Fairtrade organic rain-fed cotton is better for the environment and farmers are paid fairly.

Kitenge’s authentic African wax print fabrics are sustainably sourced from small female-owned enterprises in Tanzania. The fabrics are made using locally grown cotton, which supports cotton farmers as well as the African textile industry. The colourfastness is excellent so the colours will not fade after numerous washes. The fabrics soften after each wash too.

Learn more about the different fabrics that you could use in your home interior design with our fabric and sewing guide. 

How to Start a Career in Interior Design 

If you enjoy decorating your own home and you’re looking for a career change could interior design be a perfect choice? Find out what it takes to become a successful interior designer and what you need to know beforehand.

1. Evaluate your passion

To be an interior designer you must have a natural passion and ability. You should have a good eye for colour, know how to best arrange space, and have an interest in architecture and textiles. Do you enjoy decorating your own home and pushing boundaries by experimenting with different colours, patterns and textures? Do you often receive compliments about your home décor design?

2. Obtain the right certification

Interior designers usually obtain a bachelor’s degree in subjects such as architecture, computer-aided design and fine arts. It’s important to have a formal education as you’ll be making important decisions about structural building changes alongside qualified architects. Upon graduation, you may need work experience before taking an exam to get certified.

If you prefer to get stuck in straight away and cannot spare the time or expense to complete a university course then interior decoration could be a more suitable option as it requires no qualifications or certifications.

3. Practice your skills

The best way to get experience when first starting out is to find a suitable internship. Spend time researching interior design companies that you’d like to work with and see if they’re advertising internships on their website. You can also send a letter to companies that you admire to check if they have any intern opportunities, use a job search website and network online by using LinkedIn. Also, consider taking on some small projects for friends and family to help improve your portfolio and ask previous clients for testimonials.

Discover High-Quality African Fabric for Interior Design Projects


Authentic African wax print fabric designs by Kitenge Store


If you like the look of the African interior design style or would like to spruce up the décor of a room by adding a pop of colour or an interesting pattern then why not browse our wide variety of African print fabric available by the yard or fat quarters?

If you have any questions about our fabrics or your own interior design sewing projects, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email or social media. We’d love to hear from you. 🙂


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