Interior design has several elements, but it’s the right balance of each of these elements that makes for a great-looking interior. For example, a living room that has a good colour palette yet only utilises glossy, shiny textures may look a little too cold and clinical. A bedroom that features plenty of wood, earthy hues, and rough surfaces may feel a bit abrasive.

Great layering is what makes the interior more or less complete. There should be a healthy amount of tension—not too little or it won’t be obvious, not too much, or it will feel overwhelming. Contrast and complement materials and colours, textures and scale. We’re not just talking about accessories and décor; this covers the whole gamut of interior design—from wall, floor, and ceiling treatments, to window coverings, doors, trim, down to the removable parts like furniture, décor, and personal belongings.

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Let’s start with the first layer: an empty room, with blank walls and floors. You can cover walls up with paint or paper, or a more textured treatment like grasscloth. Wood, tiles, and laminate are some examples of first-layer floor coverings.

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For the next layer, you fill up the room with built-in parts, like window and door trim, or even built-in furnishings. You may also put in other materials that may help soften the rigid corners of your space, like rugs or window treatments. The layer-by-layer views of a dining room above and below are courtesy of Making It Lovely.

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Then, you may bring in removable parts of the room, like furniture. Once those are in, you may also begin placing décor and other accessories, which helps establish the look and style of your space.

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Walls done in ombre paint treatment, and partnered with colourfully printed bed linen is more than enough for these bedrooms in a Serangoon family home.

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It’s also good if you layer in different materials that contrast and complement each other. For example, a Lucite coffee table lets other multihued elements stand out in the living room above.

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Wood railings and stair treads, plus the corrugated metal treatment on the accent wall provide enough textural tension in this contemporary, monochromatic living room.

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Even a minimalist-monochromatic space can achieve a complete interior look by varying the textures and adding lighting elements to keep things visually interesting, as shown in the photo above. But imagine if this living room had a large but simple artwork, like a Chinese brush calligraphy mural on the wall? It would create an even more impressive impact to the viewer.

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Project by Icon Interior Design Pte Ltd

Even when a room is sparsely furnished, accent elements like a chandelier or black-framed windows with a breathtaking city view, can still give any space a glam appearance.

Vintage eclectic layers in Eunice Yeo’s home in Joo Chiat

Your own belongings and collections are actually what makes your space intimately special, and what will make your guests say “Your place is so you!”

Cover photo courtesy of Decoist