5 things we learned about Interior Design at Grand Designs Live 2017

We have probably all given a trend a go in our homes; from patterned wallpaper and feature walls to keeping it good old beige. However, every once in a while, it’s good to hear from the experts – the people who really know what they’re doing when it comes to interior design.

During our recent visit to Grand Designs Live at The NEC in Birmingham, we were fortunate to catch a talk with Daniel Hopwood and Sophie Robinson, AKA the wonderful presenting pair from The Great Interior Design Challenge.

Not only did the talk give us the chance to take a look into Alan Carr’s home and have a look around Sophie’s humble abode, we also got given a mini masterclass – Daniel and Sophie regularly host a range of masterclasses which you can see here – into interior design and some of their top tips.

Here are just a few tips that they shared with us…


Colour can be super scary, especially if it is something you haven’t experimented much with in your home. Sophie, who is pretty much the queen of colour, told the crowd that she often tells people to ‘think about how you want the room to feel’. For example, green is a feel good colour and works well in most homes and dark colours can create a really cosy, inviting space. Sophie explained that bright colours don’t have to be overpowering either, especially if you use them in a light, airy space.

If you don’t fancy painting your walls or testing out a statement wallpaper, it could be worth taking some of Sophie’s advice of coloured furniture. Therefore, you can keep the room itself neutral, but use an accent colour with furniture and room accessories.

If you’re struggling to be inspired, Sophie and Daniel recommended starting with one piece for the room; a painting, a wallpaper, a fabric – that piece can then inspire you for the rest of the room. Daniel also suggested that if colour isn’t really your thing, then simply try it in the hallway, then you don’t have to live with it all the time and it can still be an inviting, welcoming home.


Although colour can be scary, neutrals can be dangerous, as if they go wrong, your home will end up looking flat, boring and lifeless. Sophie suggested that for neutral rooms, you will need plenty of textures; linen, throws, silk, velvet, the lot. With a mixture of textures, the room can look much more inviting and cosy.

If you are after a dramatic neutral look, you can’t go wrong with black and white. Sophie explained that monochrome can be really impactful and make the room feel super high end and classy. Other tones that will bring impact to a home are colours which are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, like purple and yellow, blue and orange and violet and green.

Gallery Walls

Gallery walls are a great excuse to create a focal point in the room, without too much effort being required. Simply choose a wall in your home and add prints and art work to it. Try using different coloured frames, different size prints and even throw in a few different textures in there.

However, Sophie suggests that the winning formula to a gallery wall is for all the prints to somehow be connected, either through colours or the message. Alternatively, create a gallery without hanging pictures up by placing prints against each other on a cabinet or console table.


Daniel and Sophie stated that symmetry in a home can help make rooms feel much more balanced. From matching lamps on either side of the room and the sofa’s sitting directly opposite each other to even the furnishings and where pictures are hung.

However, Sophie suggested to not overdo it and to try and mix it up with cushions and accessories.

Finding your own style

Finally, Daniel and Sophie were keen to tell visitors to the talk that it really is necessary to find your own style when creating a room and home. Obviously, for many of us it is easy to go with what is ‘in fashion’ and what is easiest to add to a room.

Daniel explained that interior design is all about injecting your personality into the space, and to create a home it is vital to make the living space something that truly belongs to you, not just what is in the shop or what everyone else has.

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