How to Create An Inviting and Casual Interior Design Style in Your Home

Interior Design and Decorator Tips

The days of having a formal lounge and dining, separate from our casual family room really are becoming a rarity. Instead, people are opting to live a more relaxed casual lifestyle and desire their homes reflect this. How can you archive a more casual interior? There are a lot of elements that make up a casual interior ranging from furniture layout, selection, fabric, print, texture to colour and well so much in-between.

Furniture layout – Position your lounges so the 2 seater and 3 seater are next to each other with armchairs opposite this creates a relaxed feel as opposed to positioning the 3 seater and 2 seater opposite each other which gives a more formal and balanced or symmetrical look.

Left: Relaxed casual layout with a mix of furniture pieces (Design: Emily Henderson). Right: Formal symmetrical furniture layout.

Furniture selection – When it comes to lounges, opting for large, slouchy feather-filled, light-coloured linen upholstered large cushion lounges is going to create an immediate relaxed feel in a room as opposed to an uptight, upright, all-foam cushion lounge. An example of this is a formal dark-coloured leather chesterfield lounge compared to a linen cloud look feather-filled lounge. Choosing miss-matched lounges and chairs that still coordinate well also helps a space feel less contrived and more casual. The same applies to dining furniture selection a matching set will immediately make your meals area feel more formal. You also want to do the same with your bedroom furniture selection, don’t feel that your bedsides need to match your tallboy and dresser, instead mix it up. The key is to choose a common design thread or element that runs through the pieces.

Left: Casual light linen slouchy feature filled casual look lounge (Image, RH Cloud) Right: Formal dark leather chesterfield lounge (Image: Melrose Furniture).

Light coloured or light timber finish furniture such as dining tables and chairs, consoles, coffee tables, and bedroom furniture is going to be far more casual than black or dark wood furniture. Traditional overly intricate and ornate pieces are also more formal, not to say that scatterings of these don’t work in a casual setting they just need to be well selected and well-styled into the overall design, to successfully work.

Upholstery – Linens, cottons in neutrals and lighter colours or non-corrected grain leather that shows wear are going to give a more relaxed feel than velvets, damasks, tapestries and leathers (especially darker coloured ones).

Above: Linens and Cottons in neutral lighter colours.

Soft furnishing – Select linens and cotton blends for curtains and be sure that they have a beautiful drape to them. Shiny silks, satins and voiles are all going to give a formal look. Large generous size and quality plump feather-filled scatter cushions immediately relax a room. Curtains on a rod are more casual than a super tailored window treatment with drapes, pelmet and tiebacks all matching.

Flooring – light coloured flooring be it tiles, timber, carpet or rugs is going to help a space feel more casual.

Left: Light cloloured flooring creates an instant relaxed casual feel. Right: Dark colour flooring creates a formal look.

Colour – One of the quickest ways to make an interior space feel casual is by using a lighter colour palette. This will Instantly lighten, brighten and relax a room. A light neutral wall, light to mid-tone flooring and light furniture all will result in a casual look. This isn’t to say you can’t use the occasional pop of darkness to help ground and create contrast but only in small doses. While colour is key, shape still does play a part in achieving an all-over casual feel. You may have a light colour palette but if all the furniture is traditional in its style genre no amount of colour change will help achieve a casual feel. Just like a dark room instantly formalizes a space it’s still possible that it may feel casual if its furniture pieces have a quirkiness and gem-toned colourway to it.

Art – Select artwork that’s subject matter fills two-thirds of the canvas and allows some white space meaning that when it hangs on the wall there is still a light casualness about it, especially if the colour palette is light also.

Left: The art above gives a casual feel due to the white space within its subject matter. Right: This art’s subject matter fills the canvas completely, therefore giving a more formal look.

Lighting – Floor and table lamps that are making use of light wood, white and chrome or stainless steel in their design is going to be more casual in look than say a traditional dark carved base timber lamp with a shade that has tassels, or an ornate gold lamp with frosted glass shade. Lighting brings ambience so add as much mood lighting to your space as you dare, use it to splay light up your walls, turn off your main lights at night and relax amongst the mood lighting that your floor lamps and table lamps provide, this will go along way to create a casual ambience to your room.

Another key element in creating a casual feel space is by adding in plenty of personality by including bespoke, aged or vintage pieces that have a used or lived-in look to them. It’s often these pieces that will bring a room to life. If everything in a room is all new it can feel a bit too perfect and people won’t feel that they can fully relax in the space.

Take the time to also think through the needs of those using the space and cater for these needs. Build your room layer upon layer and in no time people will just love being in the space and you will enjoy many years of memories within its walls.

Happy decorating!


P.S. Have you accessed our Style Guide yet? It’s free. It’s a PDF that will help you determine your unique Interior Style that you can then use as a guide when making all your decorator decisions be it buying furniture, choosing a paint colour, picking a rug this guide will help you save time and money by giving you the know-how to confidently create your dream space. Get it here: