5 Interior Design Lessons That Translate To Beauty Tips

My experience as a shelter editor taught me these 5 tips for decorating a room or yourself.
Publish date:
June 5, 2013
hair, makeup, foundations, nails, highlighters, drugstore beauty, decor, interior design

A few years ago, I found myself working as an editor on a national beauty magazine and a national luxury home magazine simultaneously. What a trip.

At first, shifting gears between the two was pretty jarring. On the one hand, you’re talking about manmade structures full of inanimate objects; on the other, you’re talking about living, breathing, actual people. Sometimes I had to get up, hit the Keurig and mentally reboot before shifting from one project to the other.

But, as is the case with so many scenarios in life, I eventually found that the two topics had a lot of common denominators. After all, they both focus on aesthetics and creating looks that are functional and appealing. The More You Know!

Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way that straddle both disciplines.


Lots of public spaces--restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies--use mirrors to create the illusion of space in small rooms. Light reflecting off any surface makes it look larger overall, which is important to remember when applying makeup.

Use highlighter or shimmer on features that you want to play up-- like cheekbones and brow bones--and not ones you want to minimize.


Many designers embrace the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which lauds all things “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.” In a room, this could translate to asymmetry, organic shapes and wild textures.

Try looking at your beauty routine the same way. If your hair is acting quirky one morning, don’t call it a bad hair day--just roll with it. If your nail polish comes out more translucent on one nail but opaque on another, enjoy the disparity. It’s a lot more interesting and way liberating.


In the same vein as wabi-sabi, many of the most appealing spaces I’ve seen aren’t perfectly coordinated. For instance, a purple velvet chaise lounge in a neutral minimalist room. Combining contrasting styles, textures and colors makes for more original and thought-provoking design.

So break the rules. Just because you have an earthy palette on your face doesn’t mean your hair has to follow suit; sleek, pin-straight hair could make for a fresh combination. Mix it up.


Just about every designer I’ve ever interviewed has emphasized this point for the DIY decorator: Spend your money on quality furniture in neutral tones. This serves as a sturdy, versatile canvas for the rest of your look.

The same applies to your face. If there’s any makeup item worth really investing in, it’s foundation that will last through the day and won’t disturb your skin’s natural balance (i.e., dry you out or make you break out).


Once you’ve established a firm foundation in a room, you can have fun with seasonal trends without spending too much money. Just throw a few inexpensive pillows, lamps, blankets or tabletop objects into the mix, and you can change the whole vibe.

You can change your own look in the same way, too, by experimenting with new colors and textures in lip and eye makeup from the drugstore. It’s virtually risk-free given the low cost and the fact that most drugstores have great return policies. (Really!)

Are you into decor stuff? Have you ever noticed the similarities between interior design and beauty? Ever let a room inspire your makeup or vice versa?