Interiors Q&A with world-renowned interior designer Alidad

We sat down with the esteemed interiors expert and opened the floor to you, to ask questions and gain guidance from the award-winning designer.

In this interview, you’ll discover how Alidad styles spaces with antique and modern pieces alongside his musings on colour, light, and pattern. Without further ado, we present you with Alidad’s highly anticipated answers to your design questions and dilemmas.

Read the full Q&A with Alidad

Q: Where do you start when designing a space?

Alidad: I always start with a good floor plan, then I think about what sort of atmosphere I want to evoke in the room.

Q: What are your thoughts on decorating on a budget?

Alidad: Spend a bit more on the items you will use the most and that need to be comfortable, for example, sofas and beds. By using a combination of good quality and ordinary in everything, you will prevent your decoration from looking ‘cheap’. With a little bit of detective work and sensitivity perhaps you can still do it on a budget. Instead of going and buying the most standard cornice or rug, look around and investigate a bit more, it may cost a tiny bit more but one can enjoy the most remarkable difference.

Q: What is the most important feature to consider when decorating a small space?

Alidad: To use larger scales in your furniture and patterns! In my online course, I discuss how scale is key in good interior design and how you can use it to bring a room to life. The scale of an interior never leaves me alone, it is always niggling at me. I aim to get the biggest thing in these rooms, whether it is pattern or furniture to make the overall impact much grander. For example, with wallpaper, investigate sourcing on a larger scale. Again with furniture, implement some courage and go for the larger scale option, it will make the most transformational impact!

Q: What’s the best way to go about a lighting plan for a small sitting room?

Alidad: Side lamps will create a cosier atmosphere and make the room look larger. Avoid spotlights, or if you want some, concentrate on them in the corner of the room. I love how my homes appear to have evolved over time. Therefore, I stray away from using downlighters. Be critical of the positions in which you are placing your lamps, the lighting should be in areas where it will balance the room.

Q: Warm lights or cool lights?

Alidad: I prefer warmer lighting, but some rooms need stronger lighting, for example, a kitchen, bathroom or dressing room. In some areas where we have to enhance the lighting of a room with modern technology, I like to use it cleverly and deceive with well-placed warm lamps. I would try to make your lighting as discreet as possible because the overall effect is so much nicer.

Q: What is your online course about?

Alidad: I cover everything you need to know about constructing a timeless home that will correspond to your lifestyle and tastes. I tackle subjects such as space planning, colour, style, lighting, antiques, and what to take into consideration when planning the interiors of different rooms in your house, architecture, technology and styling.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Neoclassical style?

Alidad: I love Neoclassical style! Especially Louis XVI, even though I can find beauty in any historical period I like to use Neoclassical style as a base, and then spice it up with more modern features to make the decoration look timeless. These sorts of Neoclassical looks are much more favourable than having a fashion-led interior as they will not date. I recommend creating a home whose bones and structure should remain timeless.

Q: What colour would you recommend for a rather large living room without much light?

Alidad: Listen to your house; if a room doesn’t get much natural light, go for warmer tones and try to make it look cosy instead.

Q: How can someone hone their personal style?

Alidad: A good way to start is by collecting images of what you like, setting aside clippings, and making mood boards from your favourite magazines and books. You’ll find that some common threads will start to emerge. Identify what your favourite colours are, then think of incorporating favourable patterns and textures. Also, think of your favourite objects, travel souvenirs, items that make you happy, and why. Another very important point is to listen to the story of your house, houses talk to you if you allow them to tell you things.

Q: How can I incorporate stronger colours into my room?

Alidad: If you like stronger colours but are afraid it might be too much, go for a more neutral palette for the main elements of the room and select a couple of stronger colours that you like and that work together for the secondary items and accessories.

Q: Why did you choose to be an interior designer and what is your inspiration?

Alidad: When working at Sotheby’s I realised I loved making the displays of the lots we sold look beautiful, and was intrigued by how to assemble them in the best possible way. I realised that my interest lay more in styling the space than the actual objects within it. Regarding inspiration, literally, everything that surrounds me, from nature to movies, art exhibitions, music, and conversations, just keep your eyes and soul open to inspiration!

Q: Do you start your design process with a rug or with something else?

Alidad:The best way to start is by making a good floor plan of your room, to scale, and see how the space works with the pieces of furniture you need. Start with the colour of the walls and the atmosphere you want to create in the room. If you have a statement piece like a beautiful rug or artwork, why don’t you use some of their colours for your scheme?

Q: What is your favourite way to style an entryway?

Alidad: Make a statement in your entryway, as it’s not a room where you’ll need to spend time relaxing. Try to find a couple of nice period pieces of furniture, like a console table or an old sofa, and think about practicality.

Q: Do you have a favourite type of room to work with? 

Alidad:I love designing statement dining rooms, adorned with elegance and opulence. They are mostly used for entertainment so you can create something atmospheric, almost theatrical.

Q: What’s your thoughts about using older furniture than the house?

Alidad: I think you should always mix pieces of furniture from different periods, as it will make your decoration look more timeless. I want my homes to look as if different people have influenced their interior and that every generation has added its own unique mark to them. Using antique and older furniture will ensure that your homes are still timeless and relevant for 10 to 15 years to come.

Q: How many different colours should you use in one room?

Alidad: There are no rules! Just make sure that your colours and patterns are balanced. You can maybe start with your rug, or a piece of patterned fabric you like and lift inspiration from the tonalities in the material. I’m not interested in the colour of today as it will be different tomorrow, I practice in a fairly classical style but am influenced by new ground.

Join Alidad as he teaches all the skills needed to create an elegant, cosy and highly functional home, that stands the test of time and out lasts trends and fashions for years to come.

Discover more

How to plant a bulb lasagne

Looking to create your own bulb lasagne and unsure where to start? With help from expert gardener Arthur Parkinson, we've broken the process down into three easy steps so you can make your own at home.

Meet Helen McGinn

Read our interview with the author of the award-winning blog ‘The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club’, drinks writer and presenter, Helen McGinn.

Our top ten sustainable brands

Here’s a round-up of just a few of our favourite brands who are doing their bit to look after the Earth and champion conscious consumerism.