The subtle art of thematic interiors


We all love a good themed space. The feeling of getting transported somewhere while enjoying other activities in a room is priceless. Surrounding yourself with the things you love can also be a reason to opt for a themed space. However, establishing a theme in interiors can be tricky. There is a fine line between recreating a theme or drowning in it. Achieving the perfect space with a theme is a subtle art and a lesson every Interior Designer should master. Here’s a short guide to help you strike the right balance when it comes to thematic interiors.

1. Striking the Perfect Balance

Take a good hard look at the images below. It is obvious from all of them that the theme of the space is forest. Lots of green, plants, shrubbery, trees etc. is reflected in the space. But, there are a few ways you could go about it. The theme can be up in your face, with everything in the room being green, or very very subtle with just one element representing a tree trunk, or it can be a well designed space with just an addition of planters. So which of these images would you say nailed the theme?


As much as this space screams forest, I am just not into it. The essence of the space should be rightfully captured but shouldn’t completely drown the room. For instance, a forest theme doesn’t mean that you dip everything in green or make the space a wildlife sanctuary. In the end, it is a room, a personal space and overdoing the theme can make a room boring very fast.


Subtle nods towards the theme, by incorporating a motif in the soft furnishing or designing it into a furniture piece is a good way to bring the character into the space.


A feature element, which draws the eye, but doesn’t render everything else bland, is also a mature way of dealing with thematic interiors.

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Another way of incorporating a theme is to pick the color scheme right. A nice wallpaper with everything else complimenting it, is also a simple and effective way to achieve a theme. 

2. Once or Always?

How many times is the right number of times to repeat a motif? When doing a themed space, it is important to not get swept away with one pattern or motif. When we repeat the same design over and over in every element of the room, it becomes more of a crude portrayal of the style, rather than an aesthetic.  


In this nautical themed room, the anchor motif is repeated way too many times. The cushions, the rug, the artefact, everything in the same motif is in my opinion, overdoing it.


This room is a good example of nailing a theme. The color scheme is on point, the nautical stripes haven’t been overdone but still come across through the rug and the bedcovers. The artefacts are sparse, but the boats, the beach sign and the birds communicate the theme successfully. The perfect middle ground is now achieved.

3. Theme or Style?

A lot of designers get stuck between theme or style? In the interior design world, both are different things. For instance, a forest or park is a theme, but including planters in the room is a style. This discrepancy is seen most in case of industrial interiors or vintage interiors. 

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The industrial theme in both the above examples comes through by a single element. As the other features of the space, in both cases, have been designed differently, for example the chairs, Industrial is not a style but a theme in both rooms. The raw brick wall and the industrial pipe fittings convey the theme in the right proportion without overpowering the space. We love!

4. Room or Store?

Another trap people fall into when it comes to themed interiors, is too many accessories. Buying everything which has a similar image on it, and placing it in your room, doesn’t have a very cosy effect and in time, starts looking like a store. Junking your space with too many artefacts bearing the same theme also looks very juvenile and gets old very soon. 

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For a more mature and timeless effect, stick to one or maximum two accessories in the room bearing the theme, and further compliment it by using similar colors or abstract representation of the theme rather than replicating it.

5. Chic or Shabby?

Ok, unless you want to live in Dolores Umbridge’s brain, there is no reason your room should look like this. People tend to go overboard with a style and every single item in the room screams for attention. That should never happen, as the room loses the homely feel and looks more like a museum. This usually happens when people chose the shabby chic or Boho style for their spaces. A lot of products in the same theme are available in the market, but that doesn’t mean your room needs all of it. Stick to maximum three colors, three artefacts and one feature furniture piece. 

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The above example, nails the shabby chic style with its subtle color scheme, minimal but in theme furniture and a soft call to the theme with the flower arrangement. 

6. Theme or personality?

Another common mistake people tend to make is to confuse the theme of their room with their personality. Scattering the room with accessories you have no use for, only clutters the room. If you are a musician, feel free to have a guitar or drum set in your room! But if you are a music enthusiast, stick to wall posters and cushions.

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7. Designer and Client

Usually when it comes to themed spaces, the owner is in love with that facet or that scene or style. More than often, even after the place is designed, they will continue to fill the space with knick-knacks. So, it us upto the designer to know when to stop and hand it over to the client. What happens in this case, is that the designer has already saturated the space with elements in the theme, and in time, the client fills it up with more of those. Gradually, the space becomes more kitsch than it intended to be. SO, know where to draw the line. 


The arch and the chandelier is the perfect amount of features to represent the moroccan theme.


Too many motifs repeated, too many dominant elements and a lot of colors in such a small space will end up overwhelming the user.


The Boho theme is captured well in both the rooms. The designer gives space to the user to shape his own room and doesn’t fill the space to seems with artefacts and wall hangings.

Thematic interiors are a great way to express your personality and make a world within a world. A lot of restaurants, retail spaces and homes go the thematic route when designing interiors. The trick is to know how much is too much and strike the right balance to make your space classy and timeless. I hope this guide was useful to identify ways you can achieve a good theme and not get lost in it!


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