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DIGEST DESIGN XI: What I Learned From Frida Ramstedt

I was recently introduced to Frida Ramstedt on Schneider Electric’s “Home of the Future” podcast.

With no photos and lots of equations like the 60/30/10 +S color formula, the 5-7 rule for lighting, and the 2:8 storage principle, it’s a wonder I ever bought the book. So glad I did.


“Furnish for how you would like to live, not for what you want people to think,” says Ramstedt in The Interior Design Handbook. With wonderful tips on creating an harmonious home, this Swedish styling guru believes in thinking about how we decorate, rather than focusing on what we decorate with.

General rules of thumb include the golden ratio and the golden spiral, the proper size for a coffee table in relation to your sofa, the optimal height to hang lighting fixtures, proper dimensions for adequate bathroom swing, and much more.


Here are some of my favorites:

The red thread concept comes from Greek mythology when Theseus found his way out of Minotaur’s labyrinth by following the red thread given to him by Ariadne. Don’t ‘lose the thread.’ Look for anything that ties a room together. Create a subtle thematic bridge with color, materials, or details.

Use the golden ratio to divide your spaces into thirds both horizontally and vertically rather than halves to create balance and harmony. Furniture designs like Arne Jabobsen’s Egg Chair and the nautilus shell are examples of golden ratio and golden spiral proportions.

Three-point thinking is a way of positioning objects so that their outlines form a triangle.

Paint that is gloss is more forgiving, semi-gloss, or matte is easier to keep clean. Ramstedt explains what works best in different scenarios.

When designing a room for children, get down on your knees to work from a child’s perspective. And remember to make room for adults. You don’t want to read to them in a cramped space.

Camouflage the black hole of the TV by painting the wall a darker color.

Coffee tables should not be more than two-thirds of the total length of the sofa.


Make sure your hall closet has the right dimensions to accommodate thick outerwear.

Sculptural lamps with naked incandescent lights work best as decorative lights or dim cozy lighting - not for everyday lighting above a dining area. What’s needed is a suspended light over the table so you can see properly without being dazzled or disturbed by shadows.

Remember that the best lighting is not primarily created to be in the center and be visible, but for other things around it to be seen better.


Compare interior design to clothes and fashion. If you're buying new shoes or underwear, you know your size. Become acquainted with the dimensions and distances that are compatible with our bodies. That’s especially true for sofas where your back should rest against the sofa and your feet reach the floor.

Mea culpa on that one.