Repeated shades of blue enliven a neutral color palette. (Photo: Design Recipes/TNS).

Design isn’t always seen and heard. Often the best design techniques are small, hidden touches. Less is often more. Some of the best designs aren’t always made in the big moments but in the small details. From color to the right furniture, fabrics, artwork and accessories, we’ve assembled some designer details secrets.

Incorporate shape blocking. This involves the repetition of shapes or patterns to make a design feel cohesive.

Use thoughtful accents. Accessories are critical elements of a room. Incorporate colors and items that look like they belong together.

Go white. Sometimes white or neutral colors can make a soft and soothing palette.

Use pops of color. Subtle but purposeful pops of color can help highlight a space.

Vary height. Don’t use items that are all one height.

Use vignettes. Vignettes are small, thought-out design elements such as successfully paired together.

Don’t ignore surfaces such as dressers and countertops. These are great opportunities to continue your design statement.

Dress your shelves. Bookshelves or open shelves throughout the home should be functionally yet aesthetically pleasing. Blend books with decorative elements.

Consider artwork instead of mirrors over dressers. Often this is an opportunity to continue a color story in a room.

Infuse greenery or natural elements. Many designers use organic and natural elements such as moss, greenery, reeds, branches, twigs and stones as filler design elements for spaces such as shelves, countertops and side tables.

By Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service. Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. E-mail [email protected] or visit her website at