Five designers share their best tricks of the trade for creating a smartly designed home.

TRADE SECRETLeave a great first impression with key pieces in your entryway.NDM-Foyer-3Nam Dang-MitchellThe EntryHer Secret: Make an entry more inviting by anchoring it with a console and mirror. Guests should feel a sense of arrival, says Calgary designer Nam Dang-Mitchell, no matter how big or small the space is. Here, a mirrored console isn’t meant to be a dumping ground for mail and keys—save that for the mudroom—instead, it adds visual interest with art books, a flower arrangement and a stone bowl. The quirky resin sheep adds an element of the unexpected, and the whole space is kept warm with bronze finishes on the pendant and mirror.2TRADE SECRETMimic the look of back-painted glass with high-gloss cabinetry panels.Louis PereiraThe KitchenHis Secret: Create the look of back-painted glass with high-gloss cabinetry. Louis Pereira of Edmonton’s Thirdstone designed the kitchen with Ikea’s Abstrakt cabinets in high-gloss white; the backsplash is also from the Abstrakt line, but in a high-gloss grey. He took cover panels that were intended for built-in refrigerators and custom-cut them to fit the backsplash area above the cooktop and one side of the island. The result mimics the look of back-painted glass at a fraction of the cost.3TRADE SECRETFrame out wallpaper to create a distinct and defined feature wall.Alykhan VeljiThe Living RoomHis Secret: In an open-concept room, frame out wallpaper to create a defined feature wall. Alykhan Velji loves to include texture and pattern in his designs, but the walls of this renovated mid-century home in Calgary could have been problematic for wallpaper: they curve on the way up to the ceiling. Velji framed out a defined section of the wall and installed an elegant, trellis-patterned paper inside, creating the perfect geometric-themed match to the chevron detailing on the accessories in the room.4TRADE SECRETMake your furniture pull triple duty: storage, seating and design accent.Megan BakerThe OfficeHer Secret: Make your furniture pull double duty. Megan Baker of Vancouver’s A Good Chick to Know chose the glass waterfall table in this home office to host a rustic table lamp and a pretty vignette of map-wrapped books, but it’s also storing seating underneath, making the space feel tidy and intentional, rather than cluttered. The pretty yellow Zigzag stools also provide more than just a spot for guests to sit: the bold blast of yellow adds a bit of whimsy to a traditionally serious, work-oriented space.5TRADE SECRETIntroduce pattern in unexpected places, like the stairwell.Kyla BidgoodThe StairwayHer Secret: Introduce pattern into unexpected places. In this case, the first thing visitors see as they walk into the home is the stairwell—given strong impact thanks to a custom-cut lacquered wall that lines the stairs. The pattern itself is Scandinavian-influenced, a repetition of a design Victoria-based Kyla Bidgood used throughout the home on cabinet door handles and on bathroom tiles. At night, when the stairwell light is off, light from the living room creates patterns on the interior walls; when the situation is reversed, the stairwell positively glows.