She takes as an example Stig Larsson's crime thriller The Girl Who Played With Fire, and notes how the author uses detail :
... to gradually build a sense of authenticity; and also to show us character.There are two novels where I feel this has been done particularly well. The first is Anne Enright's The Gathering and the contrast between the creme and beige of Veronica Hegarty's home and the comparative darkness and clutter of the family home which serves to emphasise her distance from the events of her childhood.
The second is Balzac's Cousin Bette where the faded glory of the Hulot household is contrasted with the elegance of good taste of Josepha's house (the physical comfort provided by her men); the cleanliness but coldness of Bette's apartment; and the tasteless flashiness of the Marneffe's apartment.
Have you noticed any other interesting examples?
Certainly, the description of an interior is useful device and as Larsson proves, doesn't have to slow down an exciting plot. And isn't it something we do in real life too - work out what other people are like when we visit their homes?
(Maybe this will inspire you to write a description or two of your own ...)