Two-dimensional metal nanoparticle arrays are normally constructed at liquid–oil interfaces by modifying the surfaces of the constituent nanoparticles so that they self-assemble. Here we present a general and facile new approach for promoting such interfacial assembly without any surface modification. The method use salts that have hydrophobic ions of opposite charge to the nanoparticles, which sit in the oil layer and thus reduce the Coulombic repulsion between the particles in the organic phase, allowing the particles to sit in close proximity to each other at the interface. The advantage of this method is that because it does not require the surface of the particles to be modified it allows nonmetallic particles including TiO2 and SiO2 to be assembled into dense interfacial layers using the same procedure as is used for metallic particles. This opens up a route to a new family of nanostructured functional materials.