1. Get personal!
The popularity of Interior Design is due a comeback. For too long during the property boom we have been told to decorate in neutral colours in the hope of a bigger profit on the resale. Now we’re looking to stay put a little longer it’s time to make our houses a home again. So rule number one is get personal- tune into your own sense of style and identity and get enjoy the creative process.
2. Dress your windows
A window is to a view what a frame is to a painting. Therefore don’t overlook the way you are going to dress them. Dusty Venetian blinds and too-short-curtains are not the way to go. I love combining curtains and blinds in co-ordinating fabrics for the ultimate well dressed look. Go for long curtains for a more elegant look.
3. Lamps not lights
Professional Interior designers use complicated lighting designs to create amazing visual effects within a room. However you can start to ring the changes at home. Avoid the rather over used down lighters in favour of wall lights, spotlights and lamps that can create a softer or more dramatic ambience. Down lights and pendant lights cast a rather nasty shadow over your face giving everyone bags under their eyes, so shouldn’t be your main source of lighting in living rooms or bedrooms.
4. Create instant impact with a feature wall
Having one wall in the room papered or painted a contrasting colour, has been popular for a while. Bold is best as pale colours or weak prints just don’t make the grade. Balance the look by choosing the wall behind your sofa or headboard. That way when you’re relaxing you don’t have to look at it.
5. The new neutral
Grey has replaced beige as the go-to neutral but I’d advise a warmer shade as bluey greys leave a room feeling dank. Cosy up the look with a warm accent colour like red, sunshine yellow or copper when choosing accessories.
6. Respect the period details
We now all know that stripping out your homes period features is a crime but if you prefer a contemporary look, consider painting the walls, moldings, doors and architraves, all one and the same colour. This stops the period details jumping out for a more modern effect.
7. Keep it cosy
Hard floors have never been hipper, but leave your home feeling chilly and draughty. A large area rug will cosy it up, and you can always roll it away or easily replace it. For a budget option, consider having a carpet remnant whipped around the edges.
8. Create flow in your open plan spaces
Open plan living has thrown up all types of design dilemmas. Firstly consider the space as a whole and choose a comprehensive scheme that flows; same finish on floors and walls. Next zone the different areas with a signature rug, low-level pendant lights or accessories in a different accent colour.
9. Kill the clutter
No matter how beautiful a design scheme it’s killed off in a second by unnecessary stuff. Resist muddling up shelves and surfaces with knick-knacks, in favour of grouping a few well-chosen pieces that tell the ‘story’ and group family photos together for a wall display rather than smattering around the room.
10. Devils in the detail
‘The details are not the details. They make the design’ said famous designer Charles Eames, and I think he was onto something. Things we come into contact every day like light switches, door handles, drawer knobs, and taps, if they’re nicely designed, feel so much better. So this weekend, oil that squeaky door handle and update all your kitchen knobs!
11. First impressions count
From Georgian to Victorian, designers cared about first impressions and you see front doors, entrances and hallways featuring beautiful carpentry, tiles, stained glass and lighting. One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve the look of your home starts at the front door. A lick of high gloss paint on the front door and a twinkly chandelier in the hallway would be a great start.
12. Mix old and new
‘Eclectic’ is the new buzzword in interior design. It essentially means ‘Anything goes’ and follows the idea that our rooms shouldn’t follow a formula, with everything matching. That’s what I call the ‘straight out of a catalogue’ effect and it should be avoided. Instead aim to create a home that appears to have evolved organically thereby feeling more original. A great way to achieve this is to mix period pieces with something contemporary or vice versa.
13. Move over to the dark side
Its often believed in order to make a room feel larger you need to paint it pale. In fact the opposite can be true as dark colours recede away from the eye giving a room more depth. However make sure you use plenty of effective lighting and break up the wall colour with white framed prints and mirrors for a dramatic effect.
14. Think in pairs
Styling items in pairs is a great way to get that ‘Interior Designed’ look. A pair of lamps either side of the sofa, a pair of large glass vases on the dining table or a pair of prints above the bed. The symmetry it creates helps make a room look put together.
This buzz word in design right now is where you take an unloved item like a piece of furniture and customise or reinvent it to make you love it again. By getting your existing furniture to work with a new scheme your saving money and not adding to landfill. You’ll also be the proud owner of a one off original.
16. Paint your radiators
Radiators are a bug-bear within a room design. They’re often in the wrong place and look ugly. Forget costly radiator covers and simply paint the radiator in the same colour as the walls to help it visually disappear. Use an acrylic eggshell rather than emulsion.
17. White’s not always right
The belief that Pure Brilliant white makes a room feel larger and brighter in my opinion leaves it feeling dull and depressing. It’s due to the blue pigment in the paint. My advice is only use white in south facing, sun filled rooms. Everywhere else choose a warmer shade of pale, like an off white or warm grey.
18. Neutral basics on a budget
When decorating on a budget think neutral for the big purchases like sofas and floor coverings as they form your blank canvas. Then you can have fun adding colour and design with the accessories, even building up the look over time. It’s also easier to ring the changes more often.
19. Size matters
Furniture seems to be getting bigger and bigger- large corner sofas and king size beds are all the rage. If you have a modest room, prevent it feeling crammed by choosing sofas and armchairs on legs and bedsteads rather than divans, which will help create the illusion of space at least!
20. The 5 P’s
Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance. It’s an overwhelming task redesigning a whole room and with the time and money invested its important to get right. Begin with a mood board- where you gather all your inspiration images, tear sheets, paint chips, floor samples and swatches in one place to check they all work together.