As many of my regular readers will know, I sent out a survey recently to find out what your biggest headaches are when designing your own home décor. One of the most common answers that came back, was that people just don’t know where to start when decorating their home.
I totally get this. It can be really overwhelming when we are bombarded with images of beautiful homes and fantastic schemes, and when we come to create them ourselves we just don't know where or how to start. There's almost so much inspiration that we can get completely paralysed.
In actual fact, if you take a methodical approach to designing your home, you will end up with a cohesive and pleasing scheme, which really isn't that difficult to put together, once you know what to do.
I've collated below the 10 main steps that you need to take when planning out a new design. If you follow them step by step, you'll have a clear plan for your decorating project, and avoid being overwhelmed.
So the first thing you need to do when designing a space is to have a good ole’ clear out. It is no good trying to visualise a space which is crammed full of old papers, stacks of magazines and unused toys. The queen of decluttering is Marie Kondo, who has written several best-selling books on organising. She recommends that you declutter item type by item type (rather than room by room), so you clear up all papers first, then all clothing items, then all books etc). If you don't know where to being with decluttering, definitely check out some of her work.
2. Create a blank canvas
If you want a room scheme to work, you should firstly start by neutralising as much as you can within the room to create a blank canvas from where to begin. Did you ever watch that interior design programme with George Clarke, where he used to spray everything white? It was a bit crazy, because he sprayed the walls, floors, ceilings, EVERYTHING white! But it also meant that you could really look at the architecture of the room and not be distracted by existing elements in your room. Now, I'm not suggesting that you do this, but if you don't neutralise the four different types of wood which are competing with each other in the room, or the 1980s stone fire-TV-surround-combo which someone once thought was the height of cool, you'll never end up with a scheme you like. Create a blank canvas by painting wood finishes, replacing flooring and covering up old pipework or electricity boxes. Believe me, this will be worth it at the end of your project.
3. Let the space speak to you
OK, so I’m not talking about some kind of new-age, hippy feeling the vibes of your room, but I do think it’s important to take stock of what you have, and to design your room to fit the architecture and the style of home that you have. Now, I know that you can create really cool modern interiors within period homes, and that’s great if you’re a professional designer, but for the rest of us, we need to take note of the style and period of your home. If you live in a 1960s bungalow, creating a classic Victorian scheme is going to look out of whack with the architecture. Work with what you’ve got.
4. Notice the room direction
The way that a room faces can have a big impact on the feel of a room because of the natural light that falls into a room. Check out this blog post where I go into some detail about room direction. South facing rooms will always be sunny, and north facing rooms will always have a cool light. If you have a south facing room, embrace the lightness and go with it. If you have a north facing room, you can either choose light, warm colours to brighten it up, or turn it into a cosy den with dark colours and sumptuous fabrics.
5. Look for inspiration
You don't know what you like, until you've had some experience of it. So turn to source of inspiration. Use home interiors magazines, websites and (of course) my favourite website, Pinterest. Keep a log of everything you like, either by creating Pinterest boards, setting up an album on your computer or even an old-school style scrapbook. Make notes about what you like.
6. Define your style
Ugh, we’ve all done it. We go out shopping for our home décor, and we buy things we like, kind of on a whim, and bring it home, only to find that it looks out of place with the rest of our décor. When we have a clearly defined style, we know exactly what will fit in with our home décor, and what just won’t look right. When you look for inspiration (see above) don’t just google away, happily drooling over interiors you like because this can just become overwhelming. Instead, try to analyse what shapes and styles you are drawn to, and start looking for common themes that keep cropping up. Like industrial finishes? Cosy sofas? Mid-Century coffee tables? Jot it all down and start detailing exactly what you are drawn to.
7. Choose your colours
Having a clearly defined colour palette makes shopping for accessories, furniture and paint so much easier. It prevents you from making purchasing mistakes because you know exactly what will go together in your home, and what will look out of place.
8. Set your budget
Make sure that you allocate per-item costs for your space. By being clear about how much you have to spend up front, you don’t get half way through a project and find out that you’ve run out of money to complete the job. Creating a budget plan for your space means that you itemise exactly what your costs will be before you begin.
9. Plan your space
It’s really important that your room works for you and your family. Be clear about the expectations of the space you are designing. If it’s a room for eating, make sure there is a table and chairs, if it’s a room for socialising, make sure that the seating arrangement supports this. When buying furniture, make sure that you measure, measure and measure again. I once ordered a sofa, only to find that it wouldn't fit through the door. We took the arm off to get it through the door, only to find that it was two inches too big for the space we had chosen for it. I ended up having a living room door that would never fully open because of it. Yes, I learned from this mistake. Measure, measure and measure again!
10. Use decorative accessories
Make sure that you don’t forget to plan the finishing details with accessories: choose soft furnishings, wall art, mirrors and decorative objects to really transform a room. You can use accessories to update a colour scheme, and to bring in pattern and interest. The great thing about accessories is that they are generally inexpensive- you can change out a whole room by changing up the cushions, throws and ornaments
So, have a go at the 10 steps, and this will reduce your overwhelm, and set you on the right path to creating a home you love.
Until next time x
Main image source: Designer & Petite by www.Delcor.co.uk