Coastal or Country? Why choosing a theme for your home is a bad idea… | The Home Design School

Coastal or Country? Why choosing a theme for your home is a bad idea…

Coastal bedroom

If you’re a home décor enthusiast, and you’re anything like me, you will glue yourself to the TV whenever there is a home decorating programme on. Not only do I soak up the UK programmes like the Great Interior Design Challenge, but I also delve into some of the shows from across the pond, like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers. Now I know these programmes can be pretty corny, but I just can’t help myself!

For those of you too young to remember, back in the late 1990s to early 2000s, there was a programme in the UK called Changing Rooms.  The programme’s structure was always the same: two homeowners swapped houses with their neighbour, and allowed a decorating team, led by an aspiring interior designer, into their homes to completely makeover a room from top to bottom. 

At the end of the programme there was a “grand reveal” and the homeowners would be allowed in to see the transformation. Pretty formulaic so far, right?

However, the room designs were often crazy, off the wall designs that no right-minded person would choose for themselves. The designers chose a set “theme” for the room, and decorated it with wild abandon in line with the theme. 

The Grand Themes

We had rooms with an Arabian nights theme, rooms with a Greek temple theme, and one room, which- memorably for the poor homeowner who burst into tears on the reveal- resembled a tart’s boudoir!

 Via  Via

Changing Rooms earned itself a reputation for naff design and over-the-top decoration, like this Queen Anne themed dining room, complete with mock flagstones.

It may have been good for ratings, but it certainly wasn’t good for tasteful design.

One of the downsides of all this “inspiration” was that people started decorating their homes around a theme. So we started seeing coastal themes, where every possible seaside paraphernalia from life-saving rings to knot pictures to messages- in- a- bottle and miniature sailboats were stuffed into every available space. We had Indian themed rooms with rich embroidery, floor cushions, silk paintings and incense everywhere, in a 1930s semi in Birmingham. And don’t get me started on the paint effects. Rag rolling anyone? *shudder*

Things Have Moved On…

Luckily, popular design has moved on since then, and the more modern shows generally produce competent and cohesive designs. The likes of the Property brothers and DIY SOS actually create functional and aesthetically pleasing rooms that any of us would be happy to live in. 

Now whilst few of us would decorate our rooms according to a theme like this, many of us get stuck in a rut of decorating our rooms according to a pre-determined style. Most of us are drawn to one type of design style or another. Whether that is classic, or industrial, mid-century modern or country, shabby chic or minimalist, most of us have a natural inclination towards one style or another. 

  Not sure what your preferred style is? Take the Quiz!  Not sure what your preferred style is? Take the Quiz!

Now, there is nothing wrong with having style likes and dislikes (in fact, I actively encourage people to get to know their preferred style), but the problem comes when this is taken too far. Any style taken to its extreme will look at best twee, and at worst downright naff. Not only that, but putting a line in the sand and adhering religiously to one design style is very restrictive and leaves you little room for changes in taste. 

So how do we incorporate our chosen style without going over the top?

“The key to incorporating your chosen style without going over the top, is to identify what is at the heart of the design style.”

— Kate Hatherell- The Home Design School

The key to this is to identify what is at the heart of the design style you like, and to include a ‘nod’ to the look, rather than an in-your-face replica of it. Let’s take a look at a few examples…

If you like country style..

 Image via  Vanessa Arbuthnott  Image via Vanessa Arbuthnott

At the heart of country style is laid back, cosy living. Built for practicality in the country, this style often has stone or wooden floors which can cope with muddy boots from the field, large farmhouse tables and a cosy log fire. Country homes often have traditional framed kitchens and lots of painted wood. It should be a little tired, a little rustic. In the image above, the country style furniture is balanced with a more modern floor light and an on-trend colour scheme.

How to get it wrong: go over the top with lots of stag heads, hunting paraphernalia and too much tartan fabric.

If you like Scandi…

 Via  Ideal Home  Via Ideal Home

The essence of scandi design is clean, functional and uncluttered. Think light and bright. Keep your walls white and soft grey, and use pale or lightly distressed wood throughout. Bring in sheepskin for softness.

How to get it wrong: Deer antlers everywhere and animal skins on every surface. 

If you like coastal…

 Image via  Ideal Home  Image via Ideal Home

Coastal schemes reflect the openness of the ocean and the sea breeze. Stick to a colour palette of whites, aqua and blue, reflecting the landscape. Use fabrics in ticking stripes and use plenty of cushions. You can get away with a nod to the seaside with some coastal elements, for example a jute rug, a knotted door stop or a coastal painting.

How to get it wrong: cram your decor with seaside paraphernalia such as anchors, lifesaving rings, sailboats, faux fish and lobster pots. 

If you’re not sure what the main elements of your style are, then check out this fun quiz below, which will point you in the right direction.

Until next time x

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