I’m often asked for simple tips about great interior design. There are so many ideas and beautiful products to choose from for your home. But ultimately you need to start with some basic foundations otherwise you can make some costly mistakes.
Here are my top 5 tips to create interiors that are not only beautiful but practical too.
1. DON’T RUSH DECISIONS
Unless you are doing a major renovation I always recommend that you live in your home for six months. You will notice elements that you simply wouldn’t consider during an estate agent’s viewing. For instance once you live in a space you’ll notice the way light changes throughout the day. And you may find the flow of the rooms doesn’t quite work for you and you need to move some walls. It is absolutely crucial that the layouts work in the house before you start investing any further.
When it comes to making decisions about paint colour my advice is to not rush. Paint the colour on each wall of the room and look at them at different times of day. Never pick a colour simply from the swatch on a paint card!
2. FUTURE PROOF YOUR HOME
If you have purchased a “forever home” then consider how you will live as a family in five or ten years time. This is particularly relevant when you have young children. It’s tempting to choose childproof designs when you have babies or toddlers. Within a couple of years you will no longer need sticky finger proof fabrics. Chances are you will dislike the choices you made a few years ago when life looked quite different! Instead of designing a playroom consider it as a family room which will grow and change with your family. Buy furniture with loose covers that can be washed. Or get slip covers made in a child proof fabric with your preferred fabric on the upholstery itself. In a couple of years you can take off the covers and reveal the more grown up furniture.
Make sure your storage is flexible for your future needs. I love TV media units with shelves and storage cupboards incorporated underneath. These work whatever the age of your children. And remember that as your children grow older their toys start to be stored in their bedroom and your family room will be freed up!
3. ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
It’s great to embrace new ideas but your home should always be a reflection of you and not the signature style of a designer.
Don’t try and create a style that feels too far removed from your personality. Ultimately you just won’t feel at home. If you feel drawn a certain colour make sure it’s included. Colour reflects a mood so ultimately you’ll be drawn to colours that are associated with a feeling (e.g. blue for calm).
If you simply feel overwhelmed by choice a designer can help filter and shape your ideas. Or simply suggest ideas you might not have thought about that work with the mood you want to create. So think about the feeling you want to evoke rather than the exact style. I have put together an article about colour scheme ideas here.
4. BE EXPERIMENTAL WITH YOUR GUEST BEDROOM
This is the room to have fun with! Generally your master bedroom should be a haven of calm. You also need a scheme that you won’t tire of. The guest bedroom is a different case however! I think guest bedrooms are a great place to try out bolder ideas. Quite often we fall in love with bold wallpapers or fabrics but then we don’t feel confident enough to use them. In a guest bedroom you simply won’t get bored, as you won’t see them every day! I love to create bold headboards in a guest bedroom. Hotels are a great place for inspiration. Take this example, a hotel room designed by Kit Kemp. Your guests will love staying in a guest bedroom that feels like a hotel and it gives you a chance to experiment.
5. CREATE CONTRAST WITH PATTERN AND TEXTURE
An effective scheme needs either contrast in pattern or contrast in texture to really work. Otherwise it will simply fall flat.
I am a huge fan of pattern, with so many amazing designs to choose from. The trick is how you combine them. The key is to combine large scale with smaller scales. The mistake a lot of people make is to think you can combine too many patterns with the same scale, simply because they have the same colour linking them.
Use a large-scale pattern to link different colours across a room. In a bedroom the curtains are a good place to start. You can then pick out each colour in different items across the room. If you prefer to keep your curtains simple then a bedspread or a headboard also works well as the glue that holds the scheme together. If you are little cautious about introducing pattern simply use as an accent. The best place for this on cushions. You can easily and inexpensively change these if you get bored or regret your decision! There is more information about choosing blinds and curtains for a modern country home here.
In country homes I’m a huge fan of texture. It brings real warmth and atmosphere to a room. Play on a sense of contrast by combining smoother textures with chunkier materials. This works best where you have an absence of colour or pattern. Texture adds a beautiful simplicity and warmth that you can’t create with pattern.