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© LISA BRADBURN 2017
Design tips

Simple Interior Design Tips During Challenging Times

6 May 2020

Right now we are spending all our time at home, which is making a lot of us focus on what we would like to change. Yet at the same time it might feel like the wrong time to be making big plans right now. So when I was thinking about what kind of article I could write, sharing some very simple tips feels like the right thing to do. Our concentration spans may have evaporated away but small changes are still manageable! And they will put you in a good place for when you are ready to make bigger changes in your home. So here are my top interior design tips.

BAN THE WORD ‘SHOULD’!

Too many people I meet say “I should I do” or “I should be more brave”. I totally understand where this comes from but if you start from a position of fear or what other people think you won’t love the result. Your home needs to make you happy!

Instead of thinking about being brave, you probably need to build your confidence in your own instincts rather than fighting against them. We are barraged by so many images every day of beautiful interiors you can totally loose sight of what your instincts are. People tend to question themselves when they’ve spent too long on Pinterest or Instagram. From seeing images every day of popular colours or styles we can become conditioned to like them, simply because we are seeing them so much. Those are the images you start to feel you “should’ have without even being aware you are doing it. Which is why confusion sets in and you no longer know what your own style is.

So how do you move away from the ‘Should’ and build your confidence instead? I come on to this in my next point!

ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE FEEL FOR YOUR HOME

If there’s one thing you can do right now it’s to get inspired. You need to connect back in to how you wish your home to FEEL before you even consider how it might look. Gathering design inspiration is often overlooked but is the most fun part of designing your home.

Before planning the look, start with the words that encapsulate the feel you’d like to create. Examples of words might be Calm, Relaxed, Nurturing, Welcoming, Joyful and Fun. Pick three words for your room. Then get searching for inspiration that works with those words. You’ll start to see themes in terms of colours, patterns and textures you are drawn to.

So where do you find this inspiration? I normally say to get away from the screen and get out there, as you need to see, touch (and sometimes smell!) to really connect. Obviously right now it’s difficult to explore but nature is one example and to me is always the first place I look. Inspiration from nature will always make you feel grounded. Plus Mother Nature has already come up with some stunning colour combinations for you!

Physically tearing out images from magazines or looking back at photos of places you’ve visited is a good alternative until you can visit them again. So look back at a special holiday, a favourite restaurant or even a family trip to a National Trust property.

Another good way to get inspiration is to physically flick through magazines and simply tear out the images that make you stop. Do the flicking through fairly quickly and without any analysis! Your instincts will be drawn to certain images. When you start analysing and breaking it down it just doesn’t work. Then keep those images in a scrapbook. There is something really lovely about physically sticking them into a book.

Of course there is no denying there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest and Instagram too. Just be cautious that online scrolling tends to add confusion into the mix and doesn’t tend to evoke an emotional response. If you really to use Pinterest do look at my page as I’ve pulled together lots of inspirational images from nature, travel and food etc.

GET CONNECTED TO COLOUR

Even before the dreaded virus that was a shift in the way we were starting to use colour in our home.  The huge popularity of the purely neutral home was starting to wane. With the world being an even more confusing place right now, we are comforting ourselves in our home. So colours that create nostalgia were already becoming more popular and anything that connects us to nature. Colour is so closely tied to emotion and can be incredibly nurturing.

The best way to connect with colour is work with your instincts. If you start with the inspiration tips I give above you’ll start to see you are drawn to certain colours. It’s also not just the colours but also the tone and saturation of them.  You may find from simply toning down the saturation of a colour it suddenly works for you. I’ll be writing another article shortly on colour as there is too much to cover here! But in the meantime do look at my previous article on colour scheme ideas:

Colour Scheme Ideas

Paint Tips Farrow and Ball

BUILD YOUR WISH LIST AND HAVE SOME FUN WITH IT!

One of my top pieces of advice is to start with what you love and build from there. If you start with a fabric, wallpaper or rug that you love you can start to build a decorative scheme from there. The most prominent pattern in the room sets the tone and colour scheme for the rest of the space. It is a brilliant starting place to anchor the room.

If you’ve already done your inspirational research you’ll now have an idea about the feel you’d like to create. Which puts you in a better position to think about the pieces that work with that feel. So how do you go about doing that? One idea is to look for a multi-hued pattern that incorporates your favourite colours. Fabric for me is normally the starting point but you may see a rug you love for instance. However, right now seeing rugs or ordering samples is difficult! But you can certainly order fabric and wallpaper samples. Have fun with it and order items you are drawn to. If you keep using your words as your anchor you can’t go too far wrong. And even if you do it doesn’t matter! The point is to enjoy it!

DON’T MAKE QUICK PAINT DECISIONS!

It’s so tempting to make changes right now to enliven your home. However a choice you make now you might regret down the line, as your emotions are not quite where they would normally be! Give yourself the opportunity to let ideas soak in and see if they still resonate in a month or two. Also don’t make a decision that might dictate the whole scheme. Paint decisions should normally come after you’ve chose fabric. Starting with the fabric makes picking paint decisions so much easier!

If you are really keen and still want to go ahead with painted a room, I’ve outlined some of my favourite colours below.

For a calm relaxed scheme – Blue Gray by Farrow and Ball is a fail safe choice. A lovely colour that changes in different lights from a sage green through to a bluer green tone. A perfect colour for bathrooms

For a more “interesting” neutral – Setting Plaster by Farrow and Ball is a great choice if you don’t like dark colours but want a warmer neutral. It’s a fantastic base colour and goes with almost everything and adds a lovely atmosphere to a room.

For an enveloping feel – Livid by Little Greene. A big favourite of mine it is a lovely blue toned green which feels sophisticated yet warm. A great choice for small dark rooms.

For a timeless blue – Hicks Blue by Little Greene. A dark yet warm blue, this is a wonderful choice for bottoms or kitchens. Anywhere where there is likely to be a lot of mud or dirt! It also goes really well with brighter colours such as pink or yellow, where you want a lift.

CUSHIONS ARE AN EASY WAY TO MAKE A QUICK CHANGE

I’m a total fabric addict and love designing bespoke cushions. But there are some great cushions by talented designers if you need a quick colour boost! If you are trying to workout what combination of cushions to buy my simple tip would be the following. Choose one cushion with a large scale print that pulls together all the colours, then another in a smaller scale print in one of those colours. Then finally another smaller scale or plain in the other colour.

Do see my article on mixing prints and patterns for more tips.

For ready made cushions great sources are:

  • Molly Mahon  – Molly’s joyful fabrics make beautiful cushions. Also have a look at her inspirational Instagram posts on block printing which you can even do with your children
  • Fermoie – one of my favourite fabric suppliers they have a wide range of lovely cushions, as well as pleated lamp shades. Perfect for modern country interiors
  • Wicklewood – lovely fun and colourful cushions that will give an instant lift of colour
  • Penny Morrison – I’m a huge fan of Penny Morrison’s fabrics. There are some lovely unusual trimmed cushions on her website in her classic prints

I hope you have found this article interesting. If you would like more tips do get in touch as I offer a flexible service that includes online consultations. I’d love to hear from you.