In Part 1, I discussed WHAT an Interior Designer does and WHY you might want to use one. Now it’s time to look at WHEN you should engage a designer and WHO you should approach. And no, the answer to the last one isn’t always me!
SO WHEN DO YOU GET A DESIGNER INVOLVED?
The answer is pretty simple; as early as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to be having regular consultations straight-away but instructing a designer as soon as you know you are going to need one a) means you more likely to get who you want at a time that you want them, and b) means that they can offer assistance and advice during the early stages, perhaps even on things you hadn’t considered you’d need help with. They can talk you through the wider process, work with other professionals (e.g. architects), point out potential pitfalls, and generally help to ensure a seamless process with a beautifully designed space at the end. Basically, the earlier you make enquiries, the more likely you are to secure the right designer, with the right scope for you.
If you’re planning an extension you may already have appointed an architect, and you may have a preferred builder. It can be tempting to leave appointment of a designer until you have the rooms ready to decorate. However, if you get a designer involved from the start you may find you get more from the instruction. For example, when the Architect is drawing up the plans, a designer can have conversations with you about internal use and flow which may impact on the space you create. Starting room designs before the space exists has its advantages too. It means, for example, you have answers about electrical layout as soon as you need them. Rushing decisions about switches and lighting when your builder approaches you for answers is never ideal, and can leave you with compromises to deal with during the interior design stage.
The same applies to room design schemes; the sooner the better! Maybe you know you want a room redesigned for Christmas (it’s a common scenario, believe me!). If you leave it until late Autumn not only will you struggle to find time in a designer’s schedule, but you may also be more limited in your furniture selection given the inevitable lead-times (which are often much longer at busy, seasonal times).
Obviously it isn’t always possible to instruct a designer early doors, or perhaps it’s only midway through a project that you realise you need help. Don’t worry, all isn’t lost, a good designer will be able to support you in a project wherever you’re at. It’s just the earlier you get them involved, even just to have an initial conversation to get time booked in for later when you need it, the more you’re likely to get out of the process and the fewer compromises you’re likely to need to make.
SO, WHO SHOULD YOU INSTRUCT?
How do you decide which designer is for you? There are so many to choose from! My first advice would be to see the engagement of a designer as an investment in your home. There will be a cost attached, but it’s a service which really adds value, so try not to be driven wholly by getting the lowest quote. There’s much to be said for you-get-what-you-pay-for. This is an important decision; you’re hiring someone to help you create your perfect home.
Ask around. Word-of-mouth recommendations are great. If you know someone has worked with an interior designer ask them how they found the process, and, more importantly than whether you like the finished result, whether the finished space creates the feel they wanted to achieve. Finding someone local can be helpful, especially if you’re looking for project management work. It means your designer will have an even bigger network of trades and suppliers which you can tap into.
Speak to a couple of designers. By which, I don’t mean call round an endless number of designers. Time is precious and no-one likes a time waster. However, all good designers should be willing to have an initial chat, to tell you how they work and help determine whether they are the right person to work with you. You should get a sense of whether you’d be happy to work with a designer from this initial discovery call. It’s an important relationship so you need to be comfortable working with them. It should also be a fun process so working with someone you feel you can build a rapport with is really helpful.
Have a look on social media. Houzz is a great resource for this, especially if you’re looking for someone local. As are Instagram and Pinterest. When you’re looking at a designer, look at their style, and their way or working; is it a good fit for you? If you’re looking on social media though don’t be swayed by big followings and likes. The Instagram algorithm isn’t generated on whether or not someone is a good designer. Social media will however give you a behind-the-scenes, more personal insight into designers, which when you’re trying to establish a relationship can be invaluable.
Make sure you check out their services. Make sure they offer exactly what you need and don’t be pushed into having more work done than you want to. For example, if you just want a design service and want to do the work yourself, don’t approach designers who only do full implementation service. And if you do find someone via social media, check out their website directly and make sure you look at their actual projects. It’s very easy to post images created or curated by someone else; just make sure you do your homework and check out projects they have actually worked on.
Finally, make sure you check timescales and fee structure early on. You may have found a seemingly perfect designer but if they can’t deliver within your timeframe and budget then, unless you can wait, and/or reduce your scope, they probably aren’t the designer for you – this time! It’s also worth having a chat about the process. Just to make sure you’re getting the right level of support and/or involvement.
Engaging an interior designer doesn’t need to be daunting and the process should, most definitely, be enjoyable.
The majority of my clients have never worked with an Interior Designer before they hire me. So, if you’ve never used a designer before, and you aren’t familiar with the services they offer, how do you know if you need one? In this post I’ll shed light onto the process of working with an interior designer; WHAT they do and WHY you might need one. For the WHO and WHEN (i.e. who should you appoint, and when should you engage them) tune in next week!
The WHAT. So, what do Interior Designers do?
There’s often a preconception that Interior Designers spend their days plumping cushions and hanging pictures. And yes, designers do often get involved in the final styling stages but there’s so much that happens before the cushions are plumped and the pictures are hung. So let’s start at the beginning…
LAYOUT & FLOOR-PLANNING
Designers spend much of their time floor-planning; creating layouts that form the basis of a design. See it as the framework; without getting that right, nothing else will work as it should. A good layout takes into account your lifestyle, your space and how you plan to use it. It is the starting point of any great design and is an essential part of the design process. Without a floorplan that works for you, a room can look utterly stunning, but it won’t function properly. And if a space doesn’t function well, you won’t love it. Not for long anyway. A good designer will talk through who will use the space, when and what for. They will think about practicalities (sockets, switches, natural light etc), alongside the aesthetics.
Most designers offer a full room design service. This will combine a layout and design concept, resulting in a full design schedule to create a space that you love. All designers have a slightly different process, but they nearly always start by taking a brief from you, the client, considering what you want and need from a space as well as looking at your likes and dislikes in terms of interior style. Then it’s over to the designer to create a scheme that works for you. A good design needs to work for you and reflect your story, so I like to make sure there is a two-way process here; a conversation between client and designer throughout which ensures any tweaks are made to ensure the design is something you really love, rather than an on-trend design which is created and imposed.
Some designers offer design-only, others only take on jobs they can fully implement too. Others can offer both design-only and implementation, depending on what the client wants or needs. The project management part of the design process is the implementation; bringing the scheme to life. It consists of scheduling trades, monitoring works, places orders, taking deliveries, making sure everything is finished, on-time and on-budget. It is perfect for clients who don’t have the time (or the energy!) to get involved in the detail of the practicalities.
Some designers will offer stand-alone consultations, or a series of consultations to deal with specific design issues you may have. Perhaps you need help choosing colours for rooms, or perhaps you have a tricky spot and want some bespoke joinery designing. An interior designer can take a more objective approach, looking at that element as part of your wider living arrangements. They also have a wealth of experience and, in the case of colour consultations for example, is not tied to one particular paint brand.
Some designers and stylists will offer separate interior styling services. Often this is part of a full deign scheme; it’s the finishing touches, the cushions, the artwork, the accessories. But sometimes you may have a room that you don’t want to change much, but feel like the finishing touches are missing. That’s when the services of an interior stylist can help bring your scheme together, adding those important final elements to make your design sing.
The WHY? Why do you need an Interior Designer?
You may well not need one! But I am also conscious that lots of people are unsure whether the services of an Interior Designer are for them. Interior Design is no longer the preserve of the rich and famous. Interior Design is so much more accessible than it used to be and with people spending so much more time within their home than ever before, they are recognising the need to create something that truly works for them and which they truly love.
The reality is, people hire designers for many different reasons. You may well have a great eye for interiors but simply not have the time to focus on pulling a design together, let-alone the time to implement and project manage it all.
Or you may have a great eye for interiors and want to create the scheme yourself but working with a designer may help you think about the layout in a different way. Perhaps you’re drawing up plans with an architect for a new extension; a designer will bring a different perspective to the plans, considering your lifestyle and the internal flow to make sure that the space you create can be used how you need it to be used.
Alternatively you may just not know where to start when it comes to colour and pattern. You’ve read all the blogs out there, got lost down many a Pinterest rabbit-hole and now just feel completely overwhelmed. Perhaps you need an interior designer to get to help you define your style and create something that works for you.
Or maybe you’re a creative who loves design and interiors but wants to be challenged and pushed outside of your usual comfort-zone a little. Using a designer allows you to tap into their wealth of knowledge, suppliers, products and materials.
Whatever you want help with, whether it’s a lot or a little, a good designer will help you create a space you love and that works for you. As with any professional service, there’s obviously a financial investment but it results in an enjoyable process which helps you define your interior style and ultimately creates a home that tells your story.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 – Working with an Interior Designer – The WHO and the WHEN, out next week.
I don’t normally write about trends. Don’t get me wrong, trends are fun, and they can bring unexpected inspiration. And as a designer, it’s part of my job to be aware of emerging trends. It’s just I don’t think people should be led by trends, and I think too many new-year-new-trend posts can perpetuate this. So this post isn’t one of those. I won’t be telling you what colour I think will be hot this year, or what material you should be sourcing for your kitchen island unit. Instead, I’ll be talking about how I think 2021 is an important one for interior design. After 2020, the year we stayed at home, our relationship with our homes has changed dramatically, and even when (hopefully) covid is a distant memory, I’m sure lockdown living will have a lasting impact on our homes.
So here’s how I think the pandemic has changed how we design our homes, and the general trends we might see as a result in 2021…
More Multifunctional Spaces
Staying at home means working from home, learning from home and teaching from home. And most of us have compromised with our space in some way, at some point. The kitchen table has seen it all. It has been a craft table, school table, office and breakfast spot. Many a spare room has become a make-shift office. But even after the pandemic eases, the reality will be more working-from-home, and more learning-from-home than before. So it makes sense that we’ll be looking to create stylish work and learning zones within our homes, and often they’ll be within rooms or spaces that already have a function. Homes will need hard-working, multifunctional spaces and in the long-term these have every right to be as beautiful as the rest of the home.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to focus our mind on health and wellbeing. There’s also nothing quite like lockdown restrictions to make us crave the great outdoors. Biophilic design has becoming increasingly popular but expect to see more in the coming year. It’s all about connecting with the natural world through design, and is aimed at promoting wellbeing. Adding plants is a good start but there’s also so much more. Think natural patterns, organic shapes and designs that work with, and maximise natural light and space.
Online shopping has been a saviour throughout lockdowns. But let’s be honest, it’s not the same as browsing the shops in person, and I’m sure most people at some point have found it hard to get hold of exactly what they want or need. Many people have also found themselves with more time (although with 4 children at home all day during lockdown I can confirm I am not one of those people!) so it’s not surprising that people are becoming more creative, and more resourceful. With more time to craft, knit, draw, paint and generally DIY, 2021 could see a much more imaginative and inventive approach to making a home. And that’s before we discuss the increasing financial hardship faced by many which means that being resourceful and reworking your home with what you have already got will be here to stay for a while.
The shopping that we are doing has become more considered. It’s not as easy to pop into a showroom, fall in love with a piece and hand over our credit card. Instead, there’s a greater need (and opportunity) to research, to think, to consider. Its been a thought-provoking year in other ways too; diversity, sustainability and environmental issues have all been under the spotlight. I suspect (or hope) as a result there’ll be a shift in shopping patterns; that there’ll be a move towards sustainable materials, support for local and independent brands, and a move to promote and support a more diverse range of artists, designers and brands.
Keep it personal
Having spent so much time at home, having really lived in our homes, my hope is that people start designing for themselves. Not for visitors, not for trends and not for resale. People have spent more time than ever within their homes and I’m sure, as a result, now really get what works, and what doesn’t. We’ve all realised the impact out home has on our mood and our wellbeing; we’ve experienced the impact our surroundings have on us. It may be as simple as changing a layout, or decluttering and improving storage. Or it may be taking your maximalist styling to the next level, or embracing a few more minimalist clean lines. I think we’re moving away from needing a perfect home to wanting a home that reflects our family life, that lets us tell our story.
And don’t forget the children
I’ve had so many new enquiries about childrens’ bedrooms, and in the main it’s prompted by a feeling that kids are spending so much more time at home, in their rooms, learning, playing and sleeping that they need (and deserve) and functional happy space to do this. Interior design can have such an impact on mental wellbeing and we shouldn’t forget that this applies to children too. Making sure they have a safe, creative space to play, work and sleep is so important. I think there’ll be some fun childrens’ room designs this year!
2020! The year we stayed at home. The year our doors were closed to guests, and our dining table was used for family mealtimes only. The year we entertained in the garden (when permitted) and our homes had to work harder than ever to fulfil our family, working and social lives. Guest bedrooms became offices, dining rooms became home-schools and living rooms became gyms (thanks to Joe Wicks!).
And here we are just a week into 2021, doing it all again – all elements of our lives merged into one space. This post was meant to be a review-of-last-year post but it seems my observations of how 2020 changed our homes are just as relevant now as we enter lockdown #3.
Obviously as a designer I am all too aware of the power a home has. Good interior design is far more than plumping cushions and hanging curtains; it can completely change the relationship someone has with their home. Our home should be a space we love. It should be our safe space; the place we kick off our shoes, put on our comfiest clothes and relax. It’s the place of laughter as well as tears and tantrums. It’s the place of intimate moments as well as the mundane. It’s where we let our guard down. It’s where life happens.
But our homes weren’t designed with a lockdown situation in mind, and never have they had to work quite as hard for us as they do now. So, how has the pandemic changed the way we use our homes?
It all happens at the kitchen table
The humble kitchen table has seen (and heard!) it all over the past year. It’s no longer reserved for mealtimes (and hasn’t seen a dinner party for nearly 12 months now!). Instead, it’s all things to all people; desk space, arts & craft table, homeschooling space, coffee & newspaper spot, snack-time spot (again!) as well as that sit-and-cry-that-the-world-has-gone-crazy spot. It’s still the place we come together at the end of the day, to share our stories – it’s just that this time, our adventures probably only happened in a different part of the house!
A space for kids to be kids
I do believe that children are more resilient than we necessarily give them credit for. However I also truly believe we need to support and nourish their mental health, especially during these difficult and anxious times. A child’s bedroom is the one place that is truly theirs. A space they should absolutely feel safe in. A space they can be themselves in. And whilst they may now also double as a school-room space (especially for older children), I think it’s even more important that their rooms retain a sense of fun and creativity. Kids need to be able to switch off from school-work, hide away from the reality of the pandemic and play!
Bathrooms providing sanctuary
I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that there are times I’ve wanted to scream for this to all be over. The anxiety, the fear, the noise, the mess, the snacks, the juggling. It can all feel too much, and the bathroom is my go-to, have-a-moment place! Admittedly with a toddler I’m usually not alone for long, but the bathroom is much more than a functional space to shower. It’s an escape. And increasingly over lockdown, it’s a sanctuary for escapism and self-care. Whether it’s a full-on pampering night or just a hot shower to wash away some stress of the day, the bathroom has certainly been upgraded from its often just functional space.
The Outside In
Last year was certainly one of restriction and isolation. Whether lockdown, self-isolation or quarantining, it was easy to feel confined within the walls of your house. Only allowed to leave the house for an hour of exercise a day. Only allowed to leave for essential shopping. However much you love your home, it often felt tough, and it certainly made me crave the great outdoors even more. In summer it was easy, we could open the doors and windows and the house and garden kind of merged into one. This time round, in winter it’s a bit trickier. But (much to my husband’s horror) I still throw open doors and windows – not for long, but just long enough to let a blast of fresh air in. I’ve always been a fan of styling with plants but I’ve appreciated them even more over recent months. The house feels more alive, although you’ve got to remember to water them – dead plants don’t have quite the safe effect!!!
And the Inside Out
Speaking of the outside, we’ve certainly all used our garden space even more than ever. I even looked at buying new garden furniture in October to prolong my use of our outdoor space; usually I’d be covering everything up for the winter. But our outdoor spaces have become even more important to us, to help combat that feeling of confinement, and to give us the breathing space away from a busy household. When permitted, outside has been our only entertaining spot. I’ve kept our garden filled with fairy lights and I’m hoping that when restrictions ease we may be able to have a socially distanced hot chocolate with relatives around a fire-pit. Isn’t it funny how the things we crave have changed over the past year?!
The Heart of the Home
Whether you’re baking banana bread (again!) or handing out the millionth snack of the day, the kitchen really is the heart of the home. Whether you’ve had the energy or time for cooking, or not, there have most definitely been more family meals prepared and served up in kitchens around the country (even if sometimes they are just takeaways). Our cupboards have been stocked, our cupboard space challenged. It’s where we gather to make our morning coffee and listen to the day’s news, or when it all gets too much switch on some feel-good tunes to distract us from what’s going on in the outside world.
But at some point our kitchens will be the hub of the party again. At some point our front door will be open to family and friends and our kitchen tables will see new faces pull up a chair to join us for dinner again. Until then our homes will remain our sanctuary, our safe place away from the world. Our place to turn off the news when we need to, and focus on our family. The reality of that may mean noise, mess and a few tears from time-to-time but we’ll have memories of our 2020/21 homes like no others!
Usually, I love Autumn. The colours. The anticipation of change. The smell of leaves in the air. But this year, if I’m honest, I’m just not feeling it.
Perhaps it’s the thought of navigating dark nights during a pandemic. Perhaps the reality of a lockdown, second time round, through winter feels harder and a little more intense. Summer lockdown didn’t feel as constrained; we spent time in the garden, we had the doors and windows open. But facing a winter lockdown feels tough, both physically and mentally. So, whilst I usually love watching the first leaves of Autumn fall, this year they left me feeling a little apprehensive.
But, the colours will change, the leaves will fall and this pandemic won’t be over before winter arrives. So, how do we embrace the seasonal change and try and conjure up some of the Autumnal sparkle of previous years? How do we make our homes feel like our sanctuary, a cosy safe haven for us to retreat to?
Here are my top tips for transitioning the seasons and making your home the only place you want to be this autumn and winter.
1/ DECLUTTER & ORGANISE
I’m not talking Marie Kondo, spend-the-next-6-months sorting your cupboards and drawers. I’m just talking about a little clear-out. Sort out that kitchen drawer that has you cursing every time you need to go in it. Sort out the shoes by the front door. Sort out the spice cupboard – you know there’ll be spices still in there from 2000! Just as you’d have a little spring clean, have a little autumnal spruce-up! Try and get round to those little household jobs – the light bulb that needs changing, the door handle that’s come loose. Not the most exciting way to spend your time, I know, but a weekend at the beginning of Autumn getting your house-in-order for the new season, will leave you feeling much more organised. Without the clutter you’ll be able to clearly see the spaces you’ve got to work with and enjoy over the next few months.
2/ KEEP IT PERSONAL
Now’s the time for your interior to tell your story. So, even though you’re having a declutter and getting your “stuff” organised, now is also the time to make sure you’re surrounded by things you love. All those things, texture and colours which trigger happy memories. So, keep out those family photos, and make sure you find a spot on the shelf for the drawing your niece sent you, or the shells you collected from the beach. It’s those things that remind us of the happy times, and keep us connected with what’s important. So whatever it is, if it makes you smile then make sure it’s where you can see it.
3/ LICK OF PAINT
Although my business clearly depends on people wanting to rush out and fully redecorate their homes, for many people now isn’t the time to be making drastic interior changes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t repaint the walls of a bedroom for a change of colour. Or that you can’t freshen-up a chipped door with a lick of paint. Or what about painting a fireplace to add a pop of colour to a room? Or changing the colour of your front door? Finding a small-ish interior job to set your mind to might help you feel proactive in creating a happy space for the winter. Or perhaps it would just feel like another job on your list to-do; in which case, put the paint brush down and don’t think about it again!
3/ COSY UP
Layer-up the textiles. Now’s the time to make your home feel cosy, warm and inviting. Get out the blankets, invest in some new ones. Make sure your sofas look and feel like you’ll want to stay snuggled there until Spring. Blankets are a great way to add colour and pattern to a room too. Just changing the cushions and throws on a sofa can give it a whole new look; simple changes but maximum impact.
And, I know, it sounds rather cliched, but lighting candles completely changes the feeling of a space. It makes it feel warm, and inviting. It softens the light, making the room feel cosy and relaxing. Indulge in your favourite scented candles and light them for an hour or so during the day. Basically, you want to try and make your home feel so cosy and cocoon like that even if someone told you you could go to a party with all of your friends and family, you’d still choose to stay on the sofa in front of the fire!!
5/ OUTSIDE-IN INSIDE-OUT
Our relationship with the outside is so important, especially during periods of lockdown. Bringing a little bit of the outside in can really help with wellbeing; they are known to help purify air, boost mood and increase productivity. You don’t need to go crazy (unless you want to!) but just a couple of plants around the house can make you feel connected with the outside world. Open doors and windows whenever you can, even just for a few minutes. It improves air circulation and ventilation and just gives you a little boost of fresh air. Perhaps treat yourself and try one of the botanical subscription boxes.
And don’t forget your outside space. Whilst this is usually the time we’re clearing away our gardens until the Spring, this year our outdoor space is potentially one of the only places we can hopefully (in time) start to entertain others (however informal and socially distanced!). So clear-up the garden and make your seating into an Autumn-friendly space. Have a basket with blankets ready for outside. Add fairy lights. Perhaps you could create a cosy corner which you could use as a morning coffee spot on dry, crisp days?
We’re definitely in strange times but we are at least in control of our immediate surroundings at home and in the garden, so making just a few changes to make them more enjoyable for the months ahead can only be a good thing. I’d love to know how you feel about the transition into Autumn this year…
New Year. New Trends. New You?
Or should this be the year to discover your true interior style?
The one with a little more substance than trend following. The one you’re happy to grow old with through New Years to come.
But designing for life, not just following a trend can feel tricky. It’s far easier to try and replicate a look you’ve seen a hundred times before. Once you start to discover your style though, you’ll find that design decisions command an authenticity and you can begin to create a space that really feels like you. Like Home.
So where do you start?
Mad About the House’s Kate Watson-Smyth would suggest your wardrobe and I have to agree (unless, of course, it’s mine which is currently jam-packed with maternity leggings and big woolly jumpers). Look at the colours, the style, the patterns you like to wear. If it feels good wearing certain colours, you’re likely to respond well to them in your home too. If you like lots of pattern, chances are you’ll want at least a pop of pattern somewhere in your home.
Then look at your home (or previous homes). How have your past design decisions made you feel? Do you love that dark inky paint on the wall or does it leave you feeling a little out-of-sorts? In wanting a new start, a new design, it is all too easy to focus on something new without considering what we already have. But you may already have elements that work. And if nothing works, then at least you know what to avoid next time!
Inspiration not imitation
Then it’s time to look for some inspiration. Whereas a few years ago, we’d have flicked through the pages of a few magazines, now Pinterest and Instagram provide us with endless images of beautifully curated interiors. Colourful. Minimalist. Industrial. Maximalist. Granny Chic. We’re spoilt for choice with images to influence our design choices.
So how do you navigate your way through the plethora of perfectly styled interiors to find your own style and create a space you love?
By all means start online. Create Pinterest boards; it’s the modern equivalent of tearing out magazine pages (which, by the way, I still love to do). Feel free to get lost down the rabbit holes of Instagram; follow accounts whose interiors you love.
But the key to inspirational images is to use them as just that; inspiration. You want to identify looks and styles that you like and respond well to. You’re not looking to copy, but to create something new. You’re building up the layers of your style – not just finding an image to copy.
So, save all the images you love (and I wouldn’t limit the images to the specific room you’re decorating – I’d keep it general if you want to help identify your style). Then take a break. When you come back to the images, look at them critically. Try and identify what it is you like about the images you’ve chosen. Is it the colours, the patterns, the textures you like? And be ruthless, delete any you don’t really, really love. You should then start to see strands of consistency as you build up your style library of images.
Your home should reflect your personality. You’re looking to discover your decorating style; a way to tell your story. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest and Instagram provide a wonderful forum for creativity and inspiration. But you can have too much of a good thing. Either it just becomes overwhelming or, worse, you loose sight of what will actually make you happy in your own home. Styled shots are beautiful to look at but they are often just that; styled shots. Not real life.
And just because something’s nice to look at, doesn’t mean you’d want to live with it!
So think about how you want your interior space to make to you feel. I try and ask clients to choose 3 words to help them focus. Do you want your home to to feel vibrant, bright and alive? Or do you want it to feel calm, cool and airy? Identifying early on words to represent your style will really help you make specific design decisions later on.
The Design Process
When I’m working with clients, it’s at this stage that I ask them to walk away from Pinterest and Instagram. Once we’ve been through all their images and started to build up the layers of their style, we leave the Pinterest boards and focus on a specific brief for the space we are designing.
And when you’re designing a room for yourself, I’d really recommend you do the same. It can actually be quite liberating. Create a brief, work out how you want the room to feel, the colours you like, the style of furniture you want to work with, and then stop pinning. It starts to get confusing, contradictory and that’s when you end up with a space that isn’t cohesive.
So what about the rest of the design process? Here are a few tips to help you pull your design together.
Get practical: It might not be as exciting as the pinning part, but it’s just as important. List your practical requirements for the space. Identify where you can compromise and where you cannot.
Lay it out: Next think spatial flow. If you’re replacing large pieces of furniture it’s worth drawing a floorpan; either electronically or just with pencil and paper. Measure the room to see what space you have to play with. It’ll give you a much better sense of scale and proportion. If you need more help visualising, then mark out the outline of new furniture pieces with newspaper. And especially if you’re tight for space, make sure your measurements include skirting boards, rather than just wall-to-wall; those few centimetres can make all the difference as to whether a piece fits.
Store it: It may not be glamorous and it isn’t always apparent when you look at beautifully styled interior shots, but storage is key to the success of most rooms. Have a good declutter by all means to reduce the amount you need. But make sure you’re honest and realistic and your needs and your lifestyle. Neatly curated open shelves don’t look quite so fabulous when they have piles of everyday clutter stacked up next to them!
Photo: P.Westwall @ 100% Design, London
Above all, have fun. Whether it’s just a room, or your whole house, it should most definitely be fun. Take your time if you can, and enjoy the process. You’re designing your home after all! So, get out from behind your screen and experience some design in real life. Have lunch in a fabulous restaurant (it’s research, honestly!), visit showrooms (nothing beats seeing and feeling products) or head to a design show (you’ll find products and brands you’d never heard of before).
And a final tip, once you’ve pulled your design together? Add in something a little unexpected. It keeps things fresh, adding a truly personal touch to your design and helping gently nudge you out of your comfort zone (go on, try it!).