Making your first home purchase really yours takes a bit of work and practice. The first few years are spent just trying to ensure the mortgage is paid and all the legals too. There usually isn’t a lot of funding left for trendy things like interior design concepts. However, it is possible to take a good look at each room in turn. Starting in the doorway, take a long careful look from the farthest left hand corner, right round to the farthest right hand. By really looking at all the features, the furniture and soft furnishings, it is possible to get an idea of how to improve the current model without spending too much. Charity shops often have larger furniture departments and you would be astounded at how you can get hold of decent pieces to replace the old stuff you were given when you moved in. Or if the thought of more second hand doesn’t cut it for you, how about visiting the massive scandinavian outlets updating your existing scheme by changing the colours of all the soft furnishings and window dressings. Amazing how effective this simple idea can be.
I have the unfortunate reputation for being slightly clumsy. I admit that I do have a tendency to trip over matchsticks or fall wobble sideways when my legs and brain are too tired to keep me on the pavement. These are co-ordination issues that are easily sorted with a sit down and decent cup of tea. Things that are not so easily fixed however are the domestic ones where you suddenly realise that the lounge furniture is drab and dated and you don’t have the funds or wherewithall to get it all replaced. Designing the interior of a house is not always the easiest thing to look at. You end up with masses of confusing ideas and usually, like me, decide to shelve it and have another look next year! This year however it’s different and I have taken the bull by the horns. I engaged the services of a wonderful young team of designers who came and suggested two schemes to breathe life into my existing household effects by way of a fresh coat of paint and some very different but co-ordinating accessories. It looks so different was worth every penny of their fee.
Flowers are a wonderful addition to the designers palette. I have never been very arty and I struggle to make my home look more than just acceptably modern and tidy. By magazine standards, the interior is rather basic, not a lot has been done to update the decor – one new lick of paint all round in March five years ago and that was the first from moving in 8 years before that! So I’m not known for being overly creative. However, I have discovered the joy of buying flowers at my local market and arranging them in large colourful displays. I ave been much inspire in my design from helping out at a local heritage house. They’re well known for their English country garden setting and every duty day is improved greatly upon seeing the fantastic bouquets on display in the great hall. Whenever they host weddings at the Hall, the flowers are part of the service supplied in the hire fee. Each bride has several colourways to choose from and I have learned much from hovering near the massive vases . .. . Easily an aid to the iterior design of our houses and this is one way to bring life to a room without vast expense.
I have been getting into watching a particular north american property programme – over here it’s just called buying and selling but over there it refers to the two host as they are twin brothers. Like so many of their very successful series, this one does rely very heavily on a standard formula and it never varies. The hapless families needing the home refurbishment or ‘reno’ are different every show, but the ideas are exactly the same and you can set your watch on various segments of the hour long show. However, it does show us some really good ideas for updating houses and making a worn and tired out family home come alive with just a few changes – ripping out the old fashioned cooker and replacing with a shiny range with classy looking splash back behind that and the sink – if there’s room, putting a well designed island unit in the kitchen and replacing the counter tops and cabinet doors and drawers seems to do the trick. It makes me feel uncomfortable now watching the funny little property shows we have over here. Guess it reflects the funny little properties we live in!
I often wonder how folk com eto the decisions they do when it comes to home decor and general style. I was in a house recently that screams 1970s – it had seriously retro sofa and sideboard. I was almost excited at first, thinking my otherwise staid and genuinely frumpy old buddy had been hiding some amazing style talents. But when I actually had a chance to look round her home, I realised these were simply things to sit on and dump stuff on. There wasn’t really any connection or emotion between the user and the item. If I was lucky enough to have an ercol table and chairs set from the middle of the 1960s, I would be caring for it with appropriate covers and making sure the rest of the decor around it all didn’t jar or detract from these as a central point. I nearly offered my chum the 1960s table cloths and other accessories I inherited from a grandmother, but I could see thees would probably get trashed like the other stuff!
I never really gave interior design a lot of thought before now – I’ve only ever accepted the dimensions of any given room as what dictated the sort of furniture I could have in it and been pretty satisfied with my lot. The change for me was a few years ago when sat in a traffic queue, just minding my own business, I took note of an eye catching bathroom setting in a very stylish bathroom and kitchen showroom. The showroom had been there years and I’d driven past daily, also for years but for that 2 or 3 minutes, I was transfixed and at the first opportunity, I raced back on foot to see the showroom itself. That was the start of my journey to having cleaner, more modern lines as a design theme. Starting funnily enough with my bathrooms and ensuite. It was a life changing decision – I called a couple of designers and chose the one who seemed drew a schematic totally encapuslating the vague ideas in my head and put them into a reall design. He was fantastic and his work still thrills me every day.
In this country we’re not usually known for shriekingly loud wall paper designs or flambouyant soft furnishings. As our houses tend to be much smaller than in some countries, we have let past generations influence us with their reserved colourways and lack of inspiration when it comes to ‘doing up the front room’. It’s quite refreshing to be able to watch the many home style daytime tv programmes – I particularly like make-overs where a team of ‘experts’ get to work on somewhere small and tediously ghastly. I have to say that some of the results at the end of the programme are equally ghastly, but it would be a boring show otherwise! However the point of the programme is to encourage people to take chances, make a splash and get out there and decorate – Doing up one room at a time, from ceiling to floor can be utterly exhausting and it takes practice to get each task done but it will be worth it.
We all need to feel space around us – from morning til night we can be rushing around and helping other folk. Busy lives call for more precious moments of just time to ourselves. In a hectic house, this is sometimes very difficult to achieve and the more we fill our houses with the latest furniture and effects, the less space we have for relaxing. The best possible way to ensure that a house is totally fit for purpose is to have an interior designer draw up an scheme. They are so experienced – they can look at an existing layout and see the potential for making a room more spacious and calming. It goes without saying that much of the problem is overcrowding with stuff – that has to be addressed but a design studio can turn a busy overloaded house into a divine and serene, relaxing home. They are the experts after all.
We do tend to stick to a particular theme in our family. My sister loves the soft romantic mauves, pinks and pale colours of heathers and light dawn shades. This had been their scheme for many years and then suddenly all change. They went over to pale ivory silk walls and a quite bold green leather for their settees and chairs. This was in fact because an interior designer friend had suggested she needed more colour and the speciality company supplying the reclining suite items had a fantastic sale offer on the green! It has made a tremendous difference to them as a couple – such vibrancy has really enhanced their mood and with the light that floods in, bouncing off the nice sunny walls, it looks most inviting and a joy to congregate in their. They have updated the artwork on the walls and of course the soft furnishings to suit. An incredible transformation.
Now that Christmas and the new year period is upon us, it feels like the right time to get down to changing some of the layout in my house – I am lucky enough to have a big enough area in most rooms to adjust the positioning of the furniture – not so much in the bedrooms as the wardrobes ae fitted along one wall, but it’s possible to move the bed to sit under the window and that sort of thing Changing and refreshing a room can revitalise our passion for a place – it livens up the senses and as they say, a change is as good as a rest. With smaller properties it’s not so easy – but with a little financial investment it’s possible to have an interior designer look over the property. It is incredible how a professional can make so much more of a space – it’s really worth their fee.