When you buy a house it can very much be a fresh start, a blank page in a book, a clean piece of canvas ready for you to paint your masterpiece – So where do you start? It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed.
Clear the Clutter
Firstly, before we start thinking about design or decor I highly recommend you sort out the necessary from the unnecessary. We often have the tendency to hold on to things we don’t need, so for me moving in to Little Ravenswell has been a process where so much ‘stuff’ has been decluttered. There are still boxes of things that we’ve kept and will place in to the loft, sentimental items such as school exercise books and childhood cards but alot of items we have cleared out and it felt great! Don’t be afraid to move things on to a better home and make some space.
Once you’ve had a clear out you should hopefully feel clearer in your mind too! You are now ready to think about the look and feel you want to achieve in your new property or your plans for refreshing an existing room in your house.
Planning your Space
Here I’d encourage you to try and be objective as possible in assessing the space / room. What do you like about the space? How will the room be used ? Who uses the room (and how must their needs be met?), What is it about the room that doesn’t work at the moment? Consider how the room will be used all year round, so for example Christmas, social occasions, as well as the everyday (for example that might influence where you place plug sockets if you’re tacking this as part of a renovation project).
Taking this time to look at your space and plan how the space will be used is important – don’t jump straight from A to Z and start buying cushions yet! Tempting as it is, planning in advance can help you avoid spending on the wrong homewares and coming out with a mismatched, disproportioned room.
Depending upon whether you are focusing on your entire house or an individual room, I believe it is essential to work with a floor plan to hand. Measure the furniture you have (assuming you have some). How do the sizes of these fit in your floor plan. The average size of a 3 seater sofa is W215cm x D100cm, does this fit comfortably in your floor plan or would a 2 seater sofa (180cm x 100cm) be better, combined with an armchair (W70cm x D90cm)? You can download ‘Sketch Up’ to help create a floor plan.
Make sure you include somewhere to put a drink down. It might seem silly but if you think about how the area will be used day to day then you know what furniture you need, so in a living room I would want to have a side table or coffee table potentially as I don’t want mugs of tea being put on the floor and kicked over! Swoon Editions are great for little tables.
Also think about how items work in operation, e.g. opening of doors, cupboards opening. Arrange furniture so that you can comfortably access drawers and doors without having to move or step around something.
During your planning you want to consider lighting, fixtures, colours, tone, patterns and texture. Therefore a floor plan and mood board will help you look at how you can bring all your colours, textures and tones together to create a cohesive look for your room. For us, as we’re planning the entire house we’ve chosen to use individual mood boards per room and have then stuck this to the dining room wall so we can see how each room will connect and flow from one to another with our choice of flooring and wall colours. Google slides is one option for creating a mood board.
Try and aim for a balance of light and colour against pattern and texture. Neutral paint is great if you are unsure where to start and shades such as Farrow & Ball Cornforth White or Purbeck Stone are beautiful. However, one thing I’ve learnt is that when testing paint don’t paint a small patch of wall to try and chose whether you like this on your wall. You might like a paint choice on that wall but the impact on the direction of light in a room can alter how a paint colour looks, so the opposite side of the room may look very different. Therefore paint your paint sample choice on to a large piece of lining paper, you can then move the lining paper around your room and see how the light impacts it on each wall of the room – not just one wall.
The direction of your room should influence your colour choice. A south facing room is the easiest room to work with, they can take any colour whereas a north facing room will have more blue light and this will make your colours cooler and harsher. Don’t fear colour and feel you have to stick with legendary magnolia! As I’ve mentioned above choosing a cohesive colour palette will ensure your rooms all flow together, you can still have rooms that look different yet work as a set. Also don’t forget about your ceiling, you can create a feature of your ceiling by painting this in a colour other than white.
Pattern’s can be incorporated in a number of ways, tiles on the floor (like the below selection of tiles from Fired Earth), wallpaper (Abnormal Anonymous has a stunningly creative range) or on cushions.
Interior Designer’s will often incorporate patterns in fabric. However you chose to include pattern, do think about your colours carefully. Your main colour choice should take approx. 70% of the colour in your room and if you are choosing an accent colour this would be the remaining 30% (think about a colour wheel and consider the colours opposite each other, these can work really well in complementing each other.)Lighting is very important, the use of artificial and natural light will impact the feeling of a room. Artificial light comes in many forms and can be used to create focal points in a room. For example, a dining table with a pendant light above it, will create a warm light over the table.
Moving house is an expensive process so before splashing out on lots of new homeware items, do take a moment to reflect on what you already own. Furniture that could be refreshed with a lick of chalk paint or new handles (Homesense are great for sets of furniture handles). Can you revive a table or chair and give it a new lease of life by painting it in some Annie Sloan paint? If you are on a budget and limited to what you can do, or just don’t have the energy for doing anything major then a good way to breathe new life in to a room is buying changing your cushions and adding a throw or new rug. Good places to look for cushions are Made, Wayfair and Homesense.
Whilst I’m a big lover of grey, interior design trends in 2018 predict we’re going to see far more use of bold paint colours as home owners become more brave in their decor choices, combined with a rise in popularity of large art prints. This is the ideal way to add your personality to a room.
So clear out your clutter then create your mood board and bring together your colours, lighting, fabrics, tones and patterns for a cohesive, planned interior design.
You can keep up to date on our mood board and design ideas as we progress with the work on Little Ravenswell. A decision on our planning permission application is pending and we’re hopeful the build will kick off in the next couple of months. Keep up to date with progress, follow me on Facebook or say hi on instagram!