We’ve all been there at some point, whether it’s a room in a shared flat, our first house or even the second or third: standing in the middle of the room with moving boxes still packed and piled up around us, wondering where to start with the decorating. If you’re moving from one Victorian house to aanother, you might already know pretty well what works for you and that kind of house. However, more drastic moves involving different styles, ceiling heights, window sizes and/or overall footprint might be slightly more daunting.
When it comes to decorating from scratch, there are different approaches, and they’ll vary depending on how many pieces of furniture you already own and how much you are planning to buy especially for your new space. Still, there are some things that should be considered no matter what and which might save you money in the long term.
So, before you even look at anything else, think about the feel you’d like the room to have. Are you looking to maximize light, make the ceiling appear higher, make it warm and cozy, or are you planning to use it as a backdrop for your fabulous furniture and art work? Depending on the size of the room, these considerations will help you to choose the paint colour for the walls and possibly the ceiling. After that, you can start looking at paint swatches and have fun trying them out on your walls.
Consider the largest pieces you already own. Are they all coming with you into your new home? Does their style fit the home and your lifestyle? For example, the single daybed is perfect in its current space, a small-ish London flat where a large sofa would simply be too bulky. However, move the same piece into a large living room and it might suddenly look lost. Moving home does sometimes mean changing furniture.
Think about which is your most expensive piece and how it will fit into your new home. This could be the sofa, the bed, or a piece of art. The one piece that you will not do without, ever. This piece will, to an extent, dictate its surroundings. For example, if you have a fabulously expensive rug with a colourful pattern, then painting your walls in a calm and restrained colour makes the most sense and so does pairing it with a less dramatic sofa. All these are things you will need to take into account when putting your room together.
Next, think about the size of your furniture. Place the largest item in the room first and then determine how to fit the smaller pieces around it. For example, in your bedroom, it will generally be the bed that will have to go in before you think about wardrobes, a dressing table and a comfy chair. If space starts to prove a little tricky, then you might have to think about exchanging some of the smaller items to fit around the largest.
Think about the soft items like curtains. While it’s not really the done thing to match them to your scatter cushions (no, seriously, just don’t!), you will have to consider their overall look. If you’re looking to add a bit of pattern to a bland room, then this might be the way to go, as long as you don’t have a madly patterned rug in the same room! If, on the other hand, you’re just looking to soften up and frame the windows, then swathes of neutral fabric are right thing and won’t clash with your furniture.
Last, but not least, consider the small details. Art (ok, unless you have a 8ft masterpiece to hang up, in which case it will come under the large and expensive pieces category), decorative pieces, plants, vases, ornaments and anything you like to display. These can be applied pretty freely and this is where you can go a little mad and add elements that you might never consider for large (and expensive) furniture pieces. You can buy small items which might seem out of character like a mid-century mirror for your boho bedroom or some earthy pottery for your super-modern kitchen. It’s experimenting like this which will create a unique look for your home and if it all goes wrong you can always sell small items like these on.
If at any point you’re really stuck, then take a step back and look to find some inspiration on websites like Pinterest and in magazines. Rip out your favourite pieces from magazine pages and create your own little moodboard. Take your time. Provided you’re planning to stay in your new home for a very long time, you don’t have to decorate everything in the first fortnight. Most homes with charm and personality have evolved over time and require the owner to get used to the space and get to know every little corner.
I hope these tips are useful to you and if not, I’d love to know what your approach is.