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Creating your perfect home
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Creating your perfect home

Many of our homes develop organically. We rarely start from scratch and do a whole room at a time, from the walls to the floor to the furniture; instead, we tend to buy things as we need them, adding a new sofa or dining table or turning the spare room into a child’s room.

We do it in this way because it works for us, allowing us to adapt what we have when we need to add to a room or change its purpose. Few of us have the budget to throw everything out and start all over again.

This means that our homes can sometimes seem cluttered, disjointed or chaotic if you take the time to stand back and look around with a more critical eye. Many of us may not care about this; after all, the ‘show home’ look is not for everyone.

If you are looking around and thinking ‘How did we end up with this?’, however, there are a few simple steps to take on your journey to a more coherent and stylish home, from simple decorating ideas to more dramatic makeovers.

- Simplify your colour scheme. Too many colours and patterns can be jarring. If you love your soft furnishings to be colourful and bright, keep the walls and floors as plain as possible. In terms of colour, neutrals have a classic, timeless look, which is handy if you don’t plan to redecorate regularly! Neutrals are also a great blank canvas, whether you want to make a feature of your furniture, art or soft furnishings. Remember that light colours open up a space and maximise natural light, while darker colours do the opposite.

- Use textures and different finishes. These can add interest to even the simplest of colour schemes: paint, wood, exposed brick, fabrics, glass, stone, metal. Soften big spaces with curtains and rugs, which will help to both absorb sound and improve the acoustics.

- Pick your furniture carefully. If your rooms are quite small, keep them tidy and uncluttered. Don’t swamp your rooms with oversize furniture; for example, go for slim-line console tables and wall-mounted shelves and televisions. Leave the huge corners sofas, four-poster beds and big coffee tables for the larger rooms!

- Don’t have too many focal points. If you have a stunning piece of furniture, art, lamp or even a TV and you want this to be the focal point, let it. Give it space, such as its own wall if it is a painting or photo or antique bookcase. If it is a table or chest, don’t cover it with paperwork. Draw attention to it with a few details; for example, some beautiful cushions will highlight a sofa or chair and clever lighting will bring a painting to life.

- Accentuate the positives. If you have high ceilings, big windows, a great view, original cornices or a fireplace, make the most of them. As with the focal points, let them shine. Don’t obscure a stunning view with net curtains - if privacy allows, of course!

- Disguise the negatives. The flip side is not to accentuate the negatives. Many less-appealing features can often be easily and cheaply dealt with; for example, wallpaper can cover up less-than-perfect plastering. Screen less than ideal views with curtains and blinds, or even use window stick-ons to make glass opaque or patterned. These are available in a huge range of designs and cost a fraction of the price of opaque glass. If you have inherited an unattractive fire surround or a huge brick fireplace, could you paint it or cover it, perhaps with tongue and groove panelling? This is a much cheaper option than taking it out, unless you are confident with DIY projects.

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