Monday, 11 April 2016

today i love… interior design

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The main reason I've been a bad blogger lately is because I've been spending all my free time decorating my new flat. Since I moved in two months ago I've pretty much spent every waking moment (well, apart from when at work) assembling IKEA flatpack, buying succulents and arranging copper candleholders. Prior to that I spent two months redoing the bathroom, getting new carpets and painting the walls before I moved in (OK, I didn't do any of that bit myself). It's not entirely finished yet, but I'm getting there, so I wanted to show you the results. Plus I thought I'd share a few tips in case you're moving or looking to redecorate yourself.

1. Do your research first
This is the most important bit. Don't go straight to IKEA and start loading up the trolley (no matter how good that feels). The first step is to create a mood board (I'm talking on Pinterest rather than an actual physical mood board, because presumably nobody's done that since 1999). Start pinning things you like until you begin to build up an idea of the kinds of themes, colours and styles you're a fan of (see my Pinterest interiors board here). It didn't take me long to realise I was pretty much pinning all white, with hints of natural fibres and copper, and my tastes haven't changed much in the last few years.

2. Pick a theme for the whole house/flat
There's nothing worse than a house made up of rooms that are completely at odds with one another, with mismatched colours and styles. To my mind all the rooms need to feel like part of a whole; besides, they're all connected by a hallway, right?! Having a theme that ties them all together really improves (for want of a less hippy word) the "flow" of a house. My theme is (duh) white: I painted all the walls and ceilings the same colour and put the same carpet throughout (would have been a wooden floor if I had been allowed, FYI). That doesn't mean you can't vary things a little once you've got your base. For example, my bedroom and living room are focused around beige/neutral textures whereas my bathroom and spare room (not pictured as not quite finished) feature greys.

3. Don't panic buy - plan
If you can - and I appreciate you may not be able to - start planning everything months before you actually buy anything. Once you've done your research, start building up a picture of how you'd like each room to look (mine was a Word document because I'm a nerd). This can be decoration ideas or specific items of furniture you've seen. This helps you understand how everything will come together. The worst case scenario is moving in somewhere and being forced to buy tables, chairs and sofas quickly because you need them without knowing what styles you want. If you already have a plan, you won't fall into the trap of rushing to buy something and later discovering it doesn't work with everything else.

4. Know where something will go before you buy it
Again: plan. Don't impulse buy a massive cabinet that looks great, only to get it home and realise it just doesn't look right anywhere. Better to look around at the spaces you have and what needs to be stored, then go out looking for a solution. Also, research return policies before you buy. My M&S wardrobe that looked white online turned out to be cream, and jarred with everything else. Luckily it was returnable, but I did have to pay £50 for the privilege.

5. Know when to spend and when to save
This can be a tricky one, but trust your instincts. Yes, solid wood furniture from John Lewis will stand the test of time. But a lot of IKEA furniture can look pretty great and last well - I'm a big fan of the Billy bookshelf and my glass dining table from there is impressive quality. Bottom line is look around, do your homework, and where possible, see and touch things in person to gauge quality (and also to check the colour - see my wardrobe above). One thing I definitely recommend spending money on is curtains and curtain poles. I bought about 5 sets of cheap poles before realising they all looked really poor and giving in to John Lewis. And I'm so pleased I did because they look fantastic now. Plus, mid-season sales are on at the moment and homeware is absolutely ideal to snap up reduced. It's far less likely than clothing to go out of style and you can get some really great bargains. My proudest one is my Tom Dixon-esque copper pendant light, which I snapped up in the John Lewis sale last Christmas, reduced from £80 to £20. It sat in my garage for an entire year, but it was so worth the wait.

So happy decorating! I've picked out some of my favourite products below to get you started, should you be interested…




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