There’s often a sense of urgency to complete the interiors of your home before moving in. And while it makes absolute sense to walk into a home that’s decorated to the T, there’s something special about taking your time, living in your home and building your look and feel as the months/years go by.
If you’re inclined to take the more gradual approach, then here are a few top tips from interior design experts Anna Smit of Deco Collections and Elisha Annandale of Décor Identity on how to create the ideal interiors for your home at an easy pace:
Live a little
Smit: Not all of us are lucky enough to have the budget to furnish and decorate our homes completely in one go down to the last scatter and vase. For most of us it is a process. This is not an unfortunate situation at all. It is a great position to be in. It allows for you to get it right the first time, by feeling how a space is best utilised by first living in it. Consider furniture placement and what the needs of the family are when using the space. For example: a TV lounge may need some rearranging of furniture to be more functional and enhance the flow of the space into the adjacent areas. Also, only by living in it can you determine your needs (e.g. dad needs a footstool, the kids like bean bags and mom doesn’t like the leather sofa, but prefers to watch TV on a comfy fabric couch).
Annandale: I find that for most clients, if the budget allows, ordering the curtains and the furniture for the main living space ahead of when the house will be complete, is a good start to ensure that when they move in, the house is almost in an 80% living state. I believe this is the best way to go, because you’re not making a move from an old home to a new one but also starting afresh with new furniture and all of which complements the new space. Personally, I prefer to live in the space first and then after even two to three months, once you have a feel for how you live and which areas you mostly use, to start decorating first. For me, the first priority should be the main bedroom and living space, as those are the areas you will relax and spend most of your time in.
Annandale: When working on a budget I always say to my clients, first decide what you have and what you are willing to spend before you are concerned about what things will cost. For instance, if you know you have R50k to work with, then you can establish which items are required and from that focus on the bulk of the items first, like the larger pieces: maybe the sofa, or a bed or some occasional chairs. Then once you have the larger items you can move to the next set of large pieces, like the coffee table, side tables, rugs, art etc. Once that is in place, you can move to the smalls and accessories.
Set your style and prioritise
Smit: Start off by determining your style and the basic needs of your family. These factors will be your design compass throughout the process and prevent you from making mistakes of buying what you might like at the time but throw out later, because it doesn’t really fit with your style or the practical needs of your family. Focus on the main areas first, i.e. dining room, lounge/TV room and the master bedroom (which is often left till last). Also include the items in other areas that are absolute necessities. Make a priority list. Do not skimp on quality when it comes to sofas, beds, dining table and chairs and window coverings. You don’t have to break the bank, but a cheap sofa or curtains will have to be replaced sooner rather than later. If you fear making a mistake on colour, keep these main items neutral. You will then be able to easily add colour and pattern by dressing around your main items with scatter cushions, ottomans, occasional chairs, vases, rugs and art etc.
Have fun and play
Annandale: Use your existing pieces in areas you feel can work and play with them: move them around the house to see where you feel they work best. Start playing with paint colours to see what you prefer in which area. Once you’ve started a colour palette for each room, look for your focal point. This can be a beautiful rug, art piece, vase or fabric. It must be something bold and pattered to start pulling all the room colors from it. For example an art piece that has yellows and blues with plenty of neutrals can be used as a base for your palette; you can draw out the colour inspiration from the art piece for the fabric of your sofa, occasional chairs, scatters etc. Always ensure you bring in items that you really love and then once you really feel you’re stuck, get a professional to help with layout and space planning as well as putting things together like accessories and soft furnishings. Also, it’s very important that before you start buying furniture and décor, measure up the area so you know what will work in the room, and if this is the area you may need help with, then make sure from day one you have an interior designer on call to assist with small decisions.