We’d all love our homes to look magazine photo-shoot ready, but it’s hard to know where to start. Interior design done well can turn your property from a place to a home. So how do you add personality (but not too much) and add style (but remain practical)? Especially when you’re on a budget.
With the help of Interior Stylist and Author Megan Morton, Block judge and Carpet Court Ambassador Darren Palmer, and Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux Colour Expert you’ll be full of creative tips and design secrets to help get you started.
Switch it on
Lighting makes all the difference and can be an affordable way to add ambience and style to your home. Think beyond downlights – look at how you use lights as well as aesthetics. Work with different levels – perhaps a mix of ceiling lights, floor lamps and table lamps.
As Interior Stylist Megan Morton says:
“Lighting should be one of the first places to start. A lot of people think of lighting in the same way a make-up user applies mascara – as the final gesture. But for me, great rooms are built around great lighting. There is a lot of love that is always centred on the ground up (rugs, lounges, bench kick backs, tiling, splash backs etc), and a light really does fill that void between these elements and the ceiling. I do a lighting plan straight up – as soon as I receive the budget, because once your lights are decided on, other decisions become quite easy.”
You don’t have to look much further than Etsy or your local gallery to find talented, upcoming artists that will fit with a smaller budget. Morton says to think of artwork as personality pieces. “They can really change the feel and mood of a room. A temperamental painting with lots of thick oil, tumultuous colours and energy can add some wow factor if the living room is lack lustre, in the very same way that a soft and placid artwork, sculpture or ceramic item can placate it. Art work should never be done in the last stretch. If you begin with it, or imagine the kinds of pieces you want, you will get a more cohesive room. A painting can throw a whole room off, or it can be the glue. Make yours the glue! Get in early with the thinking and sourcing around it, your diligence will pay off I promise you this much!”
A fresh coat of paint can be a simple and inexpensive way to add colour, personality and inspiration. As Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux Colour Expert says:
“Colour can highlight items you want to focus on and camouflage the elements you wish to hide. A feature wall is a simple project which can create a centre point in the space, add personality and create a particular mood. Highlighting a wall behind a bed is a great way to bring colour into any bedroom. Adding a feature colour behind your favourite piece of artwork can make the painting really pop. Feature front doors are always incredible as they highlight the entrance of your home and add your personal touch to welcome guests. Utilising colour to help a room feel larger or smaller can be achieved using a feature colour. A simple painted wall in your selected colour can dramatically change the way you feel in the space and add a sense of tranquillity and peace.”
From the walls to the floor, Block judge and Carpet Court Ambassador Darren Palmer, says: “A rug is a perfect place to bring some colour into your spaces. You can use your rug as an artwork on the floor, standing apart from your other soft furnishing choices, or you can use a few of the colours in the rug as a starting point for your cushion colours.”
As a word of caution, Morton says: “Most people get rugs wrong due to their size, not their colour or pattern. A rug should not envelop the room, nor should it look like it fell short. Get your sizing right, then your pattern and colour, and you should be looking good! I like my rugs not to tell stories or be too outlandish. For me it’s the size and then the palette, so most of mine are a mixture of old and new silk knotted rugs. I go from Ikea to Armadillo & Co, and from Agra silk rugs to auction house Kilims.”
As Palmer says, you can use the colours in your rug to inspire your cushions. There are some beautifully rich colours on trend to play with – such as emerald green and deep maroons and terracotta.
When it comes to soft furnishings Morton adds: “This is an area we can all go bananas in because there is literally so much goodness on the market. The challenge is editing down to what really works and not just having them all out because you own so many. I like to have one small light throw ready for snuggles (and a heavier one come winter), and no more than four cushions on my lounge. Any more makes it harder to get in much needed R and R! Judge yours not by numbers, as lounges differ so much in real estate, but by removing them one by one and checking if it still looks ‘right’. You want that lovely balance between comfortable without looking overly full!”
As to the furniture in a room, Morton says you don’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have a big budget, don’t blow it on one statement piece. “I believe in a suite of pieces. I don’t believe in spending big bucks on one item and having the rest budget-conscious. I would prefer to have my budget spread over the entire room and choose something that harmonised the space, rather than attention grabbed with the one piece. There are so many great finds to be had on Gumtree and online retailers, as well as the usual Big W, Kmart and Ikea chains. Once your furniture is chosen, the fun and games can begin!”
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