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Think before you paper or paint
MOST of us have not had the luxury of moving into a home that we have completely designed - brick by brick - and as such we are always having to cope with other people's design choices.
Even in new build homes the usual magnolia walls are a blank canvas, but the bathrooms and kitchens will probably have been fitted prior to your purchase.
In older homes you may be stuck with a 70s' style avocado bathroom, or a vividly patterned and coloured carpet running through the house.
Although you will usually not have the luxury of moving into somewhere totally designed for you, my main advice when deciding on design schemes is to wait for a while before you do anything.
If you can, give yourself time to see how you live in the space, what light you get and when, what areas you particularly need in your home (i.e. you may have a dining room - but also a large kitchen/diner - and may need space for a home office - the dining room would be an ideal space to look at changing its function) and then you can start to give it your style.
Knowing that there will be no rush decisions will be worth it in terms of saving time, effort and money.
So many people decorate rooms quickly just to get rid of the last owners' tastes, but after spending time on that decorating they run out of steam to tackle the same room again to do what they really want to do with it, so they end up living with another scheme that is not really their style.
So, you have decided to wait for a few months before decorating. What next? Well - during these months I recommend that you really start to take a look at what your style actually is, and what look you want for your home.
It may well be that you prefer to have outside help with determining your style and many people now choose to hire an interior designer.
It is our role to bring out your personal style and create schemes that will work both aesthetically and functionally. Whether you just want some general ideas, or full schemes, there is a service that is suitable for everyone and every budget.
However, if you decide to do this yourself, my advice is to produce a folder of ideas.
This simply means getting together any pictures, colours, photographs etc. that you love, and that will help you to determine your style.
Inspiration can come from anywhere - television, magazines, friends and families' homes, show homes, holidays, hotels etc.
Take the time to enjoy this brainstorming, the more you look at things the more ideas you will have and the better your final ideas for each room will be. (Also, a lot of designers will be grateful for this sort of thing when you employ them, as it can really help them to determine your style).
The main thing to remember is that there are no rules - whatever you like will work for you.
Your home is your haven and you should feel totally comfortable and at home' in your surroundings.(The only limit here would be if you knew you were going to be moving in the near future, as a very personal scheme could put off some buyers so it is better to play it a little safer if you are in this situation).
Also good to remember is that every design scheme uses elements of other designs and eras - today the 1950s retro kitchen look is very fashionable - but many choose to have accessories in the 1950s' feel but still have a contemporary kitchen - mixing and matching to suit their style. Analyse why you like schemes you see and ask what aspects can you bring to your own home? Giving yourself the time to do this will pay dividends.
Once you have a clear idea of the look and feel you want to create, it will be a lot easier to go out and purchase paint, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, accessories etc - so have fun and enjoy your home.