Redecorate with 10 Easy Tips - Part 1

Whether you are selling or just want to freshen the look, here are some easy tips for contemporary and period homes to help you redecorate - by Françoise Murat.

Whether you are selling or just want to freshen the look, here are some easy tips for contemporary and period homes to help you redecorate. Part 2 next week.

BEFORE YOU START...

Think about the time you have available to decorate a specific room or the whole house and be realistic. There is nothing worse than finding you need to get back to work when you’re only half way through the job!

Are you selling the house or just want to freshen the look to give it a boost and update? If you’re selling think very carefully about your budget and what you should spend it on. There are some things on which you just won’t get your money back. Spend on critical items like the kitchen, the bathrooms and the garden. If you are not selling then you may start with one room and move on to another when time permits. If staying put, think about which room you spend the most time in – why not refresh the look with a new wall colour or even some new upholstery and curtains?

People usually decorate every 4-5 years – make sure this renovation will stand the test of time.

1. GET INSPIRED

For sources of inspiration look at magazines, other people’s homes or even furniture shops as they often have room sets. Is it a look you like? Or do you want to just tweak a wall colour or update the lighting? Maybe changing a central piece of furniture is the key.

Think about this for a while and don’t rush into anything – it’s important to choose something that sits comfortably with you, something that you like. If you are selling the house the old adage of less is more stands. Don’t go for strong colours but gently integrate what you have and get some inspiration from magazines where developers are selling homes.

I usually put images I have cut up together. I do this for clients, but on a smaller scale do this for yourself. I promise you it is well worth the effort. It aims to order your thoughts, focus on what you want and don’t want. Like a crib sheet – you can go back to it, to re-calibrate the look, remind you what lamps or fabric you want. It gives you direction and reminds you of the look you are aiming to achieve.

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  1. STORAGE**

This is a critical area, whether you have a minimalist interior or a cluttered one - we all need space. If you are selling it is important to put away all personal items, tidy up and make it clutter free - it shows off the space better to potential buyers.

Of course, the usual bedroom storage is paramount - cupboards and chest of drawers - but don’t discount under the bed. Places like Ikea have some great plastic containers with lids to hide under the bed, perfect for linen and spare duvets as these tend to take up lots of space.

Don’t forget the critical storage that is required for the main areas of the house – where to stash the vacuum cleaner, where to hide winter shoes when it’s summer and vice-versa. So use storage baskets that complement your interior. Wicker baskets can sit atop furniture and look elegant. I have often used old suitcases to hide CDs. Stacked on top of a wardrobe they look good, and the older rigid framed ones make great coffee tables.

Restored staircase with understairs storage

3. FABRICS

Don’t go for the latest must-have trendy fabrics out there unless you adore them! Remember they need to last at least 4-5 years in this decor so you want something you can live with, look at and feel OK with. Fabrics are a huge field – whether for upholstery, curtains or other soft furnishings. For upholstery make sure you bring home a larger sample than the usual 10cms x 10cms piece as you need to drape it over the sofa or chair. You also need to pick something that is treated with fire-retardant.

If you like the bold and large prints only use it once. Perhaps use it for a set of curtains and then pick-up on the colour or texture with your accessories. Keep the rest of the scheme neutral and quiet. You don’t want things to fight for attention.

Neutral colours –perfect to sell your house but you may want brighter touches if you want to freshen it up.

4. LIGHTING

A room should not be lit up like Heathrow airport with downlighters lined up like a runway! Each should have a specific reason for being there – lighting a picture, providing light over a piece of furniture etc. Also, aim to have a mix of downlighters on dimmers for a multitude of activities, table lamps for atmosphere and mood, uplighters for bright sparks in specific areas.

These days there is no excuse for just having a central pendant light – the choice of luminaires is vast, so go explore!

Plan your lighting before you decorate, then you can hide trailing cords, and place sockets where you want them – you could even place floor sockets under occasional furniture like side tables.

5. NEUTRAL CANVAS

If you have a period home with lots of architectural features, such as high ceilings, interesting fireplaces or ornate cornicing, a neutral decor is best as it will really set off these features.

*Edwardian cornicing with strong wall colours
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Beautiful wood carvings at Listed Home Owners Property Show 2010

It’s most important to bring the room together in a cohesive manner. If, for example, you want a calm and serene feel try painting all woodwork and walls in the same colour. Strong fabrics will make the room cosier and bring some intimacy to a large area.

Next week we’ll give you five more tips on scale, entrance halls, key pieces, multi-function rooms and colour.

Françoise Murat & Associates specialise in interior, garden & landscape design