Design the heaven

Interiors created by a designer are beyond most people’s budget, but Rose Hockley reveals trade secrets so you can do it yourself
The Community By Rose Hockley
Published on May 1, 2014

Decoristas call it ‘room romance’ — the pure pleasure of sitting down with an interiors magazine, admiring and envying beautiful rooms created by designers.


But so often we come back down to earth with a bump when we try to design our own rooms. Limited space, a tight budget and an avalanche of assorted family possessions usually prevent us from replicating those uncluttered, glamorous spaces featured in the glossy mags. Therefore, a step-by-step approach is relevant to every design and every home, whether a mansion or a small flat. At the end of the day, the whole purpose of interior designing a home is to achieve the best possible surroundings for the people who live in it. We all want lovely, personal spaces to live in and by following a tried-and-tested approach it really is possible to achieve. The essence of interior design is creating an environment which reflects our personality and taste, and which is comfortable, functional and something we can take pride in. Of course, it can be tricky because there are so many looks to choose from and seemingly endless trends, and people get overwhelmed. Often someone will look at a friend’s house which they admire and try to replicate
it, but while a style might work in one home it may not in another. Therefore, it’s important to work out exactly what your own personal taste is, which will make it so much easier to identify what you like and don’t like, and help you avoid costly mistakes. Creating a home which reflects your taste isn’t just about choosing colour schemes and furnishings; it’s about understanding how to use space and style.
Sometimes you’ll make mistakes but it’s worth persevering. Our home is our cave, our nest, our retreat, our theatre. The place to which we return, in which we wake up, cry and laugh and which protects us from the rest of the world. If we respect it, it will be a happy home in which to live. That is a great benefit to have in life. Follow our three steps to create your own ‘designer’ home…


Finding and understanding your own style will give you confidence and a clear sense of your personal design identity. For instance, although you may love the retro style and get instantly drawn to mid-century modern furniture, you will learn that it’s not a look that you may actually like to live with.
The architectural style of your home is important but it’s only one factor, so don’t let it override your own sense of style. Designer tip: Collect pictures of rooms which appeal to you in magazines, even if there are a few elements you don’t like — just note down what they are. Having a reaction is what counts and it will help you realise what you like. The clothes you wear, or would like to wear, can be a source of inspiration. If you tend towards classic tweeds, you may like more traditional interiors. If you only ever wear neutrals, you probably won’t want a riot of colour at home.
Films are also a great source of inspiration because they often show an interior in not only surprising detail, but also in a lifestyle context. Think about your style in different ways: the way you like to dress, the car you like to drive, hotels you like to stay in or simply what in life inspires you. Slowly, a feel for your own personal look will emerge.


It’s natural to want to choose colours, move furniture around or get building work under way to make a home your own, but looking at the way you use a home is the priority. The first step is to write down what you need from your living space. This shouldn’t be a list of the rooms you have, but the way you want to live and activities you want to do at home. You might want an area for friends to practise yoga, a room where children can do homework and hobbies, or even space for a two metre-long aquarium! Obviously, if you like cooking and entertaining, an open plan kitchen-dining area will work well. If that’s not what you enjoy, a formal dining room would be wasted and better used as a home office area. Designer tip: The layout of many buildings cannot be changed without a lot of expense but don’t be too quick to limit yourself. A small structural change, such as removing a wall or repositioning a doorway, can make an enormous difference without breaking the bank.


Once you’ve got layout plans for your home and have established how you want to use your space, look at the work that needs to be done in your home, from electrical to building work. Then you can create your scheme. You must trust your own judgment, and put aside any thoughts of what other people think is stylish. This is about your own preferences. You will finally start to be able to see your look, and recognise that some elements of your scheme won’t conform to the ‘style’ you’ve identified as yours. That’s fine. Designer tip: It’s important to ensure that paint colours you use flow well through the various rooms and corridors. If you can, decide on all the room colours before looking for the connecting colours for hallways, stairs and landings. Aim for a view from the hall or landing of a range of colours that happily combine, rather than clash, when the doors of the various rooms are left open.

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