I remember what redecorating meant when I was young. My mum and I would trot down to BHS, Next or Marks and Spencer and look for a complete look all neatly arranged on a couple of shelves; the “matchy” look was big in the 90s! In hindsight its actually quite impressive how many items manufacturers made with the same pattern; wallpaper, bedspreads, borders, lampshades, curtains, tie backs, cushions… list goes on. What a refreshing take on interiors BBCs “Changing Rooms” offered when it launched in 1997. I was obsessed with this programme; looking at the house now, it clearly had a profound effect on my aesthetic today… From my Instagram poll it seems 81% of you agree with me that this was TV gold to feed our early interior fixation.
What “Changing Rooms” offered us, while often ridiculous, was a perspective on what unique interiors could be; an insight to the world of Interior Design that I did not know existed, and they did it in an affordable way (as long as you knew a “Handy Andy”!) A new era of DIY with paint effects (terracotta sponge wash for a Moroccan vibe anyone?!) and the discovery of the ever versatile material; MDF! The designers often focused on what the homeowners likes and passions to create concept. While this was occasionally to somewhat disastrous and laughable results, it certainly for me opened up a new way to look at how we put our own stamp on our homes.
Today, we have such a vast range of influences for how we design our homes; largely opened up by the explosion of social media. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have enabled so many of us a plot online to share how we live (or at least neatly frame and stage it) which provides so many more sources of inspiration. Search “House Tour” on YouTube and you are met with tens of thousands of videos with top hits reaching over 10 million views. Combine that with programmes on traditional media like “Great Interior Design Challenge” and “Your Home In Their Hands” and the amount of ideas can be confusing and overwhelming.
Personally, I have found moving into a new build very daunting in defining the identity for our property. You have moved into this perfect white box and the idea of painting it in bold colour schemes can feel sacrilegious; after all you might have never seen your home other than a floor plan, what if you accidentally make it look dark and dingy? The fear, albeit very first world problems, is real! I also found that because I’d seen so many show homes, this was seeping into my subconscious and I felt nervous about moving away from a neutral and grey pallet.
Of course show homes are designed to appeal to the masses and they do it marvellously with a pallet of neutral shades and monochrome, mirrored surfaces and well balanced furniture to suit the room proportions. I’m not sniffy about the design; they sold to me after all! I just find that its very easy when you buy a new build to follow the same blueprint; whether or not it is your taste or, more importantly, suits your lifestyle. I can appreciate the look of minimalist, neutral interiors but our life has a little more clutter and I have a love for “stuff” and surrounding myself in memories that just cant work with that style.
I am certainly no expert in interiors and since moving to our home I have subscribed to just one simple rule; if we like it, then it will work. This is a liberating realisation when it comes to finding your aesthetic. After all, the only people that need to love your home are the people that live in it. The deciding influence should always be your love for the item, be it furniture, paint, a cushion or an ornament.
It takes confidence, but if you follow that easy rule I promise you everything will co-ordinate, because you will love everything in your space; remember its only you that needs to feel it works. One of the huge benefits of this “rule” is it will mean items within your home, particularly soft furnishings, become very interchangeable; a cushion that normally “lives” in your living room also works in your guest room, a rug can sit just as comfortably in your dining room as it does in you office, pictures can hang anywhere from bathroom to living room. What a cheap way to give a room a new lease of life eh? This “rule” will also make your home timeless for you and your family; its filled with your memories and these will never go out of fashion. the only “theme” you need is your family.
So I encourage you all to fill your homes with the things you love. Paint your house in colours that make you happy. Avoid clichés just because they are what is “on trend.” Buy the garish lamp that makes you happy even though its a bit wrong. Have a go at upcycling a piece of old furniture. If it what you want to see then that’s all that matters; that is your aesthetic and nobody else’s.