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Interior designers work in many different ways. Some have a strong vision and want to see it carried to fruition. Others have a very unique or individual style that a client will buy into. The way I work, is much like making a bespoke suit. Hopefully it will be a perfect fit, that flatters all the good features and disguises the poor. I literally tailor the house to my client.

But what happens if you don’t have an interior designer or someone to help you? What if you are buying or renting your first home, and you have absolutely no idea where to begin? Here, I will suggest a few simple ways to get started on what can seem like a hugely daunting task.

The first step is to discover and define what you actually like. The best and easiest way is to create a folder, file, or Pinterest board, and every time you see an image, a piece of furniture, a colour sample or anything you are particularly drawn to, put it there. Very quickly you will build a profile of the type of look you want. You may not have previously realised you liked contemporary design, or shabby chic, or you may have thought you where a ‘blue’ person when in fact you are ‘mauve’. You may even discover that you like a whole period, mid-century, modern, or a style such as Scandinavian or French country.

Having identified what you like, you can then proceed to actually sourcing. I have two basic pieces of advice to give here:

Firstly as a beginner, try not to look at prices initially, as it can be prohibitive. Instead make a wish-list of items you love – you can actually do this very easily on Spotdeco, under “List Spot.” Then look for comparative designs to fit your budget. With so much available online, everything is really just a few clicks of a button away. Lets say for example, that you desire Scandinavian dining chairs, but can’t afford original Hans Wegner wishbone chairs? Maybe you can afford a good copy? Or alternatively, if you don’t want a copy of an original piece, then you could use it as inspiration to find something similar in that style.

Secondly, a wise person once told me “there is nothing more permanent than the temporary.” Don’t waste money buying something that ‘will do for now’ because once you have that item in your house, mark my words, you won’t be replacing it with the piece you actually wanted but couldn’t afford, any time soon. If you have to, then wait until you can afford it, because it’ll be worth it in the end.

Fundamentally, a lot of this job is about being practical, working to a budget, planning ahead and sticking to a deadline. In my opinion, there is no point in spending half of your budget on a TV, if you then can’t afford to buy a sofa to sit on and watch it! Similarly, be organised. For example, do whatever building works you have to do first – you don’t want to put up curtains and then need to paint the walls afterwards.

Price up everything you are planning on purchasing before you actually go ahead and buy anything. That way you will know how much money you will actually need, or if you have a budget you can prioritise where to spend first. It’s very easy to convince yourself that a hundred pounds here and there is no problem, but it all adds up very quickly.

Make a list of all the core items you really need (basics: bed, sofa, etc…). Then a second list of smaller items, which are still important but not absolutely necessary (table lamps, side tables). Finally a list of the fun and frivolous items such as picture frames, vases and accessories.

Start with the first list and work down. Remember not everything is required immediately, so keep your focus. A house never really finishes, whatever the budget. Maybe that wall mirror you wanted will just have to wait until you get paid next month.

If you plan ahead, and work in an organised and systematic way, whether you can buy everything at once or not, you will hopefully have found a style to your taste, colours that you love, and have sourced a list of items you want to buy. So if you need to do it in stages that’s fine, as every new purchase you make is effectively adding another piece to the puzzle, rather than being a random toss up of the dice.

Photo: Occa-Home

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