Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

Choosing your home decorating style

Starting a new decorating project is exciting, but whether it’s a quick face lift for a room or a whole house redesign and redecoration, you’ll need to decide on the style you’re aiming for. Much of this decision will depend on the purpose of the redesign. For example, if you’re doing it to suit your own style of living and your family’s, then you might perhaps choose to do things exactly to suit your own taste. However, if you’re planning to rent out the property or you’re doing it up for sale, then using neutral colours is often advised. Let’s look at the different decorating situations you might find yourself in.

  • the space where you intend to live
  • making a rental property appealing
  • improving a home’s chances of a good sale

Your home

This is your own space and if it’s your “forever home”, then you can do pretty much as you like. But if there’s any chance you might want to sell or even rent in the future, it’s wise not to make any structural changes or do anything which can’t be undone if the changes might seriously limit the property’s appeal to others. If you’re designing for yourself, even though you may be willing to make changes in a few years time, you’ll need to be sure that your chosen style is a true reflection of the way you want to live – and the way you’re capable of living.

For example, we turned one of our properties from a three-bedroom home into a one-bedroom home with a large open-plan living space by opening up the two downstairs bedrooms. The two original bedrooms could quite easily be reinstated by putting in new stud walls, and meanwhile the open-plan design suits us better as we use zoning to create separate sections in the big room for different activities, eg cooking, eating, watching TV, and various other hobbies. Some families might have preferred the separate rooms for doing this, but then they would probably have needed the bedrooms for sleeping accommodation, so such a strategy probably wouldn’t work for them anyway. Each household will have its own needs and ideas about how best to meet them.

Be realistic…

Have you ever oohed and aahed at a beautiful minimalist design? Perhaps you’ve admired white carpets and pristine furnishing. Of course, they look lovely in glossy photos, but could such a style really work in your busy home? That’s not to say you shouldn’t strive to keep the clutter down, but you do need to be realistic about what’s achievable. And that means achievable within your budget too. (More about your budget later.)

First, you might like to think about what kind of style suits your personality and your type of home. Sometimes quirky can work very effectively, but it’s generally best to complement a home’s style, rather than drastically change its whole look so that the décor seems to clash with the architecture. Perhaps radical changes can work successfully for a clever designer, but it can look a bit odd to have a cottage style or a grand palatial design in a small, modern flat. Equally, giving a traditional home a very contemporary treatment might not be the best idea either.

roller brush overpainting bright colour with white

Bold colours may not always be most appropriate

…but design for you

That said, some people can make almost anything work because they have innovative ideas and a real knack for design. If you really feel that it will work or it’s right for you, don’t be constrained by what you think you ought to do. Have the confidence to make it how you really want. We’ve often gone against conventional wisdom and done what we thought was right.

For example, with one of our properties we had some very bold colours on the walls. After we had been living in the house ourselves for a few years, we decided to let it out. We were advised that neutral colours were required for a rental property but we thought the bold colours worked and potential tenants would like the design we had created. As it happened, everyone who viewed the property loved the colours, so you never know how things might work out. On the other hand, if you were decorating specifically for a buy-to-let property, then you might well choose to do things differently. Sometimes creating your own style is just a matter of confidence rather than following rules.


Some styles you might consider are:

  • modern
  • rustic
  • minimalist
  • country
  • classical
  • bright and bold
  • light and airy
  • shabby chic
  • retro
a small collection of Egyptian-themed motifs

You can look anywhere for inspiration, even Egyptian motifs.

You might also be inspired by a country or culture, for example, Aztec with its striking designs or Mediterranean with its vibrant colours or a simple cool Shaker design. These days paints and other materials are easily available. The choice is yours, but don’t forget to consider whether your plans will be robust enough for your household’s lifestyle and whether it’ll suit your budget.

Improving a property to rent out or to sell involves different skills – that’s more like running a business, and we’ll be covering them in later articles. Next we’ll move on to budgeting for your home decorating project.