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

Refining your home decoration style

In Part One of this series, we looked briefly at some different styles of interior design for your home decoration project. We saw that a suitable design would depend on your personal tastes, the style of the property, and your budget. In the second article, we looked at budgeting for your project. Now it’s time to look more closely at some different styles you might choose as an anchor for your ideas.

Some different styles

To recap, here are some styles we suggested might be suitable for your home decoration project.

  • modern
  • rustic
  • minimalist
  • country
  • classical
  • bright and bold
  • light and airy
  • shabby chic
  • retro

You may already have a good idea about these styles and what they entail, but let’s look at some examples of where each style might be appropriate. This might depend on the purpose of the room. For example, regardless of what style or theme you favour, you’d probably want your kitchen to look clean and fresh. The bedroom should normally be a relaxing room, and a dining room might be a family hub, especially if it’s a kitchen/diner, or it could be a room for conversation if you have lots of dinner parties. You might like to create a spa type of ambience for your bathroom.

old chair in interior design setting

An old chair could form the basis of your inspiration

Often the best way to start choosing the style for your project is to look at books and magazines to find interior scenes which inspire you. Another way to find inspiration is to look around your house and select a handful of your favourite things. These could include a treasured ornament which you brought back from a holiday somewhere. It might include a favourite old chair, a tablecloth, any piece of furniture, or a lovely fabric. It could be anything! Some people get ideas from artwork, or even postcards. Or from nature itself. (We’ll be looking a bit more about finding inspiration later.)

There are lots of good places to look online too for ideas, eg online magazines, Pinterest or stock photo websites. When you have collected some ideas, you can go on to create mood boards too, and this approach is usually what they teach on interior design courses.

Creating a mood board

You can create your mood boards online: for example, on websites such as Pinterest (free) or by using software such as Photoshop (quite expensive and difficult to learn). There is also a wide variety of dedicated interior design software available as well as free Photoshop alternatives, such as Gimp. Several software packages are free! And some professional software can be rather expensive, as you’d expect. Ease of use also varies depending on the aims of the software package and what it’s been designed to be used for. You can also search on YouTube to find some good free tutorials which teach you how to use various interior design software applications.

Here’s a video showing how to create a mood board using Photoshop, but unless you’re already an experienced Photoshop user, this one is likely to be a bit more advanced than you’ll need. Photoshop is a very powerful beast which is most suited to design professionals.

Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of easier alternatives and dedicated interior design software tutorials and you’ll find several with a simple search on Google, YouTube, and similar.

You can also create mood boards offline by physically pasting items you’ve sourced on to a board. Here’s Sophie Robinson showing how she does it.

And you can do both, perhaps going online for your initial ideas and then going offline later to collect real samples of the materials you might want to use. However, you choose to go about the task, the principles are very similar. The mood board is a visual representation of what you’re trying to create. It shows your ideas, your feelings and the mood you’re encapsulating with your design. It’s often difficult to explain your ideas in words, especially if they’re based on evocative feelings or emotions. The mood board is a way for you to express yourself without needing to struggle for those words and descriptions.

If you go to Google (or your favourite search engine), you can search for “images of mood boards” to see a vast collect of mood boards which others have already created and you’re bound to find some inspiration there.

Create a coherent and harmonious picture

You can mix and match styles, textures, and fabrics, and create an eclectic mix, but somehow it must ultimately create a design with a coherent feel to it and not a mishmash of things that don’t go together. It’s a bit like cooking. Not only do you want to choose lovely ingredients, you also want ingredients which complement each other and create a harmonious whole rather than serving, say, sashimi on the same plate as steak pie and chips. It’s unlikely to work. Some cooks, and even some famous chefs, pride themselves on their fusion cooking, where they create a harmonious blend of different cultures – often East meets West. But in the wrong hands, sadly this results more in confusion than a tasty fusion. 

So experiment, by all means, but do take care not to create something that’s not very pleasant just for the sake of being different.

Before going on to look more closely at different styles and room treatments, next we’ll look at some colour theory.