Over the years I’ve made a fair few home décor errors. There was the garish yellow feature wall in a pre-Pink House Husband sitting room. And the flop of a futon I dragged like a dead cat around university. Not to mention the Victoria Plum wallpaper in my shared childhood bedroom (it clashed nastily with my brother’s Super Ted feature wall on the other side).
But if it’s true what they say that messing up is the best way to learn, then I’m quite the home decor expert. And now with a fair few houses, clients and styling projects under my belt, I feel just about qualified to offer up a few home truths of my own…
DO go cushion crazy
I get it: not everyone wants to invest in bright blue velvet leopard print armchairs with hot pink trim (though mine do make me very happy). Instead, it can feel less scary to start with a plainer, more neutral sofa or armchair and add colour and fun with cushions, with the added benefit being that it’s easy to switch the look around if you repaint the room - or just fancy a seasonal switch-up. For cushions with year-round wow-factor, a few of my faves include Silken Favours, Emma J Shipley and Elizabeth Scarlett:
DON’T skimp on hardware
As someone who has transformed a tired old laminate kitchen using little more than a few tins of paint and some kick-ass brass handles, I can vouch for the transformative effect of high quality hardware, especially as I’m doing the exact same thing in my new home. My go-to brand is Buster + Punch – their handles might be on the pricier side, but a) they’re of the highest quality, and b) they’re a whole load cheaper than replacing a kitchen.
DO make alcohol look arty
We all know about the uplifting effect that drinking alcohol can have, but did you know that elevating alcohol to an art form can literally and metaphorically lift your spirits? Well it can. Booze bottles are some of the best-designed products out there (current fave: Forest Gin, as sold in Harvey Nichols), and the high street is awash with pretty cocktail cabinets and accoutrements to show off and complement your tipple of choice. My pick of the bunch is Marks & Spencer’s Webster cabinet, which looks lush paired with their deco-inspired Manhattan tumblers.
DON’T think of the children
There are countless articles, blog posts and books out there advising you to child-proof your home by stocking up on wipe-clean, rounded-edged super storage smothered in blackboard paint. Yawn. I might have two boisterous, mucky little boys, but when I look around my house, I don’t want to think, “I hate everything in this room, thanks to the kids, but at least it’s clean”. Instead I’d rather think, “I LOVE that velvet sofa, and I’ll leave my little darlings’ pen/chocolate/mud marks to posterity”.
DO think differently
You spend about 45% of your life at home, so keeping that home an interesting place to be is crucial. And one of the best ways to do THAT is simply to fill your pad with stuff that inspires YOU (who cares what anyone else thinks) and make you smile when you walk through the front door. How about this gorgeous pink and orange Francesca Gentilli rug from Handpicked by Kate (defo worth trawling Kate's site btw - this girl is ace at discovering fabulous new interiors brands and sharing her discoveries). Or perhaps one of Dave Buonaguidi's kick ass prints from Print Club London? Or basically anything at all that's on sale in the fabulous W.A. Green...
DON’T forget the flowers
When it comes to fresh flowers (nothing lifts a room like them), I highly recommend Bloom & Wild’s new collaboration with florist-to-the-stars Nikki Tibbles Wild At Heart. The 28-stem assemble-yourself bouquets are posted through your letterbox, and come with step-by-step instructions on how to arrange them to professional standards. If floristry’s not your thing, Farrow & Ball have a new, no-arranging-required floral wallpaper collection, which will transform any wall.
A version of this post appeared in the October issue of i-on, Scotland's largest lifestyle magazine, for which I write a monthly interiors column