Comfier Homes by Bernice Abuan 4 minutes

4 lessons from an interior design pro

Forget that copy of Interior Design for Dummies: here’s all you need to know. 

Planning your interior design and shopping for items for your home without a plan is a bit like going to the supermarket without a shopping list. The risk of leaving things out, getting the wrong type of thing or buying twice as much as you intended is so much higher than if you’d just stopped to prepare yourself beforehand. 

Plan out your space and visualise how it will look before you buy

Interior design planning can be as comprehensive or as simple as you’d like but ultimately the stronger the image you create of the space you want and the objects within it, the more confident you’ll be when it comes to knowing that the purchase you’ve just made or are about to make, is a good one. 

Some things that help me plan my purchases are noting down the key measurements of blank walls and floor areas as these are the places where those big ticket items will live and your wallet will be praying that you get those right. Then when it comes to the overall look and feel of the space, I love to create Pinterest boards with images that reflect the style I am going for and often I’ll have some examples of furniture, artwork and lighting saved on my phone so that I can use them as inspiration when I shop.

Buy some things before the room is ready but allow for spontaneity

Sometimes the idea that we have for a space can look slightly different once all your pieces are in and often despite your best measurements, some things will just look better in places you never anticipated. To counteract the unexpected, I’ve learned that buying a few pieces upfront and before the room is ready is great especially when you want to capitalise on a sale or unique find but leaving other things til later down the track is a good idea too.

Often I’ll buy my statement pieces upfront like a chair or artwork, as it still means I have space to play around later plus it’s easier to be spontaneous with smaller items like vases, lamps and accessories like in my office below.  There is also something so exciting about not knowing how everything will look until you’ve found those last few pieces. 

Small budgets can bring out the best ideas

When we bought our first home our budget to renovate was tiny to non-existent so I found myself having to think outside the box to achieve the look without the price tag. Of course, there were non-negotiable purchases like a new bed and for my husband, a tv but for maximum impact and style I found a lot of success in restoring secondhand pieces.  I also found success in a fresh coat of paint and in simply showcasing the original features of the house itself.

When you’re working to a small budget the word ‘compromise’ can feel like a stumbling block but it is also an opportunity to take stock and ask yourself ‘what do I really need?’ and ‘how can I create the vibe I want without blowing the budget?’.  It also taught me how to be restrained and to really make the most of the few things I did have without feeling like I needed more for instance, my bedroom is a blend of brand new pieces and secondhand treasures.

Not everything needs to match to be brilliant

How often have you come across ‘the last of’ something? A lamp, a side table, a chair and ruled it out because you needed the pair. Sure, there are times when having two of the same thing is ideal; a set of sheets for instance, but when it comes to your interior, and what works I prefer to go with the idea of ‘do I love it?’ and if the answer is a resounding yes than I make it work.

A dining table can look great even if no two chairs around it are alike. For me, what makes things cohesive is the overall style of the pieces you choose. For instance you might have a mix of modern chairs with farm-style chairs but they work because they have a similar theme in common i.e. blonde oak woodgrain or rounded edges. Imperfect pieces can be just what a stark room needs to feel warm, interesting and memorable. In my bedroom I have one bedside lamp paired with a table lamp. Completely different and yet in the scheme of the whole room it all works!

About the Writer

Erena Te Paa is a stylist and Mum of two. When she’s not running around after her two boys or hosting guests in her Airbnb you’ll find her redecorating her mid century home and sharing the results on her lifestyle blog and on instagram.


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