It’s all about you

Want to have a go at designing your own home? We’ve called in the experts to share their knowledge on how to successfully put together a cohesive interior design scheme and ensure that it works, in four easy steps


Measuring a room is one of the most fundamental areas of ensuring a design works and should be done with minimum distractions! It’s best to start from a fixed point, such as a door and to sketch out the room roughly with key items marked in such as windows, doors, (and whether they open in or out), fireplaces and radiators. Make a note of how high off the floor windows start and also ceiling and cornice height for items such as lights and curtain tracks.

When measuring walls for furniture, always measure skirting board to skirting board and check the wall for other obstructions such as surface-mounted pipes, electrical sockets with plugs in, dado rails and anything else that might get in the way of installing your item of furniture. Measuring alcoves for furniture should be done at the front and back of the alcove as most Victorian houses … and some modern ones….. are not necessarily square! The same needs to be done with ceiling heights around the room and window recesses.

Now draw up a floor plan and place your furniture in it and see whether it fits and allows passageways round the room. Allow around 70cm between furniture if you need to pass through. Furnish minimally at first and then place further items afterwards as often people have trouble visualising the finished look.

Several apps such as allow you to either sketch yourself or pay them to do it for you. This stage may feel less exciting than teaming colours and fabrics together, but it’s vital to ensure it fits and works in the space – particularly when buying expensive items of furniture.

Measure twice, cut once is still as relevant today as it ever was.

Source: Vicki Wharton, Balance Design.


Every scheme needs a starting point: a favourite piece of artwork, a rug or a piece of furniture or fabric. Anything goes and remember this is about you – it’s your space so if you like purple or orange then use it!From this you can develop your scheme with the help of a moodboard to visualise how everything is going to work together.

Pick out images taken from magazines or the internet – check out or Pinterest and then combine them with sketches of the room layout, fabric swatches, wallcovering samples, furniture and lighting choices and finally flooring samples. You can create the moodboard online or on your computer. I use Keynote. Or pin your images on an actual board as it will give you a much more detailed impression and you can easily change items.

Now that you have a good idea of the style you can work out your colour scheme. What colours are dominant on your moodboard? Try a mix of three colours or shades: one main colour for walls, another for larger accents such as sofas and chairs, and a third colour that appears in smaller accessories such as cushions and lampshades. Try and find a wallpaper or fabric that has all three colours in it and make a fabulous cushion or use it for the blinds or curtains. This will pull the whole scheme together. Three colours are better than one or two, as a room done in one colour is very boring. If you want an all grey room use three shades of grey!

This is also where texture comes into play. A one-colour room needs different textures for it to pop! Use velvets, fur, linens and silks. Go with a dark grey velvet sofa, pale grey silk curtains edged with a contrasting grey trim, a striking grey patterned chair, glass lamps, fur cushions – you get the idea – texture texture texture!

Lighting is the next focus and a solution will depend on the function of the room. In a kitchen or dining room, an overhead chandelier or pendant light on a dimmer over your dining table will create the wow factor. In sitting rooms, the lighting needs to be part of the decor – use a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, wall lights and down-lights preferably recessed into the ceiling. Also think about using LED lighting in any joinery that you might be having built. It can be a very effective way of lighting a room and displaying favourite pieces of artwork and photos.

Bathrooms can be trickier but I am a huge fan of pendant lights over the sink area with a combination of recessed down lighters.

Master bedrooms should feature good reading lights at the bed and a task light for getting dressed. Any overhead lighting should be fitted with a dimmer. My advice is to use dimmers wherever you can And finally furniture and combining old with new. There are no do’s and dont’s. If you have a favourite sofa or armchair get it recovered as a decent quality sofa is an investment. But do spend money on a pair of beautiful lamps for the side tables.

Source: Nicki Cox Interiors,


Sourcing means finding, buying or acquiring the items of furniture, fabric, lighting, accessories, flooring and tiles etc. Here are our top tips to getting it right.

• Take ideas from Pinterest, Houzz or interiors magazines such as Elle Decoration, Living Etc, World of Interiors Do check though whether suppliers are UK based, both for convenience and also to avoid customs duties/import taxes as these significantly increase the overall purchase costs

• Follow designers, suppliers and brands on Twitter and Instagram for ideas; others are then automatically suggested

• Visit The Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour It is open to the public although some showrooms will only sell to trade

• Visit showrooms, shops and warehouses and take along the colour palette and samples of other materials already chosen

• Things do not have to be new so check out auction houses, reclamation sites and Freecycle for antiques and second hand, pre-loved items as these can be beautifully renovated and refurbished for an individual look and it is much better to recycle and reuse

• The end result will not be achieved from one supplier or shop and it will take some time to achieve so allow a reasonable timescale. Some large items such as sofas with bespoke fabric covers or upholstered beds have up to 16-week lead times so factor this in around any building work or moves

• Keep a list of all required items and devise a budget. Spreadsheets are useful. Keep it updated with purchases and allow a sensible contingency

• Good times for discounts are Black Friday, Christmas, New Year and other sale periods. Negotiate in physical shops as there are deals to be had, particularly for volume orders as retailers are facing tough times and need sales

• Sign up to website/email subscriptions for introductory offers and early sale notifications then unsubscribe to avoid email spam.

Source: Clara Bee,



• If you want to make structural changes, consult with a professional to find out what’s possible

• Check changes to your lighting, heating, plumbing and small power plans with them. For example the position of your joists can dictate light fitting locations and soil stacks will determine the best positions for sanitary ware

• If you are re-designing your space, get an expert to check it over. This is crucial to the flow of your room/home and often requires creativity and experience to get the best solution

• Plan it out: stick masking tape on your floor to show your new lay-out – and then walk around it.

• Present your new design to everyone in your home, kids included, and get their buy-in before you start

• Create a detailed plan of works for builders/trades people to quote against. Create competitive tension – get 2-3 different quotes and find out start times and lead times. Value and timing are two key factors when deciding who to award the work to

• Decide if you have time to project manage lots of different trades yourself. A prime contractor and one point of contact is easier but often more expensive

• Talk to your builder/trades people about the sequence of works and get them to commit to timing

• Before you begin create a master budget with everything included to get a total figure including VAT

• Create a budget tracker and payment profile with agreed prices and instalment payments. Excel works fine for this. Don’t pay anyone too far in advance

• Start a room-by-room list of fixtures, fittings, furniture and soft furnishings. Include vendor, specification details, prices including VAT, lead time and order status. Anticipate changes such as items being out of stock

• Stick to your initial design if you want to come in on budget and time. Variations often cause costs to rise

• If you make changes, document them, sign variation orders with the companies involved and update your budget tracker. Check the impact on other elements of the design

• Have a contingency pot of money for changes along the way, or for extras if you come in on budget

• If you are buying fixtures and fittings, agree with builders when they are required onsite. Too early and they’ll get in the way. Too late and you’ll be paying a crew that can’t do their job

• Get furniture and soft furnishings delivered last to prevent them getting dusty or damaged and be on site when they’re delivered

• Everything has its own technical requirements and variations. The key is never go along with something you don’t understand. Always research the project with an expert and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion

Source: Ensoul, www.ensoul


Don’t spend hours searching through countless colour charts looking for inspiration. You will overwhelm yourself with the abundance of options and end up hating the whole process.

Instead take a few moments to think about what you love. A piece of art? A piece of furniture? A fabric? Even a favourite piece of clothing. Now start to build a colour scheme around that. You should find that the colour charts you were getting lost in make more sense and you can quickly discard 95% of their contents.

Don’t allow others to sway you because of colours they’ve used. Different houses have different souls and light and everyone has their own individual style. The more you listen to your heart, the happier you will be with your choices.

Source: Paint The Town Green


Here are our simple guidelines which should help eliminate any unease before starting works.

DON’T – Always Go Cheap! When you are getting quotes for works from trades, your decision shouldn’t purely be based on cost. A good idea when making the decision is to ask to see their work or go on trusted recommendations.

DO – Find Your Style! I always encourage people to detail exactly what they want to achieve in a space, and how they want that space to feel. Think about both practicalities and also stylistic elements.

DON’T – Overwhelm Yourself! This is so easy to do with the amount of resources we have at our fingertips for home inspiration. This is where your expert planning and strict budgeting will come into their own, helping you stick to the ‘renovation path’ and decision-making process.

DON’T – Get Trapped in Trends! Trends are fluid and ever changing and as such can out-date easily. Take influences from different places and don’t just stick to following one in its entirety. Mixing styles, textures and vintage pieces with modern will help add visual weight to a room.

DO – Bring In Your Personality! All spaces should be a reflection of the owner’s character and personality, and this is what makes a stand-out interior. It’s too easy to get caught up trying to create a ‘look’ and as such rooms can be left feeling stark or too staged. What brings them to life are things that tell the story of their owners. Heirlooms, items that have been collected on travels, art works that have significance or meaning are all important in creating a room that feels personal and enriched.

DON’T – Forget The Finishing Touches! You have invested time, money and probably a hell of a lot of emotion in the renovation so don’t forget to do it justice and finish it properly. All rooms need some greenery and flowers, art, vases, votives and objets and clever storage to hide the more mundane items of modern life. And just like that you will be left with your own Pinterest-worthy space!

Source: Clare Elise Interiors,


Home technology is a really important area to consider at the beginning of a build or renovation. It’s something that is often only thought of at the decorating phase, when it will cost far more. Your AV company, if using one, needs to be talking to your builder and electrician at the beginning of the project when electrical M&E plans are done to ensure the correct ethernet or Cat 6 cabling is in place where your TVs will be; electrics are sited for any ceiling mounted speakers or, often not considered until too late, walls reinforced to mount large TVs or AV units. Another important consideration is whether you want a smart heating system with digital thermostats. If the correct preliminary plumbing and electrical work is not done, it will be impossible to mount thermostats where you want them as an afterthought.

Source: Stanza Interior Design,



The KLC School of Design located in Chelsea Harbour runs a vocational course, the Certificate in Residential Interior Design which equips students to go into the industry at entry level. Students can progress to the KLC Diploma HE Interior Design (Level 5).

The course covers all the basics of residential interior design, styling and sourcing, including how to create sample boards, the lowdown on lighting and building regulations. “It’s taken by people who want to change their career and become an interior designer,” explains KLC.

Students can either undertake the course full-time and on-site over 11 weeks for a fee of £9,745.00, or on a part-time basis (two days a week over the course of a year), for the same fee, or learn online over three years, for £2,145.00. There are three entry points over the course of a year.

Interior design and decoration practice Salvesen Graham runs periodic clinics and workshops throughout the year but at the time of going to press had not finalised dates for 2019. For further information telephone 020 7967 7777.



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