10 Things to Think About Before You Decorate

Thinking of decorating? Read this before you pick up the paint brush…

Written by Cindy Fuller, founder of Designs Direct

Decorating your home can be super exciting, but so many of us start the process without really giving it much thought and often buy items because we like them, while not really thinking about whether or not they will actually work in the room. If you have ever heard the expression: “If you think hiring an interior designer is expensive… Try decorating without one!” 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are 10 things to think about before you start. You will find tips to help you make the process fun and give you the confidence to kick off your project in the right direction.



Live in the space for a while before you even think about decorating. I know how thrilling it can be to move and have new beginnings but think carefully about how you are going to use your space. Does the room have to work double duty or maybe triple-duty? If you are a family and have young children, there may be areas in the rooms that you’ll want to designate just for them so you can keep an eye on them while you are doing other things, especially if they are toddlers. Or do you work from home and need to incorporate a home office into your living room? Once you have decided, then you can start planning.


Grey has now replaced magnolia. You can’t go wrong with  grey. We are no longer in the days where magnolia was the colour of choice, and it was everyone’s go-to colour. Grey is a much better choice as a base colour as it goes with anything and everything. Although, just a tip, all colours have hues and undertones, yes, even grey, white and black. There have been times in the past I couldn’t work out why a particular grey wasn’t working with another colour until I realised it had a slight green undertone. Think black, now think inky black, if you look at matt black or a glossy black and then an inky black, you will see the beautiful, luxurious blue hue mixed within, giving you a beautiful defining indigo colour.


When designing for clients, one of the first things on the list is where the light is going to be placed, and yet sadly, when putting a scheme together without professional help, it is often forgotten and however is one of the most critical factors. It changes the whole mood of a room. We now have what is called layered lighting, which is basically multiple sources of light which are used to balance a room. Just remember, light can make or break your    design giving it a completely different atmosphere, so use wisely!

DESIGNER TIP: Never let the source of the light be seen.


This sounds so simple, but it may surprise you to learn that some of us, (yes, you know who you are), buy large, expensive pieces of furniture without actually checking whether it will even fit in the room, or worse, through the front door! Size matters! And nowhere is it more valid than when decorating. The easiest way I have found is to measure your space and draw it to scale (you will need a scale ruler for this), on a piece of coloured card. Use different coloured cards to cut out the size (to scale) and shape of your furniture and effortlessly manoeuvre it around your card. It’s so much easier shifting around paper than it is furniture and the kids can join in! Online home furniture sites like Furniturebox UK often list the dimensions of their products so you can plan in advance.


Now I’m no Einstein,  if fact, I once asked my maths teacher If he thought I would ever really use algebra, he apparently thought he knew me well by replying: “No, you won’t, but one of the smart kids might!” I did finally get over this. However, it pays to brush up on it as decorating is all about proportion and balance and it comes in very useful.


This may sound like a simple idea, but when decorating a new room, our instincts are to rush out and buy all new stuff. That’s great if you have a healthy budget but what if you don’t? Make a list and even take photographs and attach them to a mood board. A mood board is merely a piece of paper or card with images, clippings, colour ideas and anything that inspires you. You could even make a Pinterest board for it and ask your friends what they think! Take photos of what you already have and add them to the board, that way when you are out you are not be tempted to buy a replacement for an item you already own.

DESIGNER TIP: If you already have an Ikea kitchen, leave the carcass and purchase just the doors.


When you are faced with a blank canvas of a room, it can be pretty daunting of just where to start. So if you’re looking for inspiration, there are countless places to find it. I recently was helping a friend who found a piece of art she liked at Ikea. We formed the whole room around this, matching the colours and finishes and she absolutely adores it. Inspiration can be found in a beautiful scarf, a museum, a painting or in a garden. Or of course my all-time favourite Pinterest. Or Instagram, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, it can become very addictive! Look for colours you love and you feel you could live with. If you don’t like bright colours, opt for colours in a muted tone. And remember, less is definitely more.


As far as colours go, if you have a reasonably good sized room, pretty much anything goes. That’s great I hear you say but what if my room is small or it has to do double or triple duty? This really does not have to be an issue. If you do have to divide the space, then it helps to designate each area before you start. That way you’ll know exactly how much space you have to work within each section.

This can be done by using different, colours, finishes or flooring or all of the above. It may help to use masking tape to plot the area first and then measure. While we are talking about colour, get yourself a compass, I will let you into a little secret, light reflects differently on where it falls. So, for instance, ever wondered why that beautiful hue of cerise pink doesn’t look the same in your back garden as it did in that fabulous riad in Morocco?

  1. THE 60/30/10 RULE

This is definitely one rule you should apply. The 60/30/10 rule applies to the relationship between three elements. Using colour components, for example, one colour should cover 60%, another 30% and another 10%. Decorating is all about balance. This can be used for example by either three colours in differences shades or 60% as wall colour, 30% as covered furniture and 10% as accessories.

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