When it comes to interiors I have a dirty little secret. I am an absolute decor schizophrenic. Two totally opposite design personalities lie within this scatty brain of mine. On one hand, I want to tackle every wall in the house with a chisel, stripping them back to rough, bare plaster and painting lush, Moroccan hues everywhere, filling the spaces with printed tiles, dark ornate furniture and gold-toned accents. On the other hand I just cannot get away from those fresh, white, light-saturated Insta-feeds showing spaces furnished minimally with hanging rattan chairs and sheepskin rugs. They’re like a cool breeze, breaking through the clutter and creating this internal decor dilemma.
As a couple we’ve spent years back and forthing between the two, never achieving either very successfully on account of the inability to finish any space to a 100% standard. It’s difficult to convey a complete aesthetic when you plop a couple of your old pieces in a room, slap a half-considered coat of paint on and think that’s your lot. Our dining room walls alone have gone from magnolia to dirt brown to forest green to its current crisp white.
Fast forward nearly a decade together and our tastes have aligned to an almost seamless degree. We like a mix of mid-century and industrial and Papa P has gone from tolerating my love for bohemian accents to embracing them. Since we expanded the house we’ve been unusually on par when it comes to filling it. As ever though, it’s a slow process.
I’m impatient. Not that you’d know if you looked at our fairly incomplete interior and consider we’ve been here eight years already. But I am. Impatient that is. I hate waiting and if it were down to me I’d probably be drowning in debt and about to have my fully furnished home reposessed from under me. Thankfully I married an exceptionally patient and rational human with a vast amount of common sense who tells me to wise the hell up.
I just want all the pots, all the plants, all the occasional tables and mudcloth throws and persian rugs. I’ve been on maternity leave though for the guts of three years during which time we extended the shell of the house, so actually filling it with our wishlist is a long way off. I want to do the Macauley Culkin, face-slap emoji every time I scroll through Pinterest and lust after these incredibly well-finished houses, but then I catch myself on. Everything takes time. One day – yes, maybe another ten years down the line – I’ll be looking at snaps of my own home and thinking, damn, you got it, girl.
A couple of rules have become clear though to keep the aesthetic on track in the meantime when you’re on an inconsequential budget:
1 ] Take your time
Fools rush in and all that. I’m not saying take ten years like we did, but there’s nothing quite like having paid for freshly plastered walls to make you take a beat when it comes to drilling straight into them or slapping a litre of Muddy Puddle all over them.
Whatever your taste have a clear rounded vision for an entire space before you make a single move. Know your vibe. Make mood-boards. Buy the paint samples not the full tins. Make BFFs with Pinterest. Hang your pictures with washi tape for a few weeks. Who knows? You may end up keeping them that way.
2 ] Textiles, textiles, textiles
I might be a bit bias but this is the big one that makes all the difference. Textiles help to make a house a home, to soften it and often allow you to express your personality on a budget. Cushions make a sofa inviting, rugs make a room feel finished and blankets on a bed can change the whole atmosphere of a room. Textiles can lighten and lift or create moody depth depending on your needs. And your wall colour obviously.
A Scandi style bed frame slathered in bohemian blankets is the perfect blend. Or simply turn the tables and use crisp, linen sheets on a distressed base to create the same effect. Which leads me to the next rule.
3 ] Mix those textures
And mix them good. Ten years as a visual merchandiser will teach you a lot of things. About yourself and your pernickety personality, but more importantly how to successfully blend tones and textures to create beautiful results. I may not have all the pieces yet, but I know what I want and I know what I want to do with them. We’re talking layered rugs, wood on metal, wicker on white, old on new.
It’s about balance. And to achieve balance you need perspective. Take regular steps back and really look. If things are veering too heavily down the mid-century route, it’s time to drop in a rattan chair or some woven baskets draped with ethnic inspired textiles and a handful of plants to slowly kill. If it’s all looking a little too crisp, hunt down some driftwood or style an oversized branch in vintage glassware. And if it’s all going a bit too Moroccan (as I get told on the regs) it’s time to streamline. Remove a couple of lanterns and replace them with a stack of books or old magazines.
4 ] Prints Charming
I couldn’t resist. Hand in hand with mixing textures, comes picking your prints wisely. Some people go all in with pattern and print and while I love to look at the pictures, I couldn’t live in it. Likewise I know I’d get a little twitchy in an all white space. Nailing that Scandi boho vibe is about carefully curating prints and following the tones through the whole room. A Mexican blanket on top of linen bed sheets and a huge statement print above the bed. Sea grass and antique style rugs layered over a wooden floor with a classic chair design. The possibilities are endless.
5 ] Finish one space at a time
Something I’m still learning and I realise all too well. As obvious as it sounds, when we temporarily moved back to our flat a few years ago I was amazed at how much easier it was to fill those blank walls and create cosy nooks. It’s a very different story in a large, three bedroomed house and your pieces suddenly seem to spread very thin. I’ve found it difficult yet key to concentrate on one room at a time. Sure, some things will just not get done budget depending. For us, kitchen worktops and tiles are still a few years away and brand new statement pieces are simply not an option, but with what we do have I am trying to concentrate it all in our most-used spaces and putting the rest on the back burner. If the unpainted skirting boards and sparse spare rooms are screaming at you, juuuust close the doors.
So, there we have it. My rules to live by to ease my very muddled brain. In this Insta-world of constant comparison, it’s so easy to forget that we are all on different journeys and on different timelines. It’s so important to take a second and celebrate the journey YOU are on, in all its incompleteness and mess. Now, about that lottery ticket….