Be your own interior designer

Sprucing up a room or creating a whole new look means one thing — It should reflect your taste, says Surabhi Johri.

DIMENSIONS: Pick a low-level coffee table for your living room. This allows for better  access and comfort.Everyone wishes their home is unique. Being unique means having the stamp of your individuality and not a mere collection of expensive items which may ultimately not reflect your personality. Sadly, the cookie cutter style of doing your interiors hardly contributes to its distinctiveness. The success of a personalised space lies mainly in streamline thinking and staying creative. And most of all in you. Express yourself in the choices you make instead of being governed by a certain set of commercial formula. Here are some tips which will won’t break your bank and at the same time, give you the pleasure of doing it on your own.  

Whether moving into a new house or redoing an old one, before you do anything with decoration, look around and assess the positives and negatives of the architecture. Do not ignore the views from windows. Assess one space at a time but keep the big picture in mind. The feeling of overall harmony comes when living spaces tie up in a common thread. After all, it is going to be your rejuvenating space and not a museum of various techniques and materials. A jutting pillar may seem like an eyesore but perhaps will incorporate well in the overall scheme to create interest. Or may be it is better to leave it alone and divert the attention to something more positive like a beautiful window. If you have a great feature — accentuate it by using colour, texture, light.

Before buying furniture and furnishings, know how you want to live — do you want to entertain large groups of people, or you like private spaces? What will be the function of the space? This will help you figure the flow of traffic around the area. Smooth pattern is key to comfortable space. Limited space may call for flexible planning. Your lifestyle requirements determine the spatial organisation and material choices in your house.

 Right colours

Colour in a room should be determined based on how you want to feel in the space. Whether choosing it for upholstery, drapery, carpet, or wall, it is better to stay in one colour group and use its different textures and tones. 

This tactic gives a sense of harmony and restfulness to the space. Unrelated colours, too many colours or multiple patterns create discontinuity and abruption in the flow of space and mood. Bold colours draw attention. So wherever you put it, be prepared to do justice to it. It is a myth that neutrals create boring spaces. In fact, when accessorised with bright colours, these create tasteful ambience. Look into nature for inspiration. Bring in the unexpected element. It generates immediate interest in the room. For instance, fabric texture can be silky smooth or rough jute-like. Use your instincts and mix common with a luxurious feel. Imagine placing a stone carved bust against a glossy finish wall — contrast of texture shows off the best of both. Make sure the lighting complements the colour to create a balanced environment.  

Right space

Prior to arranging the furniture, think of the proportions between open space and occupied spaces. Then judge the scale of your pieces. It is not about buying stuff and filling up the available space. More importantly, it is about creating space – the mood. For giving a feel of larger space use a single lighter colour or stay at least in the same group. A quick fix for enhancing space is mirror, but keep in mind the view it reflects. It should be pleasing enough for you to enjoy the room. If you have an outdoor area attached to the space, consider putting outdoor lighting to expand the view during night time and give a feel of ‘space beyond’. Using curtains is not always a must, especially when you have a big window looking out to a vista. You may choose to leave it undressed. Giving continuous floor treatments make space appear bigger. Wall treatments also work in the same way. Don’t leave corners dark. 

Logic should drive the arrangement of furniture. Comfort and a welcoming look are paramount. Only the right circulation will give the smooth transitions between spaces. Leave sufficient room for furniture against the wall and for movement around it. You must develop a focal point for the area. Arrange your space around the focal points. Not only will this tie up the space but may also become a topic of conversation. If the room allows it, create two conversation areas, may be one for a group and other for a couple of people. The right mix of proportion in a room creates the magic. Avoid all furniture pieces of same height or width. Mix and match. Allow the eye to move around freely in the room.

Mix of three, two, single seaters gives greater interest and flexibility than an L-shape sofa. Living rooms should be multipurpose. So plan your furniture to accommodate the user and activity. Keep it formal enough to entertain but don’t make it uptight. Keep it warm with personalised with accessories and give a welcome look. It should reflect you, not imitate someone else’s taste. Avoid making the TV and other electronic items the focal point of the room. The room is about people and not the gadgets. Use coffee tables lower than seating to create an open and relaxed feel. 

 Dining rooms should feel clean, open and comfortable. These should be extensions of either the kitchen or the living areas. Do not stuff it with clutter. Use the right kind of lighting. Round and square tables are good for conversations while rectangular are flexible. Chairs must be comfortable. Again you need not have all the pairs look alike — mix and match. Create an atmosphere to enjoy the meals with your dear ones. Use accessories to create intimacy.

Lighting in the room is the most versatile addition to create the atmosphere suiting your mood. Invest in it and use it. Don’t flood the room with light. Use natural and artificial lighting. Use uplights, chandeliers, floor lamps, table lamps, candles, and yes, dimmers are very useful for switching between ambiences. Keep window treatments simple and elegant, specially if the area is small. Avoid opaque fabrics if privacy is not an issue.
 
 For bedrooms, space has to be synonymous to relaxing. Make it as comfortable as you can afford to. After all, this space recharges your battery. Use the right kind of reading light. Make it your oasis. Use flowers, luxurious linens, artwork, mood lighting. Lighting your vanity correctly is the key to get good makeup. Ideally, it should be on both sides of the mirror. Attached bath should have the same colour scheme to give a good flow between spaces. And you will have to break out of the habit of considering your bathroom just as a loo. Many see it as a reflection of living standards. Do the bathrooms as well as you would do any other space. Decorate it subtly and make your time spent there enjoyable. 

Breathe in life to your space with accessories. Accessories do not have to be expensive but avoid imitations. Imitations seem cheaper. Make your collection around interest and passion. Pick up odd ends while travelling. Place them artfully or group them interestingly. Display and rotate. And remember refined fewer is better than too many. Don’t get caught up in staying trendy — it is a costly affair. Instead make accessories work for you. Invest in good pieces that last long. Look into yourself and your surroundings for your personal style. Once you start feeling right, comfortable and connected to your interiors — you know you have hit it right.

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