Decorate like a pro: a cheat sheet

Decorate like a pro: a cheat sheet

If you are not an expert at interior decor, but want to design your home like one, Nisha Ravindranathan has the perfect recipe

Decorate like a pro: a cheat sheet

You don’t need an A-list designer to help you with making a big statement in your little apartment — a little honesty and imagination goes a long way in stacking substantial personality into any space. Right, so here is my cheat sheet for you so you can decorate like a true professional:

l Overdecorating is a real & recurrent disaster waiting to happen: Embrace clean cut lines, sleek modern furniture, minimalist lifestyle choices and invest only in functional pieces that are absolutely essential. Nobody does understated elegance better than the Japanese, for instance, and this is also exactly why everyone worships their design philosophy. Zen is, and always will be, in.

l Pick a focal point in every room & build around it: When decorating, the
focal point, i.e., the one piece of furniture in the room around which all the other pieces will orbit and build from, achieves two critical functions – on an esoteric
level, it establishes the spirit, the aesthetic and consequently the function of the room, whilst socially, the focal point tends to become a conversation starter and the centre of attention in a crowd.

l Avoid the accent wall: Whether they’re painted, wallpapered, stoned, tiled or
textured – accent walls are passé. The longer you sit in a room with an accent wall, you realise it’s all you can think about! When it comes to colour, if you can’t commit to a single shade for an entire room, don’t do it. And if you’re wondering what hue will never go out of style, the answer is white; always white. Plus, there’s the fact that it conveniently creates the illusion of more space.

l Vintage is for keeps: Don’t be afraid to scour secondhand sources, flea markets, hit up an occasional auction or go antiquing whenever you get the opportunity. Sometimes, you find real treasure even on the Internet! Craigslist, Etsy and Facebook communities that swap or buy and sell collectibles – each and every one of these sources will suddenly yield that perfect chair, or urn or lamp you’ve been looking for, after months and months of browsing really ugly junk. Patience is both key, and a virtue.

l Make dining conversational: Oval or round is the most convivial way to dine – you are closer to everybody, and you don’t have the rigidity and restrictions of a rectangular or square dining table. At a circular table, everyone can be a part of the conversation. Who wants to be at a dinner table and only speaking to the person that’s either to their left or right? It sounds oh so dreadfully boring even before it’s begun. When entertaining — remember, more the merrier, and this goes for food, wine as well as conversational stimulus – so if you can have more than two guests talking to a third at any given point of time, you’re already doing better than most!

l Let your home evolve organically:
Design needs to be an ongoing process – that is the only way in which it works best. A room can never really remain “one”; nor is it ever really “done”. For starters, that takes all the fun out of interiors, and like people, homes too work best, when they reflect personalities, are dynamic and change over time, incorporating and shedding various elements. If nothing else, try switching out accessories so that a room stays fresh. If your accessories change regularly, your room will almost always, never go out of style.

l Dress down, not up: Aim for easygoing, laid-back charm, as opposed to high maintenance, expensive, difficult to maintain (albeit glittering) interiors. Classic French windows that let in a lot of natural light, cosy flower-filled nooks and alcoves including green patios, decks and balconies, informal, bright and colourful sitting and study areas, open kitchens — are all great ways to infuse a home with loads of warmth, while displaying classic elegance.

l Rugs not drugs: Not only is wall-to-wall carpeting expensive and difficult to maintain, it’s also as boring as watching grass grow! Homes are so much more exciting when floors are a mixture of colours and texture – think marble in the bathrooms, warm wood panelled floors, gravel and stone in an outdoor area, patio deck tiles…Now mix things up further still, and throw in shag carpets, kilims, rugs and dhurries in various colours, textures and finishes to add instant visual interest.

(The author is founding editor,