Despite what some designers would have you think, anyone can achieve good interior design with a little imagination and some careful planning.
Make a sketch
The first step to designing the look of a room, whether it’s a lounge, bedroom, dining room or study, is to sketch what you already have, what you want to keep and what you want to change. You may have a nice lounge suite or a dining table that you really like, so you need to create your design with those items in mind.
What do you want to be the focus of the room? Is it a fireplace? A window? A home theatre system? Do you want the room to look larger? Smaller? Brighter? Cosier? Do you have a particular theme in mind? How do you want this room to make you feel when you walk into it?
Designers always draw sketches of how they envisage a room, and you should too. It will also mean you won’t have to move furniture around as much to ‘see how it looks’.
Create an interior design board
Place fabric samples and colour swatches on a large board, move them around and see how they work together. This is your opportunity to add colours or remove those that don’t work. When it comes to paint, it is often a good idea to also paint a small section of the wall to get an idea of the real shade, as tiny swatches don’t always tell the whole story.
Put everything on your design board, including pictures torn out of magazines of colour schemes, curtains and blinds that you like, photographs of furniture pieces; anything that will inspire you and make you think more about your plan whenever you look at it.
Have a budget
You don’t have to spend a fortune to change the look of a room. Paint can be purchased cheaply if you aren’t fussy about a particular colour. Furnishings can be picked up second hand, or existing pieces can be repainted or recovered to suit the new décor. A more expensive look can be achieved by using less expensive materials, such as laminate instead of wood or ceramic instead of stone.
A minimalist look is also far more attractive than clutter, so just by replacing heavy curtains with modern blinds to feature the view from a window, or removing carpet and staining the floorboards, you can create a great new look at very little cost.
Allocate a budget and stick to it. It can be really exciting and satisfying achieving the look you want without spending a lot of money, and you will be surprised just how much you can save if you really shop around.
Have a focus
Focusing on one room at a time is a much better way to achieve your decorating goals than having lots of ideas for various areas of your home and never getting around to finishing any of them.
It also means you can shut the door on your redecorating every night, rather than tripping over and having to live amongst the remnants of a work in progress scattered about the house.