I’m excited to bring you the first in a new series on The Mad House today. When I asked you what you wanted from the blog a few of you said that you would like to see other voices from time to time to bring a change of pace. I have already started with my guest bloggers (earlier this month Daniel Hopwood, the presenter of BBC 2’s Great Interior Design Challenge, told us what he had learnt from decorating his own home) and today sees the start of the Decorating Dilemmas page.
Many of you ask questions in the comments and it can be hard to go into detail in a reply or without seeing a picture so I have decided that the last Tuesday of every month will be our problem page. I have assembled a crack team of experts who will help solve your issues and bring a different perspective to the problem so that it’s not just my opinion but also thoughts from clever people who are all really strong in their field so that should give you lots of ideas.
To start us off – and to give you a chance to submit your own decorating dilemmas in the comments below – I am going to share a post by Karen Knox, an interior designer from Leeds, who runs the Making Spaces blog who has a brilliant eye, a practical hand and a head full of ideas. This is a post she wrote a couple of weeks ago on Where to Start when you are planning a new Project. And it seemed like a good place for us to start this new series. Over to you Karen:
START WITH THE BONES AND WORK OUT
With any project you HAVE to deal with the boring, practical stuff first. And this stuff can eat into your budget and the results are invisible, so there’s no real sense of satisfaction. But, if you’ve got damp, deal with it. Plastering and painting over it is literally a waste of your money. If your window frames are a wreck, or your glass is blown, invest invest invest. No matter how gorgeous your room is, if it’s cold and draughty, you ain’t gonna want to sit in there. The bones of your room are key.
Think of it like this:
You’ve bought the most beautiful dress – some expensive designer number – and it’s going to make you look and feel a million dollars. But in the flurry of excitement and in an attempt to pull back some extra pennies, you’ve failed to invest in a decent pair of knickers and a good bra to wear underneath. So you have to wear your old baggy undies and a bra that lost its elastic back in 2008. Damn it. It goes without saying, the dress, although still beautiful on the hanger, now looks pretty rubbish once you’ve slipped it on. Waste. Of. Money.
The same applies to your home, anything in fact. Don’t get sucked in by online images of the finished result and rush to get there. Don’t just buy beautiful things and think that will transform your home, as the fireplace you hate and the tired skirting boards with the chunks taken out by your son’s hallway car races are still there. Ruining everything.
And the good thing is, once you’ve got the bones sorted, you can be much more savvy with what goes in the room. Take Kate Moss; she has good bones, like literally. She can wear what she wants and it looks awesome. Put a £10 t-shirt on her, looks great. You’ve got to give your home the biggest chance of reaching its good bones potential and this way, whatever you put in it, will look a million dollars. Have I convinced you yet? So here’s where I think your money should go before you get anywhere near a paint brush.
Yes I know you think they’re expensive to sort and a faff and confusing but here’s the thing: We sit in front of them most of the time so stop agonising over which picture to hang over it because no amount of fiddling is going to stop you hating that fireplace. Deal with it and move on to the fun stuff.
Another financial burden but fix them before you start. Especially if you are planning on wallpapering because you don’t want to have to start that again if the windows have to come out. And there’s no point spending all that money on wallpaper if you have to sit in a draughty room with ugly window frames.
Upgrade those ugly radiators to something more efficient and more attractive. We’ve been doing our house one room at a time to make it more affordable. The difference it makes is amazing. But if you can’t afford new ones then paint them the same colour as the walls – make them disappear. Please.
FLOORBOARDS AND WALLS
If you have floorboards then save them. They will last and love your for ever in return. Walls, especially in period properties, will look better for a light skim and accept any new paint or paper much better.
You don’t have to buy fancy designer light switches and sockets but make sure they are in keeping with the rest of the room; from the right period at least. Then try to be consistent. This is on my to do list for 2017. Also ceiling lights – you have literally NOTHING to put on the ceiling apart from a light. Invest in one that draws your eye upwards for all the right reasons and don’t just stick a drum shade up there and hope for the best.
A house is NEVER finished. It ages and weathers, moans and groans and is affected by the seasons just like us. Think of it as an additional member of the family. Definitely worth looking after the bones me thinks.
Thank you Karen. So now that you have the practical stuff sorted, send over your questions and, we’ll either pick the best one to deal with next month or, if there are short answers, we may pick the best three or five and look at more than one. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.
And Karen also runs an interior design studio so if you like these pictures or want to go and check out her blog and portfolio then head over Making Spaces.
All images by Karen Knox