AUGUST 2019   

When designing and decorating, be aware of what you can do, what you cannot do and what to look out for when creating a cohesive flow.


  • Discover your personal style by reading magazines, attending home shows, browsing online and looking in stores. Take photos of interiors in hotels when you travel so that you can learn what styles and colours appeal to you.
  • Plan your project in as much detail as you can.
  • Draw your floor plan. Add the room dimensions, window sizes and locations. Include special features and electrical sockets that you will need to work with or around.
  • Consider the function and uses of the room before deciding on furnishings and arrangements, e.g. if your dining room will double as your study, you will need room for a desk, books, lights and files, as well as the dining room table and chairs.
  • Decide on an overall design style and colour scheme for your project.
  • Identify the focal point of the room, such as a fireplace, bed, armoire, or the view. If there is no focal point in a room, create one. Hang a piece of art or place a large piece of furniture in the room (a display cabinet or a large leaning mirror can work). You can also creatively display accessories on a bookshelf. Or use pattern and scale to construct an interesting focal point. Emphasise the more important and attractive elements of a room, rather than working through mundane components.
  • Pick a signature piece you would like to accentuate so that this can aid your decorating decisions, such as a beautiful fabric, a rug or a picture. The item should embody both the colour scheme of the room as well as the style and mood you want.


  • Paint your walls first and then go looking for matching fabrics. Paint can be mixed to any colour, so select the shades after upholstery, carpeting, and curtain fabrics are chosen.
  • Paint a room without trying a sample of the colour in the room. Tiny paint samples can be deceiving as to tone and depth of colour. Always paint a larger test area or test board to confirm your colour choice. Test colours in different rooms at various times.
  • Ignore the focal point of a room by arranging furniture away from it.
  • Place furniture where it will obstruct doorways, cabinet doors, natural traffic patterns, or other daily activities.
  • Display all your furniture around the walls (except in the smallest rooms). Pull items into groupings in the centre of the room. This adds warmth and is inviting to guests.
  • Try to construct a colour scheme from wildly disparate objects. Instead, find a print, fabric or rug with all of the colours you want to use, then edit out, repaint, or recover items that don’t fit with the plan.
  • Decorate around an item that isn’t to your taste. If your new home came with gold shag carpeting that is not your style, you will never love that carpet. Get rid of it.
  • Keep what you dislike. If it is a large item like a piece of sofa, place a slipcover over it, recover or remove it completely. You will be happier.
  • Forget the details. If your chosen theme is Mediterranean, look for weathered iron drawer pulls, iron lamp bases and tile tables.

For more information and useful tips for design do’s and don’ts for your property, read our book – The Property Handbook available from