Finding Inspiration for Interiors…

Last week, Anna left this comment on my post about statement lighting. I had spent that day doing a phone interview with a journalist about my interiors choices for the old house, (more on that soon!) and a lot of her questions got me thinking. When this question also came up it made me think there might be a blog post in that! So here’s Anna’s question…

Hi Rebecca,

Please can I ask you, where do you find your inspiration for interiors? We moved into our house last November. We so far have had a new kitchen and new windows and doors and whilst these aren’t small jobs I’m still struggling with the interiors.

I think from me, I am worried about getting it wrong.. so everything ends up looking really similar and quite neutral and quite boring!

How do you work out whether or not statement pieces were working your rooms? How do you decide on a colour scheme? When you are decorating the new room where do you start?

I really hope your blog explores these questions of the next few months with your new house! I am super excited to see what you do with the new house so I can get some inspiration and also not be afraid to try new things!

Good luck with everything!!

So lets break Anna’s question up into three…

How do you work out whether or not statement pieces were working your rooms?

As a general rule of thumb, I would say that any room can only handle 1 or two ‘statement pieces. That might be a feature light (like these that prompted Anna’s question,) something that is a really bright colour like a yellow armchair, or a large piece of art. A patterned wall paper would also fit this category…

I think to decide if you like something, you have to live with it. For example when I bought the flamingo print, I wasn’t sure – it felt like he was staring at me all the time! But after a day or two, I got used to it and loved it. With my film lamp, that was easier as I knew I wanted one for a while, and when I found it at a great price, I knew just the corner where it would go. If you’re nervous about splashing out and not liking it, just make sure you love the piece itself, if you do then you’ll make it work, even if it’s not where you imagined it originally.

How do you decide on a colour scheme?

Let’s take my old lounge as an example here… First off we painted the room grey and kept all our neutral sofas and dark wood furniture. When I realised the room needed an injection of colour, I found Eric (the flamingo) and the pink worked so well against the grey that I ran with it. There was already blue in the room (the blinds were edged with a blue/brown shot silk and the club chair was a similar blue/brown fabric) so I chose that as another accent colour. I wanted lots of brights, so with the addition of the little yellow bird and the Russian dolls, yellow became the third ‘colour’.

Ideally what you want to be looking for when you are accessorising are things that aren’t just block colours either, (unless you’re going for a very modern look perhaps.) For example, the flamingo has shades of red in the pink feathers and the yellow Russian dolls pick that up in their painted detail, tying the two together.

I also noticed once I had completed that side of the room, centring around the flamingo print that the room became a room of two halves. The other side with the sofa was very similar to how it used to be with no colour splashes and didn’t look right. So I switched the cushions for a selection of blue toned designs and then stumbled across the pink lampshade that finished this DIY and finally we were done!

When you are decorating the new room where do you start?
The easy answer would be anywhere, but the sensible item would be the big ticket items. For example, if you have a blue sofa you could use that as a starting point. In general, for the sake of longevity, people choose neutral large pieces so they can decorate around them a few times before they have to start again with new ones, but if you know you love a colour then I’d say go for it and don’t be afraid to extend what we consider neutrals to be. Neutral doesn’t have to be boring beige, widen the spectrum with greys, taupes, mocha, putty or stretch outside the traditional neutrals to charcoal, navy or khaki.

I have a neutral sofa, so I start decorating with other ideas. Eric started the lounge decor, our dining room was inspired by the smoky blue edged mirror and the blue/grey accents came from there, including the curtains and the smoked blue light fitting.

You could also start with something you already have of course and it might be something really small – a kitchen might be inspired by the pattern on a favourite mug, or a lounge by a fab print you like for the curtains. Just go back to the advice about about finding a colour palette and accent colours and you will pull it all together.

Lastly, don’t fight your natural style. Anna mentions everything being ‘quite neutral’ as though it’s a bad thing when that can be just as much of a style as my own love of colour. However given the fact you follows it with ‘and quite boring’, I guess you want to jazz it up Anna!

I hope that helps Anna and I’d love to hear if any of you agree or disagree with my advice or if any of you have anything to add…


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20 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration for Interiors…

  1. We MIGHT be buying a new house this week and I’ve already made mood boards for half the rooms! There are a couple I’m struggling with though – mainly the lounge as our current furniture just won’t go in there at all. I definitely agree with Rebecca about finding one key thing for a room and then tying everything in around that. Personally I hate matchy matchy so our interiors are always a little bit quirky with fun little details everywhere.

  2. Oh, and Anna – are you on Pinterest? I find that SO useful for getting ideas together and finding real life examples of what does and doesn’t work! You can even search based on one item and see what other people style it with.

    • I was just about to say Pinterest but Amy beat me too it. I’m hoping to move next year so have already started gathering inspiration on looks that I like, I then plan to review the boards when we are moving and look for patterns…styles that appear frequently, as I figure those are the things I really really like.

      Not too helpful if you are decorating right now but I think Rebecca has given some excellent advice. I hope you will come back when you have decorated Anna and show us what the finished article looks like πŸ™‚ xx

      • That’s exactly what I’ve done Emma – pinned everything I like and then gone through and pulled out the things that keep cropping up!!

        Also, Anna, there is nothing wrong with neutrals if that’s what you like!! Maybe just add in some lovely solid wood furniture for warmth and texture.

  3. I would definitely agree with getting a Pinterest account. I’ve been using it to help find decorating ideas for my current house as well as what I want the next house to look like.
    If you have no idea what style you like, then it would be nigh on impossible to figure out what you want your house to look like. So try and get plenty of inspiration, whether that’s magazines, blogs, websites. Even tv programmes like Location, Location, Location can help. Basically anything where you can sneaky peak round somebody else’s house. Sometimes though you just have to be brave and go for it, remember there aren’t really any wrong answers, if you love it, that’s all that matters! πŸ™‚
    Good Luck!!

    • The other thing is, once you ‘go for it’ – which I highly recommend, if you hate it, it’s usually not that costly to change a decor scheme. repainting or striping feature wall of paper would only cost a bit of time, obviously the wasted stuff and the cost of a new paint shade. Nothing is permanent.

      • Absolutely! That’s the wonderful thing about it. You do change your mind after a few years ( you get older, and your tastes change). I’ve got feature walls in all my rooms that were done as soon as we moved in. I’ve now grown tired of them, so we will be re-decorating very soon. I can’t wait! πŸ™‚

  4. Omigod! Thank you so much for this! I was hoping for a quick comment, not a full blog post, how lucky am I! πŸ™‚ Hopefully it helps some other people out too though.

    I’m on Pinterest (whatannasaid) – I absolutely love it and spend hours on it pinning ideas! As a typical woman (as my hubby would say), I do tend to change my mind quite a lot!! At the moment, I’m settling on duck egg blue and beiges and browns for my lounge which is my next project (we’ve had the kitchen done, and new windows and doors in the last 12 months).

    I’m overwhelmed by everything I guess as this is my first attempt at a real house/decorating project and I think we may have bitten off more than we could chew sometimes! :-S One room at a time though right?!

    What you’re saying about my natural neutral style really makes sense too. I find it incredibly calming after a hard day at work! You’re absolutely spot on about where to start too because there’s some things in the lounge I know I won’t be able to change so we need to keep like our black leather sofa – we’ll have to keep this for a few more years!

    I’m at work right now, but I’m going have a read of this later again and then do some serious exploring on Pinterest!

    Thank you soooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!! Ax

    • Oh I LOVE duck egg blue!!! You can get lots of lovely throws and cushions (msybe a mix of duck egg, teal & beige/taupe?) in that colour too to soften up the black sofa.

    • When it comes to the neutrals and your natural style, I think people always revert to type. For example, our house started off very calming and neutral for the same reasons – it was a lovely place to come home any relax. Then I decided that I wanted my personal pace to truly reflect my tastes and who I am, hence the colour that has crept in, but I don’t find it any less relaxing, perhaps even more energising too. Interestingly, I then repeated the exercise in the bedroom, starting out all white, then started to drag in pops of colour.

  5. This is really helpful. We have all the basics and one statement piece I am not so fond of (apparently I agreed to M buying it and then forgot?) but we have a good base of bookcases, sofas and so on. We’re still going to be renting for the next couple of years unless something changes (lottery win maybe?) so for now it all needs to be stuff we can move, but lately I’ve been obsessing over watercolorus (ever since your post on watercolours!) and certain shades of pink and blue so I guess it can stem from that? I’m so excited to make our new place (when we have jobs to pay for it and a place to move into) feel fresh with one or two new pieces and the stuff we already have. Thanks!

  6. Such a useful post Rebecca!
    Would also definitely agree with Pinterest. After a pinning spree I take a step back and there’s often a theme emerging. So useful for seeing how ideas work in real, liveable homes. x

  7. Those ideas and tips are very helpful. love how used the Pink Flamingo to inject colour and the colours on the Russian dolls blends in well with the Flamingo.It’s not like too much but you actually feel happy when you look at them.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. its really helpful.

    Naaj Ronas Lifestyle xx

  8. I’m so glad you all enjoyed this.

    I think I’ll do another one actually, as this is more about how to refine what you put together, but I have other actual sources of inspiration, like Pinterest as you all mentioned.


  9. One other piece of advice I would give is don’t view anything as a ‘forever’ item. If you’re worried about going off stuff of making a mistake, buy cheap and you wont feel obliged to keep things. Theres nothing worse than seeing dated things in houses and people saying ‘I paid xxx for that, we can’t get rid of it’, 20 years later!

    That said, the things we have paid a lot for, I love. I guess I knew it.

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