It’s been a month and a half since I moved to the UK to start my life with James, and while we’ve had a few delays on the wedding front due to paperwork and visas, we’re finally back on track. What made the wait less stressful and more fulfilling was being able to decorate our new home in the process, and spend oodles of uninterrupted time with the newest member of our little family, our Cotonoodle puppy, Poppy.
Our home is coming together, slowly but surely, and is a fun amalgamation of my favourite pieces that I brought over from Bombay, James’ little knick knacks from around his home before he moved in here and stuff we’ve bought together during shopping expeditions at stores and online.
What a lot of people don’t know about our home is that before we moved in, the house looked phenomenally different to what it does now. The walls ranged from mint green in the living room, yellow on the stairs, purple in the bedroom and blue in the entryway. The fireplace was non-functional and shiny and the stairs were covered in navy blue carpeting. And while I love me a bit of colour, so many of them occupying such large spaces was incredibly daunting for me, especially in a small home.
Luckily, quick-thinking James introduced me to a website where we made a selection paint colours for our home based on references I had shown him from Pinterest. For more than a month before I moved over, James very sweetly spent every weekend and most nights after work re-painting our new home, so it would be a more welcoming space to live in and a good base for me to work with when we started decorating.
What I’ve learned most during this process? That decorating a home is a constant battle of the practical v/s the aesthetic (guess which side I’m on!) But with a little hard work and compromise, striking a balance between the two isn’t too difficult.
Here are my top tips on living room decorating that help you make the most of the space you have to work with, while making sure all the members of your family can be happy, comfortable and feel right at home:
To make your space seem larger than it is, and also to give your home a light, airy feeling, pick light, neutral colours for your walls. Think whites, ivories, pale greys and nudes. They always set a great base for the rest of the home, leaving you with more room to experiment with furniture and acessories.
While it is always tempting to opt for a couch in a lighter colour, it is important to remember that your couch (and armchairs, etc.) need to stand the test of time and last you a good few years, or at least till you move into your next home. Which is why we chose a grey – it shows dirt a lot less than a lighter colour.
Couches, armchairs, footstools and the like tend to be very expensive. To have these pricey pieces last for as long as they can, toss a throw over them! We brought some light, inexpensive throws from Ikea not only which brighten up the room, but protect the couch, leaving us a lot less stressed about spilling food and drinks and muddy pawprints as we would be if the couch were bare.
Make the most of your space by picking pieces of furniture that open up to reveal storage. Our large footstool stores blankets for chilly nights as well as our laptops and iPads when we’re not using them, so they aren’t on display to guests. While the trunk pictured below holds our Christmas decorations till we’re ready to use them again next year.
I cannot stress this enough. As much as you may be the kind of girl who hates people putting their feet up on the coffee table, you are fighting a losing battle. Sure, there’s no need to do it if you have visitors, but when your man gets back after a long day of work, he is going to want to relax and put his feet up in his own home. Which is going to be very hard to do if you have a lucite coffee table, or one cluttered with coffee table books, trays, candles and flowers, contrary to what Pinterest tells you. We chose the Liatorp coffee table from Ikea because it has a glass top, leaving plenty of room for my coffee table books to be on display, leaving the top completely bare for drinks, snack plates, or, well, feet.
Curtains v/s Blinds
This is entirely based on your personal preference. Just remember, that you need to ensure two things: (a) Your privacy is protected and nobody can look in (b) There is still plenty of daylight streaming through your windows. If you pick curtains, sheer curtains in neutral colours are always a good option. If blinds are more your thing (like they are ours), pick lighter colours as opposed to darker ones that end up looking a little too official.
Carpets and Rugs
To avoid walking around terrified of staining your light rug, pick a darker colour that goes with the theme of the room to avoid showing off dirt. We always knew our house would be one filled with pets, so we chose a dark colour rug for our living room and it was the best decision ever. All the mud, twigs (and even stones!) that Poppy drags in from the garden and from walks around the lake don’t stain our dark grey rug at all. If you’re absolutely sold on a lighter colour, pick rug with a lot of texture. Little stains, pebble etc. will be lost in a fluffy rug, and jute textures on fitted carpets really leave you guessing about whether that slightly darker patch is a stain or part of the pattern itself!
We’ve added pops of colour to our living room with fresh flowers and coffee table books, but another great way to add colour is with inexpensive items like throws, cushions and art so the rest of the room remains as your neutral base, but you can change the colour themes my replacing these items frequently for cheap.
Probably the most fun part of decorating, scour your local markets, antique shops and vintage stores for interesting pieces that add personality to your living space, and stop it from looking too basic. Apart from the odd exception, I tend to steer clear of accessories from high street home stores because they all tend to look very similar. I prefer products that reflect my personality more, that not a lot of people are likely to have. Back home, I loved Colaba, Chor Bazaar and Oshiwara for quirky finds. Here, I’m partial to charity shops and the internet (the treasures you manage to find on eBay are amazing!) Items to splurge on could include a coffee table book or two you’ve been dying to read or a scented candle you’ve been lusting over for a while. Items to save on include trays, vases, lamps and picture frames. Just remember to be sure to leave room for little pieces and move things around, because people often end up gifting you little trinkets for your home that you might need to have on display. The tend to build up over the years, so make room now to avoid clutter later!
Couch, armchair, footstool: SofaWorks | Coffee table: Ikea | Rug: Similar here | Wooden Chest: eBay | White blanket throw and white animal-shaped throw: Ikea | Coffee table books: Oxfam | Silver jug: Family heirloom (similar here) | Chess set: Charity shop (similar here) | Gold Orb: Next Home | Black and white pictures: Shot and framed by James (DIY) | Vintage Camera: Colaba Market (similar here) | Fragrances: Hermes, Estee Lauder | Gold cat: Antique belonging to my mom (similar here) | ‘The Sartorialist – Closer’ by Scott Schuman: Amazon | Cushions: Laura Ashley, Homebase | Wall colours / paints: Homebase (Urban Obsession, Brilliant White)
What are your rules of thumb when decorating a living space? I’d love some advice and feedback, so share it with me in the comments section below! Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more home updates on-the-go!