Rita Notes: decorating from scratch

there is plenty to plan before paint colours. rita konig
offers advice on starting a project from scratch

read more rita notes here

when you are starting a newdecorating project, it is easy to get
caught up in the colours and patterns of a room too early. it
really is better to leave thoughts of decoration alone for a while
– the best ideas will inevitably creep in while you are poring over
plans.

for me, the colour of the walls represents about 10 per cent of
the end result. the important thing at the beginning is to get the
rooms right: the layout, the flow and, of course, their function. i
can spend a few months on this and it is actually tremendous fun,
because it is in this phase that you get to know a place. you start
to visualise your life there and how incredibly comfortable you can
make it by zeroing in on the things that work for you and your
family.

i am currently working on my own house in the north of england
with my husband. i started by creating a pinterest board, mostly to
persuade him i wasn’t planning on turning this farmhouse into a
marble palace, but it was a good exercise in focusing the mind. i
pulled together images of gardens, fields, entrance halls,
pantries, libraries and bedrooms to get a general look and feel.
magazines, of course, are also useful for this. try not to be too
literal with images and tear sheets, though. they are good for
sourcing particular details, but don’t try to copy a room exactly.
and they are useful for inspiring room layouts – you might not
necessarily like their decoration, but traditional rooms usually
have good furniture layouts.

once you have the furniture for your rooms worked out, you can
start on the electrical plans. at this point, i am already scouting
antique and junk shops. buying antiques is a good way of spreading
the cost, because if you are buying here and there and at weekends,
you tend to buy things from your wallet rather than from the
overall budget – if that makes sense. it is a good distinction to
make. keep your budget for the big items: curtains, sofas, beds, a
beautiful rug. and remember that you can buy a lot of the
accessories and smaller pieces of furniture and lamps in the years
to come: they don’t have to be done in the first round.

in terms of running the works – from approving the budget to the
curtain fitter arriving – i cannot recommend highly enough that you
work with a qualified project manager. be careful of letting the
architect take on this role – they are not always the best project
managers and should anything go wrong with the architect’s work,
you won’t be so well protected. if you think you cannot afford a
project manager, it probably means you cannot afford not to have
one. their job is to keep you on budget and on time, and help when
builders start running amok. the latter can be a hard group to
handle, with desperately expensive consequences.

once you have your builder and the works are underway, you can
start getting excited about the decorating. get your builder to
give you some wooden boards to paint colour samples on, so you can
move them around the rooms and they are not influenced by colours
next to them. by this stage, you should feel ready to get going on
the decoration, so have fun with it.

read more rita notes here

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