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.