How to decorate your new home with ‘inherited’ furniture
Once you have decided to tie the knot with a special person or to build or renovate your new forever home there will always be challenges. From personal experience there are normally two scenarios: One of the parties has inherited furniture from family members which has sentimental value and has to combine old and new furniture in this new home; the other is where the couple has to start from scratch with a blank canvas.
Where to start?
As a couple it is important to consider where and how the furniture will be financed as a unit and then thereafter the aesthetics come into play. Couples often have varying tastes and styles when it comes to interior decorating and it can be challenging to successfully merge the two and do so without any disagreements. It all starts at having fun during the process and focusing on specific parts of the home – one area at a time. Normally the starting point is the areas that you feel would be easier to approach. With this said it is important to have “your own space” somewhere in the home – your partner might just notice that you have excellent taste in interior decorating and maybe, just maybe, he or she will just give you free range over decorating the rest of the home.
Both of you need to focus on the different categories together. Remember to not make any of these decisions alone as it might just lead to World War III or, even worse, divorce. After the main decisions have been made both parties can add more personalised, decorative items that appeal to each of you individually.
For example when focusing on lighting in an open-plan lounge and dining room area, both of you would have different requirements: you may like the light fitting to be a focal point (aesthetically pleasing), while your husband would like more of a functional light fitting (and most of the functional light fittings are not always the most attractive light fittings). The best way to approach this challenge would be to select a light fitting or chandelier with multiple bulbs and a dimmer. In this regard this light fitting will be aesthetically pleasing and, at the same time, functional due to the amount of light that can be controlled in this specific environment.
Aspects to consider in this list would be:
- Comfort of the furniture, for example firm seating versus more relaxed seating
- Colour schemes of the room, for example a light and airy look or more of a warm and cosy feel
- Textures that you envision in the specific space, for example smooth surfaces like smooth high-gloss surfaces or more rustic-textured surfaces like natural woods
- Fabric considerations regarding colour, texture, pattern, the mood that you would like to create and the style that you envision
Lastly the style is very important. All decorated rooms need to have a starting point and that will involve the style or mood that you would like to create in the room. The style goes hand in hand with the architectural style of the home and the finishes on the walls, ceilings and floors. For example, you will not select high-gloss furniture for and Cape Dutch style house
When it comes to agreeing on a specific style, take your list and use tools such as Pinterest to search those terms. Find the image that you both like and identify images that overlap. By doing this exercise you will find a happy medium that will suit both of you.
When you both move into a home together, nine out of 10 times you will both contribute furniture to this future happy home! My advice would be to create an eclectic “look and feel” by combining different furniture styles in one space. This style is easy to love but trickier to achieve.
Do’s and don’ts when creating an eclectic interior style
Don’t mistake eclectic for “anything goes”
Eclectic does mean tossing every rule, but there is a very fine line between layered and collected, or too busy and distracting. To avoid the feeling of “random furniture styles”, rather make an upfront decision on how many contrasting styles will be used in one specific room. As a couple this is your opportunity to combine styles in one space. So you will get the best of both worlds.
One golden rule of a new eclectic style is to wait until the room is complete and live with the changes for a while. The things that feel like a big deal when you initially start decorating the room, for example a bold colour, will eventually fade away once the room is completed. Remember, often people don’t like change and sometimes you need to give it some time to get used to it.
Don’t be reserved in your options and selections of items that you would like to keep
One of the biggest characteristics of an eclectic style is the use of multiple patterns, colours, fabrics and art items. Use the opportunity to combine the scatter cushions that you inherited from your mother or granny with the artwork that your partner received from a very good friend.
Earlier when you and your partner made the list of furniture pieces, patterns, styles, texture and colours that you like, you would definitely see a trend in terms of the colours and there would have been a certain colour trend that both of you would agree on. Let that colour serve as the equaliser, pulling together the overall look and feel in the room. For example, if blue and yellow is the colour that both you and your partner agree on, then try to combine all the different blue and yellow items in this space. The triadic colour scheme of different shades of blue and yellow will create interest and at the same time a more harmonious and calm “look and feel” even though these colours are used in a very bold application.
Don’t compare different colours
As much as you would be tempted to paint different colours on your walls when deciding on the main colour scheme, don’t. The different colours will influence each other and eventually you and your partner will be so confused that you would end up giving up on the project. Rather paint the selected colour on boards and look at them in isolation. This will also come in handy for future reference when shopping for accessories and soft furnishings. A good example would be when you and your partner have different memorabilia that you have collected through your travels overseas. All these items will be from different countries with different origins and styles; you will be able to combine all these in one space as long as you colour code as mentioned above.
Find balance in scale and symmetry from the item that you arrange on the wall to the floor layout. Symmetry can be divided into asymmetrical and symmetrical balance. Symmetrical balance in interior decorating refers to and “mirrored” effect: This means that the left-hand side of the room looks exactly like the right-hand side of the room. Asymmetrical balance refers to both sides of the room being different but are equally weighted, for example the visual weight distribution throughout the room is the same (the room does not look lob-sided).
When referring to scale in an interior space you will be focusing on size. For a harmonious look and feel all items in the room must be to scale and in proportion to each other. What this means is that the coffee table must be in proportion and scale to the couches and all the previously mentioned in proportion to the room itself.
Furthermore it is important to focus on different lines, shapes, forms, textures and patterns.
Don’t be inconsistent
The eclectic style might consist of a variety of items and furniture pieces, but remember that every room in the house should still complement the others. Eclecticism must be carried throughout the house to create flow. This might be a challenging task to start with but eventually this eclectic style will reflect in each room throughout the house.
Do consider the furniture and room layout
When planning an eclectic-style room, it’s easy to get caught up with the colours, textures and patterns of the different furniture pieces and accessories. Space planning plays an important role in creating the eclectic style. With this said the placement of the furniture will determine the comfortability and mood of the room. It’s important to determine where the furniture items will go in the space. Space planning plays a big role and you might see that you don’t have space for the quirky floor lamp or the 18th Century chest that you inherited from your mother.
When space planning the room remember that the eclectic style involves combining different styles and furniture period styles ranging from a variety of items. This eclectic style must not lack a focal point. Emphasis must always be drawn to a specific element in the room. This can be achieved by an eye-catching cluster of pictures and mirrors on the wall, or a bold decorative item like a floor rug or an accent furniture piece like an ottoman.
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Spiandi Dickson is an interior decorator with years of experience and a keen eye for style. She is a part-time lecturer at Inscape Design Company and runs her own system-driven interior design company – Cotton and Yarn Interiors.
She has this to say about her business: “At Cotton and Yarn Interiors we like to work with structure and keenly take note of attention to detail and the delivery of superb quality and customer service. To us quality and superb productivity standards are vitally important. There is a follow-up process that ensures consistency and accuracy of all aspects. Cotton & Yarn Interiors is deadline driven and always prioritises client jobs in terms of urgency.”