Making your designs unique on a budget

The joy in home interiors and home decorating in general, is that you can make your personal space exactly as you want it. Although we are all aware of trends that sometimes guide us, the reality is, and what we should always be telling ourselves, is that we can design our homes to makes 'us' happy - for let's face it - we're the ones that live there. 

I honestly feel that a lot of the stress involved in the decisions for home interiors is because the home owner is worried about what 'others' may think, displaying genuine panic for the big reveal day when folks wander in and whilst admiring announce 'oh you decided to put that over there did you? interesting that you chose not to have pendant lighting there.....' etc etc. 

Genuinely, this is not something I consider when decorating my own home. I will plan a space because I think it works and decorate in a way that pleases us as a family regardless. My focus and consideration isn't what others will think but about making sure the design makes sense for the people living there and make sure they have a unique emotional connection to the room.

It would of course be easy if we were all able to invest in expensive 'one-offs' and collector items to ensure you designs were individual and unique but this is rarely the case. How then do we make a design feel personal and unique when budgets are often limited?

Some of the most successful rooms I've designed have started with a piece of art which the client has a personal attachment to. The concepts for the living room above and the kitchen below both started with pieces of art owned by the client. It instantly connects you to the space before you have even started.

And 'art' can mean anything by the way - a child's painting, postcards, collage of photos, posters...... I remember a client designing her whole bedroom around one of her daughter's art pieces from her GCSE work and the end result was fantastic. At it doesn't have to cost the earth. I picked this piece up below in a charity shop for £3. Because it's an original, painted in acrylics, the colours are vivid and bold and looks great propped up on my bookshelf.

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Personally I love a good old rummage around a jumble sale or antiques fair. I was out and about this weekend and spotted this wonderfully sculptured vase that I quickly grabbed to take home and then another just a few stalls down. It's finds like these that can be added to your home designs that instantly make them unique. It's worth remembering by the way, when it comes to charity shops, antiques fairs, eBay etc that you have to have a bit of patience. Loads of people are amazed at what I've found over the years but sometimes you just get lucky - other times you don't. You have to put in the hours sometimes and accept that you can venture out several times and find nothing, but every now and then you stubble across a total gem which makes it all worth it!

Well designed homes are never bought from just one source but more a collection of items. Items that tell a story and that have been lovingly gathered over time.

Adding special items such as these will not only make your designs unique but if you're anything like me, will also give you an enormous amount of satisfaction in finding them!

KLM delft blue houses found in a charity shop

KLM delft blue houses found in a charity shop

And don't forget you can also look closer to home. We are just about to start a new bedroom redesign and decided to take a more detailed look at the fireplace in this room......

After a bit of elbow grease and all purpose stripper we found these beautiful verdigris tiles under thick black paint. And then, shortly afterwards, realised that unbelievably, behind about 10 coats of white paint, was this stunning marble surround!

So if you're thinking about doing a bit of home decorating, consider your design. How are you going to make yours unique to you? Venture out and see what you can find and make sure you're not missing anything closer to home, that maybe is already there.............