Taking the decoration down

The holiday’s over and it’s common to be suffering from too much partying, but taking down the festive decorations can reveal the shabbiness of what’s left behind.

Saturday, 14th January 2012, 8:57 am

Even the best of rooms can look dull and bare once the glitz and glitter of Christmas is behind us for another year.

“Don’t suffer from decor doldrums. Instead, take this as the perfect time to look at rooms afresh and decide whether they really work for you,” says Clare Nolan, stylist and interiors author.

“Step away from questions of style and think about what it is you actually do at home. How do you spend your time?

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“Making changes to your home so it fits your lifestyle can be just as important as choosing the colour of the walls. So if you love a hobby, you should be trying to make a space where you can enjoy it or, if you entertain a lot, the dining area should be a feature.”

To revamp a home, you may need only to re-arrange furniture, which could also open up a new area.

By repositioning artwork, mirrors, rugs and lighting, you can create different focal points and change the atmosphere.

“Avoid the knee-jerk reaction of chucking out and buying new,” says Nolan.

“When relocating things, start with anything that isn’t working hard or earning its keep in its current position, but think outside the box.

“A bed quilt could become a chair cover, a tablecloth or even a wall hanging. A chair could double as a bedside table, and a bench transform into a console table. Get creative!”

An old piece of furniture can be given a facelift easily.

“It’s really quite astonishing just what a difference paint can make,” Nolan says.

“An old-fashioned piece of brown furniture that you wouldn’t look twice at, can be elevated to perfectly chic with a couple of coats of solid colour.”

Colour has a huge impact on the mood of a home, says Nolan.

“It’s a powerful tool and has the ability to make your heart sing or sink, so repainting a few walls could be just the boost your home and wellbeing need for a new year.”

In a small home, she advises using a palette of tonal colours, which are only slightly darker or lighter than each other, to make the space feel bigger.

“If you lack natural light, either embrace it and create a den-like space using moody colours, or maximise the light by painting with light neutrals and using reflective finishes, says Nolan.

By contrast, matt surfaces absorb light and make colour appear denser and more intense.”

Dejunking and decluttering can be painful, says Nolan, but as well as giving you space, it will also allow your decorative items to star and earn their place in the home.

“Your mantra should be ‘use it, love it, or lose it’,” she says.

“If you really can’t bear to part with something and you’ve got enough storage space, consider having winter and summer looks. Just pack things away and bring them back into use when the season changes.”

Kitchens are the hub of the modern home, but they can feel overcrowded and unwelcoming unless there’s careful planning.

“If you’re going to use the kitchen as a snug, or informal playroom and TV room as well, furnish it as you would other rooms,” she advises.

“Bring in decorative elements to soften its functional kitchen aspects. While lighting needs to be practical, there’s no reason why you can’t have a chandelier or a sculptural floor lamp as well.”

In a small kitchen, replace wall-hung units with rows of open shelves, which will look less overpowering than closed cupboards and ensure everything is easily visible.