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5 unbreakable laws for home makeovers


interior design1Designbx's Kerena Berry on how to give your interior design a professional look.

Kerena Berry is co-founder and Head of Interior Design at, Australia’s first complete online interior design solution, and home to over 12,000 furniture and decor products.

Interior design isn’t just a matter of palettes, patterns and finishes. It’s an incredibly important process because it creates the setting for our lives. It affects our moods, psychology and motivation while also providing all the functionality we need in order to go about our daily lives.

Since the emergence of the DIY craze, and its popular TV franchises, we’ve seen many spaces ruined by designs that blur the line between comedy and tragedy. But there are plenty of savvy people with a good design aesthetic who want to take an active role in styling their home.

The traditional face-to-face designer may not allow you that freedom, but there are plenty of options that ensure you find a design that’s right for you. From web guides to style board templates to the emergence of online interior design sites, plenty of options are available regardless of your level of expertise.

Here are five absolutely essential hacks to make sure you get the right result.

1. The Design Brief

This is one step you definitely cannot miss. Even if you’re going it alone, you may have to have a frank discussion with yourself about the scope and budget of your project. If self control isn’t your strong suit, this may be the time to seek help.

Points to address

  • Imagine the end result and describe the look of the completed room
  • Consult everyone who uses the space and consider their requirements
  • Log all items that are absolutely must-haves (even if they’re so ugly, the thought of them brings tears to your eyes)
  • Set an end date for your project so you have a tangible goal
  • Set a budget, and make it reasonable (some furnishings and homewares may lose their appeal after they’re repossessed)
  • What’s the lifetime of this design?

2. Choosing the right interior design style

This is the foundation of all your decisions, so make sure you recognise the difference between the style you like and the style that compliments your personality. Like any foundation, if it’s shaky it’s going to negatively affect every phase of your project and ultimately lead to failure. Thankfully, done right, this is an extremely enjoyable part of designing a room.

Finding the right look

  • Use Pinterest to collect images that resonate
  • Manually create a mood board by grabbing a pile of interior design magazines, cutting out your favourite images (colours, textures, furniture, and layouts) and arranging them on a flat surface (remember to capture the board by taking a photo with your phone)
  • Use the free Designbx Style Quiz which gives you a selection of images to rate, calculates your ideal style (or sometimes a combination of two) and creates a mood board with colour options, relevant brands and designers

3. The pre-purchasing phase

Prior to our favourite part of the interior design project—shopping!—let’s make sure our retail therapy doesn’t end in real therapy. Remember we’re not buying small items here. In many cases, our decisions will be irreversible and if the items are expensive, we’ll be living with poor decisions for years.

Buyers guide

  • Research online or in-store, and whether you’re shopping in person or virtually, make sure you do a comprehensive job of pricing items and comparing them with alternatives
  • If you’ve hired an interior designer, this is their job, so make sure they’re working hard for you (remind them they’re not being hired by wholesalers or retailers!)
  • Always check your original brief and measurements (tip: cut newspaper in the shape of furniture or decor and tape it to the floor to get a feel for living with the item)
  • Lash out on one big feature item but make sure you’re practical (for a culinary whiz, it might be a stovetop; for a TV-addicted family, it may be a sofa)

4. Ensuring you stay on brief while shopping

There’s a good reason you often hear the old adage: the best laid plans of mice and men. Somewhere between the design phase and the moment you walk out the store, terrible blackouts can occur, leading to deranged impulse buying and irresponsible upgrades. It’s fun at the time, but may lead to an uncomfortable chat with your bank manager.

Staying on brief

  • Keep your mood board handy (it’s on your phone, right?) and make sure colours, materials, shapes and styles are consistent with your original plan
  • Preferably find products with a return policy that allows for a little wiggle room, so you can spend a few days with your purchases and see if they fit your design and lifestyle
  • Consider function at all times and never forget to include the whole household when making choices (kids and white silk sofas do not mix)

5. Patience is a virtue

We all want everything now. As much as we’d like to blame technology for this lack of patience, it’s just part of human nature. But remember this is a big project. It’s no small feat to completely transform a room, so take it easy on yourself and don’t get frustrated when it’s in its transitional stage.

Always remember

  • Rushed decisions lead to compromises, which lead to regrets
  • Consult honest friends or in-house designers in retail stores when you’re struggling to make a decision
  • If you’re still in doubt, reach out to a professional (either a consultant or online interior designer)
  • Take the pressure off yourself by outsourcing key final steps like buying and scheduling deliveries Interior design should be fun, provided you stick to proven processes.

If you ignore the above phases of the project, you may end up sitting in an uncomfortable room that happens to have a more uncomfortable price tag. But stick to our basic guide and you’ll at least address the big issues while ensuring your new look perfectly reflects your personality and lifestyle.

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