Moving into a new home or refurbishing your existing home can be a daunting task given the scope of the work and the access to a bazillion decor options. When it comes to decorating your home interiors, creating a space that looks beautiful and also reflects your personal style is of utmost importance. And if you manage to do it well, you’ll end up with a cosy, comfortable and inviting home.
Laying the groundwork by figuring out your spaces’ measurements, creating a floorplan, mapping out your budget and planning the design and execution phases is a great start to building your own unique home. If not planned properly, you may get overwhelmed with the endless catalogues of paint colours, fabrics and furniture and end up with a mishmash of clashing elements.
Decorating success will be dependent on these three ingredients—function, ambience and personality. Calm reflection on your family’s needs and lifestyle is the first step to figure out what you need. Magazines and the internet are usually great resources for inspiration and you should make the most of them. You can compile a folder full of ideas and visuals that appeal to you and start putting together a mood board to help streamline all your various ideas. And when it comes to making the rooms work for you, it’s all about the details.
Start thinking about how you could create focal points in each space, the style or era of furnishings and, most importantly, the lighting, because the electrical layout may hinder your design ideas later if done as an afterthought. These pointers will form the basis for the mood you intend to create in your home. Interior design goes beyond the mere visual—it’s similar to a giant puzzle you have to piece together to get the perfect results.
With just a little forethought, creativity, inspiration and by following the steps, tips and tricks endorsed by professional interior designers and skilled decor enthusiasts, you’ll be able to design the home of your dreams.
How to choose your aesthetic and lay the groundwork
Do you lean towards Shabby Chic, Modern Classical, Mid-century Modern, or are you Art Deco-forward? Don’t know? Don’t worry! Landing on a style or aesthetic that is unique to you is the tricky part, and there are no right or wrong answers. A room can be traditional or modern, formal or relaxed, and visually vibrant or subdued or as per a certain interior design style from a certain era.
The ingredients at your disposal are colour, lighting, shapes, patterns and textures. To get some semblance of order with this kind of complexity, developing a theme that runs throughout your home will help. Find your theme and choose decor that complements it. Keep layering your home with decor elements that adhere to your fundamental theme or a fusion of multiple styles. Everything you choose should both appeal to you and follow your basic theme to create a balanced design.
For instance, if you are redesigning a vacation beach house and have veered towards a nautical interior theme—stick to it and avoid incorporating extraneous elements that detract from the main idea and confuse you even more.
Here are a few steps to help you discover your fundamental aesthetic and, eventually, your personal style which can be a mishmash of different aesthetics and preferences.
Step 1: Know your design style
Start with an interior design or home aesthetic quiz for starters. The results might surprise you — the style that you end up with (and genuinely suits you) might even be slightly different from what you had imagined all along. It will also help you learn the necessary design vocabulary to narrow down your search. You can begin by typing words like “industrial,” “coastal,” or “boho” on the web to find the perfect fit for your home!
Step 2: Take a good look at your space and decide how you want to live
Once you’ve zeroed in on a style you like, your next step is to realistically appraise your home. Decide whether you want to do a total revamp or just need some accessories here and there to showcase your style. Figure out which spaces of your home are working for you and which ones aren’t and think about what needs improvement.
No matter your style, try to remain flexible in your thinking, and follow your gut. Next, you’ll have to try and discern how you would like to live in a given space. Ask yourself questions like “What will you be doing? How many people live there? Are there children? What are your ambitions for how you would like to live?”
For example, the design and decoration requirements of a home for a user who regularly hosts large dinner parties, would be vastly different from a home for someone who goes out to eat at restaurants most of the nights. A person who regularly hosts lavish parties or galas should have a different living room than the person who has a comparatively low-key and simple lifestyle with not many visitors to cater to.
To get inspiration, religiously study platforms like Pinterest, Instagram pages and websites of your favourite interior designers, home decor magazines or even homes of celebrities you admire. From Emma Chamberlain’s eclectic and cosy style and Kendall Jenner’s glamorous yet lived-in vibe, to Sonam Kapoor’s neoclassical, art-filled home or Rajiv Surendra’s whimsically brilliant space, there’s no dearth of home interior inspiration supplied by celebrity homes. You could even binge-watch some of the cool home design shows on TV.
Additionally, always seek inspiration through your travels. Keep note of what inspires you and take pictures of architectural elements you like. Start a physical or virtual moodboard to understand what really draws you in.
Step 3: Choose, consider, curate
Always stick to the three C’s of interior designing: choose, consider and curate. First, choose style elements and accessories that you can envision being enjoyed by you and your family for years to come. As much as we would like our space to epitomise a specific style, functionality should never be overlooked.
Second, consider lighting, measurements and the ceiling heights. If you’re working with a smaller canvas, play with heights and don’t keep everything at the same eye level. Use a variety of decor elements (tall house plants like Birds of Paradise and Fig trees are good examples) to stagger the visuals in a smaller space. The only way to add more depth to an area is by going vertical and mixing objects of different heights. This will surely create a sense of cosiness and vibrancy in your home.
Third, curate what you purchase. It’s easy to shop for anything and everything that embodies your style. But the truth is that not all of those items were made to fit your home. Consider the amount of light your space gets at all times of day, and choose paint colours and lighting that can brighten your space.
Measure everything meticulously
Note the dimensions of your rooms to make sure you find furniture that fits. Use broad, blue tape on the floor of your home to box out different elements. Visualise where the rug will be, where and how large a coffee table would be and so on. Even though every detail can be mapped out and drawn accurately to a sixteenth of an inch on a furniture plan, there’s something helpful about seeing it for yourself, and being able to walk around.
Step 4: Devise a realistic budget and work within it
For some, the thrill of visualising their dream home design wears off as soon as the topic of a budget comes up. But sticking to your budget shouldn’t deter you or crush your creative potential. You can easily stick to your budget without sacrificing your dream home decor. To do this, reuse items that you already have and get stuff from a garage sale, estate sale, flea market or a secondhand store.
Secondly, focus on mixing rather than matching. Buying expensive pieces right off the bat and in one go, like a furniture set, might sound enticing but that could end up draining your budget faster and restrict you from truly personalising your space. Decide on one focal point and throw in complementing accessories.
With some patience and elbow grease you could even DIY your home pieces. If you opt for homemade decor items you will get to unleash your creativity and make something that you won’t find anywhere else; something that cannot be copied.
Choose colours that fit your desired aesthetic
Certain colours fit certain locations. For example, colours of the sky, sea, beach sand and sun are apt for a nautical setting. Ideally, you should choose three colours for any room—a dominant tone for walls and floors, a secondary colour that can pop up in fabric coverings and upholsteries, as well as an accent colour featuring in small details to add vibrancy to the room. Throws and cushions are a great way of sprucing up the look of a space.
Planning the phases
You’ll need to plan ahead and set a timeline for all the civil works, wall and floor finishing and finally the decorating. Finishing drywall, refinishing hardwood floors and painting ceilings is all messy work, so it’s better to get this type of work completed prior to bringing any furniture or accessories into the space. If it can’t be avoided, make sure you cover large furniture with plastic drop cloths and safely tuck away accessories in boxes for later use.
How to decorate entryways
The foyer or entrance hall creates the first impression, so make it count. Go wild and make a statement in your entryway, since it can say so much about your personality and design taste. It’s a place where you can incorporate a bold colour, a lacquer, dramatic photo frames or a wallpaper for a ‘wow’ effect.
An added benefit is that statement-making albeit expensive products can be installed in this area without breaking the bank, since the expanse is so limited. To design as per Indian traditions, follow the rules of Vastu to invite the flow of positive energies. Go for vibrant colours, eclectic collectibles or decorative urli bowls and figurines of Lord Ganesha or Buddha for a traditional vibe at the entrance. Use plenty of houseplants to elevate the look.
Make sure you take into account your habits and lifestyle when designing an entryway. You would need key furniture pieces and accessories such as drawers, bowls, storage bins, baskets, tray, hooks, racks or other sculptural containers along with stools, a bench or a console table to make your daily arrival and departure sequence a breeze. Also make some space for you and your guests to leave umbrellas, raincoats, heavy jackets and any other weather-related paraphernalia.
Dining and Living Room Decor
The dining and living rooms, whether separate or combined in an open-floor concept, are the main areas that set the stage for life with family and friends. Start by creating a colour palette and then layer all the elements to enhance it. Choose rugs that fit your style and space and choose flooring suitable for your pets and kids. Adorn the areas with Indian fabrics like ikat, chikankari, kantha or handwoven linen with hand-printed patterns for an earthy and inviting feel.
Bring a mix of vibrant colours, textures and textiles through different design elements and traditional artworks for an India-rooted aesthetic with a contemporary twist. Plan furniture placement in advance. Opt for a symmetrical layout centred around one piece with matching sets of furniture if you want a more formal space and opt for cross-sectional, easy-to-sink-in sofas and chairs for an informal design.
For a perfect nighttime sanctuary, choose a bed that fits the area and design everything else around it. Once the placement of the bed is finalised, bring in secondary elements like side tables, study tables, wardrobes and dressers. Adding some kind of textile to warm up cold, hard floors—either wall-to-wall carpeting, a large rug that extends underneath the bed or smaller rugs on either side of the bed, and perhaps at the foot of the bed is a good idea to warm up the space.
Make sure the bedroom is getting ample light, and layer the artificial lighting with ambient lighting for overall illumination. You can add task lighting such as desk lamps or side table lamps to read a book or something and accent lighting to highlight certain design elements such as photo frames or artworks.
Choose a soft and cosy mattress and colours, linens and fabrics that look and feel earthy, natural and inviting. Don’t crowd your bedroom with too many features because that could potentially distract you while you’re trying to sleep. Create a zen-like ambience to promote relaxation and a sense of calm. Use indoor plants to brighten up and purify the space.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
While redoing a kitchen first evaluate cabinets and counters to see if you could keep the existing carcasses and give them a simple makeover instead of a total gut renovation. Refresh with textile, new coats and finishes, backsplashes and countertop materials and experiment with a new layout and eclectic furniture pieces.
A bathroom can be revamped by changing out the tiles, bath fittings or simply a fresh paint of coat. Add loads of indoor plants and an unexpected and cool decor element such as a sculptural copper basin or a dramatic wall treatment. Decorative mirrors are also game changers. Swap out your old light fixtures with some that are more bold and vibrant to bring your bathroom back to life.
How to decorate a Puja room
A Puja room is an intrinsic part of an Indian home. To enhance the feeling of serenity in such a spiritual space, let low-key paint colours like egg-shell or light yellow serve as a backdrop for your beautiful and ornate mandir and idols. The colours should enhance the sense of serenity yet make a subtle statement.
Choose a distinctive Puja door design accentuated with effective lighting and a decorated floor. Play with soft furnishings and accessorise vibrantly. Incorporate intricate and eye-catching wall-mounted decor pieces if you have limited space available.
Incorporate loads of indoor greenery
Using house plants is the easiest and most gorgeous way to spruce up any corner of your home. Choose moisture-loving plants like Boston Fern, Snake Plant, Peace Lily, Spider Plant or Begonia for your bathroom. In your kitchen, you can place edible herb plants in a sunny window sill like Basil, Chives, Parsley, Rosemary or an Aloe Vera plant to liven up the area. Your terrace or balcony is the best area to display a garden full of sun-loving greens such as Areca Palm, Marigold, Hyacinth or Jasmine to add a beautiful pop of colour.
Even your bedroom could do with some vibrant plants like Lavender, Peace Lily or a Bamboo plant to add a sense of tranquillity and infuse the air with freshness. You could place these plants on your study or work desk to create a stress-free environment.
Now that you’ve got the crash course, are you ready to give your space a makeover?