Universal Home Decor Conundrums Solved Once and For All

February 2, 2017Mandi Morrison

Given that our homes are a unique reflection of our family, it’s somewhat surprising that most of us encounter the same issues when it comes to decor.

You would think every single home would be individual, with its problems directly correlating with the inhabiting family. Instead, up and down the UK you will see the same problems being rehashed, discussed and (hopefully!) resolved. From mansions to bedsits, Land’s End to John O’Groats, it seems there are permanent fixtures concerning our home decor choices.

So – it’s about time we got them sorted, isn’t it? Rather than continually going around in circles, let’s draw together the collective group experience and see how others resolve the same issues you might be facing.

Classic Conundrum: Wallpaper versus Paint

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In the red corner… Paint! It’s versatile, comes in numerous colours and has an excellent record for taking its place in people’s homes!

And in the blue corner… Wallpaper! Somewhat maligned by those who don’t give it a chance, does it have any realistic chance of winning this fight?

Wallpaper versus Paint is a classic, a matchup that would no doubt main event the slugfest of decorating dilemmas. The difficulty with this one is that you’re choosing between two things that are vastly different; so much so they’re not really comparable. All they have in common is that they go on a wall.

To resolve this one, we’re going to bow out and declare it a draw. Why? Because this one very much depends on your situation.

Choose Paint If…

  • You’re impatient to get started. Paint requires a lot less preparation than wallpaper and will forgive a messy base wall a lot easier.
  • You might want a change in a few years. It’s much easier to repaint than it is to re-wallpaper.
  • You’re a DIY novice. Wallpaper can be fiddly (though admittedly the newer paste-the-wall options do solve some of these difficulties).

Choose Wallpaper If…

  • You like texture. While there are various paint effects you can try that create the illusion of texture, nothing really compares to the real deal.
  • Your walls are in good condition. Wallpaper looks best if the wall beneath it is smooth, sanded and free of nicks and scrapes.
  • You don’t mind more effort. Wallpaper takes longer and can be more frustrating, though the results are worth it.

Classic Conundrum: You Have No Idea What To Do With That Room

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If you have a spare room, it’s more likely to become a bone of contention than something to appreciate. Everyone in the family wants to do something different with it – or worse still, no one knows what to do with it.

When you have spare space, it’s tempting just to deem it a junk room while you wait for inspiration to strike. This is a shame, though it’s understandable why people do it. Instead of falling into that trap and wasting available square footage, it’s time to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Inspire yourself. There are a thousand and one amazing sites such as The Idealist, newspaper and magazine sites and even social media that are awash with ideas. Browse through with an open mind and see what appeals – you might surprise yourself.
  • Play with colours. We’re all guilty of occasional close-mindedness, assuming that we won’t like something based off nothing but a first impression. Give something different a try by using tester pots, such as a deep sage green or a matte rather than gloss finish. It will make you look at things differently.
  • Ask the room for help. Note: this only works if your rooms are sentient. If your rooms aren’t up to speaking for themselves…
  • Just do something – in all seriousness, this time! You can fall into the trap of being paralysed by indecision, to the point you do nothing because it seems like the easier option. So just do something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new piece of furniture or some random wallpaper you spotted; make a change and see if you like it. At the very least, you’ll realise what you don’t like.

Classic Conundrum: Practical or Stylish?

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The modern, minimalist look is undoubtedly beautiful. Clean lines, no cables, polished surfaces and everything possible is made of glass. It’s light, bright, wonderful… and a complete nightmare to maintain.

If you find yourself falling in love with impractical furniture, then you have to have a real talk with yourself. Glass and chrome, for example, may look stunning but the maintenance of them is anything but. Fingerprints will show up like beacons from a ship at sea; they will smear when cleaned and never, ever look as good as they do in the PhotoShop-assisted display photos. As a parent, you also see them as hazards – it’s a lot harder to cut yourself on a wood coffee table than a glass one.

So what do you do? Dismiss style, the impulse to cleave to modern trends and miss out on the home decor you’d really love? Or try and petition the government to add an extra day to the week, so you have more time to clean and maintain your choices?

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The latter probably isn’t going to work, so if you can’t handle the idea of sacrificing style for practicality, you can blend the two together:

  • Use the 80:20 rule. 80% of the furniture and decoration you choose for your home should be practical, sturdy and designed to last. For the remaining 20%, let yourself indulge. You’ll still have more to clean and keep looking good, but it’s better than an entire room full.
  • Choose pieces that won’t often be used. For example, your TV table is a good option for something more impractical. In most cases, you won’t touch it often, so it’s going to be less prone to turning into a selection of fingerprints worthy of the nearest forensic lab. A bad choice would be drawers or wardrobes; items which are designed to see regular use and will thus begin to degrade quicker.
  • Keep it high. If in doubt, select pieces of furniture or decor that you can keep off the floor, where most dirt gathers. Shelving is a good option, as are lamps and curtain rails. You can let your stylish side out above and let practicality reign below.

Classic Conundrum:  On Trend or Timeless?

Say you love the hygge trend right now. You’re in the process of giving a room a makeover, so you’ve got candles, bird cages, lanterns, throws for comfort and wooden furniture everywhere. Fast forward five years, and it suddenly looks incredibly passe.

Does that make Timeless an immediate winner? Not quite. There are ways and means of indulging in the trend of the moment without having to do a full room makeover every year.

  • The biggest furniture should be timeless. Sofas, beds, wardrobes – big, high-value items – should be as timeless as possible. If you want to style them to trends, do it with accessories rather than the full look of the piece.
  • Let your room be a hotchpotch. Rather than buying every piece of furniture from the same design line, let the room take on a mind of its own. If you have one outstanding item when everything else is the same, it looks disorganised and out of sync. If you have several that don’t fit an overarching theme – some of them on-trend – then it looks like a deliberate style choice. You can then rotate pieces in and out as you see fit.
  • Don’t forget curtains and lighting. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to change, so if you want to capture the look of the moment, they should be your first port of call.

Now, with those solved, what shall we move onto next?

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