Once I was at the supermarket, a little while after The Block All Stars had been on, and a woman approached me and told me she was decorating her home but had no idea what she was doing. ‘How do you know what goes with what?’ she asked me. To which I replied ‘I have no idea, you just kind of do!’
I realise that advice was extremely unhelpful, but honestly I don’t know how I know, I can just tell if something works or not. I can picture things in my head, both with interiors and outfits, and just know if they’ll work or not. Most of the time I’m right, but not always. And in those instances I can usually tell after a while that it’s not working and then I will change it.
You know that feeling when you wear an outfit that you thought looked OK in the morning, but then all day you just don’t feel that great in it? In those instances I’m getting better at knowing not to wear it when I don’t feel 100% about it from the start, or better still not buy it in the first place. But I still get it wrong sometimes, and it’s the same with your home. A space should make you feel good when you look at it, from the colours of the walls to the pieces you put in it, and if it doesn’t it’s okay to change your mind and change it.
I spent so much time deciding on the colours of this house (I’m doing a full post on all our paint colours soon) because I know how important colours are for setting the feel of the house. Even white is not just white. There are hundreds of shades that seem to look exactly the same at first glance, but each will have slightly more blue, or green, or yellow, or pink and when you paint a whole wall with them that can completely change the look of a room.
I am always telling people, if you don’t like the colours of your walls – paint them! It’s not that hard and you will be amazed with how it changes how you feel about the space. Also, when it comes to decorating, none of us get it right all the time. You’d be surprised how often Block contestants change everything the night before reveal, or even after reveal, because they’re not happy with it.
Remember with All Stars Dan and Dani painted their first bedroom about three times, because they weren’t happy with the shade of grey? At the time I thought that was a bit over the top, but now I get it. It’s better to change it and be happy with it, than live with it and feel like it’s not right.
When I first started decorating this house I had a firm idea of what I wanted to do, which was mostly blue and white throughout the house, with natural and duck egg tones in the living room. But then I would go to stores (Adairs is a big culprit!) that had fabulous bright colours and I would leave with bags full of cushions and colourful accessories. Then an artist friend of mine, Belinda Benton, sent me a photo of a new artwork she had painted and I loved it. The colours were totally on trend and matched all the cushions I’d bought so I decided to change my look and go with those colours in the living room.
Except that every time I walked into the room, as much as I loved the artwork, I felt like it wasn’t quite right. So I kept the tags on the cushions in case and I gave it a few more days and after then I knew that look wasn’t working with the house and I had to go back to my original plan. So I exchanged the cushions, returned the art (actually, a friend bought it for her house!) and I went back to my original plan. I bought the Designer Boys artwork I had my eye on for the last year, I took out all the bright colours and replaced them with muted tones and I knew instantly that it worked.
By the looks on her face, Bessie isn’t sure if it’s working either! I LOVE the artwork, but it wasn’t right for the space. Art by Belinda Benton, find her on Instagram.
In another room I knew the artwork above the couch was right for the room, but was too small. So I thought about getting a matching print and putting them side by side, but then realised the mirror I had in the hallway (that I thought would work there but didn’t, because it was reflecting a blank wall) would be perfect. It needed more blue cushions so it wasn’t too much white on white, but as soon as I put it there and moved the other print to the side wall I knew it was perfect. Now whenever I walk past that room I feel happy.
Nice, but not quite right….
Trust your gut. I even trusted my gut with the pool paving, when the pattern wasn’t quite right. They’d only put six big pavers in before leaving for the day and when I looked at it that afternoon I knew it wasn’t right and would bother me endlessly. So I called the paver and asked if it was too late to pull it up if it wasn’t dry yet. He said I could, so Phil and I pulled them up and hosed them down so they could relay them the next day and I’m so glad we did. Luckily in that instance we could do it and it wasn’t that much for them to redo, but it’s another example of trusting yourself if something isn’t quite right.
There have been other instances where furniture isn’t perfect for a room and you can’t always return or replace everything, so in that case I move it to other rooms and keep trying things until it feels right. I may do this for the next 6 months, but that’s OK!
Don’t be afraid to try things, paint things, move things and experiment. You don’t have to spend big money to make your home beautiful, you just need to put some time and thought into it. And have a patient family who just roll their eyes when you say you’re moving things around – again!