Our resident writer Maja Davies is back with the third instalment from her series The Moving Diaries, exclusive to Home Club ME, which documents her own experience of moving apartments in the UAE. This week, Maja provides some essential pearls of wisdom concerning the ‘fun’ part of moving — decorating! Read on for inspired advice on creating a new home that you’ll love with helpful planning and buying tips that won’t break the bank.
The Moving Diaries, Lesson Three: Decorating
I think the reason I love moving house so much is that each time it gives me the excuse to redecorate! Curtains, wall paint, new furniture layouts … I can’t get enough of it. But that is not to say that it can’t be overwhelming, not to mention expensive. It is very easy to fall into the trap of doing too much too soon, like buying all the furniture without having taken proper measurements or deciding on a colour scheme without knowing how light and space may affect this. Below, discover my key do’s and don’ts for decorating a new home, inspired by my own property moves.
*DO make a design plan
The more thought you put into your design scheme, the easier it will be to find suitable furniture and décor. Factors such as style theme, colour scheme, furniture layout, and a good idea of natural light sources will all be great assets when you are shopping for furniture, fixtures and accessories. When it comes to factoring new furniture into your design plan, always take measurements of the areas in your new home where key pieces of furniture will go, as well as measurements of existing pieces of furniture that you want to incorporate from your old home. When it comes to looking for natural light sources, view each room in your new property at different times of the day — this is key to assessing how painted walls will change in tone as the sun rises and sets, and also important to consider if you want to include a reading nook or a work station in your design plan, for example.
*DON’T just go with what is trendy
This is your home, so it should reflect your tastes and those of the people who live there. Take time to consider what you love about your current property as well as what you don’t like and keep this in the back of your mind with each purchasing decision you make for your new home. If you decorate an entire house based on a current home interiors trend, it may lose some of your personality and feel more like a show house instead of your actual home. In addition, you also run the risk of the trend going out of fashion, which will make your home look dated instead of stylish. We loved working with Creative wraps for an easy alternative to transform our rented apartments Kitchen – We went for a modern look, with a timeless edge. I shall be writing a full review on my experience with them soon, so watch this space.
*DON’T simply replace all of your furniture
Just because you are moving to a new property, this doesn’t mean you need to reinvent your whole décor scheme and replace all of your furniture. This idea is bad for your budget and for the planet. I find that an old piece of furniture can enjoy a new lease of life with a different feel about it or a new use, thanks to being in a fresh space. An unused console table may suddenly take pride of place on the landing or hall, or an old sofa or armchair may come in useful if your new home has a spare room that can double up as a teen hangout or a meditation den. Keep as much as you can and for the items you really do want to get rid of find a way to donate them, sell them or repurpose them.
*DO look for secondhand items
Thanks to the high turnover of expats moving around and out of the UAE, the country is a goldmine of secondhand and preloved items. There are lots of Facebook groups advertising preloved furniture, and there may be groups specifically for residents in your old or new area, as well as secondhand marketplace websites such as Dubizzle. If you take your time to wait for a piece you really want, set up an email alert for hard-to-find items like an oversized mirror, and be ready to make a quick decision when the right classified ad comes up, then you could find yourself a quality piece at a bargain price. I also find that this approach helps me to procure unique pieces, such as the secondhand console table that has become the perfect finishing touch in our entrance hall.
*DO enlist the help of an expert if you feel unsure
As a Scandinavian, my furniture and walls have never been anything but white, grey or natural wood and I had become bored of this palette. For my new apartment I wanted to spice things up by adding colour. Armed with my Pinterest boards, I headed to a paint store to pick up some paint samples in nice blue-green shades but I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of choice. I was nervous of picking a shade that would end up looking too dark, and I was struggling to imagine how the colour would look on my walls at home.
That’s when I decided to reach out to an expert — Toni Snyder, a colour specialist based in Dubai who has created beautifully coloured spaces for clients all over the UAE. I met her at a colour masterclass that she hosted together with the American paint brand Benjamin Moore, and while I was there I approached her to get some advice on my problem. Toni was extremely helpful and before I knew it we were in my new living room with a suitcase (I kid you not) full of colour samples while Toni pointed to my ceiling as a great spot for a splash of colour. After just one hour of consulting on the topic, Toni had helped me to envisage a bold but simple colour scheme for my entire two-bedroom flat. We found a perfect shade of blue-green from Benjamin Moore called Mystic Lake, and for the bedrooms we opted for hushed pink and beige tones. Toni really pushed me out of my comfort zone but with her advice I felt confident that the décor scheme would come together. I am now in love with the space and I can’t imagine living in an all-white flat again.
If you are unsure of your decorating ideas but you know that you want something special, I really recommend hiring someone like Toni, an interior designer or a stylist for a consultation to get some expert advice. A professional outlook can really help to add finesse and the final all-important touches.
If you’ve missed Maja’s previous instalments from The Moving Diaries series, catch up by reading her essential tips for budgeting a new home, and logistical advice for moving. For more home décor inspiration, check out our essential DIY guides and expert interiors features. Happy decorating!