How often have we flicked through pages of an interiors magazine, admiring and envying beautiful rooms created by designers?
But so often we come back down to earth with a bump when we try to design our own rooms. Limited space, a tight budget and an avalanche of assorted family possessions usually prevent us from replicating those uncluttered, glamorous spaces featured in the glossy mags.
Interior designer Cate Burren says it’s her mission to “take away some of the mystery of the interior design process”.
She says: “I realised through running evening classes to help people interior design their own home that a step-by-step approach is relevant to every design and every home, whether a mansion or a small flat.
“At the end of the day, the whole purpose of interior designing a home is to achieve the best possible surroundings for the people who live in it.
“We all want lovely, personal spaces to live in and by following a tried-and-tested approach it really is possible to achieve.”
She’s created a dream decor blueprint in her new book, Secrets Of A Stylish Home, and enthuses that the essence of interior design is creating an environment which reflects our personality and taste, and which is comfortable, functional and something we can take pride in.
“Of course, it can be tricky because there are so many looks to choose from and seemingly endless trends, and people get overwhelmed,” adds Burren.
“Often someone will look at a friend’s house which they admire and try to replicate it, but while a style might work in one home it may not in another.
“It’s important to work out exactly what your own personal taste is, which will make it so much easier to identify what you like and don’t like, and help you avoid costly mistakes.”
Creating a home which reflects your taste isn’t just about choosing colour schemes and furnishings; it’s about understanding how to use space and style.
Finding and understanding your own style will give you confidence and a clear sense of your personal design identity.
“For instance, although I love retro style and am instantly drawn to mid-century modern furniture, I’ve learnt that it’s not a look that I actually like to live with,” says Burren.
“So while I’ll have an odd small piece, I’d never buy a statement piece, like curtains or a sofa.
“Try to stay true to what you feel comfortable with - that is far more important in the long term.”
The architectural style of your home is important but it’s only one factor, so don’t let it override your own sense of style.
Secrets Of A Stylish Home by Cate Burren, photography by Simon Whitmore, is published by Merrell Publishers, priced £24.95.