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Decorating for Real Life Living


By Fran Morrell

The following are tips and guidelines for designing a home you want to live in and how to get the most of your space.


Carefully plan for real life and how you live in your house.  Create a vision and a concept for the space.  What look, feel and vibe are you going for?  Pinterest and tear sheets collected over time will indicate styles you love and point you in the direction of your personal style.  Aim for classic and timeless.  Think about telling a story with your decor:  how each piece and element that you love will work with each other. You can always tweak a scheme with a nod to current trends using decorative accessories and soft furnishings but the bones remain good and stand the test of time. 

Efficiency or function of the space. 

Define circulation and pattern flow.  The placement of furniture and lighting in a room is very important.  Work out and imagine how you plan to live in the space you are creating.  Bigger isn’t always better.  There are plenty of reference materials to living in small spaces and minimalist decorating trends that you can call on to help if space is an issue. Don’t forget that many spaces have more than one function and these demands can be sorted through clever considered solutions.

Be thoughtful about materials and construction.  

Quality is important as is good finishing.  It totally affects how a room feels when you enter.  Shoddy paintwork and carpentry show no matter how much you try to disguise it.  Always bear in mind where you live when you are choosing materials.  Certain materials like velvet, silks, chenilles, leather and wool are not suited to the Caribbean climate.  Consider if the piece you are looking at is built to last. Use enduring material or fabric.  This doesn’t mean the item needs to be expensive.  Second-hand finds can be true bargains and stand the test of time.

Contrast elements.  

Remember there can only be one boss in a room.  If you go for a busy tile or backsplash, the rest of the permanent fixtures should be quiet and unobtrusive.  The same goes for soft furnishings.  You cannot have a loud patterned sofa with contrasting busy cushions – it just looks wrong.  Simpler is always better.

Layering the details

Always ask yourself if the individual detailed items work with the rest of the space you are decorating.  It’s about creating balance and depth. ”I love it” is not enough to include something – it is how it works with the items in the rest of the space.  If it doesn’t work, dont be afraid to remove it and try it somewhere else later on.

Be Authentic

Personalise your space. Try not to make everything new.  Integrate your belongings, antiques and second-hand finds.  Frame up old photos or kids artwork and use quirky pieces for decoration.


This starts with architectural features: doors and windows, arches or beams.  Balance can be created with careful placement of furniture, art and plants.  Look and study the room from every angle to check how it works from all sides.  One view may look totally different from another but all should work.


Know when to add and take away.  Make sure there is enough space.  Don’t be afraid to remove something and try a more simplified space.  This can often mean a cleaner more comfortable look to a space.

Careful planning and consideration makes decorating and design fun.  Being able to live in a comfortable space that makes you happy when you walk through the door and gives a feeling of contentment is what decorating is really about.