laptop with yellow sofa on screen

Control Yourself!

There’s no denying it. Interiors are dangerously addictive. You only flipped open your laptop to check emails, and next thing you know you’re neck-deep in a world of perfectly styled bedrooms with freestanding baths.

You do need to mooch around these inspiring images to get a real feel for what you want and for what’s realistic in your home. If you are planning a kitchen extension, simply type in those terms and you’re spoilt for choice with layouts, images and designs that would suit your mid-terrace dreamhouse perfectly.

But, beware. A vast cloud of unstructured ideas is very difficult to convey to your design and build team, and can be positively counter-productive.

If, describing a sleek, contemporary kitchen, you then show an image of shaker style cupboards, this will confuse – unless you’re very clear why you’ve saved the image. If you pin a country kitchen because you like the layout, tap or kettle, make sure that’s stated.

The sheer number of ideas can be overwhelming. Leading to the paralysis of too much choice. You may be 100% certain of a choice one week, only to feel it’s entirely wrong by the time next month’s interiors mags hit the shelves.

But, if you follow some simple rules early on in your planning stage you’ll have the greatest chance of successfully communicating your ideas and vision to those who’ll need to understand it – your significant other, your designer, your builder, or whoever.


A mainstay of time-management principles is that your mind is for having and developing ideas, not for holding them. Holding them there is ‘psychic baggage’ – you can’t think clearly with the little buzz of “now, where did I see those hexagonal grey mosaic tiles…”.

So, if something grabs your attention, cut it out, snap a photo, pin it, save it to the cloud, scan it. Whatever you usually do – make sure you get it out of your head and into a place where you know you can find it again.

If you’re old skool, get the mags, scissors, Pritt stick, wine (obviously!) and scrapbook. A critical rule is one gathering point. It doesn’t matter what it is, an old shoebox, under the bed, dropbox, evernote etc just make it one.

Or you might be a Pinterest user extraordinaire (a PUE?) – Pinterest and Houzz are pretty hard to beat for the sheer number of spot-on inspirational images. Of course, digital means easy collaboration too – share those boards, share on Dropbox etc.

You probably have your favourite interiors blogs too. We certainly do.


You’ll find that you’ve filled that scrapbook and those pinboards pretty quickly. The next step is bring some order to what you’ve saved.

You’re going to need to put these images ‘where they belong’. Define your categories and stick to them. You might decide to categorise by room which, obviously, makes a lot of sense.

Categorise in a way that suits you, but bear in mind if you want to collaborate with others, you need to make sure your categories make sense. Think of it like buckets. Every image or note must be dropped into the right bucket.


Now the tough bit. You have to edit. And then you have to edit again. This is tough because you really like it all. But you know you can’t have it all. You have to make a choice, or at least a shortlist. You need to reflect on your edit. Then, you’ll have to edit again so you’re sure. You need to walk away and come back to it a few days later. If you still like it as much, then go for it. If not ditch it.

Put your images in the right context and filter them according to…

Project objective/ goals – who will be using your new space, what’s it mainly for, why do you want it, any ‘must-haves’ etc;
Budget – of course tiles that cost £350 sqm can be unbelievably gorgeous, however, unless that’s what you’re looking to spend, make sure you hunt for alternatives. Spread the love too– don’t blow too much on a couple of elements to find yourself woefully short in other areas (unless you’re making that decision consciously.)
Time – if you have a very definite time frame for your project, make sure this is one of your filters. If you must be in by Christmas, or if you’ve bought a fixer-upper and only have enough funds to enable you to rent elsewhere for 6 months, make design choices with that in the forefront of your mind. What can seem like minor changes, can really add up, particularly if you change to something with a longer lead time. Kitchens and joinery are the obvious elements on long leads, but even choosing a bespoke finish on taps or door handles can mean they come in 4-6 weeks instead of 1-2. And don’t get us started on ordering anything Italian if summer’s drawing near…
Reflect: your ideas will evolve over time. Come back to images and reflect on them. As a scheme comes together, images you once loved may no longer seem right:
Why do you like it?
Will it suit your purpose both short and longer term?
Is it worth spending more in certain areas?
Any good design evolves, but you must put parameters round that evolution early on, to stand any chance of finishing on time and on budget, with the design you want.

If you want any further advice on planning a project and where to start, get in touch. We love big dreamers and will never squash ideas – but we’ll help you funnel them effectively!

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