If you’ve just bought a house or apartment, you’ll want to make your mark. But a blank canvas is often the most difficult thing to face, and if interior design is not your thing it can be tricky to get things right. This post aims to give you novices room-by-room advice on just how to decorate your room by starting with the basics.

Things like helping you get the most from the available light and space and tricks of the trade to make your new home look good fast. Even better, because this guide is designed for beginners, you don’t have to be Annie Sloan or Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to apply these simple design techniques and get results that look great.

Let’s start with the living room

The place you come to chill out, and the room you’ll probably want to tackle first to give yourself a safe haven away from the ladders and paintbrushes that will be taking up residence everywhere else.

Not everyone is a keen interior designer or knows how to decorate a room, but first things first, think focal point; a term that’s often applied in interior design circles and a technique that’s really rather useful when space is at a premium.

Simply put, it’s a quick and easy way to cheat the eye into ignoring the small stuff going on in the room and drawing it through the space, without encouraging it to linger on furnishings and/or clutter. A focal point can be any striking feature that shouts out above all the rest through colour or presence.

In a living room, fire surrounds or the hearth make natural focal points that can be bigged up with bold, bright colour or wall coverings. In modern properties that don’t include these features, an oversized canvas print or piece of visual art are definitely worth considering. One technique is to use a rug to draw the eye towards your chosen focal point whether it’s a snazzy sofa or big plant.

If you don’t know how to decorate your room but you need to make it look bigger, the ultimate way to create space that’s not there is use mirrors. Not only do they reflect natural and artificial light to instantly make any space look larger, but also do a great job of making a flat wall look like another room. Angled towards our old friend the focal point and depth is instantly conjured up. For a fresh approach, place a mirror by the window to bring the outdoors inside

Here’s a final tip for this space before we venture into the rest of the house: Use wallpaper. Long out-of-fashion in favour of mirror-smooth plaster surfaces, wallpaper is back with a vengeance and for very good reasons.

It’s an easy way to make less-than-perfect walls look smooth. There are 1000s of beautiful designs out there from the world’s best designers. And it gives you lots more scope for creativity than flat paint.

Whether you highlight a specific wall or make a feature of your hearth, use it to create the focal point or even add to the visible backs of bookcases or shelves behind your pictures and ornaments, it can be your best friend if you want to create a unique room with minimal effort.

Moving on to the kitchen

The kitchen is also a space that many movers can’t wait to make their own. You may well have been lucky enough to buy a property with a cool cuisine that’s exactly to your taste. But chances are, the kitchen will need a serious rethink to bring it up to your exacting standards. If your budget allows, having a new kitchen installed can be one of the most rewarding parts of personalising your home as you can specify precisely what goes where to suit the way you live (and cook), plus there are plenty of local kitchen specialists to help you find and fit the right kitchen for you.

If you’re not ready to rip it out and start again, fear not. There are numerous quick fixes that can get your kitchen up to gourmet standards for takeaway prices. The cabinets are usually the main focal point for a fitted kitchen and changing these should be a priority to refresh your look. This can be as economical as just choosing new doors or even replacing the handles with something more contemporary. You can also paint many materials used in kitchen units, so a coat of colour could be all it takes for a whole new look.

For those who don’t know where to start when it comes to how to decorate your room, why not paint your upper and lower cabinets different colours for a chic look that’s on-trend and very definitely on-budget for a quick fix that makes a cool difference to your kitchen?

If your kitchen is on the roomy side, try and use a neutral pallet for the walls and cabinets. Monochrome colour schemes in kitchens are perennially popular for this reason. Then add accent colours with bold, bright tiles and splashbacks to create your own look.

The hallways

You’ll only spend a small percentage of your time in your hallway. But it’s the one room that makes the biggest impression on visitors, even before they’ve stepped over your threshold and into your home.

Again, you can be brave and go bold in your hallway, depending on its size. Smaller hallways are an invitation to dazzle as cosy spaces can certainly handle big colours and patterns. So don’t be scared and choose vivid wallpaper or focal point art pieces for your hallway to make an impression on visitors – however fleeting their stay in this particular room is.

If you’re lucky enough to have a large hallway, choose accessories that offer both form and function, as halls serve a purpose when it comes to storing things like coats, shoes and brollies. Hit the car boot sales and antiques fairs and try pick up some unique hallway furniture to really get guests talking.


The bathroom is usually dominated by the suite, which can be tricky to live with if the previous owner’s favourite colour was avocado or chocolate brown. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with an old bathroom suite apart from replacing it unless you’re a lover of kitsch. But swapping a suite for a brand new new white one is a very affordable move and there are plenty of local bathroom installers to fit these, leaving you to add to add a fresh look with colourful tile accents and accessories like matching rugs and towels. Tiles are very popular for bathrooms and you’re never short of tiles to choose from, just speak to a local tiler to see what’s on offer and get them fitted for you. Even wallpaper has a place in a bathroom to pick out a key feature, but ensure you choose paper that’s designed for steamy environments.

And so to bed

If one room in the home calls for mood lighting, it’s the bedroom. This is the space where we should feel the most comfortable, so choose bedside lights and uplighters carefully to accentuate your chosen colour scheme which should be the most relaxing you can find. Fabrics are what really make a bedroom and you can even use them to make the room taller: Hang your curtains or blinds closer to the ceiling for instant height. Another good tip for smaller bedrooms is that rounded edges take up less floor space and give the impression of more space, especially when it comes to widening walkways and opening up the room.