Tips for Decorating Your Very First Home Together

Bharada Jembul

The bedroom should be a place of rest and rejuvenation. (Photo: Courtesy of Spaces)Courtesy of Spaces

You’ve asked and we’ve answered! Welcome to your weekly column ‘Planning Your Happily Ever After’ with wedding consultant Shikima Hinds.

Once your wedding festivities come to a close, it’ll be time for you to start working on the life you’re both now building together; this will include setting up your marital home. For a newly married couple this is a special journey where you unite your design aesthetic to convert a house into a home. Even if you were living together before you got married, it’s always nice to update your home to celebrate your fresh start. It’s, however, not always easy to agree on the perfect interior design; there are a few things to consider and do before you start planning the new look of your home.

I gathered tips and expert advice from interior design specialist Janelle Pantry-Coke from Spaces Limited, one of Jamaica’s leading retailers of quality furniture and accessories.

Shikima Hinds (SH): It’s not always easy to agree on the perfect design. One of the first things you’ll learn about marriage is the importance of compromise; this also comes in handy when decorating your home. What’s your best advice to newly-weds about this?

Janelle Pantry-Coke (JPC): Couples whose relationships have stood the test of time agree that compromise is key in a marriage. So, it goes without saying that “marrying” two sometimes diverse design styles requires some good negotiating skills. These days you find couples are often getting married later in life and would have already acquired furnishings. My advice to newly-weds is to take stock of the respective furnishings they have and see if these pieces would work in their new shared space. One compromise could be to use an existing bedroom set in a guest room and purchase something together. What’s important is that each person has a voice and feels comfortable expressing their likes and dislikes.

SH: I know it’s important to add personal touches throughout the home, especially with a focus on memories that mean a lot to you as an individual and as a couple. How can personal memories be kept alive when bringing a décor concept together?

JPC: Personal touches are the things that make a house a home. A simple way to incorporate memories is to create a photo gallery wall. This could begin with a photo on your first date or first vacation, followed by engagement photos or wedding photos. And as the years go by you can add to the gallery.

SH: Many will say the bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the house and so deserves proper attention. How can a couple design a space that provides an escape from everyday stress yet be romantic and relaxing?

JPC: The bedroom should be a place of solitude, rest, and rejuvenation. Focusing on a few key design principles such as lighting and colour selection can help to create a harmonious bedroom retreat. Neutral colours such as beige, white or grey create clean backdrops for bedrooms as they work with other brighter colours in bedding, window treatments and artwork. Once the colour scheme has been selected for the room, another key element is lighting. Make sure to have not only task lighting but also ambient mood lighting as well.

SH: When do you know it’s time to consider outsourcing the project to an interior designer or hiring someone else to decorate?

JPC: Updating your interior can be stressful, there is no doubt about that. You know it’s time to hire an interior designer when you are either still staring at the bare walls you moved in and saw, or things are just not coming together the way you would like them to. There are several great reasons to hire an interior designer. The first thing is that a good designer will be impartial and is there to make a professional judgement call, and in the case of couples they sometimes act as referees. Designers are skilled at harnessing what’s going on in your head and turning it into a beautiful and cohesive room design. Remember the role of an interior designer is to not only make your space look beautiful but make it function even better.

SH: Managing space is one of the biggest issues faced by newly-weds. How do you suggest the décor be done so that the needs of both individuals are met? Many new wives come along with a closet full of clothes, shoes, handbags and so much more! Let’s talk about the closet space.

JPC: The bad news is that we always need more storage space. The good news is that there are tons of space-saving, multifunctional products available. From closet organisers that effectively double your closet capacity to storage beds to tuck away your bed linens to ottomans that double as seating and hidden storage.

SH: The living room is the perfect place to make great conversations and newly-weds need somewhere to entertain. What are your tips for designing this area?

JPC: One of my decorating mantras is “less is more”. Buying items just to fill a space is not decorating. The living or entertainment area should have an adequate setting that is the right scale and proportion for the space. Don’t buy a three-piece sofa set if you only have space for a sofa and an accent chair. Secondly, you want to create a focal point, whether it’s the TV wall for the big game night or a dramatic accent wall adorned with wallpaper, gallery art or some other decorative feature. It’s nice to have something memorable for your guests to talk about.

SH: Thanks so much for all this great information, but before you go, is there anything else you’d like to add?

JPC: Combining your interior style with your partner is a process. Defining what your personal style is and that of your partner is the first step in defining what your home’s design aesthetic will be as a couple and this will save you lots of time and money down the road, not to mention an argument or two! And just remember the five keys to “marrying” your design styles:

1. Communicate and talk about why you like and dislike certain items or styles.

2. Determine how you both use your space.

3. Don’t be afraid to mix furniture styles.

4. Find common ground in a colour scheme.

5. Don’t rush the process!

Spaces Creative Director Janelle Pantry-Coke .

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