How to turn your dream of an ideal home into reality

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Decoristas call it ‘room porn’ – the pure pleasure of sitting down with an interiors magazine, admiring beautiful rooms created by designers.

But so often we come back to earth with a bump when we try to design our own rooms.

Limited space, a tight budget and an avalanche of family possessions usually prevent us from replicating those uncluttered, glamorous spaces.

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.

Cate said: “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.”

Follow Burren’s three steps to create a ‘designer’ home...

1. Finding your style

This 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.

The architectural style of your home is important but it’s only one factor.

Designer tip: Collect magazine pictures of rooms which appeal to you, even if there are a few elements you don’t like – just note down what they are.

2. Space and play

It’s natural to want to choose colours, move furniture around or get building work under way, but looking at the way you use a house is the priority.

“The first step is to write down what you need from your living space. This shouldn’t be a list of the rooms you have, but the way you want to live and activities you want to do at home,” says Burren.

Designer tip: The layout of many buildings cannot be changed without a lot of expense but don’t limit yourself.

“A small structural change, such as removing a wall or repositioning a doorway, can make an enormous difference without breaking the bank,” Cate says.

3. Create the dream

Once you’ve got layout plans for your home and have established how you want to use your space, look at the work that needs to be done in your home.

“Then you can create your scheme,” says Burren. “You must trust your own judgment, and put aside any thoughts of what other people think is stylish. This is about your own preferences.

“I like to create a board of style pictures, paint colours and fabrics.

“ I keep pictures of products and furniture that I want separate, and spend time checking out all sorts of sources to get a good price, from online sites to auctions.

Designer tip: It’s important to ensure that paint colours you use flow well through the various rooms and corridors.

Secrets Of A Stylish Home by Cate Burren, photography by Simon Whitmore, is published by Merrell Publishers, priced £24.95. Available to readers for £21.95 (inc p&p). Call 01235 465 500 and quote reference MPMERSPA