A slow living guide to decorating your home

Decorating your home can often feel overwhelming, can't it? With so much to do and so many choices on the market, it's easy to choose the first thing you see and later regret it. Minimal lifestyle blogger Jessica Rose Williams is here to help you approach your project in a more considered way with personal experience guiding her. She shares her top tips on how to plan, what to prioritise and how not to rush into hasty decisions. 

Where to even start. This was my dilemma the day we moved into our little cottage in the Peak District in April. I'd known there was work to be done since our first viewing but only when I saw it completely empty on moving did I realise just how much work I had on my hands. It was in desperate need of TLC. 

Embarking on any renovation project can feel so overwhelming. All those decisions to make, and the fear of making the wrong choice can be crippling. It’s tempting to reach for the tin of paint and pop down to the nearest Homesense for Pinterest-worthy bargains because that’s the easiest way to make a difference right? What I’ve learned from my own renovations is that the bare bones must be taken care of first. Once you get those right, the rest will follow. Making a plan and taking care of the essentials first will ensure you’ve created a space that will work hard for you for years to come. 

Personally, I have zero patience and have rushed every decorating project I’ve ever done and then regretted not taking my time or not tackling things in the right order. I overlooked the drafty windows in favour of said quick fix bargains. Throwing myself into the project without any kind of structure made all that stuff a giant waste of money. I can confirm even the perfect grey wool blanket doesn’t make a room - unless you’ve done the ground work first it only confuses it.

how to manage your decorating project

This time around I was determined to do things right, and it’s worked! It’s true what they say, good things take time and it’s all in the prep. Four months of renovating later these are the areas I’ve prioritised with our budget. I’ve found they’ve made the greatest impact and by taking care of these I have created a solid foundation I can slowly build on in years to come. Here's a few tips I've learnt along that way....

Take time to plan - The more time you spend planning the better. Rule number one is do not rush! I’m still getting to grips with this one myself so I know that’s the last thing you want to hear. Pinterest is your friend to begin with. Create a private mood board for your project and pin anything and everything you’re attracted to. Once you’ve done that, take some time away from it and go back with the intention of cutting your pins down to a maximum of 20. Try to pick out similar themes, colours, tones and above all be realistic. Make sure everything on your board will work in your own home. 

Managing your decorating budget

Windows - If a room is cold and draughty you simply won’t want to spend time in it. How boring to have to spend money on new windows or repairs I know, but creating a warm and cosy space is absolutely key. I refuse to let go of the wooden windows we’ve inherited but I did replace the two windows that were draughty and split as soon as we moved in. It left us with fewer pounds to spend on the finishing touches but it was worth it. 

prioritising when decorating

Radiators - Choosing to upgrade to beautiful period style radiators was a decision not many around me could understand. But now they’re in, they totally get it. They’ve made such a difference to the rooms. If these aren’t within budget you can always paint your existing ones the same colour as the walls so they blend in. 

making a decorating plan

Repurpose what you can - Be brutally honest with yourself about what can stay. There’s a lot you can do to spruce up old furniture as long as it’s structurally sound. Sofas can be reupholstered and kitchen cabinets can be painted if it’s just the colour you’re not keen on. Google is your friend!

Floors - Stripping the floors properly and having them refinished has transformed our cottage. One floor that was previously carpeted had to be replaced because the floorboards were rotten. Installing new pine floorboards was cheaper than replacing the carpet and as long as we look after them they’ll last us decades.

Walls - Skimming the walls where necessary and then painting the entire house the same shade of white (ceilings, walls and windows) has made the biggest difference to our home. Where it once looked dark and dingy it now looks fresh, light and bright. The rooms feel twice the size. 

prioritising when decorating

Natural Textures - Wood, linen, wool, cotton or even shiny metallics. Opting for natural texture wherever you can will add a guaranteed sense of cosy and timelessness to any space. They’re more attractive to look at and sustainable too. 

Lighting - This is an area I’ve regrettably overlooked for most of my home-owning life. When we were in Oslo in January it struck me just how important it was. Warm, subtle lighting made those dark days and nights feel oh so cosy. Nothing too bright and always carefully considered. There are entire books written on lighting which is a testament to what a difference it can make. Instead of just placing a lamp here and there take time to think about which areas you want to light and be sure to use multiple light sources for a cosy atmosphere. 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from our renovations so far is that a house is never finished. Good things take time and unfortunately we need to be patient. There will always be something that needs doing, our styles will change and what we need from our homes will change too. Looking after the basics is always the best place to start. 

So many valuable tips there for either a large scale project or even just a small one room makeover. Check out more of Jessica's great advice on her blog and Instagram