If you're unsure of the look you want, start by tearing out magazine pictures of rooms you like. You will soon see themes appearing. Painted wooden furniture and pale stenciled walls, traditional mahogany or art deco or a little of many styles blended together in your own eclectic way.
Make room boards with pictures, paint samples and fabric swatches to help you decide. Don't compromise. If you can't have what you want and can't make something into what you want, either go without for now or use an obviously temporary solution until you can have just the right piece. Display collections in one place.
They have far more impact grouped together. A collection of green glass bottles catching the evening sun on a window ledge or in a conservatory looks far more stylish than a couple in the bathroom, one on the mantelpiece etc.
Flowers and plants give an instant lift to a room. Look carefully at magazine pictures styled by professionals and nearly every one will have a display of flowers or plants. Ask friends for cuttings of easy plants and top up your collection cheaply at school fairs, Summer fetes and car boot sales. Treat your room to a bunch of flowers from the local market whenever you can afford to and have a look at the marvelous silk versions available now for when you can't.
Change furniture you don't want to replace by recovering it or hiding it under a throw. Experiment by tucking it in different ways before piling on cushions. Extra large sheets and duvet covers can be ideal for this job. Easy capacious storage can be made for your kitchen, utility room, bathroom, bedroom, workroom or kid's room by using inexpensive shelves or shelving units under a worktop and hanging curtains on a tight curtain wire in front of them.
Match or contrast them to the window curtains and this often looks so pretty you won't want to change it later. Buy fairly large glass and clip frames and hang some new prints. Museums and art galleries often have excellent quality prints at very reasonable prices. Don't forget to incorporate texture into your room.
Think of a chunky cream cotton throw, sea grass matting or a bright Indian dhurrie. A silky scarf as a bedroom wall hanging, a glowing beeswax candle, oversized calico curtains with large jute tie backs. A feast for the eyes and the fingertips. Change the atmosphere of your room overnight by changing the lighting. Dimmer switches fitted to all your fixed lighting and lamps will make a huge difference.
Consider candle sconces instead of wall lights, they are very easy to install, no wiring to worry about, and can give quite dramatic results. Use up lighters on the floor behind plants or to highlight a feature. Treat your lamps to new shades. Be confident about the look you want to go for. If you do it half heartedly it won't work so well anyway. Be bold! You can always change the room again if you change your mind!
© Colleen Moulding 1999
Colleen Moulding is a freelance writer living in the south of England. She is also the owner/editor of All That Women Want.com allthatwomenwant.com a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere. Receive a free monthly e-zine from All That Women Want.com by sending a blank e-mail to email@example.com