After moving from a small flat to a whole house, I panicked: I had little furniture, no budget and zero direction. Inspiration was clouded by the threat of expensive mistakes and "blank canvas" alarm. So where can one turn for ideas?
Inspiration is everywhere
If you're tuned in, that is. One friend took layout tips from the kitchens in Desperate Housewives, while a bachelor colleague made manly shelves after seeing Steve McQueen's bedroom in Bullitt.
Consult the classics
From one-room living to how to arrange "things" on shelves and walls, Conran's 1970s interiors bible The House Book (Mitchell Beazley) is invaluable.
Make a mood board
By collating photos, fabric scraps (such as the Lucienne Day) and magazine pages, broad themes should emerge (vintage, minimal, lavish, bright, muted, classic). If they don't, ask a friend to edit.
Get out the scissors
Have a look at designspongeonline.com, where even the DIY-shy can get ideas; the box-file shelving is a personal favourite.
Make use of old favourites
Take a loved picture or object and build a room around its colours, period detail, or simply the feeling it evokes – it's easier than starting with infinite choice. Similarly, follow a loose theme through all rooms. Tricia Guild's A Certain Style (Quadrille) is full of inspiration on this.
Efficient storage can free up whole chunks of room, so don't underestimate the creative boost of a flick through the Lakeland catalogue.
Kevin McCloud's books on colour, divided by periods, styles and palettes, are immensely practical.
Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.blogspot.com
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies