The best way to get an objective view of your home’s interior condition is to imagine that it is up for sale and to view it in the role of a prospective purchaser. The aim of the exercise is not to give rise to a severe bout of depression on your part, but to determine what exists in the home and what could be done to change or improve it.
Start at the front door, and step into the hallway. Is it bright and well lit, or gloomy and unwelcoming? A lighter Colour scheme could make a narrow area appear more spacious, and better lighting would make it seem more inviting. Decorating the wall opposite the front door would make a long hall appear shorter, while changing the way the staircase is decorated could make it a less or more dominant feature.
Is the staircase well lit, for safety’s sake as well as for looks? Opening up the space beneath the stairs could get rid of what is typically an untidy glory hole (storage room), taking up space without saving any. Lastly, are the wall and floor coverings practical? The hall floor is bound to be well-trodden, and needs to be durable and easy to clean as well as looking attractive.
Choose an integrated decorating scheme for the hallway, stairs and landing -area. Bring down the apparent ceiling height using a dado (chair) rail or decorative border. The living room has to be light and airy during the day, yet cozy and comfortable in the evening. The fireplace and a central table provide the main focal points here.
Now move into the main living room. This is always the most difficult room in the house to decorate and furnish successfully because of its dual purpose. It is used both for daily life and to entertain visitors. It must be fresh and lively by day, yet cozy and peaceful in the evening. One of the chief keys to success is flexible lighting that can be altered to suit the room’s different uses, but the decorations and furnishings all have their part to play too.
Look at the color scheme. How well does it blend in with the furnishings, the curtains and drapes, and the floor covering? Are there any interesting features such as a fireplace, an alcove, an archway into another room, even an ornate cornice (crown molding) around the ceiling? Some of these features might benefit from being highlighted with special lighting, for instance, while other less attractive ones would be better disguised.
Next, examine how the room works. Are ‘traffic routes’ congested? Are the seating arrangements flexible? Are there surfaces on which things can easily be put down? Does any storage or display provision look good and work well? Can everyone who is seated see the television? Does everyone want to? Assessing the room in this way reveals its successes and failures, and shows how to eliminate the latter.
Continue the guided tour with the dining room, or dining area. This is often the least used room in the house, so its design tends to be neglected. As it is generally used for just one purpose, eating and it needs to be decorated in a way that avoids visual indigestion. Warm, welcoming color schemes and flexible lighting work best in this location; strident patterns and harsh colors are to be avoided.
Now turn to the kitchen. Whatever type of room this is, the most important consideration is that it should be hygienic, for obvious reasons. Are the various surfaces in the room easy to keep clean, and to redecorate when necessary? Are there dust and grease traps? Is the lighting over the hob (burners) and counter tops adequate? Is the floor covering a practical choice? As the kitchen is often the hub of family life, it needs to be functional but adaptable, and also pleasant to be in so that the cook does not mind the time spent slaving over a hot stove.
Bathrooms have their own special requirements, mainly revolving around combining comfort with a degree of waterproofing, especially if there are young children in the family. Are the decorations and floor covering suitable? How well do they complement the bathroom suite? What about the space available within the room? Could congestion be relieved by moving things around, or by moving them out altogether? Having a shower instead of a bath, for example, could create kits of extra space. Could a second bathroom be created elsewhere in the house? Otherwise, putting washbasins in some of the bedrooms could take the pressure off the family bathroom during the morning rush hour.
Lastly, we come to the bedrooms. The bed is the focal point of the room, so the way it is dressed will be the main influence on the room’s appearance. The color scheme also has its part to play in making a bedroom look comfortable and relaxing. Remember that the room’s occupant will see it from two viewpoints on entering, and from the bed, so take this into account when making your assessment. What about the ceiling? In the one room where people actually spend some time staring at it, does it deserve something a little more adventurous than white paint? Is the floor covering warm to the touch of bare feet? In a child’s room, is it also capable of withstanding the occasional rough and tumble or a disaster with the finger paints? Lastly, is the lighting adequate for all requirements? Most bedrooms need a combination of subdued general lighting and brighter local task lighting for occupations such as reading in bed, putting on make-up or tackling school homework. Some changes here may make the room function much more satisfactorily.
Once your tour around the house is complete, you should have a clear picture of its condition and how well it works, and some ideas as to how it might be improved. All you will have viewed is as a whole, not just as a series of individual rooms. That is the first step towards creating an attractive, stylish and practical home.