Alison Cork's savvy tips on decorating your home

Thinking of redecorating but not sure where to start? How do you go about choosing the right look and feel for your home? We caught up with lifestyle guru Alison Cork, writer for The Telegraph and The Evening Standard and founder of Homes&Bargains, to get her expert advice – from allowing yourself one ‘wow’ item per room to indulging in bold colour and accents...

Sit and think before you do anything. It really will save a lot of money in the long run if you take time to consider the practicalities of your ideas and which are the most important, so that you can edit your choices down to what is going to deliver you form as well as function, and the order in which you should best tackle the work.

Get your wish list on paper – however fantastical – this bit of the process is free! Seeing the full extent of what you want to do on paper in front of you is a great leveler. It will discipline you either to limit the scope of your work or to find some more money pronto!

Edit your wish list according to your budget, but allow yourself one ‘wow’ item per room. This is true regardless of the size of your budget, but particularly powerful if you have limited cash. Less is most definitely more when it comes to making that all important impact in a room, and just one drop dead gorgeous item is all you need to get people talking. The rest of the room can happily play second fiddle – my golden cocktail cabinet (above) is a good example of this.

Go with your heart when choosing colour – your instinct is almost always going to be right. I think of room colour as I do about make up – you can use almost any colour, it’s just how you use it that counts. So, if you're bold by nature, go for that gold wall (as I did!), but if that scares the pants off you, stick to just a few gold accessories – a vase/mirror/satin cushion/plant pot. Never be dictated to by colour or afraid of it -  it's a tool for you to use, and not the other way round.

Invest your money in key purchases like good beds and sofas – every time I sink into my handmade mattress from Heals, I bless the day I spent my entire quota of wedding gift vouchers on one bed. I sleep like a baby and that is priceless. Ditto sofas and chairs, which are fundamental to your comfort and physical well being.

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor