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Homes & Gardens|February 2021
THINKING ABOUT A HOUSE OR GARDEN REDESIGN? OUR EXPERTS SHARE THEIR KNOW-HOW FOR ACHIEVING MAXIMUM RESULTS WITH MINIMUM SPEND
KATE BURNETT

THE INTERIOR DESIGNER NICOLA HARDING

WITH more than 12 years’ experience of running her own interior design practice, Nicola Harding knows all about managing residential projects, large and small. Nicola and family recently moved from London to a house in the country so she speaks from personal as well as professional experience.

Resist the temptation to start with a clean decorative slate. ‘I look closely at what is already there and how it might be reimagined. Consider finishes (flooring, wall tiles), architectural elements (doors, windows, fireplaces), ironmongery, sanitaryware, curtains, furniture and light fittings. This approach not only saves money, but also the environment.’

Don’t just think about what you want, think about why you want it. ‘Often people believe they need something without thinking about it thoroughly, deferring to something that is in fashion, or that other people have, or that they grew up with.’

No matter how small your budget, good lighting is non-negotiable. ‘It’s probably the most important thing to get right, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. Poor lighting is the quickest way to kill atmosphere. Downlights can quickly blow the budget – they are expensive and not to my taste. My secret is lots of lamps with warm white light bulbs, so use your budget for good quality bulbs and always ensure that light switches are dimmable.’

Joinery is important so budget accordingly. ‘Only add fitted joinery if you can afford fairly good quality. An alternative route could be to reduce the amount you need to help focus your budget. For example, use free-standing pieces of furniture in the kitchen and have a nearby cupboard or small room as a scullery where you can store food, appliances or serveware.’

Search out the best modestly priced products. ‘Tinsmiths (tinsmiths.co.uk) is brilliant: good value, conscientiously sourced products and its mail-order curtain-making service is fantastic. For all-round online finds, try Nkuku (nkuku.com) and Cox & Cox (coxandcox.co.uk). Brisbane Moss (brisbanemoss. co.uk) supplies corduroy that is ideal for upholstery and curtains. Don’t spend on expensive radiators – B&Q (diy.com) does great value column rads.’

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