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Why taking it slow is the best approach to home decorating

By Olivia Hughes

I’d like to dispel some of the myths around decorating because there is always a lot of talk around what to do. I’d like to talk about some things not to do.

Decorating is a long game. Like a slow-cooked risotto, we all could do with a little “unlearning” when it comes to going straight to stir-fry mode when we decorate.

I like to blame DIY Instagram renovators with their “after” pics and four-word “tips”. (Apparently, they know this is the right way to flirt with the Instagram algorithm.)

There has also been a backlog of renovating reality TV shows to watch, once Mare of Easttown was over.

Decorating your home takes time, and is something that shouldn’t be rushed. 

Stay off the stir-fry hob if you can, and go as slow as you need to. All really good decorating takes time, but you already know that – we are all just sniffing for a hack.

Another thing not to do while renovating is to get into the habit of tolerance.

Tolerate an unavoidable blow to the budget, or when you have to wait or swap out a trade, but your wish list has to stay firm. Don’t let anyone dim your sunshine.

The non-negotiable list

There are a couple of ways to safeguard a vision (and it’s definitely not a vision board).

Write a list of 12 things you really want in your new place. Stop yourself going over a dozen – of course you want more, it’s 2021 and we are decorating in a pandemic, but, for the sake of this exercise, 12 is enough.

After much contemplation, get a highlighter and mark three things you will not compromise on.

These are the three non-negotiables; the three things so wonderful and powerful that, no matter what else happens during your renovation – and statistically, things will – you won’t be anything but ecstatic because you have executed these three precious things.

It’s a very good exercise because you are the only real stakeholder of the happiness here and the numbers are in your favour.

The not-in-my-house list

If you are working with a professional designer, show them the list of your dozen most-desired as well as your fluoro-highlighted three.

Also put together a list of the items you absolutely will not have. Make it as long (or longer) than the list of the things you want.

A lot of people find it easier to talk about what it is they don’t want, rather than what they do want.

This will help you achieve the bullseye of what you want, versus somewhere else on the dartboard.

Whether you are getting busy with home improvements yourself or bringing in the big guns, it’s best to come to some cold, hard truths.

The mood killers of a renovation are time and budget.

These factors don’t come up much on Instagram or Pinterest, but they are the true underpinning to a successful project.

It is only when these hard to navigate – sometimes even hard to say – topics are set out, that everything else is then possible.

I like to have the timeline and final cost at the top of every page I present (to a client), and if not on the page, always at the top of mind and tip of the tongue.

A real budget can be a magnet for novel and innovative thinking, so be a stickler with the calendar and the purse strings. You will have so much time back from not clocking up hours on Pinterest, and get your three wish-list things ticked off, and probably more.


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