Decoration - General Decoration

Extra touches that give your home that personal touch. © Michelle Chaplow
Extra touches that give your home that personal touch.

Home decoration

So, here you are. You've found just the right house or apartment, and are finally living exactly where you want to be, with sunshine most of the year round, whether on the coast, in the mountains, in a town or city, or just in the beautiful Andalucian countryside. However, unless you've been fortunate enough to have a house built to your own specifications, you will inevitably be left with somebody else's taste in interior decoration. You may be able to cope with the lime green living room and flowery wallpaper in the kitchen, or you want to tone down the entire house into a neutral cream.

If you’re buying a house where Spanish people have been living, be aware that traditional Spanish interiors feature lots of tiles, to keep the house cool in summer. These can be very colourful and pretty, but bear in mind that their cold shininess can seem chilly in winter – Spanish houses are not cosy, apart from their chimeneas (fireplaces) – essential as older houses won’t have central heating. Practical in the bathroom and kitchen, tiles may not be to your taste in the living room, hall and every other room in the house or apartment.

In this warm climate, floors are generally of stone terracotta tiles also work well, or wood (although remember this will need either varnishing or waxing); and sisal and other natural materials can be comfortable too. You’ll want to keep out the hot sun in summertime, so shutters or blinds are a must, whether interior Venetian or roller, traditional esparto grass; or ones which are fixed to your outside walls.

Many foreigners choose to buy and rebuild or convert old buildings, such as olive mills or fincas. In which case you’ll probably be working with just the outside walls, or possibly some interior supporting walls too – you may have to be careful to preserve its original structure. In that scenario, you’re starting from scratch, and should take your time to think carefully about what sort of style you’re going for. Often, these properties come with smaller houses which you can use to rent out as holiday homes. If it’s such a major project, you could even consult an interior designer – an extra expense, but it will take out a lot of the decisions and legwork. They will also be able to recommend (and often project-manage) decorators.

Think about whether you want to go for a simple colour scheme – a sophisticated coffee-beige-cream pallette; a French country theme white, pale blue and with toile de jouey patterns; a nautical theme – sea blue and white; bold primary colours: yellows, blues, reds, which can work particularly well in children’s rooms. If you have many pictures – photos, paintings, drawings – to display in your new home, then plain, pale shades work well.

Looking through magazines (including Spanish ones; it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand all the text, it’s the visuals you’re after) is always a good way to find design ideas: you can make a “mood board” by pinning cuttings and fabric swatches onto a board, to group the shades and textures you’re interested in. Collect brochures from furniture and fabric companies, interiors catalogues – kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, or everything, depending on your plans. When you’re away travelling, buy postcards, with pictures that inspire you – it might just be a café with some chairs outside, but if it speaks to you, make sure it comes with you.

Decorating a new home is what makes it yours, putting your own personal stamp on it; I never feel a new house is mine until I’ve hung my pictures on the wall. It’s the most fun and creative part of acquiring a new property, so enjoy!

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