Interiors: ‘Go back and see whether you still like the images’

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Magazines remain a favourite source of inspiration for the home decorator and using these to compile a mood board is a helpful – and enjoyable – exercise.

Some publications focus almost exclusively on country homes, some on period properties and yet others on contemporary living spaces.

Look for one containing room sets you immediately find attractive. Never mind if the homes featured tend to be mansions whereas yours is a modest semi, or vice versa. For a decoration scheme to work on a personal level, it should strike an instinctive chord and you can distil essential elements of a scheme to suit your own space.

Manufacturers’ literature can provide ideas. Given that the intent is that you buy their products, you can be sure that the decorating schemes and room sets illustrated have been professionally crafted. What better way to tap into expert design ideas?

In the same way, use online resources such as the interactive tools provided by paint manufacturers or interior design sites. The web is also a useful medium to check out decorating tips from other countries. As Europe becomes a dominant player in the interiors market, this is a great way to spot emerging trends.

When you see a room set or feature which immediately attracts you, tear out the image (or print it off) and keep it in a folder. Go back to the folder from time to time and see whether you still like the images you have collected, discarding those which no longer appeal. In this way you are distilling your own style preferences to achieve a series of decorative blueprints which will guide your interiors choices.

Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House. Visit our website for design services, courses and workshops. Start a new career as a Homestyle Advisor or learn to ‘Be Your Own Designer’ with our distance-learning interior design courses (07765 057 409, www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk)