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How not to decorate!!

These two, COLIN and JUSTIN, who host a wonderful TV show by the name “How not to decorate” are really on to something unique that we all must remember while doing up a room or a series of rooms. A little too often when we are doing up a place we tend to forget the first and primary principle and that is to have fun in the process! But like everything else that is ‘supposed’ to be fun and relaxing has now been turned and warped into usually terrifying and daunting experiences, be it vacationing, going out, nature treks, salon treatments, decorating has become more of a competitive game than a self-satisfying gesture.


More often than not we get trapped into doing up our spaces like someone Else’s. We try to copy other people’s ideas and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but it has to done with caution, for every person and their way of living is different and what works or looks good in your friend’s house or in a restaurant may simply end up looking hideous in your home. Another mistake we make is trying to ‘match’ up different elements of a room, (I mean what is that???) I have often have women talk of furniture that must go with each other, granted, but they always don’t have to be 3 piece or three plus two seat sofa sets that are sooooooooooooo I hardly know what…80’s I suppose! Girls and the boys interested in this please snap out of this bloody obsession of trying to make a shalwar kameez jora out of your rooms and try to move with the flow.

Another trend that I consistently see in Pakistan is people trying to keep up with the Jones…if my friend has ten paintings on her wall I must have at least twenty, if someone has furniture from X shop that costs an arm and a leg, I must break my whole body to get one from B that costs more – I ask why this drive to outdo one another?

Then we have no respect for old and inherited things (I agree some may be atrocious and in that case dispose them off) and generally family heirlooms may not have the pizzazz of a costly purchase that speaks money in bold, but it has its own faded charm and character and that is what I find missing in most of the houses I visit here. I think it may have to do a lot with personal space and its concept, in eastern societies there is usually less of privacy as extended families live under the same roof or was the trend perhaps a generation back, now its changing, nuclear families are more common. But nonetheless there are more children per family, means are limited and hence not every person has the luxury to do up his/her space if they even have one as they want to. Then open expression of individuality is something that we don’t really condone in our society, we are a bunch of judgmental people who have an opinion on everything under the sun and its usually not a positive one. So even when we grow up and have our own homes we have no clue as what we like in terms of how we would want our surroundings to be, or we cannot articulate it very well.

Then, we also are an arrogant lot who think we know best on almost every subject past, present and future, going to an expert or a designer isn’t really a viable option because we want to ‘show’ we have all the talent of a polymath and some more. We’d rather make expensive mistakes than consult a professional because that is a direct reduction of our massive egos.

One of the major mistakes or faux pas in decorating is to overdo it. You need to let the room evolve and emerge and go slow, my projects take time for the simple reason that I must have the feel of the room and the place and of course the people I am working for before making any concrete suggestions – quite time consuming and irritating, so those who want to do a house overnight I not your woman.

Please before you try and do up a room go through several magazines easily and very cheaply available in Sunday Market some recommendations – Living etc, House and Garden, Home and Garden, House Beautiful especially the American edition. And if you don’t want your house like a replica of a plastic mall in Dubai my advice is to stay away from the ones that come from the Middle East. Their tastes are garish almost obnoxious and quite painful to behold let alone live in.


A word about fabric used for curtains and upholstery, again the advice is to stay away from mix and match, monotone schemes, one color or two tones is fantastic, and on the other hand so is a burst of color but it all depends on the intensity of the hue in the color and the lighting in the room.
Small rooms do not mean they ought to be painted white or magnolia to make them appear bigger? Who said that? In fact small rooms take color rather well and take a large piece of furniture better than a clutter of small pieces.

There is much more and I can go on forever… But adieu for now!

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