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Develop your individual taste for decor

Have you ever noticed that, while most people know what they don't want, very few understand what they do want.

They can tell you why Sheila up the road ruined her sitting room by introducing too cold a colour on the walls or why Mairead totally misjudged her sense of space and now has a kitchen half the size of a postage stamp. But ask them where they would start on their own homes and they are stumped. So, take a deep breath and start with a few of the following pointers.

Magazines/Books It's amazing how ideas can start to take shape from one little picture. The more interior pictures you look at and the more styles you find yourself drawn to, the easier the job will be for you to know what you like.

Find your theme There are a myriad of styles and choices out there: traditional, contemporary, country, rustic, eclectic -- the list is endless. In order to liaise with designers and people who can help you achieve your goal it's in your interest to teach yourself as much as you can about your chosen theme.

Lifestyle The key to getting the design of your house right is to build it around your family's lifestyle so as to create a flow within the home.

Ask yourself, are you a sporty household? Do you have a large family with small children? Does your house turn into the neighbourhood den for the kids and their friends at weekends? Do you work from home? Do you like entertaining? Are you a food fan? Do you have elderly parents living with you? Your answers will impact on the running of your home and need to be addressed at the early stages of design.

Be adventurous Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Remember, it's your home, so there are no wrong answers. You're the one who lives there, not the architect, not the designer, not the builder. But remember not to be too stubborn either. Sometimes we need a little push in a direction that may seem a little off the beaten track, but ultimately gives a project it's backbone. So, know when to get your point across and also when to take on board other people's expertise.