Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on his best home decorating tips

·3-min read
Photo credit: Craft Gin Club
Photo credit: Craft Gin Club

When it comes to home decorating, there are few figures more fun, quirky and clued-up on the scene than Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. The star, known for his original and revived presenting role on the hit show Changing Rooms, is all about making Britain's homes colourful, intriguing and original.

If you're looking to give your home a refresh after spending the majority of your time in the living room over the last 18 months, we've got you covered. Good Housekeeping sat down with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to harness his top advice on home decorating, from the living room to the garden...

What mantra do you live by when decorating your home?

The one that always rattles around in my brain is: “don’t dream it, be it!” - the iconic line from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When I design homes, I like to think of myself as Frank-N-Furter’s character; splashing around in a swimming pool with all these crazy ideas!

It’s all about bringing your own personal flair. Your home is yours; the only corner of your world where you can express anything that you feel and not be judged. It’s always a missed opportunity when people feel compelled to make their homes like “show homes” as this fundamentally creates a look that just isn’t your own.

Photo credit: Tom Wren
Photo credit: Tom Wren

What design techniques can instantly make a home look better? Equally, what's important to avoid?

The big thing to avoid is something that isn’t you. Don’t feel pressured by others, just pick designs that you love. The pandemic and lockdowns have made us all realise that living rooms are a really important space, as we've spent so much time in them, so opt for designs you’ll want to look at every day.

I’ve noticed that us Brits seem to be frightened of pattern but my advice is to embrace it. Pattern is a good thing. The majority of our housing stock was built between 1880-1930; meaning our homes were designed and built to take pattern, so enjoy playing around with it.

What styles do you predict we’ll see coming up for home and garden décor over the next few months?

Something that’s very interesting inside the home at the moment is the popularity of storybook illustration patterns. These patterns have intricate details and integrity, with references to exotic locations. Designers like Emma Shipley and Wendy Morrison provide unique pattern repeats. We’re certainly moving away from the soft geometry of 1960s-inspired pattern and towards something more engaging and romantic. This is great, as the more conversations you have with your room the better, even your curtains should be telling a story.

The garden is rapidly becoming somewhere that is annexed as a design experience, with outdoor rugs, furniture and lighting becoming increasingly available. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s on the market at the moment is grey. For me, garden design is about amazing saturated colours like blues and cinnabar reds, as they offset green foliage perfectly. So, I’d definitely like to see this as a garden trend.

Photo credit: Tom Wren
Photo credit: Tom Wren

How can people design and decorate their gardens to make the most of them year-round?

Look to your shed – it doesn’t just need to be an Airbnb for spiders! Sheds can be incredibly fun and entertaining spaces. There is definitely an opportunity to find somewhere that can be an exotic shelter even when the weather is appalling. For example, I recently created a Gin Shed with the Craft Gin Company. The idea is that I can sit in this with friends and enjoy it as a gin bar all year round and I would encourage others to think about this, too.

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