ONE of the main reasons people decide to use a professional designer for their homes is that they do not want to waste time and money getting it wrong.

Many are nervous about buying anything, let alone putting a full scheme together.

So how can you be sure of a great design that will work for you and your lifestyle without wasting your time and money in the process?

The first thing I suggest is something that anyone can do, whether you are using the help of a professional or working by yourself.

It involves getting to know your style and tastes – and really concentrating on what will work for you.

Professionals use mood boards as the starting point to design a scheme and it will pay dividends if you create your own.

You can do this easily by collecting together any pictures, photographs or items that you feel you like, or that depict what you want your chosen room to look like. As you start to build this collection you will usually start to see some clear ‘leads’.

This could be a colour, or a style – but it can be used as a starting point for your room.

If you are bringing in a designer it will help them to understand what you really want from a room. After all, when you say to them you want a ‘contemporary’ room, this could have so many different styles and meanings that you need to know you are on the same wavelength.

Doing some of this work before you meet up with a designer can also help to really show them what you want, and save time and money for you.

Time to look around

Once you have got a good idea of what you want for your scheme in terms of style and colours, the next step is to start looking at each aspect of the room, including flooring, wall coverings, window dressings, furniture, lighting and accessories.

If you have a chosen scheme then a lot of these items will be a natural choice (i.e. a Scandinavian look will work well with white furniture, a more traditional look will work with darker richer wood).

I would always suggest taking your mood boards with you when shopping for the room as they will help to steer you in the right direction and avoid making costly mistakes.

Do not get it wrong.

Creating another type of board at this stage would be highly beneficial.

Designers call these boards ‘sample boards’ and, as with mood boards that create the mood of the room, a sample board collects samples of the actual items you want to use.

If you can get pictures or samples of each of these items then you can place them on this piece of card. Once all the items can be seen together you can really get a good idea of the look and feel of the finished room – before you have bought anything.

This stage is especially useful as you can change your mind easily without having the hassle of returning items – simply looking at the light fitting you have chosen, for example, may make you realise that it would look out of place in the room given the furniture you have chosen and therefore you can look for something more suitable.

Make or break

This is a good stage to ensure that items you have chosen are the right size for the space you have as well, as this can make or break a scheme as well.

Once you have your sample board in place and you are happy with the scheme, then the fun can start.

I would suggest prioritising the ordering of large items so that you receive them when you are ready.

I advise purchasing furniture and ordering any made to measure soft furnishings initially as these usually have the longest leadtime, then getting the trades in to decorate, sort electrics etc.

Then you can accessorise.

One word of caution here – at the stage where the decorating has started many clients have second thoughts about the colour chosen, but always remember that on your sample board the scheme worked well and go with it.