When a building or a room makes you feel good, you sense it the second you step inside. But if you can recognise the feeling, can you re-create it at home?

We might know what makes us feel good, but making it happen can be surprisingly hard.

That’s where the professionals come in, designers such as JCB Architects’ Adelle Mackey and Great Dane furniture founder Anton Assaad. If you’re thinking about decorating or designing a space, don’t pick up another brochure (and definitely don’t pick up a hammer) until you’ve read their four thought-starters.

Every object matters
Changing your home or fitting out a new space can be overwhelming. Inspiration floods your Pinterest and Instagram, every surface is covered in design publications and the possibilities stretch before you.

“There are a lot of gimmicks that suck people in,” Mackey says. To help stay focussed, she advises that you really consider each item of furniture or decoration you want in the space. “Think about what you’re going to use, and how these things might make you live or act in a different way,” she says. Rather than add more stuff, Adelle suggests approaching a new interior with the intention to minimise. You’ll have a lot of objects which mean something to you, so consider how anything new will relate to what you already own.

The bigger picture
Anton Assaad, founder and director of Great Dane furniture, starts by encouraging you to ask questions about your relationship with the space, before thinking about the stuff in it. Ask yourself: “What do I love about the building? What was the catalyst that made me move into my home in the first place?”. He explains that the way you respond to these questions will give people such as him and Mackey the ability to understand, “What people are looking for in their lives”. Articulating what you like about the space will also help you get a clearer idea of the objects that will complement it.

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Collaboration leads to clear ideas
“Often, you don’t know what you want,” Mackey says about changing the look and feel of a living space. “You might have an idea … but [working with a designer] can set a benchmark. And we can work with other people to reach the finish line.”

Collaboration can lead to great results, particularly when you’re starting off with an empty shell, daunted by the possibilities and wondering how to give a space its soul. “Broadly, you’re bringing people together, because they’re experts at what they do, in order to find that middle ground,” says the interior architect. It’s this collaboration that can allow us to really work out what we want, and how to achieve it within budget.

Let people create the story
While he’s happy to discuss the stories wrapped up in furniture design, Assaad is keen to point out that the stories of the objects are just one piece of the equation.

“I mean, I have three gorgeous kids,” he says. “When I walk in the door they’re there and I’m home. It’s how we interact with our interiors alongside the people that we live with that creates what a home is. It’s not all about the furniture, and it’s often that human element that’s overlooked.”

“What we’re doing isn’t world changing,” he says, smiling. “We’re helping people enjoy living and enjoy their homes.”

It sounds simple, but anyone who’s started with an empty shell or newly rented apartment knows it can get complicated, fast. Next time you’re trying to figure out how to make a space work, remember to start with the simple questions.

This article is presented by Kalex.