Interior design advice from home decorating experts behind Dowsing & Reynolds brand

Staring at the blank walls and empty rooms of your new home, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to decorating.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 11:45 am
James and Ally Dowsing Reynolds, of the Leeds-based Dowsing & Reynolds, give their top tips on how to start adding your own personalities in your home. Photo: Bruce Rollinson

Not only do the practicalities of modern living need to be taken into consideration but the myriad of interior design trends and ‘rules’ can often leave people not knowing where to begin.

Do you opt for a modern or traditional look? Take a minimalist or maximalist approach? And most importantly, will that dream cream sofa withstand the mucky paws of your dog?

Such questions can make interior design seem like a daunting task as people worry about the cost of possibly making the wrong choice.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

James and Ally Dowsing-Reynolds' own home, in Far Headingley, makes use of their favourite colours to add their personalities to the space. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

However, Leeds-based home decorating experts James and Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, say there are no set rules when it comes to interior design, and it's all about how you want the room to feel.

Read More

Read More
Meet the couple behind home decor business Dowsing and Reynolds bringing a touch...

Ally said: “The main thing is to have fun and realise that there are no rules for interior design.

“I think interiors can feel quite intimidating for people because they think there's a certain way of doing things but just do what you like.

“Our homes can really affect the way that we feel. If we feel stuck in our homes because we don't know what to do with them, we end up feeling stuck in our lives.

“Thinking about how you want to feel in each room is so important.

“Do you want to feel creative in your kitchen? Do you want to feel inspired or focused in your home office? Do you want to feel cosy in your living room?

“It is worth spending a little bit of time making somewhere feel good to you.”

Adding colour

“I think the first thing to experiment with is to get some colour on the walls,” advises Ally, whose own Far Headingley home is a mixture of dark hues and pops of colour.

“In terms of colours - go into your wardrobe and have a look at the types of colours that you wear.

“Do you wear lots of dark colours, lots of blacks and navys? You might like a darker aesthetic in your house. Or do you like really bright pops of colour? In which case, add some colour to the walls, or if you're not quite that confident, add it with cushions or vases or the sofas to get that colour coming through.

“You might feel really calm with a more neutral interior if you're used to wearing lots of creams and whites.

“It's really getting to know your interior style that's key and that takes time.

“You don't get to know your interior style straight away, and the only way that you get to know it is by playing and experimenting.”

James added: “People are too precious over the paint because they're worried they'll dislike it but if you do it yourself, apart from the hassle of painting, it is simple to change. You can always just paint over.”

Power of plants

James is a big believer in the power of plants, particularly for renters. He said: “Rental houses can be really hard [to decorate] because you can't change that much.

“I would suggest having lots of foliage to bring in that colour.

“There was a study in the 90s called about 'sick building syndrome' which found that having plants in the office had a hugely positive impact on the psychology of workers.

“Having plenty of plants in the house will make you happier - it's scientifically proven.”

Ally added: “You can never have too much foliage.

“However, while I'm a big believer that, yes, real plants are brilliant, and we've got lots of real plants at Dowsing & Reynolds, but you can't always keep them alive in every corner.

“Faux foliage these days is absolutely brilliant and relatively cheap.”

The Dowsing & Reynolds showroom is located in the Victoria Quarter. Visit the online store at: