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How To Draw A Golden Rectangle (For interior designers and architects)

In my last blog post, we went through what the golden ratio (or as I’m using here Golden rectangle) is and why it is important to a designer. This week, I will show you how to draw one for yourself.

Firstly, you will need a few bits and pieces for drawing (or drafting):

  • Set square
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Drafting pen
  • Paper (& tracing paper if you prefer)
Step 1

The first step is to draw a square. It is really important to get the square to be perfectly square or else you will have problems later. If you don’t know how to do that, just try to measure from each edge of your page (assuming you are using a fresh, straight piece of paper!)

One thing I like to do is to extend the lines farther out so that I can use them as guidelines for the rest of the exercise, (see all of my working out liens underneath my tracing paper?)

STEP 1

Step 2

Once you have your square drawn, measure and mark the centre of the bottom line of the square. This gives you the point at which you will draw your arc from.

STEP 2

Step 3

Adjust your compass so that it meets the top right edge of your square from the centre-point line that we measured in step 2. Now draw an arc all the way down past 90 degrees so that you definitely cross the horizontal lines.

STEP 3

Step 4

Now you can see the relationship between your rectangle and square. Pretty right? So now all we do is draw the lines to extend your square into a rectangle using the extension we just worked out and voila!

STEP 4

Step 5

Here it is, your perfectly proportioned rectangle that is in harmony with nature and all things beautiful. I like to draw it on tracing paper so that it is more usable, although I also work heavily with Photoshop these days, so I just have a copy saved as a layer so that I can use it as a guide when I am designing.

STEP 5

Now you can create beautiful interiors, architecture, presentations, spaces, websites, logos and graphics that are in perfect harmony!

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The Composition Rule For Designers

The Golden Ratio What is it and why is it important to a designer?

At the moment I am mentoring my first round of amazing interior designers who are setting up their businesses. I realized when I was writing this section of my program, I needed to go deeper, but it was also an opportunity to give my blog readers a bit of a lesson on proportion and composition.

What my aim is to help us as “non-academics” in architecture to understand something quite fascinating that is actually very relevant to our lives. As many of us seek beauty in either the work we do or the things we create there are a few secrets that the ancient designers knew about that have been forgotten or are unknown to many a modern designer, which could help in creating well-proportioned spaces, designs and buildings.

The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians had knowledge of a mathematical equation which is visible in nature (sunflowers, shells and pineapples to name just a few), and they used this mathematical equation to create perfectly harmonious structures, paintings and art.

If you ever read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code then you would have heard of the Fibonacci sequence (a number sequence which adds the two before it 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21 and on). This is closely related to the Golden Mean although Fibonacci didn’t know it if you divided the numbers that make up the Fibonacci sequence they also oscillate around phi or the Golden Ratio.

For the geeky of you who want to know just a little more, the golden ratio is equal to approximately 1.618 (or the Greek letter phi – not to be confused with pi). So very simply, the golden ration (or golden mean or Golden Section) is a mathematically worked out rule of harmony. But for us as humans, it is easily understood by figuring out what the most harmonious and beautiful rectangle looks like (thanks Jo for totally destroying the mystery).

This is why it is important to designers, photographers and architects or anyone in a creative industry because it gives you a rule of thumb for creating beautiful pages, compositions, designs and in my case, fenestration which is in harmony with the other parts of a building.

So here it is (the purple outline):

The Golden Ratio

You can see it here, this is the perfect rectangle. Great huh? Pleasing to your eyes much?

It isn’t that relevant looking at it on the screen like this so I went for a walk through London and took a few photos of some classically proportioned buildings to demonstrate this example for you.  We will work out how to create it next time, but for now, let’s just see how it is used in these buildings to create pleasing harmony.

Perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

 

So what are you looking at here?  I just superimposed our perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio) onto this lovely London Regency style terrace to see if it had been designed with the golden ration and yep, there it is, sure enough, this designer knew how to create some pretty proportions.

Again perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

I just played around with the proportions and tested how it could relate to other parts of the buildings.

 

The small parts are related to the whole composition

 

And as you can see the relationships are pretty unmistakable, which means that the proportions of this building were designed around knowing this pretty cool composition rule. Even to those of you who don’t love these terraces (do you exist?) At least you can see that they were thought out in a way that made sense mathematically and subconsciously as they are inextricably linked to nature and our daily lives.

 

As you see nothing has been left to chance

 

In my next blog post, I will show you how to create a perfect rectangle, so that you know how to use it yourself.

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The Skills You Need To Be A Freelance Interior Designer

A couple of years ago I was invited to a local school to talk to students about their careers. I was astounded at the reasons why people wanted to go into a certain career and I couldn’t believe the misconceptions and preconceptions some had about what skills were required and the ways to qualification for interior designers, building technicians and architecture students.

For clarity, here in the UK you do not need a formal education in interior design to become an interior designer.  There are many skills that are required and lots of experience, but these are not things that should hold you back from pursuing a career if it is something that you want to do.  My advice is to find the right teacher and start getting as much experience as possible.

Across my career, I have mentored and taught interior design, architecture and construction detailing to colleagues, workmates, students and assistants.  In my opinion, the only other important thing required other than a great teacher and experience are the following personality traits:

Problem Solving Skills & Creativity

These are probably the most important skills because they not only relate to every project (there is always a point on a project where you need to be creative and sort out a way to provide a solution to a problem), but creative expression has to be a passion for you, or else it will exhaust you.

Good Design Knowledge & Intelligent Flexibility

Knowing when to give up on an idea but still being able to make something intrinsic to a design work, is a key skill to anyone in a creative field.

Your initial ideas need to withstand physical alterations or value engineering by a builder or client. This is where I see many a designer turn to blaming others for the failure of a “great idea”.

You need to be able to see the opportunity to better your design when something gets in the way, not just give up and blame someone because they inhibited your project from succeeding. Being flexible but also having the skill base to support your decision is really important to success as a freelance interior designer.

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Excellent Communicator & A People Person

This relates to anyone running a business but is even more important in a service based industry where you are translating peoples desires into reality. Your clients will be revealing many of their lifestyle choices to you and you need to be mature and intelligent enough to deal with all situations that arise either with your clients, suppliers and other consultants including builders.

Communicating ideas and speaking clearly about your project are absolutely critical to your success as a freelance interior designer.

Organization and Management Skills

You are your own boss, so it makes sense that you need to run your own business. You will need to organize your invoices, client communication, taxes, furniture and fitting suppliers, builders etc. You will be in contact with lots of people on a daily basis on any one project, so it will be important that your digital and hard filing are completely in order.

Losing information or misplacing things is simply not an option.

Tenacity and Motivation

There is a reason why some interior designers become successful and others don’t and I do believe it has more to do with tenacity and motivation than any other skill. You don’t have to be the best to be the best. You just have to put your hand up and be ready to take an opportunity when it is presented to you and don’t give up when things get hard and don’t be afraid to take on a project that seems a bit of a push. Get help if you need it, don’t give up.

Want to know what it is like to be an interior designer?  You might like my blog post called My Life As An Online Interior Designer

To Style Or Not To Style – Interior Styling

Styling is definitely not something I learned in architecture school! For many an architect or designer, it would have been seen as a failure if you had to add a vase or mirror to the space to make it feel the way you wanted it to feel. The ultimate goal would have been to make the property feel right with my architectural language – structure, solid / void, light, shadow, material, texture, abstraction… rather than populating it with “stuff”.

Although the dictionary meaning suggests that styling is just arranging things in a particular way, I like to describe it as setting the mood for a space.

The reality is that styling is a very useful tool that helps us imagine how to use a room. I remember my brother saying to me that he wishes he was as creative as I was. I never really understood that he wasn’t creative and still don’t believe that he isn’t, I just think sometimes his imagination isn’t easily triggered. I use styling to help trigger that imagination in a space by using architectural language and styling to create a story or mood that inspires someone’s imagination to enjoy a space.

The main ways I use styling in my life and business are:

  • To help developers and builders sell newly built homes when they are empty.
  • I help buyers of newly built homes create their requested mood in their homes once the empty house is bought.
  • For real-estate agents and landlords, I style a space so that potential renters or home buyers imagine how to use a space.
  • For my clients, I style a 3D or sketch to help them feel how they can use a space I am creating for them.
  • At home for my husband, guests or just for myself, I style my rooms to make the space feel the way I want it to feel either for a party or just for us to accentuate how lovely the morning, space or evening is.

In one of the architectural offices I worked in, interior designers were looked down on and they were seen as “pillow puffers”. At the time I was working on high rise, new build apartments and the work was particularly technical, in that the common thought about the spaces was just units, figures, numbers, areas, not what I saw – spaces for living a life in.

In their minds the planning department and the developer decided how many windows there had to be in a room, it wasn’t guided by how the space was used.

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It shocked me that there was so little love for the thousands of homes being built for happy new homeowners trying to create a life and saving for what was most probably their first home. I have struggled to decorate some newly built properties as there often is no soul or connection from the structure to the interior. Even in architecture school, I was taught to explore the relationship between the inside and outside or even Mies Van der Rohe’s basics of “form follows function”… but I love what I do and I realise creating homes, houses, properties, buildings is my dream.

So styling can help you when the other architectural elements aren’t working or it can help you adjust a mood in a space.  You can use styling to enhance particular features of a room or to help someone’s see what you can see in a space.  Sometimes you can use styling as a picture frame – to frame an idea, to tell a story or to show off a piece of art.

More and more often I see builders or developers altering properties or arranging spaces or positioning windows and doors without a care for the person’s life in it. With such a disconnect between the end user and the “designer” no wonder styling has become more and more a part of my work. I have to try really hard sometimes to make a space feel like a home, imagine someone like my brother who hasn’t trained that imagination muscle? Soon you’ll need more than two degrees just to furnish a home to function in the right way – or you could just start styling.

How To Solve A Zoning Issue At Home

Zoning issues arise from the way we use our homes. It could be that you bought a home that was in the right area but the house itself never really worked for your family. It can happen if your family grows and changes and your home cannot be altered to deal with those changes (I.e. you rent the property and can’t add or remove walls or extend).

Being limited by the layout of a home that doesn’t work for your family is where zoning issues really arise. One home could be a perfect fit for the lifestyle of one family but may be totally wrong for another family. It is also interesting in the way that more often than not, I see the families blaming lack of storage or the size of the house as the main issue.

The reality is that your lifestyle can be altered for better or worse by the layout of your house. Take a person who struggles to go upstairs and give him or her a large open plan, ground floor without many obstructions where they can easily go into each space. Now put that same person in a 5 story, narrow, terrace house with a limited or largely terraced garden and the same person becomes hugely limited in how much of the home he or she can experience freely, mixing up private and public zones by way of necessity.

Another example is if you work from home and have people in and out all day, but are limited by those people having to enter the house a particular way whilst also not being able to alter the property due to it being rented or shared with others. Arguments arise over items left in areas that are visible to guests (public zone) and tidiness becomes a much bigger issue.

The Victorians were masters at public/private zoning. They had sculleries, hidden hallways, secondary stairs, all for back of house duties that could be hidden from daily view. When we design hotels and commercial or stadium buildings, we also create back of house areas hidden from public view where other duties can be performed without the disruption of other tasks.

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Our desire for open plan living is influenced by the modernist movement, but those original layouts and homes were exceptionally well thought out and when analysed, still had very specific and clear public and private zones or separation by way of screens or circulation.

So how do you live happily in a zone-less house or a house where your public and private zones are all muddled up? It is more a creative and design process that is required, but if you want to give it a go on your own, here is a place to start:

  1. Think about the most important daily functions required of each space. For example, a living room may also be an entry hall, study space for children as well as a relaxation space in the evenings for parents as well as where guests are invited.
  2. Work out which functions aren’t working the best or which cause the most arguments. If we use the same space above work out if it’s the lack of a functional entry hall which is causing lots of items to be left in the living room or whether the location of a TV and the only comfortable chair for relaxing are in the same room and yet one person needs quiet and another likes to watch TV really loud.
  3. Once you identify some functions, habits and possibly practical issues about how you are using the space, think about how to relocate some of those functions to other areas (such as a quiet, comfortable reading space).
  4. The next step is to think about the practical requirements of each space. An entry hall is very important in a home and yet, at least here in England many homes are too small for an entrance hall or the walls have been removed to create an open plan living space, removing the separation between those zones. Try some creative storage ideas or separate with a screen or piece of furniture that can act as a “dumping” ground for when entering the house.
  5. Finally look again at the main problem space and try to filter out the final issues. Can you rearrange the furniture to create some privacy or perhaps make the space more social. Could you child’s desk also double as a lovely shelving unit for other display or personal items?

Give it a go. You might have to try the process a few times, but don’t give up, as your quality of life will change, you just have to have a good look at how you are using the space!

Here is a fun exercise for you:

Identify an item in your home that doesn’t have a specific place to be or live, it could be a hat, blanket, anything that you use but hasn’t got a real home. Watch it over 2 weeks to see where it moves to.  How much energy did it take to find it and how much energy did it take to think about where it was if it was in a different location each time?

 

Kitchen Design Basics

I have worked on over 400 kitchens, either alongside a kitchen designer or just designing them for client’s (or bosses) and I always stick to the design rules I was taught.  So, when it came to designing my own kitchen, I kept going around in circles, balancing my budget, style and functionality and getting no-where. My husband saved me from my own design rules and said: “we’re putting the fridge on the other wall and removing the kitchen table, period”.

I cringed at the thought of my kitchen not functioning with a perfect work triangle and had to think about it (for a few weeks). I gave in because he was totally right. I had fallen into a trap with my kitchen designs that didn’t allow me to think freely first, practically second and I always led with practicality first.

I suppose that has come from my love of kitchens, but also my requirement to always provide the most “appropriate” solution for my clients that was not only functional but beautiful.

My husband just said “I want the fridge there”, that’s it, he didn’t consider that it was on the other side of the bar to the sink. When I questioned how I was going to cook, he said, it’s even better, you can lay stuff out on the bench rather than keeping the fridge door open with your foot…

So here are the kitchen design basics I work to 99% of the time:

Measure The Space (Exactly)

When it comes to joinery, work to millimetre precision (I remember learning that from a joiner I worked with and I had just been working on lots of old crooked buildings thinking “are you mad”? He was completely right. Even in an old crooked building, work to millimetre precision. That entails measuring the distances multiple times up the walls (to check if your walls are straight – lucky you if they are).

Dream A Bit

Installing a new kitchen is probably one of the most expensive alterations the average person does in their property, so definitely consider it as a special place, even if you don’t like to cook or eat out a lot. I love designing kitchen areas in my projects! I really love imagining myself using each kitchen and really consider the absolute best scenario for each occasion. Think about the things you always wanted and think about budget later (boo). Starting off your design with a practical hat on will give you an uninspiring kitchen (always), so at least in the beginning, go and have some fun and check some inspirational images to get some cool ideas and motivate you to love the space a little more.

Function & Socialising

I put these together because they are both equally important to my clients these days. Gone are the days where you cook on your own in a separate room. Yes there needs to be an option for closing the room off (or else consider noisy distractions and excellent extraction / ventilation), but ultimately, we want to monitor children, have the TV on in the background or be part of a conversation (at least once a week) while we cook in our kitchens and those times really matter.

Think about the location of the main items sink, stove, oven, fridge and preparation areas and how you move around them (I always work to the work triangle – except in my own kitchen!) I LOVE to cook, so I just imagine myself cooking the biggest meal possible in every kitchen and if it can handle that situation at a time when I’m also wanting to socialise, then I know that she’ll be right mate.

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Storage

I always seem to be battled on this one. You always NEED more storage than you expect in a kitchen. If you are building a kitchen that is for a family, or for someone who likes to cook (moi), you NEED storage space, pantry space, space to put things that can’t be stacked on top of each other because it will ruin the coating kind of space. As I get older (waaah) I also can’t lift really heavy pans as easily as I used to, so not having to faff about lifting other heavy pans off of the ones I need to use is not only practical, it keeps the pain out cooking. Always add more space than you think you need.

Style

Consider the flow of your house and style of your kitchen.  The one thing that makes me cringe every time with kitchens is getting the “style” wrong.  Know what date your home was built, putting a glossy Art Deco style kitchen into a country cottage (or visa versa) just looks as though you don’t know what you are doing (or you made a mistake).  Consider the context of your kitchen, in your home and as a whole.  If you have a modern home, you have more flexibility with style, but again, a cutsie country cottage style kitchen in your high-rise might be a bit kitsch, so look around at the materials such as your windows and walls to guide your decisions.

Budget & Extras

That gorgeous hot water tap and exceptional door style ARE going to cost more, so, more often than not, you will have to weigh up your options. If you just have to have that SubZero fridge, but its out of budget, why not try an alternative company that can also make up two separate fridge freezer columns or find a way of building in an American style fridge / freezer to give you the “same” (ok its not the same it’s kind of similar) feel.

Investing In Your Home & Ending Up Lonely

From the day my brother brought home his first Asterix comic, I was absolutely hooked on them. Although I loved the stories and humour, what stopped me in my tracks (every time) and would make me dream for days were the little pictures of everyone’s houses!

A picture like the one above would have me dreaming about how the cottage or home was made, where it was situated, what it would look like inside and how I would have furnished it myself! I would put the book down cover my eyes so it would be dark and dream for hours!

For as long as I can remember my heart sung when I saw cottages, quaint houses, historical buildings and even building sites. I was just fascinated with buildings, towns, villages and also maps of cities.

It hurt, therefore when the other day I was listening to an interview with Danielle La Porte (Facebook Live with Emily Williams) and she slammed “someone she knew” for saving for a timber floor rather than going on a holiday. She went on to say that, that person would end up lonely! I struggled a lot with the morality of my industry and it started long ago when I remember being stranded on a boat on the Hawkesbury River with a grassroots lobbyist telling me how architecture is only for the rich!

To this day, I search for meaning in what I do and I wonder every day how bringing so much joy to the people that I work with could be wrong, especially when my heart sings when I’m in the midst of creation.

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Something popped into my head this week when I was on my way to see a client. I thought to myself how could it be wrong if the spaces I create help other miracles happen or bring even one person joy? Not simply because it is a possession, but because of the idea and the ability to see or appreciate art (even if that art is the sunlight streaming through your favourite window).  Not everyone sees that kind of beauty or appreciates it, that is true, but to poo poo it as though it was not only the wrong thing to do but also it would leave you lonely cut me deep in my heart.

Picasso and many other artists moved to stunning little towns and villages along the French Riviera such as Juan-Les-Pins (you can still find lots of amazing, high quality and well-priced art in these towns) because they found these places inspiring. It was the mix of nature, the cobbled streets, the hills and mountains and the sea which created beautiful colours all year round.

I definitely have come across some shallow and thoughtless people in the art, interiors, architecture and the building industry, but I cannot see how creativity and self-expression, mixed with a sincere desire to create beauty (even if just in your home) can leave you lonely!

If you would like to read my post about a free way of travelling to inspiring places, you can read that post here.

Your Home. What’s It All About?

I found myself designing a large space the other day. I didn’t have control over the architecture, only the interiors and it had very little in terms of architecture to work with. Large flat square open spaces that had to be filled with life fit for a family to create their lives in and to call their dream home. What I found myself asking is “What is it all about?”

What I meant by that was “What is this space going to be about”? We can create gorgeous spaces for any reason, but this will be a family home. I had to think about how people will live in it, how they will use the spaces, imagine a family gathering on the weekend for lunch or on a weekday morning for breakfast. Where would I want to be? Where would be my favourite place if it was me?

I have also recently started demolishing my kitchen (YAY!) and I found myself thinking the same thing, what’s it all about? Where do I start with my dream kitchen in this home? (I believe that pretty much everything is site specific – that’s my second-year archi lecturer right there Elizabeth Musgrave, I’m still in love with her!) I find designing for myself the hardest because I seem to always break all of my own rules and things end up taking longer and there’s too much trial and error! But I realized that the kitchen is the brightest part of the house and that is why I want to love it so much. I can’t wait to knock down that badly installed partition with the door that doesn’t close and get new windows that have thinner frames so that as much light can come into our relatively dark English home.

Some houses have a view that is so spectacular its pretty obvious what idea you are going to run with when designing the spaces, but what if there really isn’t that much that is truly special about a space? Its up to you to create the something special. And that is true creation.

Working with a site’s existing qualities such as the sun, view, or orientation is how I was taught to start the design process for any new building. It was called site analysis. (It’s a pity the developer who built our 16-year-old home here in Berkshire hadn’t been taught the same). That means, most buildings are at least sited properly to take advantage of the natural environmental qualities. In the two situations above, I didn’t have control over that, so I had to create an idea or maximize the effect of a failed one. So we know in my home I am going to try and get the most out of the little bit of direct sunlight we get in that room, but what about the new build where I was working on the interior?

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My thoughts rested on the kitchen/dining space which was actually too large with too many doorways to be truly gorgeous and functional at the same time. What if there weren’t 40 doors into this kitchen? What if the space was slightly smaller to accommodate a feeling of togetherness rather than a large empty hallway?

You see this was a 5 bedroom home for a family. Families have “stuff”, useful and annoying but they need space to put it. I have worked with the most amazing large families with literally no stuff. They are a very rare breed of human. The family who will live in this house will most probably need to put their “stuff” somewhere and that comes down to me and what I decide at this very early stage. So I used the opportunity in providing storage to define the spaces a little more. This made some spaces smaller, but also more functional, (no one needs to walk 25 steps from the oven to the fridge, seriously). By the end, I managed to create a happy balance between the empty large hall (kitchen) and functional, habitable rooms, but it needed an idea to close up the space, which isn’t something I would have naturally considered. So stay true to your idea as it is a clue to how to improve or create a great space.  In the large family home the spaces were too large and impractical, so my idea was to use something practical to define the space and make it useful as well as beautiful and in my home I thought about why I liked that space (even though its all peach pastiche) and I realised it was the light.  “Get your idea and run with it”  That’s Elizabeth once again (circa 2002).

The Easiest Way To Save Money On Your Renovation or Building Project

So you have decided to make some changes to your home or have decided to build a new one. How exciting! You are probably reading everything you can to find about renovating projects or watching loads of TV shows or reading lots of magazines to get ideas. That’s actually a pretty good idea. Getting clear on what you actually want is the easiest way to save money on your renovation or building project!

If you didn’t hire a designer or opted for the cheaper alternative at the beginning (DIY or technician) or even worse, letting your builder deal with the design and detailing, you might be up for some nasty surprises when you fit your final bill at the end of your building project (if you get that far).

As you can imagine builders have their own agenda (nothing against builders here) they just aren’t designers and they just want to get on with the job and finish it to the best of their ability and make a pretty decent profit on the job and have a happy customer. There is nothing wrong with that. Where many innocent renovators come into problems is when they start asking their builder to do something different than what was agreed at the beginning (all that time ago when you showed him that picture).

Not everyone can visualize what your project will look like. Visualization is like a muscle and many clients are only just starting to use that muscle when they embark on their first building or renovation project. What you want to avoid happening is to start making decisions and rearranging things when the builder is on site. (“oh just move that wall by 10cm to the left and we could fit a bigger shower”).

Testing ideas with a designer and playing around on a drawing, might cost you a couple of hundred pounds before the project gets on site. Testing ideas in reality when your project is on site can cost you thousands.

This is because the builder has a program that he is working to. He also worked this out, before he started setting up his men or started digging those holes. He knew how much your project would cost based on the information you, your designer, architect or technician gave him when you agreed a price. His men or subcontractors are being paid either per hour or per job depending on what was agreed. There is a contingency sum allowed for in your contract (there should be!) but don’t be fooled, this isn’t for you to make changes. There are so many unknown site conditions and so many things can affect your building project (like the cost of metal or oil), that you will want to keep this sum for just that – the unknown. Any design changes (even “little ones”) might push back other jobs (electricians have to wait for the plaster to dry which should have been completed according to the schedule and now you are paying them to just stand around).

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Most builders are also pretty booked up, so your changes could quite possibly be causing them delays on other projects.

So as nice a guy as your builder is, he will charge you for the work and rightfully so. Moving walls or adding drainage in the wrong order on a building site is a right faff! So taking the time to get the design right, before you get on site is worth its weight in gold.

A good designer or architect should go out of their way to ensure that their client knows exactly what they are getting. Often this will require 3D drawings, detailed explanations, to-ing and frow-ing with design ideas and options and working out details to get them just right. A technician isn’t trained in design, so don’t forget if you hire a technician, don’t expect them to go out of their way to present ideas in a way a designer would. That isn’t what you hired them to do. A technician is a great choice to save money at building regulations stage if you have a very clear design already worked out or you are experienced and knowledgeable about building projects. But don’t expect a “beautifully considered and thoughtful design, because (98% of the time) you will get a bog standard extension.

There is no guarantee that working everything out before you get on site will avoid any problems or mean that things won’t need changing on site. Although a good, experienced designer or architect will ensure that many common and foreseeable issues have been dealt with and they should also ensure their client knows exactly what they are getting.

And don’t let an architect or builder treats you like an idiot. A good designer will ensure his client is informed and knows exactly what is going on. This can also help catch mistakes early or avoid mistakes altogether (the more eyes the better!) as things just can and do go wrong on building sites… like building your house back to front or in the wrong spot… oh yes, I have seen it happen.

How Your Personality Can Positively Influence Your Home

Back in Architecture school, I remember we were taught to look to our context when designing buildings. We were taught to really study the local area, the environment and then the site. After that, our educated and informed ideas would flow with physical evidence that backed up our arguments for why our designs had to be just so.

When I studied interior design (many years later) I was surprised that none of this was considered important to my teachers. It seemed more about fashions, styles and ensuring the date of my furniture was right with the age of the building. I couldn’t believe how different the approaches to design were from the outside to the inside of the building! Architecture searched to context, whilst interiors searched to fashion. Two things they both had in common though, were innovation (always on the search for new or old materials to be used in a creative or low-cost ways) and the influence of the client on the design.

There are many factors that can guide an architectural or an interior design, but the most powerful is the client’s personality.

Now having worked in the architectural industry for almost 20 years, I see how powerfully it expresses itself throughout a whole project. I see both architectural and interior design projects being influenced by:

The Client’s Values

One client might value family, another their homes simple function, whilst another will value their health. Designing with a large family in mind is very different to designing for an art collector or someone who likes to come home and simply relax after work. These values inform the spatial design and layout of a home as well as the size of spaces.

Client Ideas

I haven’t worked with a client that didn’t have fantastic ideas. More often than not client’s will say they aren’t creative or they will downplay how imaginative they really are. I will usually find that jewel in their words and run with it! I love showing my client how cool and creative they really are! Client’s ideas make a design truly original and unique. Their ideas always inform my designs in a creative and joyful way.

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Client Lifestyle

I find this one of the most rewarding things for me to design around. I truly love creating a home for a client, which improves their life somehow. This could be by enhancing the things they love to do in life such as designing around the lifestyle of an avid cyclist who needs a place to securely store his bikes in his small home to creating a future home for an inspirational little girl with a debilitating genetic disorder to ensure she can live her life to the full.

Client Style

Every client has style! Rather than looking to current fashions and trends I will look to my client and help them reveal their style. I genuinely have an interest in people. That is why I love reading autobiographies! The hardest combination of styles I have had to marry (excuse the pun) has been my husband’s and my own! I have always wanted a classic contemporary style at home (it feels luxurious to me as its something I never had growing up), but he is a guitarist and guitar teacher who works from home. I love his guitars, I always dreamed of coming home and hearing my partner playing an instrument… but I struggled with his coloured lights, huge equipment, mountains of cables and stacks of stuff everywhere! When I finally embraced his style and worked with him to organise it all, I realized how wonderful and unique our home really was.

How many interior designers are married to guitarists anyway? And how many have embraced their partner’s music into their home rather than hide it away in that man cave in the basement (as I was tempted to do so many times)?

You can check out my husband’s online guitar lessons at GuitarCouch