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An Interior Colour Combination That Just Works

In architectural offices I have heard really basic things like “I know how to use colour, I did go to kindergarten”. What people say and what they do however is very different, because what I see in designs all around me is the lack of confidence and knowledge to use colour successfully or in a really satisfying way.

With today’s post I just wanted to give you a few different pallets as a go-to guide, so that you can bookmark this page and come back to it when you are choosing colours for a project and dare to do something a little bit different.

So I will start with a typical Monochrome Interior.  Yes, as the name suggests we use only one varying colour. Typically we think of Scandinavian style interiors which are known for confidently using black and white with shades of grey or white on white on white or different shades of timber on white.

Let’s see what you can take away from this when it comes to colour? Whether you are drawn to this type of look or not, there is a good design lesson here! If you are considering decorating and you just want to keep the walls white or predominantly white, (like many homes here in the UK, besides developer magnolia), you can still introduce a colour scheme that is beautiful – even if your home isn’t an architectural gem. What is the end result you are looking for?

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Let’s say you are looking for a bright, Scandinavian style, which is predominantly monochrome but want some textural and natural materials. If all the whites are the same – you can use any colour of timber to highlight your space, as long as they are in the same tones. Imagine the white walls as a canvas and backdrop (check the blog image at the top as an example).

I’m only speaking about colour here, one of the reasons why this interior also works is because there is lots of texture in the white elements that creates different shades of white and grey due to the shadows, but that is for another discussion!

Lets now say that you have been living with this style of interior and want a bit of a change and would like to introduce a new element into the design. If we use the same principles of only adding one more colour or tone here is the result:

scandinavian-style-living-roomSo here, a blue-grey has been added in different shades and tones. Can you see that it still works? The success here is that large amounts of the grey/blue were added and so again, that is another discussion we can have on the percentages of colour required in a room in order for the colour to look right!

Focus Jo… I know I get a bit too excited about this stuff, so now, let’s say that this is still looking a little too monochrome for you and after living with it for a while you just want some splashes of colour.

colours-interiorsBoth dark or light tones will work! Both cold and warm tones will work!

Try adding one colour at a time and see how much of it the room can “handle” – this doesn’t vary by rules – it varies by personality. After doing this work for almost 2 decades, I know that there are different personalities and some believe that pastel pink is a bold splash of colour and others believe that a whole room painted in gold and purple stripes is a bold splash of colour. Isn’t this fun?

When is it ok to mix timber flooring colours?

When designing a space from scratch, the flooring is usually one of the last things I consider. That is because I am able to design the scheme to work seamlessly for the whole project and tie things together, add texture or add light or contrast to the overall scheme with the large surface area. So it is usually at this point that I will make the decision to mix or not to mix timber flooring colours or flooring materials.

I find it can be a little trickier to decide whether to mix timber flooring colours on smaller projects, however, as little bits and pieces here and there, (especially if only one room is getting the makeover) can look patchy, unprofessional or even worse, a bit of a mistake.

So I thought I would share some designer guidance on how I make the decision to keep or mix timber flooring colours on a project.

So this is usually what I do to decide – is it ok to mix timber flooring colours?

When is it ok?

Contrasting dual tones can look fantastic, especially when the look is deliberate. The thing I would like to emphasise here is that it needs to be deliberate in order to achieve a certain look or feel. You can get some amazing looking spaces mixing different timbers especially when you take them up the vertical surfaces or frame patterns in beautifully worked bespoke flooring. I also find that texture, pattern and colour are your friend when working with timber flooring, so use them to help achieve your desired goals.

The key is to know and understand what the consequence to the surrounding spaces will be. If for example, you plan on adding a dark floor to a space and everything around it is light, that can work, but know that the dark floored space will be special, it will draw attention to it and you will need to treat that space differently.

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If you want a dark-floored room off of a light floored room, that will also work, but ensure the transition between the rooms is deliberate and they are treated as two separate spaces and maybe consider introducing the new timber into other elements of the surrounding spaces (see an example of this in the main blog photo).

As soon as you understand the contrast and become confident in using this technique as a tool, you will start to naturally feel when mixing timbers feels like the right thing to do.

Usually, I use different coloured timber flooring to define areas in open plan spaces. You can do this with texture, levels, lighting or different materials, but using different coloured timber flooring can give you stunning results. Don’t forget that you can also paint timber floors and they look fantastic too!

mixing-timber-colours

When is it not ok to mix different coloured timber flooring?

Typically if you have tried to match an engineered, laminate or wood flooring that was laid previously and you can’t find the exact tone, type or finish, so you think – oh this is so close, no one will notice… This is when it is wrong, yes we will notice.

You might also want to reconsider mixing your timber flooring when you haven’t thought out the whole space. Step back and think will that cherry laminate really look like next to the walnut and why is the transition necessary?

If there is no reason for it and it can’t be justified with a design aesthetic or a deliberate design intention, then perhaps it is time to think a little bit deeper about the end result or get some pro advice.

Some styles of interior actually look really great with mismatched timbers and or different types of timber in the same spaces. Have a read about the following design aesthetics if you are considering mixing flooring or timbers in your home: modern, industrial, shabby chic, oriental, alpine and rustic styles.

 

Quick Tips To Age A Building

When I travelled to the UK and Europe as an architectural student, I was drawn to the old buildings and the beautiful streets. I just fell in love with the old look and feel of the buildings and thought that everything around me had been there for hundreds of years.

It actually took me a few years to start noticing the subtle differences in older buildings and the new buildings that were built to look old and it wasn’t until I really started working on historic buildings that I noticed the subtleties and clues that give away their age. There are lots of reasons you might design a building to look old, for example, if it is within the curtilage of a listed building or planning stipulated specific requirements in that area, but that is for another discussion…

So for those of you who at first glance think that all the buildings are old, here are a few tricks and tips to start checking the age of a building:

The Overall Building Materials

The first place to start with are the overall building materials. Concrete was invented around the mid 1850’s and didn’t really start getting used in domestic buildings until around the 1920’s.

My favourite thing to look at are the bricks! Original bricks are usually cut by hand and irregular sizes. This gives a building a real unique look that a new building will struggle to achieve with regular spaced mortar and regular bricks.

The Windows & Doors

Most original windows & doors would have been made from lead light/metal or timber. Historic buildings usually have to replace like for like to keep the look of the building, but in some instances you see newer UPVC or aluminium windows used to replace the original windows. This is why if the windows don’t give it away at first glance, I usually try to look at some other areas of the building that might give it away.

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The Roof

This is a little bit simplistic, but you don’t need to know too much about building construction to see if a gutter is metal or not. Also most original buildings would have been built with local materials, so have a look around the building and see if the roof material is similar to the ones around it.

This is a huge topic for me, so I really tried to keep it short and not too archi or technical. It is just one of the things I geek over when I travel to little villages in England, Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia Scotland and Ireland.

See if you can spot one of these buildings and explain why you think it is new, not old.

Design, Design Is Everywhere

When I was studying architecture in Brisbane so many years ago, I was in disbelief when my lecturers would say that the architects and designers of the buildings thought about absolutely everything – to the last detail.  It makes sense to me now, because I know how complicated the process or theory behind something really simple can be (it doesn’t mean that it always is though!) and how much time and thought usually goes in to making very deliberate decisions to reach a desired end goal.

This is why I am so passionate about design!  I love finding beauty in everyday things.  In my creepy video, I hope  I have been able to show the drama and delight created by the designer for something so beautiful and simple as a grave.

I think for me, that is why more historic buildings and streets bring me so much joy – because there were so many hidden secrets and surprises – such as a gargoyle that was particularly scary or a fountain with a comfortable seat, tucked just off a busy street.

I find myself searching for these gifts from designers in everything from a gorgeous dinner set to a beautiful door.  The gift is in a designed piece and if you can find it, see it, feel it and appreciate it  – then you have found the gift from the designer.

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Design really is around us and it is in every day things, some items are better designed than others and not every style is for everyone.  So my point for todays post is to start looking for these design gifts.  See where an artist, architect, designer, landscaper, sculptor or artisan has gone out of their way to create something special for you.

Look out for the surprise and delight that everyday things can have – in fairness not everything has been totally designed (or even thought out), but see if you can tell the difference and find the gifts from the designer.  You will know when you start to find them.

Have fun and share your experiences with me.