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How To Furnish A New Home – Where To Start Step By Step Guide

Buying a new house is a beautiful fresh new start and is a really great time to consider starting fresh with your furniture, especially if you have been renting for years up to the point of your purchase.

But where do you start? You probably have a few pieces of furniture, a bed, lots of small bits and pieces, books, dining set perhaps and if you are in the UK, probably even less than that!

If you have a lot of furniture from another home or if you have lots of hand-me-downs that you love (this is key, why keep it if you don’t want to?), then you will need to consider these pieces and work around them, especially if they are quite large, like a sofa, chairs etc. If you plan on getting rid of them eventually, just ignore them when designing your interior and start replacing it as and when you can afford to.

So, let’s go shopping! Not quite. There is actually quite a lot to think about before you open your wallet.

Start with your site

Locate your house in the world and know some key things about where the sun rises, sets and how this impacts your home. Knowing that the sun rises in your bedroom and sets in the living area or that the living room is dark all day, is really important and although seems irrelevant to buying furniture, is actually key to how you end up using your house.

I would also include major disturbances in my little study, such as a busy road, train line, neighbours with a different lifestyle to your own (night or early morning people) – also include the best views, which time of the day your garden is the most enjoyable to you, and anything else you can think of. Imagine a weekday and a weekend of living in the home and mark where you will be in the house and what you will be doing there.

Knowing about external factors and environment will inform how you live in your home. Furnishing your home is expensive and should not be approached with the attitude of just choosing a cushion that suits a wall colour… Think about making intelligent decisions with one of your most expensive purchases to date, and making it perfect as a tool for enhancing your life.

Know Your Dimensions

Next, you must know the boundaries in your spaces. This is pretty obvious, but you can’t imagine how many time I hear someone say to me – “once I bought the sofas I realized I could have gone bigger, or smaller”. Imagine if you had just gone out and bought a super large table for entertaining in the kitchen and found out that it was too large for the space, then had to move it to another part of the house where it wasn’t really intended (assuming you didn’t return it because you “loved it so much.”

Just measure the rooms and take the plans or dimensions of the room and:

Decide on a layout

Before you find the furniture? Yes! It seems so absurd to me that you would do it the other way around, but I realise that this is actually the way most people buy furniture. Play around with ideas. In my experience, the people who test a few ideas have more chance of getting it right, than the ones that just go out an buy furniture based on what they were sold in a store!

The world of buying furniture can be very tricky, especially when your starting point is going shopping. If you have skipped the most important things you need to do before buying furniture, you are already on a path to failure… (unless you have subconsciously thought about the above things and or are super, super lucky..)

Know your style and personality

Are you super sleek and like clean lines or do you have a deep routed bohemian hidden inside? Just by acknowledging what you like, can filter out all of the unnecessary things you might spend your money on – like being subconsciously sold on a lounge suite that looks great in the showroom, but actually isn’t your style at all once you bring it home and put it in the space.

Know your style and stay confident and true to it. You can always add eclectic or complementary parts of your personality later. A pro will be able to intertwine these in a more complex way, but if you are doing it on your own, stay simple, there are loads of styles and they can be quite complex, but for now, filter the noise by figuring out if you are

  • Traditional (including vintage)
  • Modern (including mid-century, minimalist)
  • Classic
  • Industrial (including 60’s and retro)
  • Country (including coastal)
  • Contemporary (whatever is current)
  • International or cultural (Scandinavian, Japanese, Asian styles)

If you aren’t completely sure, just pick 2-3 that you are more likely to be able to live with and narrow it down once you start shopping!

Buy your large items first

If your walls are already painted and are going to stay that colour – Buy the main pieces first. This may seem obvious, but actually, many people don’t do this. That is because they aren’t ready to commit, or because they already have loads of smaller items from renting, so they keep buying little bits and filling up the space whilst not having the major items thought out.

If you haven’t painted yet, you may have to consider the room colours first, or else you may find your furniture looks brown at home, when it should look yellow! If you want to design your décor in order to help you buy furniture read my post 2 things you must do before buying furniture or choosing paint colours or this one on how to create an interior design mood board.

Get the main pieces first, and define your spaces with your furniture. Don’t be afraid to try putting a chair in a location that is unconventional – just because you want to sit there and look at the view or create boundaries to spaces with screens, tall lamps, plants or sculptures.

Look at your walls to help you define your spaces

This is important, as you can start to compliment or highlight colours, in soft furnishings, personality with art, brighten with mirrors and start to see the room coming together. Don’t forget you can contrast, highlight, light up, blend in – get creative and don’t forget this should be fun!

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The complimentary pieces

I put rugs, coffee tables, lamps, flowers, candles, decorative items, vignettes (small displays – if you have a large display this should be thought about in in your layout), cushions etc, into this pile. These should bring the room together and make it feel just right rather than cluttered or too bare.

The finishing touches

What could be the finishing touch? Your personality! I can believe that no one that I work with (except for the boldest and most confident people who would classify themselves as such) really allow their personality to speak around them.

Your personality is so intrinsic to how you feel inside your homes. I can’t believe how many people actually dismiss this important part. We connect with objects from our past, photographs and things give us meaning. This is not an excuse for the ultra clutterers of the world to say “hooray I can add all my things back in now because I like having them around” – this is a time to edit and filter out and really decide what things you want to see every day – have a reason for it – because it makes me smile when I see it – because the memory is so strong and beautiful it brings me so much joy remembering that time…

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Rid Of The White Elephant

Lastly – New homes can be hard to furnish, especially if you have existing furniture you are working with bought for another home with a different personality. If your old items don’t make sense in your new interior (and I know it is a very difficult decision to make especially when you spend so much money on it) – but if it really isn’t right, or if you bought an item and it just doesn’t fit, don’t fight with it. Sell it on ebay or give it to charity. Don’t think twice about it, it will waste your time and cost you more money trying to make it all right. If it is a family heirloom and you won’t get rid of it (I totally understand!) – why not highlight it and make in an artwork of some kind?

Edit

Your home will evolve with you and your life.  Add and remove pieces that make your life better, easier, more beautiful and more fun!

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Why Black Can Sometimes Feel Light and Make A Space Feel Larger

Yes, in design we usually use black to make things stand out, bring them closer visually, to create a luxury feel or to create contrast. But black should be treated differently to other dark colours, especially in an interior.

So how can you use black in an interior to make a space feel larger?

Black actually gives you the impression or feeling of more space or infinite space, but don’t be fooled other dark colours don’t do this. Having a husband who is a an online guitar teacher and full time musician, I have many a random black painted wall in my home (and have done, ever since we moved in together). So I have had a long lasting relationship with black! (I sit here writing this morning’s blog post from my bed in my unfinished / un-renovated bedroom with random black walls set up for recordings).

Lets use the combined living / dining / kitchen from the Battersea Flat as an example. In this room, if we had used any other colour, light or dark, we might have accentuated the tunnel like effect of the room. Notice that the black units of the kitchen are there, but instead of feeling overpowering, they just fade away.

It was difficult to photograph a small space, so we used a wide angle lens when taking the photos, which helps explain what I mean a little, because it gives you the feeling of the black “surface”, which kind of disappears when you are in the room.

In this instance I used high gloss black cabinets to bounce the light deeper into the space too, as it was a long narrow room that had lots of functions! The high gloss black also looked white during most of the day (say what?) Yes! The high gloss black works like a mirror, especially with direct light on it. In the area where it was close to the window, the whole window ended up being reflected again, deeper into the room, which created an even brighter space, especially during the day.

The depth that black can add is amazing. It tricks our eyes into feeling the space goes on forever and subconsciously helps you feel as though there is more space than there really is. I also find black to be really warming and calming. It is a really special “colour” to use in the home, but more than any other “colour” you will need to really consider the following when using black at home:

Texture (rough or smooth) – this will be extremely visible with black.

Finish (high gloss or matt) – this will make the end result look as though it is absorbing the space or reflecting it.

Quantity (focal point / accent or surface) – The black will fade away or draw your eye to something specific.

I have found many people feel really confident to use white at home, but I want to give you another very useful tool to add to your repertoire as I know you are interested in interiors and design. So start to test black with natural timbers, monochrome or muted colour schemes to start building your confidence to get to know black, rather than to avoid it. You really are missing out on a lot!

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The photo on the right is one of the “work-in-progress” photos that you rarely get to see as most designers won’t share them (and I have to admit I was reluctant to as well!)  But this photo really shows how black reacts in different ways.  Look at the black TV (a high gloss black) and how different it reacts to the black textured mat on the wall behind or the soft sheen, texted black on the floor.

If you want to see some black interiors that I think have been created successfully, check out my Pinterest board called “Nice dark interiors”

Space Saving Ideas For Homes

Having lived in shared accommodation for most of my life and having travelled and moved way too many times, I have so many space saving ideas that I have used and also thought about using! Here are some of the ideas that you may be able to implement in your own home to save space and make better use of it too.

Use a narrow dressing table or hall table as a desk.

I spent many a sleepless week wedged between a stool and a (very nice cherry wood) futon whilst living in Perth (some great idea I had once to move to one of the most remote parts of the world). During that semester at university, whilst I worked endlessly on my design projects and competitions, I realised that I not only gave myself RSI, but also ruined my lower back, by staying in a random position working from the floor for literally weeks on end. So, I wouldn’t be doing that anymore, but how do you fit a desk in a room smaller than a tin can? I remember when I found the solution for all of my problems! I was living in a pretty big (2.7 x 3.5m2) room in Reading, and one of my flatmates was moving out, when I noticed his desk was much thinner than mine.. it was a dressing table.  It was beautifully narrow, albeit awfully ugly. When I tactfully swapped my clunker for his narrow commode, I had made enough space not only for a desk, but there was also just enough space to do yoga in front of my desk!  In our Battersea apartment, I bought a wonderfully narrow dressing table and used it as my desk and it worked perfectly and it still does today in my home office. This idea can be transferred to breakfast tables, sofas, hallway tables. Think what piece of furniture in a tight or multi-use space could be a different shape but still function as it needs to, which allows either more space around it or another function (and double bonus if you don’t have to fork out money for it!)

Make your rooms work hard for you.

When space was really tight, I made sure almost every single room had at least 2 functions. For example, my bathroom was also a storage room with a hidden utility, my kitchen was also the dining, guest room and living space and my bedroom was my yoga space, home office, walk-in wardrobe and sleep space. If your rooms are thought out properly, you can make them work harder than just a whole room designed to be an office… that is unless of course, you have the opposite problem where you have too much space and coming up with how to fill the space seems impossible without leaving large patches of emptiness and miniature looking seating arrangements.

Be Tidy.

If you do just one thing – designate a space for certain things. Thats it. You won’t have to think about where something goes ever again and you are more likely to put it where it belongs. I also don’t mean the floor in front of the cupboard (I know people like this). I mean office stuff is always in the top drawer, glasses are always in the cupboard above the sink, bags all belong on the rack and shoes by the front door or in their boxes. Create a system that works for you and makes it easy to put things away. If for example the box for your shoes is the last one behind three others under the bed and you know it takes at least 4 minutes to access it, the likelihood of you putting it away at 1am when you are falling into bed is zero.

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Build Anything you can ‘in’.

Yes, I mean built-in wardrobes, built-in shelving, built-in kitchen cupboards build it in! I can hear the naysayers already, yes ok it saves inches, but … it saves inches. When you live in a small space, you need all the space you can get. Building it in, means that when you undoubtedly start over filling everything, it also has more chance of surviving, that’s because if its built-in, its usually more sturdy and intended to last longer. For example, book shelves. We’ve all had one, over stuffed and more crooked than Pisa. Ive never seen a built-in one fail… and in fact I’ve had to rip a few out on building projects, surprised to see that they were still going strong 50 years from the day they were installed.

Use air space and use solid space.

By air I mean ‘in the air’ and by solid I mean use the space under your existing furniture. Obvious examples are using the space above and below your bed. I designed a storage wall for my apartment because my partner has loads of cds and dvds and these fit perfectly into narrow cupboards, which when mixed with deeper cupboards can look a bit more modern. Yes I struggle with the fact that storing things under my bed is bad Feng Shui and I know most of you will think argh, its so 60’s to build cupboards around my bed, but it ultimately is how you design it. Yes it can look crap, or you can make it work for you and it can look great!

Use practical furniture.

Yes unfortunately the word practical must feature here. Lounges with built in storage that convert to beds (seriously ugly, but man how practical is that?) I decided on a bar table in our dining area and bought two stools without backs, so that when they aren’t being used we can keep them under the table. There are some really ugly practical pieces of furniture, but these days with access to the internet and online designers, there really is no excuse, well, unless its a gift, or a hand-me-down, or an heir loom… but there is usually a solution for those too.

I hope that gave you a few ideas to try.

Bedroom Before & After – With tips & Ideas to create beautiful and functional spaces

We all love a good before and after. Many big transformations can take time and are most often unbelievable or difficult to imagine. What could you imagine when looking at the above picture? What would you have created if you were asked to provide a bedroom with lots of storage, a study/home office space with book shelving and a brighten up a long room? (P.S. A wide angle lens for the after photo helps too).

Many see this room as too small, messy or dark and feel they could never make it perfect. Below are descriptions of what I did to the room to make it brighter and more functional. Keep in mind that pretty much everything inside the room went back in there except I changed the desk for a different desk and hid a lot of it in the storage (the bike got stolen within a day of locking it outside … good old London).

1. Built-in storage concealed behind large sliding doors can make a room feel bigger than it really is and save space as the doors don’t open out. Here the high gloss white doors reflect the light from the window, bouncing light around the room.

2. Framing a room can make it feel smaller, so in small spaces its best to keep open shelves to a minimum if you want to make the area feel neat. Instead I created a vertical line with the book shelving, so the room feels taller and more open, especially as previously this end of the room had a tunnel effect.

3. A designer tip is to match your sheets with one of the base or highlight colours of your room. This will make it all look as though its been thought out.

4. Track lights can be really versatile for rooms with multiple uses as you can direct them in different ways. These were the cheapest we could find and they were from IKEA (but still cost over £200!

5. Thinking ahead is really important if you plan on concealing power cables and positioning switches in convenient locations. We reconfigured the lighting in the room by removing the ill placed pendant at the end of the room and positioned the track lights along one wall. We also added lighting above the artworks which doubled as bedside / reading lights.

6. Try integrating minor colours into adjacent rooms to give a natural sense of flow between spaces.


7. Open bookshelves can look really messy, but if you have a lot of books, try containing it to one area and play with organizing them in interesting ways. The open shelving here was set back to make the darker / heavier area with the bookshelves appear less heavy. Looking back now, I could have styled the books better before I took the photo – but you can see it here, fully loaded and very used!

8. Reflective surfaces close to windows can act like mirrors. Light colours help to reflect and make a room feel larger – (but don’t be fooled – high gloss dark colours can also make a room feel larger – just not brighter).

9. Ensure there is enough room for your spaces to function properly. A room can be beautiful to look at, but success comes from getting it practical as well as beautiful.

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10.  If you aren’t confident with colour but want to use it, keep the base pallet simple and use colour in accents or decorative items.

Just because you want a room to be beautiful AND functional doesn’t mean you have to compromise. As long as you have a clear direction and a good design to work with, your design project will almost certainly be a success. Many people think that a room project must be complete with all of the decorative items in place or else it wont feel “complete”. As long as you hold onto your vision, even if on a budget, you will be able to keep working towards your goal, working on each item at a time.

And just a few not so great photos of the completed room to prove that it is the same room!

I would love to know what you would have done differently.  Everyone’s personality, requirements and tastes are different, so if I designed the space for you, how would it have ended up?  Email me and let me know.

Why These Everyday Household Items are Ruining Your Interior Design

I have heard myself repeating these things a lot lately, so it made me realize that it’s not something many people know about!

If you are choosing items for any space including your kitchen at home – keep in mind that the following items are not “neutral” or clear – they actually have a very strong presence in a room and they have a colour that you need to take into consideration.

GLASS

The thicker glass gets, the more you see the green tinge that it naturally has. On architectural projects, I will always ensure to specify low iron glass which will be more clear rather than green. If you like the green tinge, it can work beautifully on projects, but unless you take it into consideration, it could turn your pink beige bathroom tiles a dirty looking colour when you look through the glass. In architecture and interiors, its always important to know your materials and what you are working with.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

Artificial light has colour. This is usually referred to as the temperature of the light. Think back – can you remember that old incandescent lights used to be quite yellow, fluorescents used to appear a bit blue and cheap halogens used to appear a bit pink? The colour of the light fitting you are using in your room, will change the way your paint and all other items in the room look.
You must take into consideration the light temperature when designing your project, it might look perfect in daylight, but if you use a space mainly at night but designed it to feel right during the day you might get some tears.

Light is a huge topic and one of my favourites. If you would like to learn more about artificial light and colors my free interior design course goes more into depth about it. You can learn about it by clicking here

WHITE-GOODS, CABLES & ELECTRICAL ITEMS

As Michael Jackson once said, it doesn’t matter if they are black or white – cables, TV’s Computers, fridges, washing machines – these aren’t invisible. I wouldn’t consider designing my house around their colour unless they were literally an integral part of my scheme – so most of the time I would consider hiding them. This really needs some thought before you buy furniture and especially if you are considering colours for a kitchen or living area which could possibly have loads of electrical items clashing with your scheme.

METALS

I’m talking radiators and their copper pipes, door handles, window latches, sink and bathroom tapware, floor boxes, blind pull-chords, chair and stool legs, cupboard drawer handles, down to the back plates of electrical and light sockets. Usually, a coherent scheme will take all of these into consideration as light reflects off metal and a polished brass tap will look odd when everything else in the room is brushed stainless steel.


FLOORING

Honestly, natural timber is probably the only flooring I would classify as neutral. You can make it work with pretty much any scheme. But any other flooring will have a colour. Stone, cork, tile, concrete and resins will need to be considered as a surface – so they will need to be taken into consideration. To be honest, I think the hardest ones for people to use in a scheme is usually natural stone. This is because the variances in colour and undertones of each type can be so complex that an untrained eye will struggle to make the right colour choices for a scheme. If you are a newbie and you want something that will just work – solid or engineered timber will do the trick (not laminate that looks like timber – these end up in you need to work with the surface colour pot).

All of these things can affect the overall look of a room, so it is critical to take these into consideration if you are aiming for a very specific end result. No one likes surprises – and in design, we control as much as possible so that the surprises are nice ones, not ones that lead to expensive changes and tears.

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How To Create An Interior Design Mood Board

We went through why you need a mood board a few weeks back when I wrote the post about what you need before buying furniture or choosing paint colours. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here.

Today, I will help you create a mood board for your next project. For now, just choose a room that you are thinking of redesigning or would love to redesign and work through these steps to create your own interior design mood board. Just a note, there are lots f different ways to do this. My way isn’t any better than anyone else’s its just the way I do it.

1. Imagine – Choose images that you like or that inspire you and don’t limit yourself with practicality or cost – yet.

For this first section, you just need to do a lot of looking and collecting of images, colours, furniture, fabrics anything to help you say yes, I like this and I would like to use this idea or this piece of something for inspiration. Usually, you will end up with lots of pics from magazines, or maybe you already have a collection of things that you have been saving for “one day”. Get it out now and look through the images to see if you still like them. Don’t put limits on this. Just pick everything and anything you like. I would search for at least 10 pictures, items or anything to just put into the “I like it” pile.

2. Get an Idea – Aim to have one strong and clear goal or idea.

Chose one main image that really depicts as well as possible what you are trying to do. Write ten things about that room that you like about it. Do you like the colours? Do you like the way it feels? Why? Do you like the brightness, what about the furniture, textures, patterns, style, mood, decorations, vignettes, flowers, coffee table? Write as many things that you can, the more you write and understand what you like about the room, the easier it will be to edit later on. Now describe your idea in one sentence.

3. Filter – Keep only the best.

Now think about your room or project and look through the images that you have found. Keep to one side the ones that you really love and or you feel would really work for the space. If you chose inspiration items rather than pictures like feathers or materials, keep the items with the ideas that you want to use in this space specifically.

4. Get Creative – Think of everything.

You will need to think about the colours, walls, floor, ceiling, doors, window dressings, furniture, fabrics, décor and even ironmongery. Look at the room you are sitting in now and name all of the things that are in it. Vases, types of flowers, think of everything. You may not use it, but consider everything from the type of stitching on the occasional chair to the type of pull chord on the roller blinds. Try and find an image or a real-life example of the ideas you have. I would always order samples. Go into paint, tile, wallpaper, carpet or a fabric shop and ask for some samples. Even just to get ideas for texture or colours.

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5. Get Realistic – But don’t discard the things you truly wish you could use just yet.

What could you realistically afford to use. If you really like something that is really out of your price range, keep it and see how important it is to the scheme. If it has to be there, search and search until you find something similar within your price range.

6. Edit – Stay focussed on your desired goal from step 2.

Ask yourself what will help achieve the mood or feeling of the room I am hoping to create? This can be really tough and its why many ammeters designs fail! Be strong. Only keep what is the idea for this room. You can always use that idea somewhere else (I used to get this all the time!) Go back now to your idea – does what you see coming together give you that feeling or do you feel like you are reaching your goal? Keep going removing and or adding textures,furniture and items until what you see in front of you with your materials, fabrics, ideas, furniture and inspiration reveals what your space is going to look and feel like and is being expressed in what you have chosen.

 7. Test your ideas – Imagine these things in your physical space.

Items that are to be on the walls, you need to hang on the walls! Items that you are going to purchase in terms of furniture, you need to draw them out on the floor and see if they will fit. Get samples, get as much information as you can about everything you plan on using. Test, test, test.  Pretend the furniture is there and walk around it.  Imagine something on the wall where you want it, how will it fit, what will the light do with it?

8. Make Your Decision – … Stick it Down  

But All of this would have been in vain unless you actually use your board and stick with it.  Look at the work you put into getting to this point.  If you follow this to a tea, you will realise your vision.

That is the strength and power of the interior designer’s mood board (architects use them too!) Now you have a mood board that you can trust will achieve your end goal. Let me know if this helped you?

 

The Biggest Mistake You Are Making With Your Home (and The Easiest Way To Fix It)

So here it is. I see it all the time. The homemakers, designers, professionals – everyone, unless they have a clear vision of the end result and what they want it to look like, they fail in reaching their end goal with their design.

I see this every day, working with architects, designers, clients, builders, artists and whilst giving design advice. It makes sense though, that without having a clear vision of the end result, you are kind of just playing around, which is fine if you have lots of money to spend on buying things that aren’t going to work, testing ideas and have lots of time to make those mistakes. The main reason that drawings, collaging or sketching your ideas is so important in reaching a look you want is because you are filtering while you are doing it and if you actually go one step further to define what it is that you like about a photo then you are really getting closer to understanding what it is that you really want.

So try it! It is January and you have probably already set some goals for health, family, study etc. Why not have a vision for how you would like your house to look by the end of this year? And this should be fun! Here are two exercises you can start right now to ensure your home will look exactly the way you wish it would, down to the pillowcases on the bed and the flowers in the vase.

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Steps to Make Sure Your Home Looks The Way You Want It Too.

  1. Use an online image source. I use Houzz, Pinterest, Polyvore and In the Window.  I find this the fastest (and cheapest way), but you can collage form magazines if you like too!
  2. Create a vision board for your home. If you would like a workbook on how to do this stay tuned and next week I will have one here for you. For now, go get some magazines, sing up to Pinterest or start saving images to a folder on your computer of Houses that inspire you and keep them for later. Next week I will show you the first step to filtering your ideas in order to make a vision board for your home.

The one in today’s image was an idea/vision board for my bedroom/study/dressing room/library in my London apartment.  You can see underneath I started to write what it is about the image that I liked.  Have fun with it, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the creative process.

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.