Interior Design Advice

Interior design advice for the home, including all aspects of the planning process from the function and size of the room, colour schemes, lighting, textures and patterns, window treatments to furniture.

 

Before you start making changes to your home take the time to put pen to paper and make notes of your thoughts and plans, this will ensure your end result is one you are happy with. A well planned project reduces the risk of unnecessary spending and potential disappointment.

During the planning process consider the following:

  • Your personal likes and dislikes
  • Simplicity
  • The function of the room
  • The size of the room
  • Colour schemes
  • Scale and proportions
  • Lighting
  • Texture & patterns
  • Window Treatments
  • Furniture

 

Personal Taste


A plethora of design ideas will come through many avenues such as the media, family, friends and neighbours, this can be overwhelming when trying to decide how to design your home and while these influences can sway your choices in a positive way it is also important to put value on your individual personal taste as a design that is an expression of yourself will mean you are more likely to be happy with the end result.

 

Keeping It Simple

 

Keep your room design simple as a cluttered room with two many focal points will give the impression of disorder and chaos. Decide on one focal point, this could be a mirror, painting, sculpture, fireplace, feature wall, view or stunning piece of furniture.

 

Function of the Room

 
Deciding how a room will be decorated will depend on the purpose of the room, who will be using it and the amount of space and lighting there is available. Common areas such as family rooms will require furniture and surfaces that are functional, robust and hard wearing.

 

Size of the Room


Dark colours will make a room appear smaller. Light, bright colours will make a room appear larger.
Keep small rooms organised and clutter free and use smaller pieces of furniture to give a sense of balance and proportion. Hanging a wall mirror can also be used effectively in small rooms to give the illusion of more space.

Large rooms can be made to look smaller by painting high ceilings in a darker colour than the walls and by filling the room with solid pieces of furniture.

 

Choosing Colours

 

Unless you are completely changing everything within the room start by considering the colours that are there already.

Colour has a great influence on our feelings and moods and plays an important role in creating atmosphere. During the planning process collect samples in the form of colour cards, wallpaper, pictures and fabrics in the colours you are planning on using, this will allow you to coordinate your colour preferences and add contrast to the room.

Consider the following when determining your colour scheme:

  • Value – colours are grouped into dark, medium and light and each group is referred to as the colours value. As a general rule colour values are distributed in the room with the darkest value at our feet, the medium value at eye level and the lightest value at height. Too many dark colours in one area of a room can make a room look uneven so you will need to consider the value of the colours you are using and where in the room they will be placed to create balance.
  • Balance – For an average sized space a balanced room can be achieved by sticking to the rule of 60-30-10 meaning that 60% of the room will be painted or filled with a medium colour, 30% will be painted or filled with strong, dark colours and 10% of the room will be made up of lighter colours. These percentages will be altered however if you are decorating a small space as dark colours will make a small space feel cluttered. The percentages for small areas will be 60% lighter colours, 30% medium colours and 10% dark colours.
  • Textures – when painting a textured surface such as a brick wall use lighter shades of colour as textured surfaces naturally appear darker due to the scattered light they reflect.
  • Accents – these are colours used in small amounts to accentuate and complement a room. Accent colours are a great way to incorporate your favourite bold colours into your design that would otherwise be too intense to use as a main colour. Accents can come in the form of paint or wallpaper but could also be in the form of an object such as a piece of art, cushion or ornamental piece.
  • Atmosphere – use colour to set the mood of a room. Tints of blues, greens and violets will make a room feel cooler and create a calming atmosphere. Tints of red, warm browns and red-violets will make a room feel warmer creating a cosy atmosphere.
  • Time of day – Acquire and hang the largest piece of wall paper sample or paint a large area of your wall in your planned colour and view it at different times of the day so you can see how the different lights affect your colour at different times of the day.

 

Scale & Proportions


A harmonious environment is created by the size of the objects placed within it and their relation to each other.

During your decorating process pay attention to how objects you place within the room relate to both the size of the room and to each other. For example do not put small delicate side tables against a large solid lounge suite as this will look unbalanced.

When placing objects within the room take care that their heights and sizes are evenly distributed around the room and are in proportion to the structure they are placed upon. You would not put all the heavy furniture and items on one side of the room as this would make the room look uneven instead you would distribute the furniture around the room and create balance by strategically placing any items evenly according to their heights and sizes. If you place an item on one side table place another item of a similar size on the other side table to create a harmonious environment.

Remember large objects will make a room look smaller so choose furniture accordingly

 

Lighting


The purpose and function of the room and the existing natural light will determine the type of lighting that you require. Lighting creates atmosphere and defines a space.

Using intense artificial light will encourage energy and is suitable for areas of work or activity such as a kitchen or bathroom. Subdued lighting will create a relaxing environment and is best suited to living rooms and bedrooms.  

Small rooms can be made to feel larger by adding bright lights, also make the most of any natural light and avoid blocking it with furnishings.

A dark room that feels gloomy and depressing can be made to feel warm and welcoming by adding areas of warm light.

Lamps can effectively be used to provide lighting to a room. A benefit of lamps is they can be used to create different effects depending on the height of the lamp and type of shades used whether it is for the purpose of general lighting or to throw light in an upward, downward or sideways direction.  

Spotlights are a great way of adding atmosphere to a room while at the same time providing general light. Different effects can be created by using different types of bulbs.

Hanging lights will provide a room with plenty of general light but they do tend to cast shadows so this will need to be taken into consideration depending on the rooms purpose.

 

Texture and Patterns

 
Textures and patterns are a great way of adding contrast and character to a room but once again keep it simple. Only use one large scale pattern in a room as multiple patterns will create confusion. Large patterns should be kept for carpets, walls or other large surfaces where their design can be appreciated.

Other considerations when using textures and patterns include:

  • Compliment rough with smooth for example a rough brick wall can be contrasted with a smooth fabric curtain.
  • Compliment matt with gloss for example use gloss window frames against a matt finished wall
  • Consider flooring textures such as carpets, vinyl and floorboards. A change in flooring can dramatically change the feel of a room.
  • Check to see if the walls are level and even and that the corners meet at right angles. If not, avoid using striped wall paper.

 

Window Treatments


Window treatments such as curtains or blinds add personality to a room as well as serving the purpose of blocking light, sound, heat and cold. A carefully chosen window treatment will emphasize and give perspective to the size and character of a room.

The choice of colour when selecting curtains or blinds will depend on the size and function of the room. Various shades of white are a popular choice for those aiming to create a fresh minimalist look that is timeless and versatile but if it is character you are trying to add use colour and texture in your curtains or blinds.

The curtains length will also change the personality of a room. Short curtains look mismatched for the window frame and should be avoided. Alternatively you may be able to lower the curtain rod to achieve the required length. Consider the following curtain lengths when planning your room design.

  • Extra long curtains – these will drape or pool on the floor and are best suited to elegant, romantic rooms
  • Floor length curtains – curtains that just touch the floor suit formal rooms such as living rooms
  • To the sill – curtains that hang to the window sill or just below give a more practical look and are used effectively in kitchens.

 

Furniture

 
Furniture needs to be both functional and decorative. When choosing furniture pay attention to what it is made out of and how strong and durable it is. As mentioned earlier furniture needs to proportionate to the size of the room and to other furniture and items within the room.

For upholstered furniture consider strength, durability and maintenance requirements as well as aesthetic appeal and comfort.

Upholstery fabrics are rub tested to determine the durability of the fabric. Fabrics with under 15,000 rubs are used for light upholstery and decorative furniture, 20,000 – 30,000 rub fabrics are suitable for covering general purpose furniture and fabrics that have been able to withstand between 30,000 – 40,000 rubs during testing are considered very hard wearing and are great for furniture in a home or commercial environment that is well used.

In addition to rub testing upholstery fabrics as well as other furniture are also tested to meet fire safety standards through cigarette and match tests.

 

Fire safety tests on fabrics are shown as:

  • B  - (cigarette test) resistant to smouldering cigarette tested over standard foam plus 2 oz polyester wrap
  • H – (match test) match resistant
  • BM – Exempt under the Fire Regulations does not meet the fire safety standards


Don’t be afraid to mix and match combinations of different styles as long as they are coordinated and blend well they can still be used. This is often the case with sentimental furnishings and treasures that you can’t bare to part with; there is no reason why they can’t be blended with new furnishings.

 

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