Interior design can be challenging - it requires knowledge and skill to create a positive living space and design professionals are perfectly positioned to provide advice and assistance. But the creation of a space which has a wonderful energy and is warm, happy and inviting is also a reflection of the personalities of its occupants. Following a few key tips on effective interior design for the main rooms of your home will ensure that you get the inside of your home looking great.
A kitchen is the heart of your home and is required to fulfill a myriad of functions. It needs to be functional and practical and utilize materials and equipment which are easy to use and easy to clean. There needs to be ample storage and the type of storage in a given position needs to be matched to the utensils which will be stored in that position eg. drawers for saucepans need to be positioned near the hotplate, drawers for crockery need to be positioned near the serving bench and cutlery needs to be positioned near the dishwasher with glasses near the fridge and mugs near the kettle. The positioning of hinges is important too. Fridges and pantries need to open out to face food preparation areas. All of these elements have a significant impact on the efficacy of the kitchen and a good architect will ensure that your kitchen is a triumph of form and function.
But interior design is also an integral element of a good kitchen because a kitchen is so much more than an area in which food is prepared. The humble kitchen bench is possibly the most social area in your house – the place where family and friends congregate. It is also the place where you are likely to have some of the best conversations with your kids when they arrive home from school and talk about their day while eating their afternoon snack. It can also be where bills are paid, where homework is done and where the newspapers are read with a mug of coffee. So the space needs to be not only functional and practical but as stylish as your living room. This is especially so in open plan areas.
A great start is lighting. When food is being prepared, lighting in a kitchen should be bright and directed to the key food preparation areas. Once the meal has been served at either the kitchen bench or the dining table, the kitchen lighting should be capable of being dimmed so that the functional elements of the kitchen such as the oven, hotplate, fridge and dishwasher disappear. This will link the kitchen bench to the living area, making the living area seem bigger and adding to its ambience rather than turning off the lights in the kitchen and having a dark area in the house with nothing to contribute to the mood.
Another important component is colour. It is wise to start with a neutral palate – you’ll have your kitchen for a long time so start with a colour palate which is timeless and then add colourful pieces for display such as mugs, vases and bowls. These items are inexpensive and can be changed with your mood. Each time you change a feature colour you’ll create a whole new feel for your kitchen.
Living Room or Family Room Design
The living room or family room is the space which you can really have fun designing. But again, it is wise to start with a neutral palate and then add your splashes of colour. This is the room in which one of the most expensive items of furniture is housed – your sofa. If you purchase a white, tan, brown, charcoal or black sofa it should never date. You can then add cushions in a texture and colour which you love to create the mood of the room. Because cushion covers are relatively inexpensive, you can even have a number of options and change them to suit your mood. Why not cover your cushions in a fabulously textured olive green velvet for winter and a gorgeous yellow and white floral cotton for summer? If you really do fall in love with a riotous fabric for your sofa, at least make sure that you select a style of sofa which is timeless – you can always re-upholster later to totally change the look and feel of the sofa and the room.
Rugs can also have a huge impact on a room. Select a plain rug if either your sofa or your cushions are patterned. If your sofa and cushions are plain, have some fun with your rug but try not to spend too much on it as this is another item which can be replaced when you feel like a change to transform the look and feel of your room. Make sure that you think about the best size for your rug. Many people buy rugs which are too small – they don’t have the desired effect. Think about whether you want your sofa to sit on the rug either in whole or in part or whether you want the rug positioned in front of the sofa. Because the size of rugs is so deceptive in big showrooms, sticky tape butchers paper together and try it out in your living or family room to arrive at the desired size before making your purchase.
Artwork and ornaments are uniquely personal and have a profound impact on a room. It is perfectly acceptable to design an entire room around an amazing painting or sculpture. Similarly, it you have a much loved ornament, why not select your cushion covers to match it?
Finally, muted lighting in a living or family room is paramount and can be achieved with dimmer switches, lamps and candles.
Bathrooms, like kitchens, are pragmatic spaces which need to be well lit and easy to clean. But they also need to reflect your personal style as much as any other room in the house, especially powder rooms for guests and ensuites to master bedrooms.
Again, start with a neutral palate and add splashes of colour. The bathroom is home to the most affordable of accessories – the humble towel. There are so many beautiful towels on the market so select one or two styles which you love and rotate them. Towels are so affordable there is no excuse to horde the old ones – make it a habit to replace your towels every other year and donate the old ones to charity.
If you have a very old bathroom, don’t despair – clean it to within an inch of its life and transform it by changing the sink, bath and shower fixtures.
Paint in bathrooms takes a knocking so applying a fresh coat of paint can have a big impact. Select a low sheen acrylic paint with superior anti-mould protection. This will ensure that it can withstand the hot, steamy conditions of the bathroom.
Bedrooms should truly reflect the personalities and styles of the occupants. Adult bedrooms should be sanctuaries – spaces which induce relaxation and a restful sleep. Clutter should be avoided generally but it is especially important to avoid clutter in a bedroom as this will act as a stimulant.
Kids’ bedrooms are a little different – they are more than just areas for relaxation and sleep – they also present an opportunity for each child to contribute his or her personality and style to the home. If you have a child that loves football, let him or her embrace that theme in the bedroom. If your child loves fairies, let that be the theme of the bedroom. You will empower your children by letting them make this personal and important contribution to the home. The secret is to ensure that the themes are achieved in a cost effective manner because the styles of children evolve as they develop. Feature walls combined with ornaments are great for achieving themes in kids’ rooms. You don’t need a bed head shaped like goal posts – the wall behind the bed head can be painted in a given club colour and finished with a framed poster of a favourite footballer. A fairy room will come to life with a purple wall, some orange organza curtains and a fairy light.
Your garden is an integral part of your living environment. The interior of your home will benefit enormously from a cohesive relationship with the garden. A lush perspective from the rooms of a house into the garden is uplifting so ensure that you give your garden as much attention as the rooms of your home. Make sure that you maintain lawns and plants in optimum condition. A good landscape designer will help you make lawn and plant selections which will thrive in the conditions. Then try to introduce outdoor furnishings and ornaments which complement those in the house. For example, an outdoor area off the living room will look fantastic if you introduce an outdoor setting with cushions which match the colour scheme of the cushions on the sofa. Outside your child’s fairy room, why not hang a purple crystal from the branch of a tree?
And finally, keep everything clean and free of clutter – it does have a real impact on health and wellbeing to live in a space which you love and which looks loved.