A breath taking interior like The Glasshouse stems from careful planning. Interior Design: Nina May Interiors I Architecture: Urban Future I Photography: Nicole England
As an interior architect, I often get asked by clients, friends and family how they can improve the overall look and feel of their space. Although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to interior design, they want to know my tips and simple design tricks. They have the ‘fundamentals’ in place, but their rooms don’t feel quite complete.
Over the next few months I’m going to unlock some simple design tricks to enable you to steer your design transformation in the right direction. If you enjoy the interior design process and want to embark on a project yourself, you’re in the right place! Without even realising it, you’ve probably seen these simple design tricks used over and over. Now I’m going to break them down for you.
INTERIOR DESIGN TRICK #1: PLAN YOUR SPACE
As they say – a goal without a plan is just a wish!
Designers plan down to the finest detail. We want to understand how you use your space now and how this may change in the future. We want to know the pieces you love, the styles you admire and how you want your home to feel? We take measurements of every aspect of your space so that we can ensure that each piece selected is the perfect proportion and scale. We assess your budget and look at your existing pieces carefully to ensure that any new items compliment or contrast with them and create balance and harmony.
Design is the art of purposeful planning. Interior Design is the art of making those plans come to life in your space.
ASSESS YOUR SPACE
My first step to plan your space is to assess how it functions and how the elements could be manipulated to better fit the users. Ask yourself what you need in your space? Determine how you move through the space? Would a different layout improve functionality? Are there any deficiencies with the current space?
A deficiency could be glare on a television screen, multiple uses that conflict each other, lack of storage, sofas against glass walls and so on. Could you simplify the space? Sometimes removing an item allows the entire room to breathe. Once you understand how the space should function you can create a vision for the atmosphere and mood you would like to create.
Design is not just what it looks like. Design is how it works.
CREATE A MOOD BOARD
As a designer, I was taught to take inspiration from the world around me and then to create something new and unique out of it. You probably won’t identify with just one style, but you can take elements you love from different styles and projects and combine them with your own ideas, to create a space that is completely unique and you.
Look to magazines, television shows (the Block for instance), design blogs or Pinterest for inspiration. Use whatever medium suits you and try and put together several images or a mood board that captures the feel you love. Think about colour, texture and lighting to add interest. Take photographs of your existing pieces that you want to keep and any existing finishes you will retain (carpet and curtains for instance). Include them as part of your mood board too. See how the new pieces complement the existing (or not). Review your ideas for practicality and suitability for your lifestyle and space. There is no point falling in love with claw foot baths and spacious resort style bathrooms if you have a tiny space to work with.
The secret is not to try and do everything – review the images you’ve collated and identify the strongest themes. Think about your space, your priorities, the functionality and the cost of your ideas. Ultimately, simplifying your ideas will help you to achieve consistency in your overall style. The mood board will give you a great visual of how your pieces will fit together before you purchase anything.
GET A TAPE MEASURE
If you can, get yourself some scaled drawings and a tape measure. Set out every single item to go in your space. Drawings can tell you everything you need to know about how a space will function. Use them to define your circulation space and conversation nooks, to determine the perfect size of furniture, rugs or artwork and the best location for it – to plan your space. Shopping armed with drawings and ideal measurements will ensure you make no mistakes with proportion and scale.
If you struggle to read plans, get some painters tape and mark out potential furniture pieces on the floor. This will give you a feel for how the new pieces will interact with what is already there and will help you determine if the sizes are right.
There is nothing worse than a space that just feels ‘wrong’. It could be a small space cramped by oversized furniture or the opposite – a large space with undersized furniture that appears awkward and tiny. It could be a tiny piece of art on a large blank wall or a rug that isn’t the correct size (always go bigger when buying a rug!)
Now is the time to make a list of every single item you think you need or want to include in your space. Think carefully about each item and start assigning dollar figures. I like to list all of the items into a spreadsheet with a total budget at the bottom. Once you have a budget you’re happy with and know exactly what you want – you can finally go shopping.
Before you order anything, check that you can actually fit your new furniture in the front door or lift of your home or apartment (oh yes, this problem is far more common than you might think:).
I want you to love everything you bring into your home and to select each piece intentionally so that the overall feel is one of harmony and balance. Plan out the details and you can’t go wrong! The more you shop with intention, the less regrets you’ll have.