Let there be light
As humans, we crave light and space. Unfortunately, most houses in the UK don’t naturally have these elements in abundance!
If you’re planning an extension, think carefully about how you’ll pull as much light as possible into your home. Generally, what tends to happen is we increase the footprint, by elongating the house creating a darker “middle section”. This can be helped by the use of skylights, or lightwells, even central courtyards that act as sun traps.
In terms of interior lighting, it should be layered and be based on the activities that happen in the room.
In the kitchen for example, you need bright lighting that doesn’t cast too many shadows, so recessed spotlights are the best for this. Then use under cupboard lighting to brighten work areas. Lighting inside cupboards works well if you have glass fronts, and look effective if you’re highlighting glassware or china.
Then you’ll want to look at statement lighting over a peninsula or island to add another dimension to the room. If your kitchen is open plan and includes dining or living areas, you might want to consider table and floor lamps in other parts of the room too.
Consider the flow
Also known as “traffic” through the home, and one of the main reasons I never advocate starting any work to your home until you’ve lived in it for a while. This way, you can see how you move around the rooms, what spaces you use the most and where you need to increase space.
Living in and assessing your home in this way may also make you realise that you don’t need to extend, but that reconfiguring internally could give you the space and flow that you need. That could save you quite a lot of money!
Once you have the space planned out, think about the flow around furniture and how it will be impacted by window and door placements. For example, large sliding or bifold doors are really popular, but they do mean that you can’t place furniture too near them, which then impacts the rest of the room.
Too much furniture in a room seriously disrupts flow and will make the room feel cramped and awkward, too little and the room can feel cold and unwelcoming.
Clear the clutter
Clutter, or “over styling” makes a room look smaller and doesn’t create a restful scheme. I truly believe that clutter is not at all conducive to a healthy or calming living environment, and your home should always give you a sense of wellbeing.
Less is more when it comes to accessorising. You don’t need to completely fill shelves or bookcases, the items will always look better if they are given space to breathe.
Your accessorising and styling is where you can really bring personality into a room, Your travel mementos, sentimental gifts or family photos are all things you might want to display.
Look at getting cohesion through your collections. For example, if you’re displaying photos, are they all in similar frames? Are they all black and white or colour, rather than a mix of the two?
Odd numbers generally look better in a display, so groupings of three and five objects will work well.. Also, remember that your eyes scan from left to right so using height on the left of a display generally looks better than on the right. However, rules are meant be broken, always just use them as a guide and have some fun with it!
Look at windows
Windows, and how to dress them need to be a consideration when making design decisions about your home. Architects have a horrible fondness for designing windows that are really hard to cover! Apex and arch windows are two that spring to mind straight away!
These are quite awkward shapes to fit into or around, so they can be expensive compared to standard windows. It’s certainly worth considering the kind of treatment you want to go for with a supplier, to see what’s possible and what you’d be happy with, before you sign off the designs with the architect.
There’s lots of choice out there, be it blinds, curtains or shutters and each has its place. Shutters are very popular, and look great from the outside of your home too, but they don’t provide any texture or softness to a room, so you may find that you want curtains too,
There are lots of different blind options on the market, and it very much depends on the kind of look you want. Roman blinds give a much softer look and are a great alternative to curtains, whereas Venetian blinds are similar to shutters, but much less expensive and can be pulled up and out of the way of the window easily.
Forecast the Trends
I don’t believe in slavishly following trends, but if you’re investing in your home, I’ll make the assumption that you’d like it to look stylish and up to date for as long as possible.
Interior trends don’t move as quickly as fashion anyway but remember your home is a reflection of you, not a showhome. It should have personality and make you happy, as well as functioning well.
Like fashion, there are a lot of interior styles to choose from. You just need to pick the one that talks to you, and make it your own. Are you eclectic in your taste? Do you like lots of riotous colour and patterns, or are you drawn to more minimal, restful schemes with the use of neutrals and texture?
Once you’re happy with your “background” furniture and furnishings, you can accessorise. This is where it’s easiest to keep your home up to date. For example, a new table lamp, a rug, some cushions and a few vases can transform a room from dated to stylish very quickly.
If you look over Pinterest and Instagram, you’ll pick up very quickly what the trends of the moment are, and then you can decide if, how and where you’re going to incorporate them into your home.
Have fun with it! Your home should spark joy, so go with what makes you happy.