10 Steps To Dec­o­ra­tive Lay­ers

Australian House & Garden - - Contents - STORY Natalie Wal­ton | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Thomas Dal­hoff

In­te­rior de­signer Brett Mickan walks us through the process of dec­o­rat­ing his own home.

The op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a home from scratch was too tempt­ing for Syd­ney in­te­rior de­signer Brett Mickan. When he and Nick English, his part­ner in life and busi­ness, viewed the ware­house re­build more than a year ago, they were ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties. “Syd­ney is a dif­fi­cult mar­ket in which to find an in­ner-city prop­erty with so much square me­treage,” says Brett. “And the fact it was in a state raw enough to al­low me to cre­ate an in­te­rior with­out de­mo­li­tion or con­struc­tion was ir­re­sistible.”

The prop­erty was one of eight ter­races be­ing built on the site of a fab­ric ware­house. With three storeys fea­tur­ing three bed­rooms and two bath­rooms, it had a great floor plan but was non­de­script, so Brett was able to stamp it with his style.

“I strive to make my in­te­ri­ors a con­ver­sa­tion about the in­hab­i­tants,” says Brett. “As though you have gath­ered all your favourite things, put them all to­gether and some­how they all sit com­fort­ably. How­ever, this is no ac­ci­dent; it is through a con­sid­ered bal­ance of colour, tex­ture and scale, then an in­jec­tion of art and ac­ces­sories all de­signed to ma­nip­u­late the eye to vi­gnettes and rooms within rooms.” Brett also likes to in­clude vin­tage pieces in spa­ces, as they add lay­ers to a home’s story.

With 20 years in the busi­ness, Brett’s in­sights into cre­at­ing a per­sonal, lay­ered in­te­rior are gold. Read on... Brett Mickan In­te­rior De­sign, En­more, NSW; (02) 9550 2706 or www.bmid.com.au.

1 FOR­MA­TIVE LAY­ERS

The first step to cre­at­ing a room is to con­sider its func­tion. Brett fol­lows this up with an ap­pro­pri­ate fur­ni­ture plan catering to how the room will be used, then makes ad­just­ments based on traf­fic flow. Fur­ni­ture, up­hol­stery, fin­ishes and light­ing come next, fol­lowed by art and ac­ces­sories. “Colour is never far from my thoughts,” he says. Achiev­ing a bal­ance be­tween colour, tex­ture, shape and scale is cru­cial to a suc­cess­ful re­sult.

2 COLOUR CON­NEC­TION

The way spa­ces re­late to each other is im­por­tant when choos­ing colour schemes. Brett’s se­lec­tion for the liv­ing room was in­flu­enced by its con­nec­tion to the kitchen (see page 42).

“As the kitchen has large ar­eas of grey, the walls and win­dow treat­ment in the liv­ing room of­fer large ar­eas of grey,” he says. Like­wise, the warm tones of the floor, rug and sofa coun­ter­bal­ance the brass fin­ish on the kitchen is­land.

3 HOW TO MIX PAT­TERNS

One of the strik­ing fea­tures of Brett’s in­te­ri­ors projects is his knack for cre­at­ing har­mony from a range of seem­ingly dis­parate pat­terns. “To suc­cess­fully mix all this colour and pat­tern, you be­gin with a bal­ance of large blocks of sim­i­lar tones,” he says. “You can then in­tro­duce any ac­cents you like as long as yyou bal­ance the colour and tex­ture around the space.” Here, the pat­tern of the car­pet and sofa and the ad­ja­cent kitchen’skitche gran­ite bench­tops all re­late to each other.

4 BOX SO­LU­TIONS

Be­cause the kitchen is vis­i­ble from the liv­ing room, Brett de­signed it to be sculp­tural as well as func­tional. It was part of the orig­i­nal shell of the build­ing and there were wa­ter pipes on the wall op­po­site the is­land bench. Brett’s so­lu­tion was to box them in and build an is­land to match the width. “By in­stalling cus­tom metal shelv­ing I trans­formed a li­a­bil­ity into an in­te­gral part of the de­sign,” he says. Also, cre­at­ing bal­ance was key: “The neg­a­tive space be­tween the art is vi­tal to cre­ate the sep­a­ra­tion of zones and to en­sure an un­clut­tered re­sult.”

5 BLEND­ING SPA­CES

While the kitchen seems sim­pler in de­sign than the rest of the house, each el­e­ment has been well con­sid­ered. The wall of cab­i­nets was fin­ished in 30 per cent con­crete – a sim­i­lar tone to the wall – to help them re­cede into the room and cre­ate the il­lu­sion of space. “I achieved a sim­ple sym­me­try by us­ing floor-to­ceil­ing cab­i­nets and no filler pieces, just shadow lines,” he says. A splash­back on the is­land means sink and kitchen clut­ter is hid­den, yet the workspace is still nicely con­nected to the liv­ing room.

6 MIX­ING STYLES

“My in­te­ri­ors are not about cre­at­ing a cer­tain style or a co­or­di­nated set of pieces,” says Brett. “I want them to feel like some­body threw all of their favourite things into a room and it mirac­u­lously feels co­he­sive and beau­ti­ful.” The start­ing point in this area was the Cole & Son wall­pa­per. “Toile re­minds me of din­ing rooms in grand old homes and this one also felt like draw­ings from old story books,” he says. To bal­ance the wall­pa­per he painted all the other walls in the room Du­lux Fresco Blue, mak­ing them re­cede.

7 MASTER DIS­PLAY

While this part of the home is nar­row, Brett has used art to add grav­i­tas to the space, as well as wel­come the vis­i­tor. The hall­way run­ner helps guide them into the home, too. “The vin­tage mir­ror is placed op­po­site the door to give an il­lu­sion of ex­tended space and it’s per­fect for that last hair check be­fore you leave,” he says.

8 SET­TING THE TONE

The ground-floor en­trance to Brett’s ter­race is only 1m wide, so when it came to adding dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments he had to en­sure they wouldn’t ob­struct traf­fic flow. Con­se­quently, most dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments – such as the vin­tage gold de­milune table with a peach mar­ble top – hug the wall. It’s also po­si­tioned to avoid the swing of the door. To cre­ate the il­lu­sion of space, the length of one wall was painted Du­lux Ben­gal Blue.

9 MIX­ING ERAS

Brett mixes dec­o­ra­tive items from dif­fer­ent eras. “Cre­at­ing spa­ces that show cu­rated col­lec­tions ex­presses in­di­vid­u­al­ity as well as slows down the age­ing process be­cause the mix blurs the date of in­stal­la­tion,” he says.

10 LUXE LOOK

The gue­stroom has an air of lux­ury syn­ony­mous with bou­tique ho­tels, partly due to the way Brett has dressed the bed. “To make it look ir­re­sistible, make it lay­ered and fluffy,” he says. “Feather is great for mak­ing things look like you want to sink into them. Make the bed and leave it a lit­tle open, with sheets folded back and with sim­ple cush­ion ac­cents. Thirty cush­ions on a bed may look beau­ti­ful but they don’t give you the feel­ing you can just slip in for a quick kip.”

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