10 Steps To Decorative Layers
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.”