HOME STYLE With Chris Read Ever fin­ished a home re- style and thought: ‘ not quite right?’ here are some tips to help you achieve per­fec­tion P

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ulling to­gether the look is one of the as­pects of good in­te­rior de­sign that is of­ten ig­nored, yet get this right and it can set you en route to a great space. It’s about defin­ing the tone and feel of a space and sits high in the hi­er­ar­chy of de­sign goals, but not right at the top.

There sits the prac­ti­cal is­sue of be­ing clear on the pur­pose of your space – what does it need to do for you. That in­forms the big ques­tions of what goes in the space, lay­out, light­ing and bud­get ( how im­por­tant it is and how of­ten you use it give it a rel­a­tive im­por­tance in your spend­ing).

Then comes style, which is an­other way of say­ing ‘ get the look’. Get­ting things to work to­gether in the key prin­ci­pal of good de­sign, rather than just putting to­gether a num­ber of nice things. This means work­ing your scheme with ev­ery­thing at once, which can sound daunt­ing, but if you have a clear idea of the look you are go­ing for, this will help enor­mously.

Think about it as cre­at­ing a story, mak­ing it all hang to­gether. If you’re read­ing Agatha Christie, a Pa­tri­cia Corn­well char­ac­ter would stand out like a sore thumb. There are three ques­tions to an­swer be­fore div­ing in, and in this order:

So, if you are keep­ing, for ex­am­ple, a mid- cen­tury style set of ta­ble and chairs in your din­ing room, this will be key to set the style for the room – even if it’s not your favourite and you live in an Ed­war­dian ter­race!

Of course, scale mat­ters here – if you are keep­ing only a side ta­ble, that doesn’t need to de­fine the style, it can be sec­ondary to your likes and dis­likes. If you have two large items that pull in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, such as a shabby chic painted dress­ing ta­ble and a con­tem­po­rary oak wardrobe, you may need to de­cide which is kept and which moved or sold and work out which your favourite is.

Although ar­chi­tec­ture is im­por­tant and it is ba­si­cally a good har­mo­nious thing to work with the style of your home, it can put too big a re­stric­tion on your style and cre­ativ­ity, and in the end be a bit bor­ing. So, bear the ar­chi­tec­tural style in mind but don’t be hide- bound by it.

These best way to il­lus­trate this is ‘ show and tell’ – I seem to be get­ting more school ma’am- ish, for which I apol­o­gise! But here are some dif­fer­ent styles from var­i­ous in­te­ri­ors com­pa­nies.

They are all very aware that they are sell­ing a life­style rather than just a prod­uct, so they make sure that they place their things in ap­pro­pri­ate set­tings.

The ones here are some that have done it par­tic­u­larly well in my view.

Firstly comes an easy one to de­fine – the in­dus­trial look, shown in this won­der­fully grungy vi­gnette. You can see all the main el­e­ments here – metal, es­pe­cially pati­nated and worn, raw fin­ishes, util­i­tar­ian pieces, like the lamp.

Se­cond up comes an­other dis­tinc­tive look, the clas­sic tra­di­tional English style, shown by an an­tique oak dresser base per­fectly matched with old etch­ings. The lack of colour high­lights the beau­ti­ful wood.

Then comes a strong, dis­tinc­tive Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh bath­room – his stylised flow­ers be­ing recog­nis­able any­where, bal­anced by the Art Deco style tiles and bath­room fit­tings.

A sleek Sev­en­ties sit­ting room is de­fined by the space in­spired light fit­ting and low sofa – though I do de­tect a hint of a tint of a Ja­panese in­flu­ence go­ing on here too. Ike­bana any­one? Last comes this sleek con­tem­po­rary clas­sic din­ing room in pale pink. This one is more dif­fi­cult to de­fine, which makes it more com­plex to achieve, but work at it, and the greater com­plex­ity will give you a more nu­anced and so­phis­ti­cated re­sult.

So, here, the din­ing chairs are very tra­di­tional in shape, but the colour and pat­tern on the back are both con­tem­po­rary. There are gold chan­de­liers, an­other clas­sic look, but the but­ter­fly mo­tif again is much more mod­ern in feel, and the light­ness of the over­all ap­pear­ance of the lights adds to this.

The art­work is semi ab­stract and mod­ern, the cur­tains plain and sim­ple and the rug al­most rus­tic, bal­anced with the sump­tu­ous vel­vet seats and op­u­lent lights. This is one to study!

If this all feels a bit rule bound and rigid, of course you can break the rules, but, as al­ways, it helps you to do so grace­fully and ap­pro­pri­ately if you know and thor­oughly un­der­stand the rules in the first place. I of­ten have clients telling me they think in­te­rior de­sign skills are a ta­lent, a gift and I have to point out in all hon­esty that of course that helps, but that there are many as­pects that can be eas­ily learned.

So, if you do want to mix and match your look, one re­ally easy way to break the rules is to use just one main colour. Colour is the great­est uni­fier there is, and will over­ride dif­fer­ent styles. I hope you have fun try­ing out these ideas – and if not, I’m al­ways here to help!

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