GET THE LOOK
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
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!