03 Jul 2015

Perfecting your dream interior finish

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When it comes to designing your home, interiors shouldn’t be an afterthought. The choice of furniture, layout of the room, preferred colour palette and accessories can all dramatically transform not only the feel of a home, but also its functionality. Aaron Andrews, Creative Director of homeware specialist The Gifted Few, provides insight into making the right interior design decisions.

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When people first embark on a self-build project, they understandably put a lot of time and effort into getting the building and construction plans right. How big? How many rooms? What materials? While these are of course important factors to consider, often people don’t think about the decor and interior style of their home until the building work is nearly complete.

So, when it comes to interiors, what should you be considering from the outset? And how can you tap into current trends to create a look that won’t date overnight, reflects your personal taste and is adaptable to evolve with your changing lifestyle?

Prioritise your budget

Budget is always going to be a limitation in a self-build project, so it’s important to prioritise what you spend your money on. Furniture is unsurprisingly one of the biggest outlays, and a decent sofa for the living room and comfortable bed and mattress for the main bedroom are always worth spending money on. You are likely to have an idea of the sort of lifestyle you want your dream home to provide. Perhaps you want to regularly entertain guests or have the whole family round for Sunday lunch or special occasions, in which case investing in a good quality dining table and chairs which will last for years could be a wise move. Or, maybe you work from home a lot, therefore need clever storage and a comfortable area to work in.

If your lifestyle is likely to change over the years – for example if you’ve got young children – don’t spend too much money on furniture and accessories for rooms that are going to need regular updating. Take children’s bedrooms; from toddler to teenager, their needs and personal tastes are going to change a lot over the years. Whether it’s the type of bed they need, the design of wallpaper they want or how much space is required for playing or studying, factor the upcoming costs into your budget and ensure the space is flexible enough to accommodate these changes.

Tapping into trends

There are lots of interiors blogs, online resources and magazines for you to find inspiration. There are a couple of trends I recommend as a good starting point, as they are unlikely to date too much, are practical and can be updated easily.

The first is the industrial trend. Think pendant lights, large and practical workspaces or dining tables, stainless steel surfaces – great for kitchens – and a neutral colour palette. There are lots of great examples of loft and warehouse conversions that go all out with this look, but you can pick or choose one or two key features that fit your lifestyle. The beauty of this look is that it works well alongside other styles, such as vintage or bohemian, so if you want to update it in a year or two with different accessories or home furnishings, it can be easily and cheaply done. What’s more, because the colours tend to be fairly neutral, you can introduce one or two other tones to create a contrast. Opt for either subtle pastels or bright neons for a bold statement.

Secondly, mid-century furniture is very popular at the moment – and rightly so. Think about classic chairs such as those designed by Eames, which were incredibly innovative at the time and have set the benchmark for future furniture makers – such items will always look timeless. Always look for reputable manufacturers and retailers when researching classic mid-century designs – there are a lot of imitation products out there, but only a handful of companies licenced to produce and sell the genuine articles.

Colour by numbers

Thankfully we’re no longer in an era where the ‘go-to’ hue for wall paint is magnolia. There are several ‘safe’ shades that have been popular for a while now and show no signs of disappearing any time soon; white – fresher and makes more of an impact that magnolia or cream, olive greens and soft greys are three to look out for in particular. People are getting a bit braver with their paint choices too, with very dark greys, midnight blues and aubergine appearing on the walls of more and more homes.

Don’t be scared of such strong tones – they won’t necessarily make your room feel smaller or darker if used in the right way. Think about where the natural light is coming from in the room and choose one or two statement walls. Art in lighter and brighter tones, as well as mirrors, can break up the darkness and create an interesting contrast too.

There are lots of different brands of paint on the market. The more expensive ones can be worth the money, as they offer better quality in terms of pigment, reflecting light and giving the desired finish. That’s not to say the more affordable brands shouldn’t be considered though – especially if you think you’re going to want to change the colour of your walls regularly – as their quality has improved considerably over the years and will continue to do so as the manufacturers invest more in research and development.

Wallpaper is also having a bit of a renaissance at the moment. There are some brilliant designs out there and as with paint, there are brands available to suit all budgets. If you’re doing the decorating yourself, don’t be intimidated by putting up wallpaper – it’s surprisingly straightforward, and there are lots of useful tutorials on YouTube if you need a helping hand.

Have fun and go with your heart

It’s worth remembering you’re creating your dream house and if you have any grand ideas of how you want a room to look or you’ve spotted a bold trend that you love, then go with it. Whether you want a dressing room with flamingo wallpaper and accessories, or a master bedroom kitted out with stag heads and taxidermy, have fun and follow your heart.

While it is advisable to invest in some furniture and home accessories that will stand the test of time, one of the best things about interiors is that they can be updated easily. Paint or wallpaper, soft furnishing such as cushions and accessories like lighting can all be fairly quickly and cheaply changed to update your look.

When creating your home for life, you’ll want to invest some time and money in getting the basic feel and layout of your interiors right. Ultimately though, the best interior styles will be those that are flexible enough to be updated as your home situation changes and your personal tastes evolve.

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