The shape and architectural
structure of a room is obviously important in interior design. But often, what really makes a room
come to life are the details. We can’t always change the architecture, but we
can always improve the objects that we put in a room.
Too few details
and a room may feel barren and too minimalist, but a collection of random
details won’t work either, no matter how luxurious. Details – from cushions to
lamps and artworks to coasters – need to be in harmony with each other. But too
harmonious and it can feel bland; there’s always a happy balance to be found.
Here are seven interior design detail starting
points for making a room interesting and successful.
1 Where is the focus of my room?
A room needs a focus, otherwise it can feel jumbled. Creating a feature wall with an interesting wallpaper or accent colour can really change the focus of a room. When I enter a new room, I tend to know straight away where the focus should be. If a feature wall isn’t the right solution, the focus can be directed with the carefully orchestrated use of a standout mirror. Alternatively, a large signature artwork could be the focus, or a statement item of furniture. I try to avoid the classic sitting room layout where a big TV becomes the focus.
2 Does the lighting create a pleasing ambience?
Lighting is critical in every single space in a house from hallway nooks to kitchen work areas. Simply adding lights and lamps in the right places, and placing furniture in situations where they gain from natural light will drastically alter the feel of any space. I often use subtle accent lighting around artworks or within the cubby holes of shelving, to add drama and draw the eye.
3 Does my kitchen kit feel and look good?
It’s surprisingly easy to forget detail in a kitchen. We all want luxury cabinets and sleek worktops. But many people just stick with the same old crockery, cutlery, glasses and tableware they’ve always had. These are the items we use all the time and ones most seen by our guests, so, arguably they should require the most careful consideration.
I like the use
of statement large bowls or glassware to add interest in a kitchen or dining
room. I’m not a fan of spaces where absolutely everything must be hidden away.
This was part of the reason I set up the Posh Trading Company, which specialises in luxury tablemats and coasters. I was travelling in Vietnam and feeling inspired by the deep oriental reds, rich golds and silvers, and had a flash of inspiration to incorporate this colouring into high-end tableware. A little research revealed a gap in the market. The sets are in shades of gold, silver, rose gold, dark stormy sky, taupe, or bespoke finishes. I’ve also deliberately designed them to come in matboxes – attractive storage boxes in the same material as the tablemats and coasters. These look good sitting on a dining table or sideboard and become a feature of a dining room or dining kitchen as they don’t need to be put away in a cupboard.
4 Do the colours work together?
A palette of colours for your room doesn’t mean an insipid collection of beiges. There are levels of interest in different areas of colour – from the walls to the floor and furnishings. Then, of course areas of stronger colour and pattern can be picked up in the interior design detailing of luxury cushions, a rug, a vase and ornaments placed carefully around the room.
5 What do my knick-knacks add to the space?
One of my favourite things is putting together interesting knick-knacks for a room. These are the things that reveal our personality. In our holiday home in Aldeburgh, I have a collection of clocks that I love adding to when I visit antique or interior shops. Coffee table books are a great addition to any room, too. Everyone loves to flick through a collection of photography or art. A room should always reflect its owner in some way.
Even hotel interior design will reflect the ethos of the hotel owner or company with its art, colours and choice of what’s in a room. For one hotel this may mean hipster books and photography, for a traditional country house hotel, the style of detail may mean historic books of maps perhaps, or antiques.
6 Why plan before adding interior design detail to a room?
I’ve occasionally come across down-sizers who have commissioned a wonderful new home for themselves, but then want to bring in all their current furniture – usually from a much larger house. This never works, sadly. Interior design detail really has to match the style of the home. In more modern houses, there tends to be less need for bulky furniture, and bringing it in distorts the scale. I find in these cases that a selection of things can work – art and ornaments, perhaps. Sitting down with the client and planning which interior design details will work makes the end result more successful, in terms of the harmony of each room and the flow of the whole house.
7 Don’t forget about smell!
Finally, don’t forget your fifth sense. It’s important to consider all the senses with interior design. Sight is an obvious one, touch involves thinking about how fabrics and objects feel, sound means testing whether or not the room suffers from distracting noise from anywhere – for example from a washing machine, TV or gaming device, as well as the careful placement of speakers. Taste is less relevant but is closely linked to smell. Aroma can deeply affect how we feel in a space, so do add a diffuser or scented candle. But don’t go for anything too overpowering. Like overly brash colour schemes, too strong a scent can upset the senses rather than soothe them!