Four interior designers offer tips on what makes a successful room, what they wish their clients would embrace and why it’s not just about a ‘look’.
I have held onto the following comments that were made by interior decorator Sally Sirkin Lewis about working with her client Joni Mitchell for years as I think what she says sums up my approach to interior design. “Mrs Lewis, too, dislikes the ‘decorated’ look. All those fashion tricks. A house isn’t a series of tricks,” she remarks, “it’s a reflection of a person – the essence of the one who lives there. The designer is responsible for interpreting personality. I don’t believe in creating monuments for myself or my ego. Everything in design comes down to two people: the designer and the resident. That’s all. It’s so simple, and many designers complicate things with rules. You know, every lamp must be the same height, and every side table must be 24 inches high. Well, I say, where is it written? Forget the games. Let’s get down to basics and honesty.”
A home must be welcoming, functional and not pretentious. Accessorising is important as is the use of colour: cushions, art or artistic objects can change the feel of a room. I encourage clients to buy the basics and then ‘splash out’ on a few ‘star pieces’: furniture, rugs or art. Sometimes these pieces can be costly but I make sure they are functional for the spaces and are timelessly ‘elegant’; better still they can be used again and again! ‘Quality remains long after the price is forgotten.’
I like to take time to get to know my clients; to get a feel for what is going to make them comfortable while at the same time bring them something new that will make them feel inspired and excited by their project. I have found that every client has a strong idea of where they would like the design to lead them and my role is to help develop this and to flesh out their own sense of style. It is important that clients develop the confidence to express their particular style. When they move into their new home it should instantly feel like an extension of who they are – a blend of where they have come from mixed with where they are headed. A result of my textile background is that I am very moved by texture. I find my designs always lean towards the natural; the organic – leather, fibre, timber, stone, steel all used in their most raw and natural form. This is not to say that these products cannot be used in a sophisticated way; rather that their inherent personality is not lost in doing so. I believe that this approach can be applied to both traditional and contemporary styling and I guess my favourite look could be described as “organic urban industrial takes on tradition!”
Natalie Du Bois
Du Bois Design
Simple lines, easy to clean and a neutral colour scheme would be what I hear most when receiving a brief from a new client. It seems so many people are scared of colour and try to play it safe. This is understandable as kitchen spaces can be quite costly. We need to make sure we don’t make any mistakes, but introducing colour can be one of the most powerful ways of making a space seem extraordinary and pleasantly memorable. What can happen by taking the safe option is that your kitchen can look mass produced, dull and unexciting. A great way to give your space a point of difference is to add a bold colour into a section or part of it which could be easily transformed in the future if you tire of it or want a change. It could be the sink or cooking splashback area, or behind a kitchen island or peninsula. Various materials could be used from glass, tiles or paint, which all can be changed quite easily without too much drama. You could even decide to lacquer some of the cabinets in another tone or colour, which means if you choose to change it in the future you only have to spray a few cabinets and the overall look and feel achieved will be totally different.