Pessimists will have you believe that design and architecture is all about trends, having money and showing off. But good design can be so much more than aesthetics. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money, it can withstand fads and last the distance. Well-thought-out design can work for you, make your home more livable, more enjoyable to be in, save you time, money and even be better than your health. Here are our thoughts on how design can positively impact your home life.
- Spaces that work for us as individuals and families are those which respond to our needs and wants. For example, a sitting room which is mostly used for entertaining guests and quiet reading or relaxing will be the most successful when the lighting, the materials, the furniture and placement allow this to happen easily. Sofas which are comfortable and relaxing (perhaps a deeper seat or feather wrapped foam cushion for instance), task lighting for reading without straining your eyes, a softer colour palette, carpet or rugs underfoot to absorb sound and smaller side tables for guests to place drinks are some small ways this can be achieved. Each space is different. Really consider what you want to do in each room and how you want it to feel. In smaller homes and apartments, one space may have to do several things (such as eat, watch television, entertain, relax). In these instances, furniture which is flexible and durable will help, storage will play a large role and consider materials and finishes which will withstand high usage.
- A home should reflect not only our needs and wants but our interests and personality too. Looking around your home, what do you see a lot of? Books? Art? Children’s toys? Photos? Travel mementos? Having these things around us tells a story about the inhabitants of a home, but when they’re organised and displayed beautifully, they also become a feature and a place we want to be in. Consider furniture like consoles, buffets and bookshelves to house these items. Frame your family photos professionally and create a gallery wall or invest in quality baskets for excess children’s toys. A gorgeous timber tray can hold your favourite books of the moment on the coffee table or mix memory filled travel souvenirs with other décor. Not everything has to be on display, but surrounding yourself with some items you love will make your home more authentic.
- Whether your building a new home, renovating, living in a completed home or renting, having a sustainable interior will always benefit the occupant and the environment. This can be considered from the start to the beginning of a project. From an architectural perspective, working with a knowledgeable architect or building designer can make the most of the buildings surrounding environment, the building materials and orientation to ensure the house uses less energy to heat and cool, is comfortable to live in and responds to what the client needs in a home. From an interior design and decorating perspective, attention can be paid to the window treatments, materials, finishes and floor coverings to also contribute to this. Smart furniture selections are also important. Firstly, new furniture can be sourced which is ethically created or even made from recycled or recyclable content. Or, older furniture can be given new life with reupholstery and refinishing. Buying once and buying well can also have a positive impact. While it can take a bit of a hit on the back pocket initially, quality products should last a very long time, saving you and the planet in the long-run. Look not only for quality but also furniture which can move and change with you and your family’s needs.
- The colours and materials which we surround ourselves also impact the way we interact and respond to interiors. These theories are used frequently in commercial and retail design to entice us to shop, to eat or relax- so why can’t we do this at home too? Consider thoroughly, or engage a designer, to compose a colour and material palette which will create the atmosphere you want in your home. A warm, earthy palette will exude casual comfort while a cool, shiny palette can be sleek and modern. This can be broken down into each room as well. A master bedroom with a soft palette (not just neutrals, it can include more muted versions of colours too) will encourage relaxation, while a darker, moody study space is formal but possibly also a shift from the rest of the home’s interior to promote work and studiousness. There’s so much information about what each individual colour evokes and symbolises online, to be found with a quick search if you want to know more!
- Outdoor Space. In Australia, we’re blessed with beautiful weather for much of the year, so we should make the most of our outdoor living space, from small balconies to large backyards. Having beautiful outdoor furniture is a great place to start to encourage alfresco living. You’re less likely to eat, read, relax or entertain outdoors if you have nowhere to sit. Outdoor furniture is an investment, but quality will last. Consider how you live, how you entertain (i.e. how many people frequently come over, do you have a BBQ, will the kids be visible in the pool close by) and how much time you would like to spend outdoors. Being able to throw a door or window open onto a veranda with plants on it, see the kids run around the backyard and enjoy the Sunday paper comfortably outdoors will really increase your quality of life and how much time you will want to spend at home.
- Everything has a place. It’s a familiar scene in any home, whether that be a bustling family home or a single person’s home. Where’s my keys? Missing shoe? Book? Paperwork? The list goes on. Ensuring everything has a place in your home will alleviate stress and wasted time spent trying to locate lost items. Easier said than done of course, but if you’re building or renovating, really take the time to work this out during the process. How many of each thing do you have? Where’s the best place for it? How is the best way to store it? If you’re not building but purchasing furniture, ask yourself similar questions. Will this provide enough storage? Is it easily accessible? On a decorative level, there’s so many beautiful baskets, containers, trays and vessels to hide, display or arrange your smaller items. A tidy and organised home is a less stressful one to live in!
- Let’s not forget rentals. Not everyone is living in a home which they can paint, knock down a wall or even change the window dressings. But this is not to say you can’t make your home a beautiful space to be in, you will just need to consider the things you can change or manipulate. Furniture, lighting, art and accessories play a huge role in how we respond to spaces and these are things you can do, regardless even of budget. Think of furniture as investments which you will take with you, no matter where you live. Art can be found at graduate shows and markets without huge commissions. Rugs, removable wallpaper and indoor plants really make a huge impact too. Enjoy the process of making this space feel less temporary than it may be- it’s your home!