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Hidden Parts Of Images – Things Behind The Design

Good design is effortless, it hides the bad or frustrating parts of a home and highlights the parts that you have fallen in love with. Most homes struggle with storage, even the largest home needs good storage. With these images we take you behind the design to the hidden parts of the image, the parts that make the designs look so effortless.

From hidden passages, secret rooms and electronic opening cupboards we adore creating something a little bit special and different for each and every one of our clients

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Here, in our Chelsea project, to avoid an entrance hall becoming awash with doors we make the entrance to the utility and sports store a secdsc_0670-low-resret swinging bookcase. The case in hung on metal casters, so it’s also a functioning bookcase, not a fake. The mechanism is soft closing and super easy to open. Hopefully this makes doing the laundry a little more enjoyable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let There be Light: The Sky’s the Limit

There are 2 good investments I keep my eye out for. 1, short term, is to find the darkest period houses. The Georgian gems and Victorian terraces that give you eye strain almost the moment you enter. The other is long term: find nice country houses with stunning views blighted by power lines and towers. They’ll bury them eventually. I hope.

Nearly everyone sights ‘lots of natural light’ as a key requirement of a new home. Georgian homes are popular purely because they have high ceilings which house large windows and let light flooding in. Because we have built up and around, many of these buildings core have become very dark and dingy. The stairwells aren’t large enough for a skylight to flood light down, and the can be listed, so including a light shaft or well all the way down can be problematic.

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Spotlight on: Carmen Almon

American Artist Carmen Almon makes the most exquisite hyper-real botanical structures. And far from being delicate models, her pieces are made from sturdy and durable wire and copper, fashioned into the most meticulous detail.  Artificial flowers have gained popularity in recent years, as technological advances make them more realistic and affordable, but Almon’s creations are works of art and make for a far more interesting centrepiece.

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Originally inspired by the 18th Century collages of Mary Delany (on display in the British Museum), Almon began cutting sheets of copper into petals and soldering them together with brass fill to make them slightly raised 3D sculptures of flowers and plants. She then painted them with enamel and oil washes and the result was an instant hit.

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Now living in France with her Sculptor husband Thierry Job, Almon hand crafts up to 4 plants a month, using nail scissors, pliers, cutters and paint. Recently she has begun adding a distinctive finishing touch to each plant – usually something like a ladybird or bug, hidden away. She says this helps to ‘fix the moment in time’, in the way a photo would.  Given the intensive labour involved in each creation, expect to see prices from £1200 – 35,000. Almon usually works to commission for private collectors although she does display at a few galleries, such as the Chinese Porcelain Company in New York and the Octavia Gallery in New Orleans.

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That’s Clever: Simple Storage Solutions

Clients always want more storage, and London housing always seems to be lacking in it. Here are some quick, cheap and easy solutions to add storage space to your home without gauging out under your stairs or ‘knocking through’.

Try a hanging cloak rack if you are short on floor space

cphanger_marble_600x800Floating racks hanging from the ceiling can accommodate all manor of coats, bags, scarves. You can load them up and then swing them aside when you want to move past. If you have very high ceilings you can even sit them on a pulley system and whisk them up and out of the way. You can also use them in places that don’t have a wall, or have wall that can’t support weight. They are also great for hanging close to baths and showers, in the bedroom to display accessories, or even in the kitchen hanging over the counter for tea towels and oven gloves. We particularly like the one from Copenhanger which comes in 3 colours and retails at a reasonable £170.

If that looks a little too rustic then you could try The Wardrope, designed by Veronika Wildgruber and Susanne Stofer, which uses porcelain hooks mounted on a rope, which can be adjusted by sliding them, and you can add as many as needed. The Wardrope screws into the ceiling (or can be hung from another hook) and you can chose to have a weight at the bottom of the rope to keep it under tension, if you’d rather it were tethered.

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The clean silhouette of Wardrope

If you’d like a more industrial look, Phos do one in polished stainless steel. 5 hooks rotate on an axis and the bar is rigid. Different types of hooks are also available, and the product was a ‘good design’ award earlier this year.t5-garderobe-2-440

If you would like to talk to a designer about unique and creative ways to gain storage in your property, call or email Kia Designs today for a free consultation.

 

How To Present Your Interior Design to Clients

We’re often asked about our design process, and how best to display and present your Interior Design to our clients. We’ve already blogged about why we don’t use 3D visualisations so let’s talk about what we actually do.

Having spoken to the client and established what they need and want to get out of the process, and having seen a selection of images they like and established a sense of their taste and lifestyle, work beings on creating a scheme. Functionality comes first – there are set requirements to fill and problems to solve. Then we look at decorating and filing the space appropriately. We have an extensive portfolio of suppliers we work with often, who we know to be reliable, excellent quality, deliver on time and on price and suit a variety of budgets. We also always attend trade fairs and have a list of new suppliers we are interested in forming relationships with. Where we research depends entirely on the client. At the moment we are looking for a client who wants items completely in keeping with their Victorian mansion, that look very English. We’re looking at vintage pieces from places like Christie’s Interiors auctions and at reputable antique dealers, but keeping the budget under control with other pieces from Coach House Antiques. In contrast,the design brief for another project we have calls for more glam, unique items, where the look and feel is the key determining factor, not budget, so we’ve spent more time on 1st Dibs, LuxDeco and the glossy showrooms of Chelsea Design Harbour.

When we’ve selected a few key items, the rest of the scheme comes together fairly fluently. The fabric and style of a sofa usually has an overbearing influence on everything else in the living room, for example, it will dictate the size and height of the coffee table and rug, so that will drastically narrow the field when you are searching products. We also use this time to push clients towards items they might not have considered or have previously dismissed. A current client said she liked the wooden venetian blinds currently in her flat and would like them replaced with something similar. When we asked why, she said that fabric blinds get too dirty (she is above a busy road) and plantation shutters cut out too much light, and she couldn’t think of any other options. We can, however, think of lots of other options, so it’s always worth understanding why your clients do and don’t want items in their new home. Sometimes the clients isn’t always right – “I don’t want a fabric sofa, I spill tea on it and can’t wash it” (ok, you spill tea – we’ll get you a fabric sofa where you can unzip every cushion and wash to your heart’s content).

So when we think we’ve come up with a suitable design scheme, we put together a presentation (slide show) and talk through our plans and the furnishings for each room. The client usually mulls it over for a few days and then often makes a few changes (sofa too low, wallpaper too blue) and then we make adjustments accordingly. We also give them a complete costing sheet. That also helps them make decisions about the design – “I’m not keen on those bedside tables and they are more than I’d like to spend on something I’m not sure about”. Below is a presentation we have just given to an actual client. We’ll post again after they have come back to us with the necessary amendments and we’ll show you how the design evolves.

Why Stop at One Colour? Ombre is the New Black

Ever since Pinterest and Instagram have burst onto the scene, people have been more brave and experimental when it comes to pattern and colour. Bold pallets have been introduced to even the most suburban homes, and sales of magnolia have plummeted. The next frontier – multicolour and blended tones. Ombre is building momentum in the industry and offering clients a really interesting, bespoke looking design.

Ombre: having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark

Harlequin’s Amazilia ombre velvet is just stunning. It comes in lots of colours and is very versatile. It’s a short cut velvet, and very soft and luxurious feeling. People often tell us they want a fabric that is “that colour” but not in velvet. Can’t be done. Velvet’s unique pile allows it to take on dye in a way most other fabrics can’t, so if you want a strong sharp colour, velvet is your best bet. It’s also one of the most durable fabrics available, and the newer ones are coated with nibbling bug deterrents so you don’t end up with moth holes.

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This ombre range bands 2 colours together. It looks more like a Rothko than an upholstery fabric. It’s called St Germain by Metaphors, and is available in the UK through Abbott and Boyd. The producer uses artisanal dyeing on a base of Saint Germain velvet. This unusual technique gives the colours richness and depth. The artisan dye process makes this product unique

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They would make stunning curtains or a headboard. Think bigger than cushions!

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The Harlequin velvet is produced in large widths specifically for sofa and curtain use.

Ombre wallpaper is available from many suppliers and can range from subtle pastel hues to deep tones with extreme transitions. Artwork looks great against it, particularly with metallic frames that go with the warmer colour tones. Don’t use ombre walls as a stand alone feature, place furniture against it and hang lots of pictures – it does a wonderful job of enhancing other objects.

Peach to Blue Fade Room Setting

A pastel ombre sunset wallpaper from Origin

Or for a more bespoke version, Dulux recently displayed a hand painted dry brush ombre wall in their colour of the year “Denim Drift” which is a lovely grey/blue shade with plenty of depth.

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Stunning Bespoke Embroidery Art

New Designers, held every year in the Business Design Centre in Islington is a fantastic platform for up-and-coming talent. We go every year in search of fresh, innovative designs and emerging trends. This year we were particularly taken by the intricate work of Bristol based textile artist Jacky Puzey, whose digital embroidery and layers of laser-cut sheer fabrics create luxurious tableaus of urban wildlife.

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Jacky does bespoke commissions and we are hoping to use one of her unique and stunning pieces in our upcoming Knightsbridge project. We particularly love the textures created by her stitched mixed media – she often incorporates feathers, fabrics, wallpapers, dried flowers and leathers. The hyena above uses goat fur and feathers. Jacky’s preferred base is a thick organza, traditionally used for kimonos, which is transparent and when framed gives a slight hint as to the surface behind the work, with visible shadows from the embroidery, creating an extra layer.

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Commissioning Art

At Kia Designs, previously blogged about how to design a room around a piece of art, now we’re going to focus on the opposite – commissioning a bespoke piece to match the room.

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A Kia Designs living room. Our colour scheme was based around this stunning piece of fabric. To pull everything together we then had it stretched like a canvas and hung to add a focal point to the room.

Finding art to dress a room after you’ve completed the design can be one of the most pleasurable parts of finishing off your interior. You might want to hold out and look for it on your travels, or go browsing in in the glossy galleries around Mayfair (they sell prints too, so even if your budget doesn’t stretch to a Rothko canvas, you can pick up something like a Henry Moore print for around the £2000 mark. It’s be a great talking point and will be an excellent investment!). You could head to an auction house to see check out the offerings (after Christmas is always a good sale time) or you could look at online site such as Artfinder.com which displays 1000s of artists, with easy to use search functions to narrow down the hunt.

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Creating A Kitchen That Isn’t A Kitchen

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 13.46.35One of our current projects has a very exciting feature – a kitchen that blends seamlessly into the lounge. The client loved the large open space, but didn’t want to feel like they were sitting in or relaxing next to the kitchen.

The first thing to do when integrating or disguising any object is to break it up into little parts. We’ve used different materials to clad different areas of the design. The island has been clad in a stunning burl wood, and is on raised feet, making it look far more like a dresser or sideboard. The sink unit is then painted in lighter colours which blend in more with the wallpaper, and the marble surface actually goes all the way up the sides of the window, cladding out the whole box, rather than just having a splash back. We’ve made the most of a quirky bit of space, where the building window juts out, and madScreen Shot 2016-06-30 at 13.45.56e it part of the design, throwing out conventional proportions.

The cupboarding is clad in a polished metal, which is very unusual in kitchens – intact our kitchen company, Roundhouse are making the finish specially for us. It will be highly durable and light reflective, so should make a stunning, unique surface. Inside the cupboards is more countertop and surface area, hidden away so that you don’t have acres of marble top visible in the room. A whole coffee station complete with quoter tap and appliances waits patiently behind the doors, adding to the clutter free look of the space.

We’ve used lighting that would more commonly be found in a lounge or bedroom. But not using function specific lighting, you can really change the mood  of a space. Here it instantly looks for informal and relaxed. If you were looking over from the sofa, you would just think this is an extension of the same room.

The island countertop is very special. We’ve gone for a mixed blue marble, which reminds us of a Van Gogh. It balances nice with the large oil painting which will go on the wall behind it. The blend of tones in the stone is quite remarkable, and it’s a bold colour most people would find too dominating for a kitchen.

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Behind the kitchen will stand a wall of mosaic tiles in a flower pattern, akin to a dutch still life, to continue the art theme. This will be the dominant feature of the room and you’ll completely forget that you’re making scrambled eggs in your living room and think you’re in a great grotto somewhere in Southern Italy. We’ve enjoyed placing it in such an unusual setting, not only for the attention it will receive, but also for the amusement it should bring.

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How Does An Interior Design Project Begin?

Sample gathering

Sample gathering

We’re often asked how we start a design. It’s a hard thing to answer as it’s really an intangible concept. After we’ve decided on the new layout, we start by asking the client a lot of questions, and getting a firm idea of what they don’t like and what they gravitate towards, as well as practical concerns (hard wearing, easy cleaning etc). Then we do a blitz of the major London showrooms for inspiration. We collect a few (we really try to limit these, as sampling for it’s own sake is a waste of everyone’s time and resources) samples and make note of features or furniture that would work. At first everything looks amazing and it can be overwhelming. Usually one product just fits perfectly. In our current project we have a wall of the dining area that we are planning to make a feature of. The client loves bright colours, florals and mosaics, so a quick trip into Bisazza resulted in us finding an amazing floral spread. Once we’d decided on that (you just sort of know) all the other research and sample gathering we’d done just fell into place. All of a sudden you can be looking at 100 fabric samples and instantly 80 aren’t going to work with the selected colours. Then 10 will be wrong sort of feeling. Out of the 10 remaining you’ll usually be able to reduce it to 1 or 2 which just work best. Likewise, colours that feature in the mosaic in a less dominant way can be introduced more heavily in the bedrooms, so that the whole scheme makes sense, without being too matchy-matchy or paint-by-numbers. It sort of grows organically once the tone and feel is established by the first object. Somehow until you’ve selected one or two objects, no matter how much you’ve seen inspirational pictures or know what you’re going for, without physical objects to relate things back to, the design never quite gathers pace (or gets legs). The truth is the design usually takes on a bit of a life of it’s own and you just have to go with it and mould it to the client’s requirements.

 

Kia designs inspiration

Browsing mosaic selections at Bisazza

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A mosaic feature wall at Sicis

10 Ways to Automate Your Home Without a Re-wire

Home automation can be a fantastic proposition however it is often thought of as very costly. There are ways that, through the wonders of modern technology you can automate your home with out a large price tag and without a a re-wire. These small changes are secure, can save you move and easy to understand – you don’t need to know all the ins-and-outs of smart home tech to be able to start creating a home that caters to your lifestyle.

Automated Lighting

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Hue lights to wake you up

Morning isn’t always everyone’s favourite time and so getting up can be a massive hassle. Especially when we get in to the winter where it can be pitch black when we wake up. The hue lights are fantastic at creating a comfortable way to wake up, they can slowly engage around your room according to your alarm.  Providing a much more natural way to end your sleep, no more screeching alarm calls – wake up with sunshine (well, sort of!)

We-mo switch (alternative to hue lights)

The we-mo switches are another way to automate individual switches, like the grown up version of the timed lights our parents had these can be set to be on all kinds of timers. With IFTTT you could even arrange that the lights at home turn on when you walk through the front door.  This can be good if you suffer from anxiety or if you work long hours and want that instant homely feeling.

Mydlink™ Home Smart Plug (alternative to hue lights)

Similar to we-mo switches these can be programmed in a variety of ways with your lights. IFTTT again provide a variety of different ways these can work with the Hue lights. Automate your home in a way that works for you, you don’t have to jump in right at the deep end.

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The Fool Proof Carpet

We’re often visited at our office by sales reps who have come to show us their new wares and demonstrate their products. It’s great to see what’s in the pipeline before it hits any showroom, and it’s always good to have a library of innovative products in mind when listening to clients concerns.

A recent visit that most impressed us was Sylka Carpets. They are a multi award-winning carpet manufacturer that produces manmade fibre replicas, very accurately. The result is a super high quality product at a reasonable price (ok, they are closer to the top end, but far more affordable than the real thing), which is far more durable and easy to maintain than their natural counterparts. And we struggled to tell the difference. Think silk, cashmere of wool carpets without the wear (the fibre structure is incredibly hard wearing and won’t breakdown), without the pilling (as they are spun from single threads you won’t get any fluff) and impervious to most stains (the fibres aren’t porous, so unless you coat it in a painting substance, it shouldn’t hold any staining). So we’re talking a thick, white carpet you can pour red wine all over and leave no trace. And even better, if you do stain or damage it (a client dropped her red nail polish) instead of having to replace the whole room, you can simply cut around the damage segment and patch in a new piece, which will blend in seamlessly. For this reason, the company suggests buying a few extra meters, as the dyeing of each roll can be slightly different and this will guarantee you an invisible finish.

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Ever Wanted A Secret Passageway?

‘A house with a secret passageway’ tops most people’s “lotto win dream house” list. They feature largely in the children’s literature and adventure films that dominate people’s formative years. Later in life you might really see the appeal of being able to sneak out a lover, bump someone on the head and make a swift exit, or you might want to be ready to conceal a priest at short notice…

A more 21st century friendly secret passage usually leads to a private bathroom, office or walk-in wardrobe. It’s more about uninterrupted clean lines and reflective spaces than secrecy. On the occasions we are commissioned to build a secret room, it’s more likely to be for shoes than a 50 Shades of Grey style chamber. Pity.

At Kia Designs, we’ve used hidden rooms in several builds as a means of problem solving. Older fire regulations usually stipulated that you need a door between each room and the main entrance, and before open plan living became popular, entrance halls were all the rage, even in the smallest flats. The combination of the two tended to result in a hall of doors, all identical and very confusing for guests. We also can’t tell you the number of flats we went into that would have a large storage cupboard in the hall, covered by a “room door’, designed to give the impression you have another bedroom. This style of layout is impractical and aesthetically unappealing. It’s also wasteful in small spaces.

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New Tile Trends 2016

It’s trade show time again. This week we’ve been looking at new trends in tiles and at the various wares on show at Surface Design. The big eIMG_3272merging trends are more geometric shapes, lots of hand-painted effect tiles and imprinted porcelain. Whilst we never really go in for “trends”, as nothing dates a property faster, we do like keeping up with the latest in manufacturing techniques. As the trend for strong geometric styling continues, advances in technology means the interlocking mechanisms have become simpler, and the tile panels larger, meaning they will be far more affordable to ship and install. Just as we saw with parquet flooring and engineered wood, chevron tiles in pre-made blocks are also becoming very popular. It’s an easy way to achieve a luxury finish, either as a wood effect throughout the house or a more visually arresting way to arrange marble in a bathroom.

Patterned tiles have become a little more adventurous, through the introduction of varied tones in sophisticated pastels that have a more subtle effect and appeal to those who would normally shy away from anything too loud or detailed.

What goes around comes around, and (you might shudder to hear it) 1970s led designs are still continuing. Crazy pavement is back, but it’s had quite the make over. Coloured grout is also growing in popularity. Grey, white and coffee coloured tiles are particularly lifted with orange or teal grouting.

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M F Hussain and Art as Inspiration

If a client is an art collector, or has a treasured piece, interior designers will often use that image as the main reference source or influence for a design. We’ve had several clients bring in pieces by M F Husain and they make fantastic inspiration. His free flowing lines, contemporary style and vibrant tones gives us lots to work with and often encourages clients to be a bit more bold and fearless when it comes to colour.

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A colourful M F Husain piece provides the focual point of an elegant Mayfair sitting room

M F Husain

Religious rituals often feature

M F Husain is often referred to as the ‘Picasso of India’. He is the best know and most internationally recognised Indian painter of the 20th Century. Christies and Sotheby’s class him as a Modern Master and his work frequently sells in excess of £1m. His paintings usually depict religious themes mixed with history and incidents from the artist’s own life.

 

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