To turn a slightly muddled and dated house in the Surrey countryside into a sleek and cosy family home. A rejigging of the layout and some minor extensions will make the space far more usable and attractive, as well as allowing the for the stunning views and gardens to be incorporated in the design.
Creating A Calm Home
Downstairs the focus will be on everyday practical living. Both a porch (at the front) and a boot room (at the back) will be created for outdoor garment storage, and to provide a barrier between the muddy outside world and the interior. Inside, the current entrance space, which at the moment is a bit of a dead space, will provide a welcoming hall with plenty of storage and wow factor, with the addition of a suspended netted area above for the boys to play on.
Farrow and Ball’s colours are always and inspiration, especially Railings. This is a colour we continue to come back to year after year. It has a classic feel to it and complements so many tones. We have used it in everything from dark corridors, to bespoke furniture to the insides of drawer boxes. Everytime we have used it the depth and warmth of the colour surprises clients.
Railing helped create this gorgeous entrance
Even smaller touches such as the radiators seen below in Railings can add a dramatic feel to a room. They have also worked to pull some of the darker tones over to the lighter area of the room. Creating balance within the design.
Whilst the majority of our projects are London based, we do, on occasion, branch out either overseas or buying the M25. Our newest client has just purchased a large family home in Surrey and plans to turn it into a cosy haven for her twin boys and their large dog.
We plan to turn the slightly muddled and dated house into a sleek and cosy family home. A rejigging of the layout and some minor extensions will make the space far more usable and attractive, as well as allowing the for the stunning views and gardens to be incorporated in the design.
New build properties can feel stark and soulless. The shrinking room sizes and lack of period detailing make the area appear small and bland. The proportions and styling of many of today’s new build properties do not suit period or vintage furniture, in the way that say a Georgian living room looks fantastic with a large 1970s sofa and art deco drinks trolley. So what are the best ways to make the place feel like home and stand out from the crowd?
After presenting a design to a client, there are often tweaks that need to be made. Here is the evolution of a small portion of a living room in a recent project of ours.
The initial brief:
To transform a new build 2 bedroom flat in Wimbledon into a contemporary, interesting, warm and characterful home. The modern apartment needs to feel grounded and lived in, with up-to-date furniture and styling. The young clients are not afraid of bold colour, but we’ll focus on lighter colours for the bulk of the rooms with dark trims and features.
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
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 secret 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!
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.
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.
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.
One 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 made 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.
Most people only think of hiring a residential interior designer when they buy or want to renovate, but it can be a really useful service for renters too.
Hampstead village is a great place for families
If you are being sent to, or coming back to the UK, Kia Designs can help, and we can even handle everything from this end so that by the time you land on these shores your temporary home is all ready to go. Just let us see the floor plans and a few photos, and tell us which items of furniture you are shipping, give us a good idea of the quantity of your belongings and some style inspiration and we’ll purchase any necessary items for you and decorate it to your taste. We won’t do any wallpaper or painting or breach your tenancy agreement in any way. Because this is a light re-decoration we’ll only use products with a very short lead time, so we can move very quickly. This service will save you the hassle of arriving in an unfamiliar place and having to look for a sofa and dining table after a long day acclimatising to a new job.
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 (hardwearing, 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.
We recently had a brief for a client who seldom cooked, and had no interest in the kitchen. The property is also a 2nd home, rarely used. The problem was we were planing on changing the layout of her property, from a 2 bedroom to a 3 bedroom and required the room currently housing the kitchen to become that 3rd bedroom. The dead entrance space was perfect for the new kitchen, but would then be open plan and become the main view from the front door and living room. So in order to please the client, and not drop a conspicuous kitchen next to her lovely lounge, we teamed up with the talented Magnus at Roundhouse to help us disguise the kitchen so that it fit seamlessly into the room.
Completely restyling your home can be daunting if you’re just unhappy with its current state but haven’t given much thought to how it should look. Lots of professions can be called upon for logistical help, or you might have clearer ideas on how you use the property and what doesn’t work, but don’t know how do you go about coming up with a design scheme.
The best answer is to research. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, and you don’t need to go out and buy lots of expensive glossy magazines. Look around your current home, which items do you most like or cherish? Why? You’ll probably be keeping them so they are a good place to start. Next, a quick browse through an image collective, like Pinterest, should help you narrow in. You don’t even need to set up an account (though doing so will be very helpful later, as you can share it with your designer and builders). The tags on each image should help you develop some design vocabulary. Now you’ll know that you like ‘shaker’ style kitchens and ‘mid-century modern sideboards’. A good designer can create a whole scheme based on 1 or 2 images and an eloquent client. It won’t be time consuming, they’ll go away and do drawings based on your initial conversation, and then meet back with you and tweak anything you aren’t happy with. You can be as involved as you like to be, but we find once most clients start seeing things they’ve liked adapted to their own home and way of life, the process flows very smoothly and even the most design unconscious, colourblind clients get very excited.
When you live half way around the world it can be difficult creating the same homely feel to a property that you only visit 4 or 5 times a year. For our clients who live in Dubai but visit London often that challenge can be particularly difficult when you have become accustomed to a property that holds a lot of memories but no longer serves your family in the way you hoped it would. When creating a home it’s important to remember that times have changed and how we live has changed too. Houses have adapted and bringing this particular family home is going to need to be done with a compassion towards those special memories.
Possible Colour Scheme for the Project
The main problems with the current property are to do with layout and light. Interiors in Knightsbridge can come in a variety of different formats. This building has art deco roots but has been changed and modified throughout the years stripping it from a lot of its character, we aim to give it back a bit of that character introducing beautiful wall finishes and architectural details. Going for a design scheme that works to make the most out of the architecture is crucial to creating a design that resonates when you stand in it.