Interior Design Blog

Kia is an award winning London Interior Designer based in East London. Her studio takes on projects from around the world. Our studio prides itself on being able to provide a hassle free Interior Design process that provides clients with a design that is perfectly tailored to their lifestyle

How To Get a Interior Design Intern Position

Every week we receive emails from prospective interior design interns. They are usually from students looking for experience in their holidays, or recent graduates looking for intern programs that will translate into permanent positions. Occasionally we get applicants who want to completely change career, or who have experience in a similar field and want to gain a brief insight into other aspects of design (for example, we get architects who want to see how we look at spaces in alternative ways).

We usually take on 2 interns at any one time. Our ideal placement is 6-12months. Kia offers paid internships, unless a candidate’s visa forbids it. We can take on students over the summer, but the problem is you don’t really have time to learn much, as it will take you a month just to learn the ropes (and us a month to show you those ropes) and you won’t get to see a whole project. Our projects are usually minimum 3 months, with the majority of them being 6 months. An internship should work for both parties. You learn lots about running a business, designing for the practical world, dealing with clients and suppliers and seeing a project through from concept to completion. Kia is very thorough and you’ll spend lots of time learning how to do the accounts and operate a profitable business. You’ll also be given a lot of responsibility to design, source and style rooms, under Kia’s guidance.

At our studio, you will be a working member of the team, not just making coffees. So we will be looking for someone who will bring something to the team. You’ll need to have some experience, preferably office based, and be computer literate in products like Excel, or Numbers. Some Interior Design experience or education is necessary for you to understand most of the terminology. You’ll also have to be good at taking initiative and working well without constant supervision.

So if you are keen to apply, here are some absolute “no”s when it comes to sending us your CV.

  1. Address your email/cover letter to either Kia, Mrs Stanford, or Madam. Your can see by the email address you are emailing her personally, and it’s really unimpressive if you put ‘Sir’ or ‘Sir/Madame’
  2. Don’t cc in all the other companies you are applying to. This seems like an obvious one, but loads of people do it. If you are applying to 15 interior designers, it doesn’t look like you’ve seen our portfolio and actually want to work with us.
  3. Basic spelling, grammar and appropriate language. We don’t care if you can’t spell, but if you know it’s not your thing – use spell check. You’ll be communicating directly with our clients and suppliers, so it’s important you can express yourself in a professional and clear way. Also, if you haven’t bothered to proof read your own CV, you don’t look like a diligent prospect.
  4. If you have limited dates, please state them clearly
  5. Please don’t put your date of birth or marital status on your CV. It’s a sexist practice.

We are currently interviewing for interns, so do send your CV over if you think Kia Designs is a good fit for you!

interior design intern

Our offices at WeWork Spitalfeilds

 

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The Sheer Joy of Voiles

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A selection of sheer voiles

 

Voiles can be a simple and elegant way to enhance your home. They are more versatile and sophisticated than the more traditional net curtain and can be a luxurious way to add a bit of privacy and soften glaring sunlight.

Whilst sheer fabrics aren’t as complicated to order as standard curtains, you don’t need to worry about interlining and backing fabrics, there is still plenty to consider:

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A gloss sheer can add a touch of drama to any room

The modern way to hang voiles is in soft waves, which is achieved by using a wave track and a generous amount of fullness/gather. You will need a wave heading on a pre-set wave track. Because sheers are thin you can get away with a “fullness” of 2.25 or 2.5. This is the amount you multiply the width of the window by. The more elaborate heading style you require, the more fullness you will need. You will need to leave a good amount of space for the stack back, well away from the edge of the window to maximise light, and decide if you’d like the curtains to part in the middle or retreat to one side. All curtain ends will be trained to sit in (face towards) the window/wall so that you are never viewing a side hem. This adds to the required fabric width.

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Voile fabric

Once you’ve settled on a fullness quota you have your width measurement. You’ll need to check with the fabric supplier how much of the fabric is “useable” as sometimes the stated width includes unprinted boarders. You will need to account for joining seams if putting several panels together. You’ll then need to add 30cm to each width end. Even if your window is quite small, adding curtains that start at the ceiling and drape all the way to the floor always gives the illusion of more light and space. You will need to add 10cm to the desired height and 30cm to the bottom. You can specify turn-up length and with sheers, as they will add to the opacity when doubled over, it can add a nice feature if you match it to your skirting height. If in doubt, always order extra length, as hemming is reasonable simple and extending can be costly. To finish off the hems you’ll want to lead weight your curtains. This can be done in 2 ways, 1) weighted the whole way along. This works for lighter fabrics which will billow too much in the wind, or when you want a very straight effect. 2) Weighted in the corner of each piece. As there is less weight applied in this method, it’s better for fabrics which just need a bit of guidance, or which aren’t going to be exposed to the elements.

For further information the most comprehensive guide to curtain measuring is produced by Merrick and Day and can be purchased here.

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Always check the useable width

 

 

 

 

 

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What Losing A Suitcase Taught Me About Design

If you’ve ever lost a suitcase you can understand the trauma that can go with it. Trying to remember exactly what’s in it, where you purchased things from, what value they really had. A few years ago travelling back from a 3 week holiday in Thailand I lost a suitcase, and it taught me a lot about how people design their homes.

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We had been travelling for 3 weeks in a hot country and so there were a lot of my clothes packed into that beautiful case. My partner’s case had arrived safe and sound and the only items of his that had been in my case was underwear. So when the claim form arrived from the insurance company he started filling it out, since his items were easy and small it was a good place to start, what he realised horrified him. As an avid fan of Calvin Klein underwear he had 21 pairs of his beloved Calvin Klein’s in this case, not a monumental problem until he added up their value…£420. Four hundred and twenty pounds! He was horrified to find he had ever spent that much money on pants!! What was even more horrifying to him was the fact that he still had a whole drawer of them. Almost half of the insurance money we were able to reclaim was for pants, a discovery that got me thinking.

We often make discoveries like this. We buy items incrementally and so we don’t place a huge value on them until they either disappear in bulk or we have to repurchase them in bulk. This is often what happens with people’s home refurbishment budgets. They have a certain standard of home furnishings that they have become accustomed to, that they enjoy being surrounded with however they have bought it in pieces and so the final figure is split into many parts. A refurbishment puts all those figures together into what is often 1 large invoice, this is almost as horrifying as realising that you have over £1000 in pants!! Okay, maybe it’s a little more horrifying but it does highlight how budgets can become distorted. We have put together this very easy guide for you to budget, it shows the percentages that should be spent on each section of your design.

Looking for clear pricing

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Spotlight on: Stools

When finishing our latest project, we were still amazingly surprised at how details can influence the overall look of the design. Each of the interiors, as mentioned in previous blog post here, is kind of like creating a perfect outfit – it is all about layering. Recently, we talked about bespoke items, today we will focus on stools.

Those small pieces of seating furniture can be visually interesting and also save some space. If you are struggling with putting dining chairs or armchairs in the room, try going with stools. To pick the right one you have to focus on their function first. In this project, stools were playing a rather significant role and were used in various contexts and spaces. 

  1. As a dining chair alternative. If in your dining room you have a bench or a few dining chairs, but want to have some alternatives, or additional seating options when more guest arrive, use stools. Their height allows them to put them deep under the dining table, or in the corner until required, and they are easy to move. Also, with the choice of upholstery fabrics that are available on the market today, you can bring some colour into the room.
  2. As a dressing table/ desk chair alternative. Often dressing tables are used on special occasions so putting a standard dining chair there would be a waste of space in your bedroom. With the stool, you can easily put it underneath the table. It works great also in walk-in wardrobe, where you usually don’t sit, but want to have a seating when trying your shoes on, or when changing clothes, to leave them somewhere safe. If like our client, you travel a lot and rarely work from home, a stool is a great alternative for a desk chair.

 

Spotlight on Stools

3.As seating in your lounge. Not only they bring some diversity in the room, they are small enough to go bold with the fabrics. If you already have a nice, comfortable sofa and two armchairs, don’t overcrowd the lounge with another tall seating options as it may look cluttered. Stools due their height don’t block the light, and can be comfortably moved around. We would recommend getting two in the same fabric, and sit them at one site of coffee table or ottoman.

Have  look on those great stools we picked for our recently completed project!

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Is engineered wood real wood?

Many people are confused about the difference between hardwood, solid wood, engineered wood and wood laminate. The various styles and finishings available on the market today can be misleading and a little baffling.

We recently had clients get very confused about the finish of their floor. They had purchased a new build flat in North London and opted for the floor upgrade package. Within a few weeks of moving in (and even before we had swept in and provided the majority of the furniture) the floor was scuffed and marked.

The clients questions to us went something like this:

“We’re having issues with the floor (it marks very easily) and are negotiating with the developer to have it replaced (they were marketing it as real wood, which it is not). The engineered wood they had put in marks a lot and I guess hardwood would be a better option (hopefully maintenance is not too bad).”

There are a few problems with this email. They have an engineered walnut floor.

  1. Walnut is a hardwood. The term ‘hardwood’ refers to the tree itself. They tend to be broad leaved trees that grow in temperate or tropical zones, and have require lots of water. Confusingly, ‘hardwood’ does not actually mean the wood is more dense and therefor more hardwearing. Balsa wood, one of the lightest and least dense woods available is also a hardwood. The term refers mainly to the tree’s means of reproduction. Hardwoods produce seeds which are covered and protected, with hard shells like an acorn, of soft shells, like an apple, for example. The hardwood family includes: ash, beech, birch, cherry, chestnut, ebony, elm, mahogany, oak, poplar, teak and willow.
  2. Engineered wood is real wood. Being engineered concerns the substrate of the flooring not the face covering. Engineered floors are pretty much industry standard as they are much more stable than solid wood floors. It involves gluing a thin (or thick) layer of shaved real wood onto the surface of another plank, made up of several layers of wood glued and pressed together, then cut to a precision finish for easy joining. The result is stronger than solid wood, often lighter, creates less sound reverberation, needs less of a structure under it, can be laid quickly, will not need to breath and have room to expand and shrink, and does’t need time to acclimatise.
  3. They are confusing hardwood with solid wood (actual planks of wood), and engineered wood with laminate.

After going over this with the client we came up with a solution to help them avoid replacing the whole floor.

“What may be scratching is the lacquer that is on your floor. You may find you have more luck with an oiled engineered walnut floor but at this stage I would suggest you get a large sample of a floor with this finish and try walking/scratching etc that surface.
If it is the lacquer that is damaging then you may want to consider having the floors stripped (the lacquer layer removed) and have them refinished in an oil finish rather than completely replacing the floor.”

engineered wood flooring

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Challenges Faced As An Interior Designer In London

It’s been almost 10 years that I’ve been working as an Interior Designer in London and I still love it each and every day. I am terribly grateful to be able to wake up every morning and spend my day at a job that is my passion.  Especially as I pretty much  fell in to the design world having worked in a luxury interiors store in Islington during my history degree.  The customers were amazing, the products fantastic but most of all I enjoyed solving challenges.  More and more clients would come in with a ‘problem space’ and for me that was exciting – thinking up new ways to create a room for them that solved all those problems.

Client Investment Guide

 

So it’s interesting to think that the challenge of working as an Interior Designer in London is not actually to do with design. I don’t spend my nights tossing and turning other whether to go with the emerald velvet or the teal cashmere! The challenge is how to be able to explain to clients what we do, in a way that leaves them informed and inspired to work with us.  We don’t try and dazzle you with ‘designer speak’ we try and keep things as simple as possible because as much as you want a beautiful home you aren’t looking for an interior design course.  You’re looking for a design team that will take your project through from start to completion, who has contractors they trust and a team that they inspire to be able to create a design that perfectly fulfils your brief.

We don’t want clients to feel they have to micro-manage the process, most of our clients are used to delegating and getting the job done.  That is why we are constantly updating not only our design knowledge but also our system knowledge.  Our design team is proud to be organised and capable of taking on projects from 3 rooms to 50 rooms with the same amount of flair and time management.  Our system through project management tool Basecamp allows our clients to watch the process without the overwhelm of feeling that they have to have all the knowledge or understand the process. Our daily wunderlists allow us to run everything from work schedules to snagging lists with ease and accountability. Our estimating software allows us up to the date information on where products are and who is dealing with them.

We continually try to adjust our systems so that we are as efficient, and paper free, as possible.  This allows us to get our hands on the information from anywhere in the world and share it with contractors at the drop of a hat.  Having worked in the luxury sector for over a decade it has become an integral part of my life, I don’t settle for mediocre in any part of my life and organisation is a huge part of that.  It allows us to create personalised homes for our clients all under the supervision of our head designer.

If you are looking to do a project you may want to sign up for our mailing list and receive your Client Investment Guide.  Our way of helping clients assess their budget at the beginning of a project.

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How To Run A Snagging List Like A Pro With Wunderlist

Here at Kia Designs we are very technology savvy. I am a lover of new gadgets and new ways to make everyones life a little easier and less stressful, especially for my team when it comes to the more painful areas of a project.  No area can quite compare to snagging, it is the small details that make the end of a project either a joy or a nightmare. That’s why we have put together this ridiculously easy way to Run A Snagging List Like A Pro With Wunderlist. So what is ‘snagging’?  It’s the list of things at the end of a project that aren’t quite up to scratch or that, through human error, have been missed off the original specifications. Accountability is a big part of a snagging, who’s going to rectify any mistakes, when and is it going to be an extra cost.  A lot of this will come down to how detailed your tender documents and contract with your builder are, so they need to be reviewed when looking at snagging.

 

Running your final snagging list is so important to actually finishing your project with the finished result that you really wanted and that’s why using an interactive tool such as wunderlist is perfect for this job!

Run A Snagging List Like A Pro With Wunderlist

Wunderlist allows you to create single and joint lists and makes tracking whether items are completely a complete breeze – no endless email chains and no “oh I missed that” moments because it provides accountability by all members on the list. Those lovely little pictures on the right hand side show who each task is assigned to.  Wunderlist is described as “Wunderlist is the easiest way to get stuff done. Whether you’re planning a holiday, sharing a shopping list with a partner or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist is here to help you tick off all your personal and professional to-dos.” For the purpose of this task it is simply heaven.

Run A Snagging List Like A Pro With Wunderlist

Not only can you provide accountability within the app but each task can be broken down further with due dates, reminders, notes, subtasks and even images and PDFs so that your contractors are given all the information that they need.  They can even invite their team in to the list and assign the tasks directly to their team.

So there you have it, a stress-free way to make sure that the end of your project is as beautiful as the design.  Let us know if you were able to Run A Snagging List Like A Pro With Wunderlist in the comments below

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Why we don’t use 3d Visualisations?

3D visualisations became a huge part of the design industry, starting from architecture and interior design and finishing on homeware and cars. The reason for that is pretty simple: clients want to see the finish product before purchasing the service itself. However, this may be really tricky. Read on to find out why we are not doing 3D visualisations:

1.Time. Preparing 3D visualisation is time consuming. The HD image, that looks like a photo, is based on 3D model build in special software. Building the model takes weeks if not months, depending on the scale of the project. Our emphasis is on designing the interior itself.

visualisation

2. Perspective. To prepare a good visualisation you have to think about the final outcome, like a photograph. What does it mean? It means that in some cases, the shots are taken from very bizarre places(like inside of a fridge or on the balcony) to get a good angle of the room. However, none of us will see the interior from that position. The crucial thing here is that the image never represents the room the way you see it, as the camera spectrum is narrower, so be prepared that what you see in 3D Visualisation may not be the perspective of the room you will ever see.

3D Visualisation Lighting

3.Lighting. Lighting plays a very important role in both photography and 3D visualisations. To get very sharp and visually interesting image, in same cases lights in the model have been adjusted or moved around to get this very effect, which means in natural conditions, in cloudy London, you may never see the space in that way.

4.It’s disappointing. To sum up all the points above, you get your expectations really high after seeing a 3D visualisation, and your interior may never look like that or you will never see it that way. The light won’t be the same, or the angle you are seeing the room is not the same, or maybe the stool has a different fabric, overall this is not what you expected. It may look much better, but it just won’t be what you expected.Images tend to represent the design scheme in some way, but they are not show the exact space, so just trust your designer and get ready to be surprised. After all this is the fun part of the process!

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The trouble with designing bathrooms

Bathrooms can be one of the trickiest areas to design and it’s where professional designers really save you time and money. Designs can be limited by technical specifications, legal requirements, structural and drainage limitations. Having said that, they can often be the most exciting space to design. In small projects with budget limitations, bathrooms tend to be the place you splash (sorry for the pun) out, as you aren’t buying materials in huge quantities, you can get the extra nice tiles or go for slate floors. Or you might decide that since the downstairs cloakroom is so small and people in there will probably have time to look around them, you might go for that bold wallpaper and make the room more exciting and visually interesting. Clients who want a more unique or individual looking space often experiment with new and antique or vintage/found at market pieces. They can be a great room for displaying a collection, as long as your objects don’t mind getting wet. Or perhaps you’ve decided that you are going to get that hotel chic feel and go all out for marble and make a grand and relaxing space.

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A Deco inspired bathroom, full of personality, for a flat in Chelsea

Don’t be too swayed by fashionable or trendy images of bathrooms. The room has to be functional, first and foremost. A few years ago there was a huge trend for wooden floors, tabletops and detailing in bathrooms – they look great in pictures but can’t handle the moisture and you’ll find they look awful after a year and need replacing in 2-3 years time. It’s always best to ask a professional what works and how best to achieve the look you want. Likewise fancy gadgets like masticators. They may sound fantastic, a small machine that means you can place the toilet anywhere you like, no need to be near a stack pipe, but from experience they never work. They break constantly and are tricky to fix, and you will probably have to relocate the toilet back to solid plumbing within a few years. Bathroom electronics, such as TVs and iPads also suffer. If you’re having a steamy bath, the humidity may muffle the sound, or jacuzzi jets will drown it out entirely. No matter what the guarantee says, moisture always gets in and effects performance. There are tricks to minimise this, like piped venting, but that will involve a larger extractor. Attractive basins may not hold enough water, or may not drain quickly and clog easily.

Other problems to consider:

  1. Wet rooms. Some flat blocks and freeholders simply will not allow you to have one, and there is no form of appeal. In order to have a wet room, aside from the necessary access to good ventilation, you will need to raise the entire floor, so bare this in mind if you have low ceilings, or are likely to have to step up into the room. Also, you will have to make sure the drainage is very effective and that is shower is furthest from the door – or you’ll have soggy feet or slippers when you nip in to use the loo or do your make-up.
  2. Bath weight. A large metal or stone bath, when filled with water, can be extremely heavy and you might need to reinforce the floor, or position it over a supporting beam.
  3.  Water pressure. You might need to update your boiler system if you want a power shower or change the position of your storage tank if putting a bathroom in a higher floor or loft.
  4. No electrical sockets. It’s illegal to put any socket that isn’t a shaver into a UK bathroom. So if you really want to have your hairdryer in there you might have to be creative and build one in. You can get around this (although strictly, we would never recommend this) by putting an adapter into the shaver socket – that way you can charge your tooth brush etc in situ.
  5. Built-in features, like hidden cisterns look sleek, but if they go wrong you’ll be taking a sledge hammer to your beautifully tiled back wall the first time doesn’t fill properly if you haven’t left an access hatch. If wall taps are leaking internally, slowly, it can be a long time before you discover the problem and it will usually mean replacing a large area.

So a little professional advice will go a long way with bathrooms. Our next post will be on some beautiful rooms we have created for clients and how we overcame unforeseen obstacles.

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What Pelmets’ Installation Has Taught Us?

…about suppliers?

Pelmets not only hide the curtain tracks, but often create an interesting visual piece above the window. Depending on fabric you pick, they may be matching your cushions and pillows or trying to create a great contrast to your existing pieces. In general, they are a small accessory that can make a big change. 

But this blog post is not only about pelmets, but also about how those small details can become a very problematic situation. So what has pelmet installation taught us?

Interior Designer Mayfair

  1. Choose trustworthy suppliers.

Googling a company that has to install your pelmets may be not a best way to find trustworthy supplier, but sometimes the recommended company, or your favourite one is very busy or they are overbooked for months in advance and can’t be used. How to recognise then if the company you are looking to hire is actually worth it?

a)It is easy to contact them; through email and phone, you have a contact person assigned to your project.

b)They inform you about the progress of work. If there are items missing from production,  or you haven’t sent the detailed measurements, they will inform you in time to do so.

c)You don’t need to check up on them. They are calling when agreed, they are on site on time and do the work on time.  

d)They deal with the order from the beginning till the end. There is no external contractor, or a third party involve, they come in, take measurements, template and instal all the items when they are ready.

Our pelmet company arranged both the template and the pelmets themselves, and installed all of them on time, without any extra effort on our site. It made our life so much easier.

2. Choose the right fabric. 

This happens more than once, and not only in case of the pelmets. You pick beautiful fabric and you are excited about the item. You want to place the order and then…

fabric color selection1. fabric is out of stock, they are not sure when it will be back in production

2. the fabric is in stock, but it’s more suitable for sofas, chairs, sheers and pretty much everything else apart from pelmets.

 

Choosing the right fabric for the right item is key to well finished item. Read all the labels, check our blog post here, and ask all the sales assistants – they know a lot about fabrics.

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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.

We were recently faced with this situation in a 1 bed Chelsea pied-à-terre, which contained a very large hallway, filled with 6 identical doors, leading to a: cupboard, a W/C, a bathroom, a bedroom, the living room and a kitchen. We made subtle changes to the layout which not only made the flat feel a lot bigger, but freed up a lot more usable space and made the area more visually interesting. Firstly, we combined the kitchen and living room and thus removed the need for 1 door. We also borrowed from the overly generous entrance space to add to a newly combined and now much larger bathroom and W/C, which also left enough space to add a utility room with linen and winter sports store. Down another door. 4 doors still seems too many, so the bedroom door was cleverly hidden behind a full length mirror. This looked fantastic, was extremely practical, and made the bedroom a far more private space. This is an easy trick you can do in your own home (just check that your door can support the weight of a mirror and that it is firmly attached!). The client was still a little short on storage space, so our pièce de résistance:  the new utility room door became fully working bookcase, swung easily on reinforced steel hinges.

Secret passageway

2 of the rooms have been cleverly concealed behind useful objects

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The bookcase easily swings away to reveal the hidden utility space

Another client requested bedroom access to a family bathroom, so we created a secret passage, along a walk-through wardrobe, hidden seamlessly behind the storage units in the master suite. We playfully referred to this as the ‘lover’s retreat’.

secret rooms

Surprise!

 

These weren’t particularly expensive solutions, and have great practical value. And they are super fun. Why not consider being more playful and inventive with your home…

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Why Should You Choose a Bespoke Items?

In most cases, your interior designer will try to match your taste and your expectation and translate them into stunning interiors full of unique and interesting items. We try to design the furniture that will fit not only to your space, but it will represent your style and complement the features of the room. One way to do that is to go for bespoke items. Tailored to measure furniture make your space look unique and personal. What are the other advantages of bespoke items?

Bespoke Rug1. They are made to measure. What does it mean? If you don’t have enough room for dining table, or the TV unit does not fit your tv, you can just order item that would be made to your requirements and measurements, making your space looking polished and finished.

2. They are mostly high end products. What does it mean? Maybe their price is higher, but it is usually caused by the quality of the material and the level of details. They are in most cases hand made, especially if order from a small factories.

3.You can customise them. In terms of fabrics, wood finishes, height and so on. Possibilities are endless and they allow you to make the piece very personal. No matter if you are thinking about sofa or desk, with bespoke items you can match your interior style as well as your needs, so don’t pick very fancy but too big sofa armchair, just because that’s the only one that fits in to your living room.

Bespoke items - storage

4.They deliver and assemble them. All of the companies that are producing bespoke items, are happy to deliver them to your place, as well as assembly (if necessary), so there is no need to worry about carrying them up to 4th floor, or trying to organise help and tools.

It usually requires more time to get a bespoke piece then ready of the shelf item, but they compensate it with timeless quality and beautiful fit to your home.

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Why the last week on site can be so painful

The last week on any project is usually the busiest, most stressful and most rewarding. Because there is a logical order to the last few days on site, any interference can topple your carefully orchestrated schedule like dominos. However well prepared you are, there are always things beyond your control and you need to be prepared to do some very instant and creative problem solving.

  1. Suppliers

It’s always best to keep on top of suppliers. You might feel it unnecessary to phone or email them once a week for updates, but lead times can be so long, that it can be 8 months between when you pay and when you receive the goods. You wouldn’t believe the number of times (reputable) companies present your order late, or worse, wrong.  If you have had a company say they are going to be late and deliver to the site on the last week, be prepare for lots of nervous anticipation and stress – if they turn up in the wrong fabric or with chrome legs when you wanted wood, there is no time to change it.

2. Snagging lists

Builders usually always need to return for minor touch ups – that bit of wallpaper that got torn, that light which is flickering, that tap which doesn’t run hot. Sometimes these take a few minutes to fix, and sometimes that need a day of drilling. If you are working in a flat this can be a problem, as you can only operate noisy machinery at certain times and it might disturb your schedule. If you

3. Furniture deliveries

last week

Unpacking a sofa

Make sure you have measured all the entrance and doorways in your building. Bed headboards and sofas are notoriously difficult to get into flats. Some companies send them in pieces to be constructed on site (make sure cleaners are ALWAYS booked after furniture deliveries – even if they aren’t drilling,  bits of cardboard and polystyrene get everywhere), but some companies will send them fully formed. The delivery men might well accidentally scrape the wallpaper, or bang a chandelier, or scratch the floor, so make sure items arrive with days to spare to put things right.

4. Foreign fittings

Even though you have bought a piece of furniture in the UK, that is no guarantee that it will come set up as such. Italian, French and German items usually come with European 3 pin plugs. American lights can require rewiring. A good example is a dilemma we faced on a recent project. A TV unit, purchased from British company Camerich, arrived with an Asian pin plug. You can’t change the plug, as that will void the warranty. You can’t not plug it in, as then your TV etc won’t have any access to electricity. If you use an adapter the unit won’t sit flush to the wall, which is very much the aesthetic it was selected for in the first place.

5. Delicate objects

 

After all the tradesmen have left, there will be bits you’ll have to complete, like stringing a chandelier, attaching lampshade or training curtains. These can be time consuming (large chandeliers can take around 4 hours – and they are very tiring on the arms so you can’t really do more than one in a day). These are often fiddly tasks that take twice as long when you are tired and stressed.

last week stress

Stringing glass balls for a light

final week jobs

attaching the glass balls

6. Cleaners and Finishing touches

Once everything thing else is sorted, the floor and carpet guards can come off and the cleaners can come in. No matter how clean the builders say they are going to be, you always need the cleaners to come in after. They can get booked up long in advance, so if other trades overrun it can be tricky to reschedule them. Now the fun part – standing back and admiring the design and adding finishing touches. This usually involves a quick dash to the shops for extra vases, fruit bowls, dishes etc, to make the place homely. Less fun if you haven’t left anything in the budget for it and then there are the things you’ve accidentally forgotten, and finishing touches like soaps and toilet paper. How ever well you have planned, seeing your design in the flesh will usually result in you wanting to tweak a few things.

last minute jobs

Final touches

 

 

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Shopping For Dining Tables

Dining tables come in various sizes and finishes. Starting from shapes, through legs designs and top material the choice is endless. But what to take in consideration when choosing this furniture to your home?

1.Space. Sometimes when shopping for furniture, we forget how important the context for each piece is. We’ve just fallen in love with a piece and want to buy it no matter what. And then we end up with a dining table that a) doesn’t fit our dining area or b)takes so much space that we can’t walk freely around and passing plates to guests and families seems like a nightmare c) is so small, we can’t comfortable have a meal there,or d) it clashes with everything around it.

Interior Design Paddington Dining Room Paddington W2

2. Places. Take in consideration how many people in most cases sit around it, excluding Christmasy and your birthday. Obviously, on spacial occasions there will be more people, but is it worth to buy 12 people seating table, if in most cases it’s you and your husband who are having a meal?

Project 5 - Angel - Image 5 Project 5 - Angel - Image 4

2. Dimensions. The table not only has to ‘fit’ in to the drawings and physical space, but you’ll need to add enough space to move around and push the chair out when you want to get up. Same concept with legs; If you would like to have a round table, it is more comfortable to have one leg in the middle so you can sit on each side without hurting your legs. If you are buying an extending table, check where the legs will sit once fully extended. The design might not actually work and your guests may have to either straddle a leg, or you’ll find the extra space is rendered useless by the fact you can’t fit a chair in the new gap.

DSC_0040 DSC_0035

3. Lighting. Chandelier or pendant light above the dining table create perfect ambient light for the evening meals. If you are completely refurbishing your flat, take that in consideration and include a source of light above the table to add a bit atmosphere to your dining area. Be aware that it won’t be in the centre if you are going to use an extending table.

Interior Design Earls Court Project 2 - Earls Court - Image 9

4. Seating. As in case of table, options are endless. Modern, plastic, low, with armrests and so on. What do you need to focus on when choosing your perfect dining seating? Comfort, especially when you and your family spend every Saturday morning enjoying breakfast together or Sunday roast. If you usually eat in the living room, comfort can go second, and you can add a bit of design touch to it. You can even mix and match various options, and add a minimalistic style to your space. Some fabrics and textures might look great, but remember there is food and drink around and some might stain easily. 

 Residential Interior Designer Swiss Cottage Interior Design

5. Breakfast bar. Great option if you don’t have enough space for a dining table, but still prefer to sit  comfortable while you’re having your lunch. That solution works perfectly when you have a kitchen island and can raise a part of the top. Bar stools vary in comfort so it’s a good idea to go and physically sit on any potential purchases, rather than getting ones off the net.

Project 9 - Pied-a-terre - Image 1 Project 9 - Pied-a-terre - Image 2

6. Bespoke pieces.

If none of the ‘off the shelf’ dining tables work for your space, you can always go for bespoke piece. For the project we have just finished, we designed a beautiful bespoke dining table. The wedge table has a unique pattern on the top and designers legs, also, it fits perfectly with the scheme. Just have a look yourself!

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5 things that 100+ interior design projects teach you

Check, check and check again 

Especially when working with new suppliers but even your most reliable can have a bad day.  It can be human error but it will be devastating if it happens at the wrong moment or when you are completely unprepared for it, not something you need on your interior design projects.

Leave enough run over

The ‘finish’ date is not the contractors finish date.  you are going to need a minimum of 2 weeks to clean, deliver, clean again and style before you want to move in.  It is a process that takes a lot longer than you would expect, we have spent many hours on site painstakingly putting together crystal chandeliers or threading murano balls for the perfect effect.  These tasks take time and ultimately require a mostly clean and empty site – you don’t want to be unpacking these items with a full building crew on site!

Kitchen Installation Knightsbridge

Trying to finish a design project

Decide how finished you want your project to be

A lot of our clients want a home that they can turn up to with a suitcase and very little else.  This can require all the extras including kitchen items, towels and completely stocked bathrooms.  If you are doing your project yourself you will want to leave enough time, budget and energy to get these time consuming tasks finished.

Everything ages, let it

If you’re specifying wood, marble or any other natural surface you will need to live with the natural beauty and delicacies of that product including its ageing process.  When wood gets scratched for the first time it can be heart stopping however it is a standard part of the life cycle of the product and it should be embraced rather than shied away from.

The end is always the most painful and nearly always the most rewarding

You will often need to set clear limits for all your contractors and don’t be afraid to push them on these limits.  Check in and make sure that you are doing all you can to support them whilst offering them a decent amount of urgency – this is your home and you do want it back eventually!

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