So you have a fabulously designed home, and it’s all ready for you to add the ‘icing’ … the interior design and fitout allows you to add the final flourishes, the items that create ambience and reflect your personal touch. Ideally the interior fitout will match the exterior for taste and quality; at the very least it should match your predominant style.
Where to start?
Choosing a style, or creating your own unique signature, can be a bewildering and daunting task given the choice on offer. Colour consultants, interior designers and decorators (which are not necessarily all the same thing) have all increased in numbers as more and more people come to realise that to achieve a certain look is not that easy.
Meanwhile, here are some simple guidelines to help you get started.
- This is where you live! Think long and hard about the colours and materials that will surround you and your family for years to come.
- Interior designers can be brought in early to work with the architect or architectural designer to provide a second opinion and counterpoint on the layout of the rooms and their relationship to each other.
- Pick a theme, and be true to it: if you are striving for a traditional home, for instance, use traditional materials, textures and styles to match. Selecting a unifying theme will make your decorating decisions a great deal simpler.
- Within your chosen theme, use accents in each interior room. Aim for a focal point in each area and develop the room around this. Typically the focal point in the dining room would be the table, in a bedroom the bed and duvet; in a kitchen it is often the splashback.
- What colours do you like, and are they appropriate for the rooms in which you’d like to use them? Some colours increase energy, some are calming; others are warm or cold.
- Soft furnishings need to be both functional and decorative. Closed drapes are effective at preventing heat loss as well as providing privacy but they make up a large visual statement, so choose the pattern carefully.
- If you want to use the latest colours and trends, use them in areas that will be easier and cheaper to update – such as accessories, cushions and paintwork – rather than in big furniture pieces and carpets, as you may want to update them as fashions change.
Soft furnishing tips
It’s important to use specialists when furnishing your biggest asset and investing in the right products will make all the difference.
Here are some points to consider when looking to purchase drapes and blinds:
- Get a budget established before starting. To save you a lot of time looking at product that may not suit your situation. Custom made curtains and blinds are almost always dearer than ready-made products.
- Use a reputable company specialising in soft furnishings. They employ people of high standards, often with interior design experience. They will have a wealth of knowledge of fabric composition, colour, styles and practicalities.
- Don’t pay for quotes. You don’t need to. Companies who charge for quotes may tell you their expertise is more valuable than others. This is very unlikely, if not misleading.
- When possible choose your carpet and curtain fabrics before, or at the same time, you choose your paint colours.
- When considering the design of your drapes give thought to the size of the room. Often lifting the rods 100-200mm above the frame or even up to the ceiling will make the room feel bigger.
- Drape length can be a personal thing, whether you like them well off the floor, just to the floor, or dragging on the floor. Remember if you have them touching the floor you won’t be able to achieve a structured look from your drapes as the fabric will loose its pleated look as the fabric drags on the floor.
- If you are wanting to give your home a contemporary look use sunscreen blinds as sunfilters instead of net fabric. This gives nice clean lines to the window and looks great from the outside.
- Drapes made using linen, cotton or hemp will move up and down. They look great but make sure you have these fabrics well on the floor.
- Express your personality. Not every room in the house has to have the same fabric or style. Enjoy your designing and buying experience. Choosing a drape company that has a good reputation and that care about your purchase is important.
- Don’t assume that paying a high price for your fabric means you are buying long lasting fabric.
- Comparative quotes. If you get more than one quote make sure that you are getting “apples for apples”. In other words, make sure it is the same fabric, lining, style, meterage, and tracking. You may find the dearer quote could be the “cheaper” quote if the same specifications was quoted on.
- Get a written guarantee. Whilst you are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act, you should always get a guarantee of workmanship and quality.
Blinds and Screens
These may be a better option for you than drapes. They can certainly give a more modernist look but they’re generally not as good as heat retention as drapes for retro fit situations, although this becomes less of a concern for modern homes using double and triple glazed windows. Ideal for privacy and a modern clean look, blinds, venetians and screens can look traditional or very contemporary.
Classic, traditional, modern, contemporary, eclectic and avant-garde are the words used most often to describe furniture, but they go only part-way to covering all the endless styles available to cater to every individual’s taste. As much as floor coverings and wallpaper, furniture provides a means of self-expression – but it also needs to be comfortable!
- Whether you are settled in familiar surroundings or creating a new environment, your home should offer body-soothing furniture, pleasing colours and a wealth of personal accents.
- From choosing the first piece of furniture to adding the last accessory, furnishing your home can be easy and enjoyable when you know what you’re looking for.
- And one of the easiest ways to start the process is to identify what you like from home decorating and furnishing magazines (see our Design Guide here and Pinterest page here); as you find rooms, colour schemes and furniture styles you like, clip them out and make a note as to why you like them. Before long, you’ll have a notebook that reflects your tastes.
- Try out the furniture – particularly sofas, chairs and beds, as the comfort levels will vary markedly from one piece to the next.
Next, it’s time to tour your home.
- What pleases you about a room?
- Do you still love fabric on a sofa or would leather be viable now that the children have grown up?
- Do you still love glass and marble or would wooden furniture be more appropriate on your lovely polished floors?
Again, do not rush this tour, as you will want to eliminate any past mistakes. Be ruthless!
If a piece of furniture does not function well or fit the new mood you want, move it to another room or straight out the door. It’s often easier to live with an empty corner than tolerate an eyesore or obstruction.
On the practical side, take a realistic look at your budget. Set aside a portion of it for furniture that you want to last a long time, for instance, you’ll spend up to one-third of your life in bed, so this is usually one piece of furniture that commands a decent budget.
Finally, take the plunge and start making some decisions … but remember you don’t have to make all the decisions alone. Often, professional decorating advice pays off in the long run by helping to eliminate costly mistakes, and no-charge or low-charge decor consultants are often available at furniture stores and galleries.
Interior Linings and Walls
The plasterboard options are increasingly varied as manufacturers produce interior wall boards with noise reduction, additional insulation, fireproof and waterproof for different applications.
- There are alternatives to plasterboard, too. Plywood, wood veneer panels, glass and fiberglass have been used and there are now also bamboo sheets.
- Negative details create clean, sharp lines that leave ceilings floating or subtly frame walls with recessed channels surrounding windows, doors, and at wall-to-floor ceiling junctions.
- Feature walls and ceilings can be created with other techniques such as bulkheads, false beams, partitions, curved walls, voids or recesses to create interest, separate spaces an style. Talk to your designer
- Level 4 and 5 finishes are most commonly specified in residential home construction.
- Level 4 is the generally accepted level of finish; it is used where non-critical lighting falls on satin/flat/low sheen paints or wallpaper.
- Level 5 is for use where gloss, semi-gloss or dark tone paints are specified or where critical lighting conditions occur on satin, flat matt or low sheen paints.
- The key difference between Level 4 and 5 is that level 5 requires the entire surface of the wall or ceiling is covered in a thin layer special compound called a “skim coat” to remove surface textures and porosity. Stricter framing and installation requirements are also needed to ensure a level 5 finish is achieved. Due to the extra labour costs, the skim coat process can add an extra $150-$250 to the cost of one 15m2 wall.
A ceiling – an overhead interior surface that covers the upper limit of a room. It is generally not a structural element, but a finished surface concealing the underside of the floor or roof structure above.
Ceilings are classified according to their appearance or construction. A cathedral ceiling is any tall ceiling area similar to those in a church. A dropped ceiling is one in which the finished surface is constructed anywhere from a few inches to several feet below the structure above it. This may be done for aesthetic purposes, such as achieving a desirable ceiling height; or practical purposes such as providing a space for HVAC or piping. An inverse of this would be a raised floor. A concave or barrel shaped ceiling is curved or rounded, usually for visual or acoustical value, while a coffered ceiling is divided into a grid of recessed square or octagonal panels, also called a lacunar ceiling. A cove ceiling uses a curved plaster transition between wall and ceiling; it is named for cove molding, a molding with a concave curve.
- The finishing is all important but the preparatory work is critical to the quality of the end product.
- Ensure correct paints are used in specific areas like kitchens and bathrooms, doors and window frames.
- Look for sloppy work and make sure it’s cleaned up. Ensure angles are cut in to keep lines sharp.
- The quality of paint has no impact at first, but over time, better quality paints maintain their sheen and finish where cheaper paints fade and chip more readily.
- Is the preparatory work of a sufficient standard – filling holes, touching up plaster sanding, use of correct undercoats?
- Are the paints being used the brands you specified or cheaper alternatives?
- Have the painters got the correct colours as specified?
Architectural hardware is about how it looks, how it feels and, sometimes, what it costs.
Choosing the right door hardware for example, can have a big impact on a room.
There are a huge number of options among a number of different categories – it might seem overwhelming, but the time and effort here will certainly pay off when you are finally in your stylish and customised new home.
Different aspects to door handles and hardware for your home are:
- Entrance Door Handles
- Interior Door Handles
- Window Fittings
- Sliding Door
- Letter Boxes and Accessories
- Door Knockers
- Door Bolts
- Gate Latches, Handles and Hinges
- Bathroom Fittings
- Banister Brackets
- Cabinet Handles
- Bars & Accessories
- Brass, Aluminium, Stainless Steel
- Gate Hardware
- Handrails & Accessories