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So far Alena Chikurnikova has created 40 blog entries.

Apex window dressing solutions

Apex windows is a huge architectural design trend these days in Ireland. To be honest, I will be surprised to see new build without one. It’s undestandable that tall windows look well as a part of exterior, you get plenty natural lighting inside and not to mention view outside.
 
Unfortunately, the day you move into a house and start decorating and styling your space, you might realize that in some areas even apex window require dressing. One of my clients said: “To buy window treatments for a new house, it was almost like getting a second mortgage!”.
 
It’s true that most of the times good quality & custome-made window treatments are pricey. We manage to find affordable window dressing solutions for standart size windows, where apex window cannot be called ‘standard’.
 
I would highly recommend to include window dressing for apex windows into your construction budget or consider them in areas where you easily can have them opened all the time. At the same time, there are three main areas where placing window dressing have more practical reason: sitting room/TV room, dining room and bedroom.
 
Here are your available apex window dressing solutions:
 
#1 Voile/Sheer /Curtains with long drapes
This solution will look elegant in any interior. Obviously for bedroom you will need to choose thicker fabric for more privacy, especially in the evening. At the same time, for TV room and dining room – light voile will be better for semi-privacy, which still allow plenty natural light during a day.

Pinterest: Design Anthology Magazine
 
#2 Shaped motorised blinds:
Great option to close all window sections when it’s required. Check design and size options with your window supplier. Here is good video example from signature.ie

In addition, you could try to use combination of two solutions: Fit blinds at the very top and place curtains pole across a window with standard size pair of curtains.
 
#3 Cellular blinds (including sliding door):
This window covering used to block or filter light and insulate windows to save energy. It can be very efficient and practical in certain areas.

#4 Vertical Blinds (for smaller apex window): is simple and budget friendly alternative.

#5 Shutters:
We all know them well for being timeless and very effective.

Pinterest: maisonbelle.nl
 
#6 Something different (for small apex windows):
A large triangular window follows the roofline and provides views of the street. When privacy is required, a custom-made triangular blind that’s hidden within the cabinetry, can be raised blocking most of the window.
This example shows that there is always a possibility for creative and not standard solution.

Picture via Contemporist
 
Keep your mind opened for new things!
 
Best wishes,
Alena C

 

2019-02-03T16:59:41+00:00December 4th, 2017|Design Tips|

Your Ideal Contractor

This is second part of blog on How to Hire Right Contractor.
 
Very often I work with professionals from different trades, some I meet myself, others come from recommendations. Unfortunately, sometimes great expertise, high profile and superb skills isn’t enough for complete positive experience.
 
Everyone has different personality behind professionalism. To see it, you need to get to know person better! Unfortunately, time is against of us and professional testimonial becomes a priority in hiring contractor.
 
I believe overall experience can be divided on two parts : #1 Final work; #2 Work process. Professionalism guarantees quality of work, which is our final result; when right personality of contractor is important factor of positive work process.
 
Could you say “This contractor did an amazing work but he is sh… to work with. Highly recommended!” ? Believe it or not but I heard this several times and even had “an opportunity” to work with one or two. But this experience taught me a good thing, to see this attitude and first signals to avoid “no my type” contractors before we start next time.
 
Here what you really should look for:
 
#1 Good Professional ethics:
There are contractors who like to criticize other professionals. It happens even without looking at their work, with no clear argument to discuss. You can call it “just a talk”. Working on big scale projects different contractors have to work as a team. We all know that good understanding starts with respect. Only then two professionals can communicate effectively.
 
#2 Contractor with good planner:
Most of contractors are self-employed and they plan time and orders themselves. During high constraction season most of them are well-booked with waiting time about 6 weeks (average). But there are “contractors – unicorns”, they do magic. Being very booked, they somehow find time for you between orders. This professionals are rare to meet but when you meet one, stay down to earth. All professionals work certain hours, they have family, kids, dog to walk and dinner to eat. Nobody works over night and extra weekend. What I want to say that this type of contractors aren’t reliable. You might be promissed special day between other two clients/orders, you will believe but then on day X, there is no order or contractor to show up because he is overbooked. Magic disappears! Your Ideal contractor has good planner, he knows how long it takes to complete one order before takes next one. He marks it in the diary and informs you about available day. You know the date when contractor is free FOR YOU and ready to focus on your request.
 
#3 Solution finder vs. problem thinker:
Being creative person, I often suggest not standart soltions. That’s why I especially value open-minded professionals. It’s very important to have on your side not only highly skilled person but also the individual who has enthusiasm to solve big and small dilemmas (not always so creative). You don’t need to go far to hear reasons why something can’t be done. There will be listed many reasons including bad weather and bad luck. If you meet contractor who says that something you want can not be done and proposed solution doesn’t work for you! >>Look for a different contractor who will find solution to make your idea work! It’s the same if you go to doctor and he says “You are deadly sick and there is no cure!”, I don’t think you will give up that easily and surely will find new doctor 😉
 
#4 Must be easy-going:
Once I met two contractors who brough their skills on a whole new level. They do their job great, quality is outstanding but they work with provisional materials of certain brands or type. Once contractor nearly refused to paint hallway because paint was of a wrong brand. I know sometimes it’s important to have good quality materials but everything should be reasonable.
 
#5 Fair man!:
You know that nobody is perfect, even perfectionist! Mistakes and falures happen most of the times simply by accident. I think it is very important for contractor to be mature, honest and fair man. It’s not about IF, it’s more WHEN ‘falure’ is going to happen. Nobody of both sides should take it personally!
 
Remember my #1 type, this contractor might blame others after own falure “I could do it better if not him…..I was telling about him at the beginning”. It will be hard to untangle this ball of facts.
Somebody else might refuse the fact of bad quality work and will prefer to retire.
 
I have a great respect to professionals who aren’t affraid to face this situation and do their best to resolve it! Well done!
 
The best way to see if contractor has a right personality, ask him questions related to each position I named above. Ask him what to expect if you supply own materials, if something goes wrong; try to find out more details on how you cooperate and communicate or how he will work with other contractors on site etc. Than more questions you ask (even you think obvious ones) than better understanding you get that the person in front of you is the right one to hire!
 
I have to say, reading this blog post, believe me that there are more of professional, intellegent and highly-skilled men than ”not great ones”! Unfortunately, when it happens to meet one, contrast is too strong to miss it.
 
Best of luck!
Alena C
2019-02-03T16:59:41+00:00November 22nd, 2017|Design Reality|

How to Hire the Right Contractor

Every project starts with an idea. You already see in your mind how functional and beautiful will look your place. You have an idea what sort of work needs to be involved. Although, not always we have skills or time to make specific work ourselves. It is time to hire professional.
 
Recently I’ve been involved into interior design project, where I met contractors hired by my client. Meeting them was interesting experience, which gave me an idea to write this post.
There are many recommendations how to find professional for the job:
 
1. Decide what job should be done and who do you need to hire
2. Ask your friends and relatives if they can recommend someone or look for someone local
3. Get several quotations
4. Ask for portfolio, recommendations, reviews etc.
5. Meet personally!
 
It is a great list and you really should follow these tips. But to find right person, most of the times it isn’t enough. To make your project experience maximum positive, pay attention at next:
 
1. Determine What level of skills should have your contractor.
There is no need to hire professional artist if you simply need to repaint your walls. Before hiring a professional, make a list of everything should be done in your place. Divide all work into groups, for example: job for painter, job for carpenter, job for tiler and etc. Inside of group try to put more details of what work will involve, for example: do you want tiler to prepare walls for new tiles himself or it will do builder? Your walls have good surface to start painting or there is extra work needed? Who will do it?
 
Decide how many different contractors you will involve into project. Can one contractor have several skills?
 
TIP:It is hard if ever possible to be good at several things. Most of qualifications require magnificent amount of years and sometimes lifetime to achieve Master level.
 
When you hire contractor always ask about main qualification and how often person gets involved into specific job. I mean situation, when you hire carpenter and he says something like: “I’m actually tiler but I also do carpentry”. It’s not bad to have two different skills but it’s very rare to be very good at both equally.
 
Ideally, to achieve the best result, better to hire contractor for one type of work. Unfortunately, it isn’t budget friendly way but you get higher quality work. Look for the right person, for example, some tilers can also install vanities along with tiles and in that case you don’t need to hire plumber. In opposite, if you need to change pipes directions or make new provision, hire skilled person to do it. Mistake will cost you more.
 
2. Meet doesn’t mean to hire!
I know some people ready to hire contractor right after getting satisfying number (quotation) on a phone. Never do that! Always meet your contractor!
It happens, contractor is hired after phone agreement and on a first day you both realize that scope of work is bigger and project cost more for you and involves longer hours for professional. Everyone feel pressure…
Don’t be afraid to invite potential person to show stage and volume of work. This meeting doesn’t mean that you must hire straight after, it is only to help you and contractor to make decision, to get precised quotation, ask questions, meet person etc. It’s also important for professional to understand if it is his type of work to be involved.
 
3. See individual and not only price!
I will repeat it again that always meet contractor before to hire. You have to be sure that you have good understanding with the person you will work with. Get confidence that contractor will follow your guidelines and always will come to discuss before taking any decisions.
TIP: It is my personal advice – Be aware of people who talk more than listen! Remember this when you will have first meeting to hire. This type of people are good to sell themselves and their service but it doesn’t mean they are good. Ask more questions about their work and how he/she will achieve what you plan to get as a result.
 
4. Get written agreement.
Everybody knows that it is good thing to sign a document, but at the end of the day leave it without attention. Please, don’t do it! It doesn’t have to be contract but should be at least agreement on work you provide and result you need to get. It is good for your contractor to have written promise to receive money and for you to get full list of arranged work done. Discuss what happens in case of delay from both sides or in case something goes wrong. It helps to establish trustworthy relationships.
Good luck with your projects!
 
Wish you only positive experience!
AlenaC
2019-02-03T16:59:41+00:00November 15th, 2017|Design Reality|

Bright and Light Playroom for kids

Playroom design is fun and creative process. Although, it can be challenging sometimes. This space must be multi-functional and suitable for kids with different interests.
 
Working on design for a family with two kids, it was very important to make room suitable for a young teenager girl of 14 y.o. and a little boy of 1 y.o. The challenge was to make room versatile.
 
In addition, client’s brief incuded:
 
1. Keep room as light as possible
2. Lots of storage space
3. Fit two desks
 
Here what we had before started:
 

To make design work for both kids, I decided to incorporate neutral colour with colours of nature. Blue is intellectual colour and essentially soothing, green is a colour of harmony and perfect for calming very active kids. Both colours have positive influence on kids intellectual development.
 

Designing bespoke cabinets, I decided to add reading bench under windows with pull-out storage system under it. It’s a great place for a teenager’s spare time. For a little boy, we made playhouse with castle shape top. It’s a fantastic hide-in place and for other imaginery games. Size of the house can fit even a grown up!
 

Playhouse has a window on one side at the top to let some natural light in. In addition, cushions from the bench can be used inside.
 

Other storage has combination of handless closed units and open shelves for display.
 

Large rug is importnat final decor to make room cosy and also it helps to complete colour scheme.
 

Decorating playroom for your kids, I highly recommend to solve furniture layout and find relevent storage solution first. After that choose colours, where the most striking tone should be on a wall you see as soon you enter. Create right first impression!
 
Kids are more sensitive to colours than adults, be wise choosing paint. Your choice will help them grow happy and fun.
 
Best wishes!
Alena C
2019-02-03T16:59:41+00:00November 1st, 2017|Design Project|

Special Effect Paint

I hope you enjoy springtime! Days are finally longer, we have more sunlight and I’m finally getting my energy back to do more things. I hope you get something positive these days too!
 
It’s been very busy winter and I didn’t have much time to do any DIY recently. Finally with extra energy and longer days, I have so many ideas to share. But before coming soon series of DIY, I’ve prepared for you a little Intro Post about Special effect Paint as It takes a big part in most DIY projects.
 

 
It’s not a secret that any DIY project requires lack of imagination and a set of tools. If you are new in DIY World, here you will find all kind of special effect paint available to express your creativity on different surfaces.
 

# 1 Chalk Paint

There are many brands, I like Chalky Finish Furniture Paint and there is also well-knownAnnie Sloan Paint. You can find a complete overview of this product in my Blog Annie Sloan products: Let’s test it!
 
If you like home DIY then furniture paint is the first you learn about. There is nothing better than smooth matt finish, which gives classic look. I love modern paints for furniture! It is so easy to apply, doesn’t require special preparation. Most of water-based paints are thick that doesn’t require priming or sending. In addition, paint dries fast and doesn’t have strong odour.
 

#2 Chalkboard paint

This paint is more creative and you can apply on absolutely any surface!
 
Paint part of your wall or a whole wall
 
 
Paint furniture

 

Chalk paint doesn’t have to be black, how about red, green or navy!

 

Special extra: Magnetic Chalkboard Paint (Brush)

I had an opportunity to test it during one of my recent projects. Paint really works if only you give at least 3 thick coats! It will hold small magnets and event some paper notes. If you want to use medium or a little bit more heavy magnet then you should consider extra 2 coats, in total 5. Will work perfect!

Special Effect Paint

#3 Crackle paint

From the paint name, you get an idea. It creates antique and decorative crackle effect on furniture, walls, picture frames and other decorative elements.

 

#4 Mirror effect paint

This paint creates reflective surface, mirror-like look. Obviously it will not look like actually mirror quality but like antique mirror for sure.

Special Effect Paint

Krylon Looking Glass Silver

#5 Metallic paint

There are different colours from popular gold, silver, copper to rainbow colours. Choice is yours. Paint gives stunning shimmer and most of brands produce multi-purpose paint, which means can be applied to any surface.

Ceiling

 

Walls finish

 

Furniture

 

#6 Neon Paint

Glowing colours in the dark. Can be applied on any interior surface. This one can be a true fun!

Special Effect Paint

Rust-Oleum Neon Yellow Paint from designerpaint.com

 

#7 Fresco

It is featuring paint, which replicates plaster walls of ancient European buildings. It is classical and timeless. This finish is for anyone who wants elegant, original and sophisticated look.

 

#8 Stone Textured Effect Spray Paints

This paint gives attractive faux finish stone effect and can be applied to most surfaces including metal, wood, plaster, clay and not glazed ceramic.

#9 Frosted glass paint

With this example you can create a translucent frosted glass effect on transparent surfaces including glass doors, windows, skylights and greenhouses. You even can use stencils to get pattern and personalize your work. The best surfaces are mirrors, glass accessories and more to get semi-transparent coating for decoration or privacy.

Special Effect Paint

  Pinterest from writeclickscrapbook.com

#10 Glitter Spray paint

This paint is a great fun fro everyone who loves shimmer and sparkle! It can be applied on any surface, it’s up to your fantasy!

Special Effect Paint

That’s a nice glitter spray finish from kastyles.co

Hope you find an inspiration to create something original and unique.

Happy decorating everyone!

AlenaC

2019-02-03T16:59:41+00:00April 25th, 2017|DIY|

Ideal Furniture for Small Spaces

Spring time symbolizes a fresh start not only in life, in general, but in living environment too. It is a great time of the year to de-clutter rooms, make fresh decorative changes, add new colours in interiors and most of all rethink furniture layout and storage solutions.
 
I would like to remind you about available interior solutions to consider in your home for space optimization. They are simple but sometimes not always so obvious.
 
Kitchen & Dining room
 
Who wouldn’t like to have great kitchen with island, breakfast bar and still to have plenty room for decent size dining table. Unfortunately, not everyone has enough room to locate everything but here what you can consider to make life more comfortable if you are owner of compact kitchen/dining area.
 
Need more worktop in the kitchen – Add Island!
 
One of the main problems in small kitchens is not enough of worktop. It can be easily solved if to add island without cabinets under counter top. Your minimal depth can be 400mm with reasonable length. Keeping bar stool in the kitchen, you even can use island as breakfast bar from time to time.
 
 
Maximum use of vertical space.
 
If you plan a new kitchen then consider wall units up to the ceiling to use maximum space vertically. Moreover, it will make your kitchen to look bigger and ceiling higher. If you work around existing kitchen then you can add decorative storage baskets at the top instead.
 
 
Round table is the best space saver in the dining room!
 
You might be surprised to hear that round table allows to locate the same number of people as rectangular table but it will take only half of the floor space. You are right to say that rectangular table has more traditional look. I also like to say that Function and Practicality should go first. Personal comfort is priceless and it improves mental health. You can reflect your favourite style not only in furniture shape but in colour, texture, table dressing, chairs, lighting etc.
 

Holiday House 2014 by Beth Webb Interiors
 
Banquette seats are a little bit forgotten but still great compact and comfortable space saving solution. It is a great option if you plan to place dining table near wall. Moreover, high back seats is a rising hot trend in design industry.
 
 
Sitting room
 
Choose slim furniture
 
Living in the house with limited space, try to avoid unnecessary bulky sofas and arm chairs. They might look cozy and comfortable only looking at them but they take too much space. Try to choose sofas with slim arms and backs instead.
 
 
Multifunctional furniture
 
Plan furniture to be multifunctional. For example, instead of coffee table place couple of foot stools with a little tray for your cup of tea. Or use side tables on each side of the sofa and keep space in front of sofa clear.
 
 
Bespoke storage systems
 
Free standing furniture not always let you using wall space on maximum. Narrow cabinets and shelving units with simple clean lines can be a better option. Place them from the floor to the ceiling and from wall to wall. Even visually it will make room to look bigger and you will get plenty space to store and keep your stuff or organised display.
 
 
Bedroom
 
Integrated furniture will make room multifunctional. There are many variations to integrate desk with wardrobe or bed with storage. Find what suits best to your room and lifestyle.
 
 
Bedside tables may stay
 
I think it is ideal picture for many homeowners to have double bed at the centre of the wall with bedside tables on each side. Unfortunately, sometimes room layout makes us to question whether or not bedside tables will fit where we want them. I recommend to measure the entire wall before you buy any furniture. Choose bed size to be sure there is enough space left for bedside tables. There is always option to order bespoke table from local cabinet makers.
 
 
Study
 
Very often people who work at home use ‘box’ room as a home office. The most important element is a good size desk and shelving units for storage.
 
Minimalist style is the best space saving solution. Integrated Desk top gives maximum work space and it is very easy to add shelving units to organise necessary storage.
 
 
I know sometimes it’s not easy to think of different & alternative design solutions for compact interiors. Try to think out of the box, practicality and function should go before aesthetics. When you solve this task, go ahead to play with colours.
 
Best wishes!
Alena C

 

2019-02-03T16:59:42+00:00April 13th, 2017|Design Tips|

Planning Kitchen Layout

Hello Everyone,
 
As you know, I often write Blog topics as an answer on the most often asked questions hoping to reach more people with similar interest. Let’s talk about kitchen layout!
 
Have you ever found yourself in situation when you looked at empty kitchen and made plans, for example, to fit American fridge, double bowl sink, large hob, island with breakfast bar and for bonus pantry; but when it came to reality, only half of your wish list could actually fit in? I know it can be very frustrating and pity, especially if you build or extend your house. But it can happen with anyone, even if it is just a simple renovation of existing space.
 
Similar story happens when people receive building plans from architects where kitchen layout drawn as rectangular empty boxes. Unfortunately, visually it might seem to look more spacious than actually it is. Be aware of this because often for this reason, some homeowners don’t discuss kitchen layout any further and get ready for building.

Today I want to share with you general idea how to plan kitchen layout and you will get understanding what can be fit into kitchen space just as a Pro. Moreover, I will introduce you general principals of kitchen planning and you will be able understand visual proportions on a plan.

Kitchen design, AlenaCDesign
 
I will simplify principals and cut it down to general three for easy understanding:
 
#1 Kitchen cabinet/unit size and position
 
Usually you place kitchen cabinets where you have empty wall and under the window sill. Your wall will give you a direction how you can arrange kitchen. There will be several variations and which one best for you is very individual choice.
 
 
What you should know is all kitchen units have standard size. You don’t need to know all options but the most common are W 600mm and W 1000mm. With these two in mind you can say how many cabinets will fit at the wall with length, for example L3000mm.
 
Do you see it now? If you would see kitchen as white block on a plan with length 3000mm, you would possibly think – it’s plenty! But knowing cabinets size now, you know that kitchen sink will require cabinet with W 1000mm and you will have space left only for 2 more cabinets with W 1000mm or 3 cabinets with W 600mm each.
 
Try to remember that every kitchen will also need:
Standard Hob/Cooker (W600mm)
Integrated oven/mcr/w (Tall unit W600mm)
Dishwasher (W600mm)
Standard Fridge (W600mm) – American fridge (W 950-1000mm)
 
Calculation is very simple! Please don’t forget to include cabinets for extra (necessary) storage. Pantry is special consideration and will require W600-W1000mm for tall unit.
These numbers and calculation method will help you to see if there is enough room for the kitchen you want before you buy empty house or build new.
 
#2 Kitchen island and breakfast bar
These two can be a great addition to a kitchen but it’s good to be sure if there is enough space.
 
Kitchen island is a set of kitchen cabinets put up together. Now you know, there are standard units are W600mm and W1000mm. It is as simple as putting couple of blocks together and add worktop of your choice on top.
 
 
Breakfast bar doesn’t need any cabinets under counter. Minimum recommended depth is 400mm but you simply can use standard worktop with Depth 600mm. Knowing how many people will use breakfast bar at the same time, you have to consider length as 610mm/per person.
 
 
#3 Kitchen Flow and voids
 
These part can be a little bit tricky for visual estimation. In general, planning kitchen layout you have to consider free space to open doors and walk around without interruption. You have to consider distance from kitchen cabinets to island and breakfast bar. Here what you need to know:
 
– when you plan kitchen and island with NO cabinets with opening doors, you will require distance between them only L1020mm
 
– if you plan kitchen with island with opening cabinets under island counter, you will require distance between kitchen and island L1200mm. We need this distance, so when you open door of kitchen units and island cabinets at the same time, they don’t bump into each other.
 
-if your dining table is in front of the kitchen, distance from kitchen to dining table should not be closer than 1830mm, better further away.
 
 
Here are main three principals what you should take into consideration when you plan kitchen layout. Take your ruler and start measuring from the wall by adding cabinets width, door voids and distance to your breakfast bar and distance to walk around on the opposite side. It will give a true idea what you can fit inside. Of course, if you will decide designing kitchen completely yourself, these three wouldn’t be enough to know but they will help you in preparing general layout.
 
If you still have any questions related to this topic, be free to ask. I will be happy to help!
 
Best of Luck in Renovation!
AlenaC

 

2019-02-03T16:59:42+00:00March 30th, 2017|Design Tips|

Build extension before baby is born

Every project has a unique story just as people I have an opportunity to work with. From the name of this post, you can guess that project was for a growing family. Let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. M.
 
I met Mrs. M when she was having difficulties to meet one local architect. Each arrangement would be cancelled for unknown reason leaving her frustrated. She wanted to extend her house sooner rather than later. Mrs. M has never worked with an Interior Designer before and she was nicely surprised when I offered to help with building plans and specifications for contractors. She didn’t think that designers can do it.
 
Here is Client’s brief:
Mrs. M was born in Germany and she loves idea of having an open plan kitchen with dining room and lounge area. She wants to see her family and friends together and be a part of conversation while preparing tea or a meal in the kitchen. Mr. M is a local Irish man and he wants stove, comfortable sofa and good view to the garden. They met in local pub and this story has a sentimental touch in their relationships. In addition, they wanted to keep their wooden furniture, rustic home decor, have cozy and warm place, clean and clutter-free.
 
When building and lighting plans were finished, couple were able to see complete new kitchen and furniture layout. Overall extension size 40m2. Moment of presentation is quiet incredible, in general. Family could see what the house will be like when it is finished. Mood board shows all colours, textures and detailed finishings around. I believe it’s a day when people truly realise that money and time is totally worthy of investment into renovation.
Build extension before baby is bornBuild extension before baby is born
 
                       Building Plan                                               Lighting Plan
 
Moreover, Design Concept allows to see a complete project budget.
Advice:
It’s very common that most people consider budget based only on general construction work. If you plan a project, don’t underestimate the price for skirting boards, flooring, vanities, lighting etc. All these small things will sum up on top of the initial budget and actual expense number will be an unpleasant surprise if you didn’t include it before you start.
 
Planning Interior design at the same time with general construction work gives you an advantage to find the best and unique solutions. Let me show you what I mean here.
 
That’s how house used to look like before renovation.
 
Dining room Before
Build extension before baby is born

 

L-shape Kitchen Before
 
 
First we tried refit old kitchen cabinets for new layout. Unfortunately, final price with extra units had too little difference comparing to new solid kitchen. If you have similar dilemma read my blog post for more information New Layout, Old Kitchen
 
I prepared kitchen design with new layout and specifications for carpenter. Initial dining room and kitchen space were united to create larger kitchen, where cabinets are placed along both walls.
 
This kitchen has several features:
– we added lights on top of cabinets, which makes ceiling higher and also highlights collection of rustic jars;
 

– we extended cooker canopy up to the ceiling to stand out;
 

– we chose minimalistic large polished concrete effect tiles with outstanding tiles for a feature.
 

Opposite side of the wall (ex-dining room) we decided to use for display of kids’ art and craft. Here we made DIY display frame with magnetic chalkboard inside.
 

There was an unused corner in the kitchen and that’s where planning ahead gave us an advantage.
 
Kitchen corner before:

Kitchen Corner After: we extended the part of the wall to hide visible side of tall ladder, there is light on top of units too. Overall lighting effect is very soft and calming in the evening hours. Moreover, family prefers mood lights and uses it more often than general lighting.
 

Extended wall was painted in charcoal grey and now it is a feature wall in dining room. Moreover, this wall is a centrepiece because you see it from any point of open plan extension. There was a special wish from Mrs. M to have a family tree and photo display in new space – metal wall art looks fantastic here!
 

That’s how this wall and a whole corner looked Before:
 

Look After:
 

Dining area happened to be located right in the middle of original outside wall, It could look awkward but to make it as an advantage we considered lighting above table. That’s what make planning in advance very valuable!
 

I couldn’t forget a request from Mr. M and he gets cozy lounge area with fantastic view over garden!
 

It is simple and cozy, minimum accessories from me for they could add more of own things. In addition, we add extra wide window sill to sit and enjoy the view.
 

Picture arrangement includes a clock, which Mr. M likes and I chose couple of great pictures with local sights and a pub, of course!
 

But the most important here is a bespoke surround for stove with symmetric storage on each side.
 

Here we’ve considered sockets for TV and internet but the best thing is closed storage for fire timber! Who wouldn’t like to have something like this? 😉 All mess is hidden away from the sight and from kids.
 

To have stove with surround, mounted TV on top and with perfect storage symmetry wouldn’t not be possible if not a well-prepared design in advance! It looks so well, you can’t even imagine how many things were done to achieve this!
 
I hope you also noticed that we reused if not all but most of things family already has! We also upcycled little plant stand which Mrs. M wanted to throw away.
 

What I didn’t mention yet, there is another spare bedroom in the extension. At the moment Mrs. M decided to use it for a home studio with Massage Classes for babies. There is no presence of planned design as it would require extra budget. But having a baby coming so soon, the most important was to finish everything clean and tidy.
 

We added sink and it fits perfectly in the corner. Window was a part of window in the kitchen, which is a great way to reduce project cost.
 

I have to say that both Mr. and Mrs. M did a fantastic job to manage project themselves. It didn’t happen over night and we had months of planning and then months of completion. I did my best to assist them consulting contractors, I know how stressful building site can be. I can’t be thankful enough for their trust and believe in design and my work.
 
Do you still remember the blog post title? 😉 Family moved back into the house before it was fully finished and domestic routine made things happening slower. Until one day Mrs. M asked if I could finish everything in one go. I called for a handyman and we had 7 hours of final fix. In 2 days family welcomed a wonderful baby boy!
 
I still wonder who has the best patience Mother or a Baby not to be born before final fix, how do you think? 🙂
 
Thank you for reading!
Alena C
2019-02-03T16:59:42+00:00March 16th, 2017|Design Project|

Commercial Design for small and medium Business

Most of my blog posts contain advice to help people with residential design, who decorate homes themselves. Although, as a designer I often meet local businesses and there is a great number of owners who also like or choose to decorate themselves. It is true that Residential and Commercial design use the same design principals but still there is a significant difference in approach!
 
Smart design can help your business to attract more clients to open your door and come inside, it will help to sell your products or service. Design will make your brand more visible, trustworthy and clear to others, it helps to create right atmosphere and make it a part of overall experience making them to come back.
 
What I call smart design isn’t just a good taste in styling and matching colours but a good bit of science. I always use practical psychology and spatial design principals to achieve best result.
 
I have a little story to share. I used to live in Moscow and one day I had to go to dentist. It is probably the worse plan for Saturday morning. So you can guess mood wasn’t great and I was pretty nervous on a way to dental clinic. When I came inside, there was an ordinary reception and I’ve been asked to wait. The most surprising thing, there was no waiting room with chairs, what you usually expect. I followed a girl into a back room, which looked like conservatory. There were leather seats, TV on, lots of greenery, self-catering tea & coffee in a corner. Double doors were opened and I could see that actually the weather was warm and sunny outside. Seating there for about 15 minutes I’ve totally forgot that I’m in dental clinic! It changed my mood and I felt much better. At the end of the day the dental service was great too and I thought – that’s was a great Saturday! The key point of this story is even if you provide exceptional service and sell great products, people buy experience. They will walk out of the door and will remember only feeling they had during a visit. Design help you to set and provide experience beyond all expectations.
 
Of course, every different business will have different design solution for many reasons but I would like to share with you the most important design key points, which will be common for most businesses to consider.
 
#1 Plan Layout Before Design
 
Before you choose paint or any other finishing materials, think how you place furniture first. Decide where will be reception or desk. Try to imagine how your customers/clients will move around, what do you want them to see first and etc. It will help you to determine which area is a Focal point, which gives your visitors first expression. Give it a special thought from the point of design. Usually there are 4 the most common area types you will need to set in your business: Focal point, Reception, Waiting area, Working area. Of course, it depends on a business specific not all businesses will have waiting area but other three should be considered.
 
 
#2 Create Outstanding feature
 
As I mentioned before it is very important to create something memorizing and eye-catching. It can be a bright or rich painted wall, photo arrangement, art, mural, quotes etc. There are many ideas for different budgets. Not all customers are good to remember company names but they will talk and share experience with friends in a way, “you must visit a shop with this outstanding wall inside”.

Dior Unveils London Boutique Design by Peter Marino via bykoket.com
 
#3 Lighting is everything!
 
Did you know that the most visited businesses, especially retails, the ones have lights on all the time! Better to say, the businesses who have lights inside visible for potential customers/ clients outside. If you have a display window and products are arranged beautifully but it looks like it is dark inside, the number of visitors (potential customers) will be minimum. Unfortunately, window display is not enough any more. The reason is simple – every single window on a main street has a display. People pass those windows every day and stop paying attention but situation is dramatically changes when there is light inside. The light, be it a simple pendant or chandelier, gives us an idea ‘ it is busy inside’ and makes most people curious to come in.

#4 Use Colour psychology
 
All people are sensitive to colours, some more than others but it is undeniable. Power of colour will help to achieve desirable atmosphere and give your customers right mood for shopping, enjoy meal, accept service you provide etc. Here are several examples what some colours mean:
 
 
Yellow is a warm, joyful colour and it stimulates logical thinking and decision making.
 
Green creates sense of calm and harmony. It encourages generosity, kindness and sympathy.
 
Blue helps to increase customer’s loyalty and trust. It demonstrates confidence, reliability and responsibility. It promotes one-to-one communication rather than mass communication.
 
Purple shows wealth, extravagance and creativity. It is great colour to demonstrate sense of beauty and premium quality.
 
There are more colours with specific meaning and use several for the best result.
 
#5 Attention to details
 
Choose finishing details to match overall look and general design concept. Even affordable solutions can look great. Add accessories even if you don’t sell them but they will help to dress your stock. If you offer tea and coffee, use cups which will reflect your brand or business style. If you have elegant interior but use shabby chairs, it will be noticeable to your clients. Don’t let small things to ruin all the hard work and money you’ve invested.
 
 
Think of your business place design as an Investment and not an expense! Only then it will pay off and return a profit. When you do commercial design in cheap and cheerful way, your customers will expect you selling products cheap and cheerful too. They even might be very frustrated why prices are higher than their expectations.
 
Good design attracts right customers and they expect to pay price your business represent. Think yourself, when you visit boutique and see price a little bit higher than in any average shop, you look around a shop and you understand that you pay for quality and exclusive look. But what would be your thoughts if the same products with the same price tag would be presented in shabby retail place? I hope you get an idea. Make right choice and don’t do it half way!
 
Get Design You’ve Always Wanted!
Alena C

 

2019-02-03T16:59:42+00:00March 8th, 2017|Design Tips|

Top Tiles Trend in 2017

Tiling is one of the most important inputs during any renovation. Taking complexity of the work into consideration, tile choice should have timeless look with classic touch. My personal observation showed that once people put tiles down, it will be 10-15 years before they replace it. This fact makes tiling one of the most long-lasting decorative elements in both residential and commercial properties.
 
If you go through renovation, this post will help you to find all up to date looks and you will enjoy finished interior for many years.
Tiles have so many characteristics to consider, so let’s have a look at them:
 
#1 SHAPE and SIZE
 
There are three main shapes with growing demand:
 
– Hexagonal
 
 
– Elongated hexagonal
 

Dark Blue Crayouns Storm fromtilestyle.ie
 
– Arabesque Moroccan Lantern tiles
 

Arabesque Silk by tilestyle.ie
 
– Metro tiles are still in a good request, especially in neutral colours
 
 
– Long, narrow tiles is a sophisticated choice
 
 
Tiles with wood texture, polished concrete and stone stay in 2017 and I believe will be around for another couple of years, for sure. Whatever texture you will go for, should have soft sheen or be completely matt. Main look has clean lines, minimalist, elegant with soft tones.
 
 
#3 COLOUR
 
Most of neutral colours have timeless look. We had several years of grey colour domination and these tendency is dramatically changing towards warmer tones. One of the most desirable colours become Caramel. It has very soft warm tone and it looks an absolute winner in combination with white and black colours.
 
 
I believe that Caramel is a 100% hit in new season but there are other two colour schemes stay around not because of fashion but because people love it:
– Clean white
 
 
– Warm Taupe
 
 
#4 Pattern as a Fashion element
 
Tiles with various 3D effects can become a great feature without doubts. Size of a pattern can vary from large to small. Stunning look!
 
 
Here are tiles which look like an outstanding piece of art!
 
FIBER CEMENT 3D WALL TILE SEED and EDGY BY KAZA CONCRETE
 
#5 Wall pattern
 
Although, traditional straight row with clean lines stays classic, Chevron quickly becomes a favourite feature pattern for many designers. You can see it inside fireplace, as a kitchen back splash or on bathroom walls. Tile manufacturers are great to keep up with trends and now you can find tiles with precut edges. It makes tiling process easier and faster.
 

Arrow Silk Polvere from tilestyle.ie
 
This is my list of main rising trends and you will see many of them featured during a year. As you probably noticed, here I didn’t include new season colours, such as rosy-pink, teal, navy blue, emerald green etc. It’s because we can’t know if all these colours will be around in 10-15 years to last as a part of your tile choice.
 
Keep an eye on neutral tones with contemporary twist. They have a good potential to be named iconic and so classic. If you would like to add few colours, bring some accessories and style place to your taste. You always can change accent colour and use new decor but your background will be timeless. Overall interior look will stay attractive for many years.
 
Best Wishes,
Alena C

 

2019-02-03T16:59:42+00:00February 28th, 2017|Design Trend|
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