It’s very typical for Irish old builds to be dark inside. Only now modern Irish buildings get planned with large windows and vaulted ceilings. But no worries! If room is dark, it doesn’t mean it cannot be cozy.This year I’ve been working with young family in co. Leitrim and our main design brief was “To make room Cozy and Inviting”. You can see for yourself that room looked a bit dull and mostly because of a lack of natural lighting.
Sitting room – BEFORE
There is a very popular false belief among homeowners – ‘if room is dark you need to choose very light paint colour’. Unfortunately, all light and medium tone paints don’t show much colour in the dark at all. You need to work from the opposite – If you want to see colour, you need to put colour on walls!
I don’t mean colour as blue, green, red or yellow; I mean rich colour tone of your choice. It can be neutral but with deep base, it won’t make room dark but will add volume.
See picture below, wall colour creates strong contrast next to white ceiling and at the same time it doesn’t make room much darker. Though, we see and feel nice warm tone.
Sitting room – AFTER
In addition, we have changed furniture layout to make sure all seats facing centre of the room creating conversational area. It’s very important condition to fulfil making room more inviting.
Sitting room – AFTER
This sitting room is a very long room, which was a big struggle for a family to style it in a past. There is a good design tip:Create unique display centering it to each area.
In our case, it is corner sofa and cuddler sofa as two unique areas withing one large room. We keep the flow of textures and colours not to loose integrity.
Sitting room display – AFTER
I hope you like transformation and here is one final design tip: To make room to look luxury, Invest into good ceiling light/chandelier and add greenery in glass jars! They are small details but very effective!
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.
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.
Building Plan Lighting Plan
Moreover, Design Concept allows to see a complete project budget.
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
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:
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? 🙂
September was fantastic and very busy month. I hope you are doing well and enjoy these sunny autumn days too!
I’m excited to say that during October I will show you several complete projects I’ve been working on recently. Couple of projects still need final installations and touches but there is one to reveal today!
It is a Master Bedroom of married couple.Client’s request included bedroom to be in taupe colours, contemporary, simple and elegant. Here what we had at the start: pine doors, pine skirting boards, pale yellow walls, dated furniture. Not so exciting but not for long…
Client wanted to keep carpet, bed and wooden standing mirror. I take these items as a starting point to build colour scheme in the room.
I always encourage my clients to reuse old furniture, and so we decided to keep chest of drawers too.
Every project I start from presenting mood board which includes samples of wallpaper, lighting option, paint, accessories etc. Every detail gets an approval of the Client and we have an open conversation on what we can change or add. It is very important to have personal in-put to feel it home.
As you can see, we use two types of wallpaper on opposite walls. Taupe wallpaper with pattern is a feature wall (you see it when you enter the room) and plain white/grey wallpaper is an accent wall to give a soft texture (you face the wall when you sit on a bed). This plain wallpaper has a soft shimmer and you can’t resist to touch it every single time you face the wall.
Brown mirror colour is not a single dark spot in the room any more! We add Chocolate velvet curtains and walnut bedside tables. Old chest of drawers repaint using Antique White Furniture Paint and add white 4 panelled headboard on a bed.
As you can see, we spread existing colours around the room to balance it.
Here what we have as a result!
Main wall (Feature wall)
We have minimum accessories on a bed. It is practical point as married Couple wanted to keep it simple and easy for making bed in the morning.
I wonder if you can recognise the old pine chest of drawers? 🙂 Looks fantastic with new black nickel knobs!
Framed pictures from Client’s archive, flowers with a vase is a personal pick of my Client. We discuss and set key point for accessories to add and that’s what makes room personalized!
There is a lot of painting involved during project: 3 doors, skirting boards, chest of drawers, ceiling and walls. Moreover, each surface needed more than one coat to look as it is on a picture. The most amazing part is my Clients were fantastic to complete it within couple of weeks (without taking days off)! Well done!! Now we are ready to renovate another room in the house.