design tips

Interior Design in the Home: 7 Elements of Interior Design

Here we are in 2020!


It is going to be another busy year filled with interesting projects and collaborations. 

Working with my clients, I like to educate them on interior design topic. I want them to have understanding what works and what doesn’t work in their homes and WHY. Understanding how internal space works and how to complement different aspects, helps to improve your lifestyle and mental health in general.

Recently I had a very interesting conversation with AIG about what key elements design consists of and how they are important. If you like design and would like to learn about fundamental principles of design, you should read full interview in the link below. Design is much more than a bit of colour 😉

AIG – BLOG – Interior Design in the Home: 7 Elements of Interior Design


Happy Decorating!

Alena C


2020-05-16T19:10:47+01:00January 20th, 2020|Design Tips|

How to Handle any Renovation at Ease

I will never forget a client who was making peanut butter sandwiches for her kids on a windowsill. Fridge was moved at the bay window in the sitting room and this small area became a form of canteen. Kids could play only in their bedroom and TV room was upstairs as well. Construction was going well but my client didn’t have clear vision of finished project with some changes made at last minute and that’s where I was invited to help.

Any type of renovation can be stressful but good planning and thinking ahead can save you a lot of time, money and you get your home back to normality rather sooner than later. There are many things to consider and here is my check-list of what you might forget:

#1 Research and Understand your Project

Make a good research on what will be involved in your project: how many different contractors you will need, what materials you will require, who are your suppliers, makers etc. What is the essential work needs to be considered to exclude any additional work in the future (at least in first 10 years): electric wiring, plumbing, drainage system, insolation etc. Do you plan to do some work yourself? Don’t assume that builder is your project manager. Think who is your project coordinator, especially if you use independent contractors.

Well-planned construction always shows great progress

#2 No Rubbish Plan

During construction you will have plenty rubbish and you need a plan for getting rid of it. Depends on a project scale, you might need a skip or check with your builder if he will sort it for you.

Organizing it yourself, don’t forget to include cost in your budget, where rates can vary: standard skip around 300-350 euro for 5 days, mini skip just about 160-180 euro for 3 days (rates in 2019, Midlands, Ireland).


#3 Budgeting

To know your expenses is crucial because nothing can beat money stress.

Quote different contractors, find out how much is labour, materials, finishing details. How much does it cost to bring house to a clean stage?

Make a provisional list of materials you will require during construction. Discuss it with your construction team and set a plan who /what and when is going to source various materials.

Don’t forget about small works such as furniture fitting, skirting boards, hanging pendants, putting shelves up etc. Small costs add up quicker than you imagine, don’t ignore it at early stage. If your calculation brings you over budget decide to save, to borrow or compromise on various solutions before you begin.


#4 Be ready for Unexpecting!

Talking about budget and project duration – Expect Unexpecting!

It doesn’t matter if it’s new build or existing building renovation, there is always a risk of hidden issues. Nobody can know in advance what might show up when the work commence, for example: lick, mold, electrical lines that need replacing, issue with insolation etc.

All these surprises can add unexpecting 10-20% over your budget. Make sure to include it in your budget. It means if you plan to spend 30 000 euro, your active budget you use for planning is 24 000 -27 000 euro. It’s better to have money left in your pocket than to be broke half way.


#5. Get a planner

Clear project vision is your written plan. When you include each contractor into your planner, renovation doesn’t seem endless and you can keep a track on progress. Builders usually have certain plan for various stages and sometimes only as far as to finish construction work.

You need to contact all other suppliers and fitters yourself to make your home livable again. Allow lead time about 6-12 weeks for tilers, makers and fitters. Don’t forget to organize deliveries (2-4 weeks) and you will have your sofa in time.

Project planning, technical drawings by AlenaCDesign


Life goes on even during renovation. Especially if you have children, you need to plan construction with minimum disturbance of your daily routine. Not everyone can afford to move out, so if you plan to stay during peak of renovation, prepare yourself to accept dust, mess, disorder of things for a certain number of days / weeks. The best advice is constantly keep thinking ahead!

Any home improvement project comes with its own surprises and challenges. Get a plan and be organized, your new living space will be ready in no time!


Best of Luck!

Alena C

2019-04-30T18:57:32+01:00April 4th, 2019|Design Reality, Design Tips|

Your Perfect Christmas Interiors

Christmas season is approaching fast! Many people has started to take decorations out and dress their homes in all bright colours. But let me ask you a question, “Have you ever experienced after Christmas that your home looks empty without decorations? Unfortunately, it’s a simptom of “design hangover” and a sign that you went a little bit too much with Christmas transformation.

Every year local shops offer an incredible amount of sparkling things and it’s hard to resist not to buy something new. But have you ever wondered if you do your Christmas Interior right? How to know when it’s enough to decorate?

Christmas is not just a season full of joy and cheer but also known as a very stressful time. You might feel an additional pressure when your kids ask to buy another sparkling decoration. Do you feel guilty to say “no’ to buy another raindeer? So, where is that balance of fun and a home with good style?

Before we look at practical recommendations and examples, let me remind you what Interior design is actually about.

Interior design is a very complex subject. In general, It’s your home which tells a story of who you are, who your husband is, who your children are. It’s a home which works well for your lifestyle, your husbands habits, habits of every child you have, and of course, your dog’s habits. Home is a place where you feel safe, secure, recover after busy and stressful day. Here you feel comfortable not only physically but emotionally. Interior design helps to keep balance of all these things.

Christmas Interior is not about redecorating your home for this special time of the year but Styling. It means, we keep our Interior as it is but add decorative details to COMPLEMENT things which make our home a Home.

If you have sideboard with a collection of your family photos or your favourite scented candles on top of a mantel shelf; they should not disappear in one moment and be replaced by a great selection of santas, raindeers, Christmas tree candles etc. Please don’t style you home just as you see shelves in most of stores during Christmas season. Don’t be that perfect customer to buy everything you like.

There are some practical recommendations which will help you to style your home, keep the balance and you even might save some money:

#1 Your Colour Formula

See existing colours in your home and try to complement them with Christmas decor. If you like monchrome colour scheme, then choose decor in neutral tones from dark to light, mix textures and finishes.


If you like pop of colours, then bring decorations with pleasant contrast.


If you are not sure what colour strategy to use then go for universal colour scheme formula:

Use green (it can be your pine branch) + metalic finish (gold or silver) of your choice+ One colour of your choice

I know, it can be very tempting to use many colours but that’s where it’s easy to overdo with decorating. Probably, it’s fair to remind yourself that Less is More!

#2 Christmas Tree

I don’t want you to have blend and boring home this season! Moreover, we don’t forget that Christmas is all about having fun and bringing cheer into our homes. That’s why your Christmas tree becomes a centerpiece. Make it fun, even funky, multi-coloured if you wish or with a random collection of decorative objects, possibly including your kid’s DIYs. Though, the rest of the décor should not compete with it and stay simple.


#3 Your Glowing Lights

Warm glowing lights always add a feeling of festive coziness. Fairy lights can be used throughout the year in most other occasions, so purchasing a few every now and then, will help you to brighten up your home with a soft glow over the Christmas period. Even a simple thing as green garland with soft light sting add a special mood in the evening. It’s a fantastic way to style your doorways, mirror, mantelshelf, staircase etc.


Snowflakes with Micro Lights by

#4 Natural Decor is Timeless

True feel of Christmas is in greenery. Add pine branches or leaves to your table display, for example in simple glass vase. Add green garlands on top of mantelshelf or staircase. You also can use various netural objects for decor: birds, pine cones, golden leaf. As creatures of nature our minds always show positive response to such details and they also add freshness to our homes.


#5 Cosy Time!

Winter season is a cold time of the year, where woolly cushions and soft throws can be a great addition to your sitting room. Still try to keep it in the same tone as your current home décor, but lift the existing colour palette with pops of complementing neutral tones with various soft textures.


Via Pinterest

As a conclusion, remember “less is more”. Choose minimalist approach, style to complement home and add more natural decor and greenery. Your Interior has an enormous impact on your well-being. When you don’t cover your Interior with Christmas decor, your home continues to help you feeling good, it reduces stress and brings calmness and serenity. That’s what I wish you this season!

Happy decorating & Merry Christmas, Alena C

2020-06-29T22:53:27+01:00December 11th, 2018|Design Tips|

Dress Window and Optimise Lighting

Did you find yourself in a situation when you walk into a room in the early afternoon and catch yourself on a thought of turning the lights on? Then you realise, it’s still a good daylight outside, you rather don’t get the lights on yet and leave shadowy room.  

Unfortunately,  buildings of previous century and most of bungalows can’t feature bright rooms. So, if you don’t want to be involved into construstion and replace windows on bigger size, you certainly can learn how you can get maximum light through existing windows with minimum investment.  

We all have window treatments of various types and for various reasons, so let’s look at curtains and blinds, as the most popular choice, how to place them on a window in the most efficient way. 

One of the main reasons why you have less lighting coming in is because you block part of your window with your blind or curtain. I know, it might sounds funny, because that’s what blinds and curtains are for. But I want you to look at the window dressing from a different perspective! 

Having double and even triple glased windows in most of the homes these days, there is no draft coming through the windows. As you can see, there is no practical reason for placing your curtains and blinds in the way they would cover window itself during a day. You get much more lighting when you install your blind outside of the window frame. At the same time, you hang your curtains to dress wall next to your window but not the window itself! 

Check some visual examples for a better idea. 

Example #1

Curtains placed on a window frame












Example #2

Curtains placed next to window frame


 At the same time, when you place blind on a wall above your window, you make your window look taller. When you place curtains next to your window, you make window look wider. I hope you see the difference! 

There are still curtain makers who still operate in old traditions, when windows were drafty and cold. You even had to use interlining, which is sort of a blanket for the window. Unfortunately, placing curtains/blinds on a window, you cover 1/3 and sometimes half of your window! It’s unbelivable how much light never reaches the interior.

But time has changed and it’s time to change the way we see our window dressing. Blinds and curtains are for styling and privacy only!  It’s up to you to get more lighting in.


As you imagine, stretching curtain drapes along a wall away from the window, you can admire fabic in full as it’s not folded! Roman blinds also look pretty outside of window frame. Though, both dressing options can be for moderate or high budget.  

When it comes to affordable solutions, people choose Roller blinds. You all might agree that roller doesn’t look that attractive, especially if you place it outside of the window frame. Luckily, there is a beautiful product by Acme Blinds ULTRA CASSETTE!  

It’s not an extodinary new product on a market. Though, I was surprised to find out that really few people know about it! 

Technically, we are talking about Roller blind being installed into a cassette. In fact, it looks like a pelmet on a window. It’s a metal white box (also available in antracite) with blind fabric decorated on a front. There is a small (H 40mm) and a big (H 70mm) cassette for your choice. See picture below for a closer look.  


Tropicanna roller blind in 70mm Ultra Cassette by AcmeBlinds  

And the best part is a price, which depends on your window width. As an example, if your window’s width is about 1000 mm, it costs about 30-35 euro additionally to your roller blind quote; where for smaller window, it can be about 20 euro. It’ is a beautiful affordable product and makes blind to look AMAZING!



Happy decorating!

Alena C

2020-06-29T22:54:07+01:00November 12th, 2018|Design Tips|

Your Classic Contemporary Home

To find own interior style is one of the hardest things for many homeowners.There is no surprise here, when design magazines and social media show us beautiful and contrasting interiors. They do look rather stunning with a WOW factor and that’s the goal of publishers to catch your attention.


Design inspiration via House and Home magazine  

We live in a very artistic design period and interior solutions can be quiet creative. But would you be brave to use some of the ideas in your home? My professional advice, If you are not sure if modern design influence is for you, go for Classic Contemporary style! If you’ve never had a love for creative or “different” look, don’t make yourself to start liking it because trends are like this. Stay true to yourself and I will show you how to make your home timeless! Classic contemporary style is not a traditional “old” style and it doesn’t mean you have to bring antiques and heavy picture frames. This style is not aging elegance! Trends don’t have influence on it. Some people call it “Hotel look”. 


Here are key principles of your Classic Contemporary Interior to apply for your home:  

#1 Furniture 

As we talk about timeless interior, furniture is considered as an investment. Good quality is a key, firm foam, straight design lines. Fabric is cotton, linen, velvet or a mix. Try to avoid large patterns like flowers or multi-coloured stripes. Fabric should have a neutral tone, be plain or with a nice visible fabric texture. Sofa should look neat in design. 


Madison sofa by Finline Furniture 

 If you plan to have occasional chair or an accent chair, you dont have to match its fabric with sofa. Although, you have two options: keep it neutral but with different fabric pattern or add colour and keep it simple (plain). The idea of interior look is to be versatile. Than more simple colour scheme will be than easier will be to add and change styling details around it.  


Other furniture like sideboard, console table or side tables can have more of a designer’s touch with various decorative details. That’s where interior becomes more ornamental and less plain! Furniture might contain unusual knobs, carved detail, glass / brass /nickel or other finishes.


#2 Colour scheme and other finishes 

As it was mentioned above, colour scheme is a very neautral and mostly light. Choose shades or grey, taupe or beige. If your room has a lack of natural light, choose rich tone of your neutral colour. Making it visible, you will make room feel more cozy. Some of you might think that all walls painted in one colour can be a boring sight. If you feel that way then add texture! You can choose textured wallpaper, wall moulding, paneling, plaster etc. Your eyes will catch added details, even small ones and that’s how visual interest will be born. 


#3 Window dressing 

There are two ways of styling your window, better to say wall next to your window! Don’t cover your window, instead allow maximum of natural light. If you have no furniture under your window, use full length curtains, (No shorties!). If you have sofa or large sideboard, then go for Roman blinds. Alternative option can be a roller blind in a cassette. 


Contemporary sitting room design by AlenaCDesign  


#4 Lighting 

Statement lighting is a main room feature what makes it look luxurious and expensive. Don’t use lampshades but go for ceiling light or chrystal/ glass pendants. Reflective surface brings more lighting into the room.


Classic Contemporary sitting room design by AlenaCDesign  


# 5 Styling 

  •  Classic Interiors don’t like clutter or too many display objects. Group your display pieces by 1 or 3 or max 5 objects together but they should be displayed as a group with variety of textures, colour tones and heights. You can find more recommendations in previous posted topic How to style accessories on display. 
  • Use plants, artficial or real branches with leaves, floor plants – they add freshness to any room! 
  • Display paintings or photo prints in frames. That’s a good way to add a bit of colour into interior and over time easily can be changed. 
  • To make room look finished and cozy, please don’t forget to place right size rug (size of your seating area), and of course, cushions.   


Classic Contemporary is one of the styles which can look more expensive than actually spent budget! It’s a good example when less is more!   


Enjoy decorating!  X 

Alena C

2021-04-10T12:05:14+01:00November 5th, 2018|Design Style, Design Tips, Featured posts|

Your Building Plan Check-List

To build own house is one of the life milestones. We imagine it to become cozy hub for every family member.

Your Building Plan Check-ListArchitectural plan by AlenaCDesign 

Architect is one of the first professionals who helps to plan a house of your dreams. He is good to prepare structural form and plan optimal natural lighting, where interior planning requires more time and attention from homeowner himself. It can be quiet frustrating to review plans for the first time. But don’t worry, I will try to clarify that process for you. Here are you key notes! 

#1 Adequate room size 

It’s one of the main things to be sure is right! View each room separately and make sure that everything you want to bring into the room will fit perfectly. Try to see it in a long term. 

For example, see how many seats do you need to have in your sitting room? Sketch your armchairs and sofa (ideally in scale) on your plan, creating conversational area i.e. seats facing each other or centre of the area. Make sure there is enough clearance between furniture to move around (at least 800mm between objects). 

Think, how much storage do you require?
Where do you put your TV?
Do you mind if TV point is near a window?
Is windowsill too low near TV unit?
Do you need log storage or display units on each side of the fireplace? 

When construction is over, you will see that difference of having well-planned room and no frustration of dealing with unexpected outcome.

Your Building Plan Check-List Image via 

Check each room the same way, particularly kitchen! There are special requirements for kitchen layout and you can read more on this topic in Planning Kitchen Layout. 

Bedroom is not an exception here if you want to fit your king size bed with two bedside lockers on each side. You need to be sure you allow enough wall space to fit it all!  

#2 Light is good but Function is your Priority 

We all want to have bright, light and airy house, especially kitchen and dining zone. Though, there is good balance. There are many types of style and layout, it should work well for you and your personal life style! 

No matter what your taste is, kitchen layout should always comply with “working triangle” i.e. your path sink-cooker-fridge and back, doesn’t exceed 7.8m (max). If you feel it doesn’t work, change kitchen layout and even reconsider window position in order to improve it.  

With every extra inch of window frame you loose functional wall!
Make sure it works for you!   

Review your plans carefully

Do you have full height piece of wall for your fridge or eye-level oven?

Where do you place your cooker with extractor fan?

Note: gas cooker should be at least 30cm away from the window. 

In addition, window position should be right in a bathroom too.

Does furniture /shower fit well next to the window?
Where do you place your vanity unit? What size?
Where is shower? Do you have enough space for wet room? 

If you compromise on something, you should estimate what you get and what you loose.  

#3 Watch out, odd corners! 

Any room looks more pleasant when it has right shape. Try to minimize presence of various corners, bends, not to mention chimney. 

I often find that issue in master bedroom with ensuit and walk-in wardrobe. If you see obstruction blocking your entrance or it creates dead corner wasting footage, I highly recommend to talk to your architect or designer to make a change, even if it means moving internal walls or windows on your plan.  

#4 Aim for symmetry 

Symmetry is one of the universal interior elements and creates feeling of stability, calmness and dignity.


Kelly Hoppen Interiors 

It’s very effective visual feature when you enter a room but be sure you made planning for it. 

In the sitting room: Do you have equal distance on each side of your chimney?
In the bedroom: Do you have enough wall space to center your headboard with beside lockers? 

I know, it might sound so obvious but for some reason, it’s been missed in several cases.  

#5 Imagine your living 

That’s what kids and designers are good at, imagining something what’s not there yet. But don’t worry, let me show you how you can do it too! 

Make a cup of tea, sit down in comfy chair and prepare plan in front of you.Start from the main entrance and see space as if you are living in it. Make analysis of current plan: 

What do you see when you enter?
What do you want to see when you enter?
Is area big enough if you come home with shopping or return from vacations with all your bags and kids around?
Imagine how your kids race from room to room?
Are there any dangerous bends or corners?
Do you have space to place console table to keep your keys?
Where will you keep your coats and shoes?