Arranging furniture in an open plan kitchen/living/dining room

You need to consider each of the following points to create a well-balanced, functional space:

Focal point – This is the area to which your eye is drawn when entering a room. It will typically be a defining feature like a large window with a view, a fireplace, statement furniture, artwork or a feature wall. Once you determine the room’s focal point, the next step is to start arranging furniture around it. You can dramatically change the look and feel of existing furniture by rearranging it to accentuate the focal point and moving it out from walls to create a more intimate seating area.

Function – Decide how the room will be used and how many people you need to seat comfortably. When you’re arranging furniture in an open plan kitchen/living/dining room, use it to define different zones or “rooms” for dining, relaxing and socialising. Determine the most practical layout to suit the size and shape of the room, then position larger items such as the dining table and sofa first. Create a conversation zone by grouping chairs and/or another sofa, then add a large rug and coffee table to anchor and balance the setting.

Traffic flow – When you’re planning the layout, leave enough space for people to walk between your furniture and the walls so they go around a setting, not through it, to get to other rooms or outside areas. Create clear access to exterior doors to allow for a seamless indoor-outdoor flow to adjacent outdoor decks or the garden.

Balance – A room where most of the furniture is squeezed into one area looks unbalanced, so draw an imaginary line through the room and balance the furniture placed in each half.

Visual weight – The visual weight of furniture can affect how balanced a room looks. It refers to how much weight an object appears to have, not how much it actually weighs, and is determined by the size, shape, colour and texture. A larger, darker, patterned item will be heavier and more dominant in a room than a light, neutral coloured piece of furniture, so you need to repeat other dark colours in the space to ensure that it will look balanced.

Scale – refers to the size of an object in relation to the human body or to the room itself. Older homes with a high stud or a front entrance with a two-level void both require larger items of furniture and artwork to fill and balance the extra volume of space.

Proportion – refers to the size of an object relative to other objects in a room. It is an important consideration when selecting furniture, artwork, and accessories such as coffee tables, side tables and lamps. If something in a room doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t the correct scale or proportion for the space. The same design principle also applies to the proportion of colours, patterns and textures required to create a well-balanced, harmonious room.

Contact Ali now to discuss your interior furniture and design requirements.

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Planning a new build or major renovation

Once you’ve got the architect’s plans for your new build or major renovation, there are many decisions to be made regarding colours and finishes. Given the significant financial investment involved in the project and an overwhelming selection of products available, samples for the interior and exterior need to be carefully coordinated to prevent costly mistakes and ensure a successful end result.
If you need inspiration, browse through design magazines, look at design-related websites and visit Open Homes, then create an ‘Ideas Book’. Include photos of rooms, furniture, accessories, swatches of colours, fabrics, textures and anything else you love that may inspire an interior scheme.
This preliminary process will help clarify your likes and dislikes, define your personal style, and convey what you may be finding difficult to visualise and articulate. Inevitably you’ll notice a trend as you’re drawn to similar colour palettes, furniture styles and fabrics.
Creating a ‘master plan’ ensures that the colour scheme will be well coordinated and cohesive because you can view samples together on a small scale before building begins. You need to include the roof, joinery, cladding and exterior paint colours plus the flooring, kitchen and bathroom finishes and interior paint colours. The colour, pattern and texture of furnishings, curtains and blinds throughout the home also needs to be considered at the planning stage.
Establish a preliminary budget to determine if you can afford to achieve your objectives and complete the project. If not, prioritise the work to be done and complete it in stages as funds allow. If all the colours, finishes, fixtures and fittings are well-coordinated, the end result of your new build or major renovation will always be cohesive throughout the interior, and from inside to out.

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure your new build or renovation will be a successful one. If you need assistance with colour schemes or design, contact me now.

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Choosing Colours for an Exterior Colour Scheme

If you’re lucky enough to own a home, it is probably your greatest asset. The first impression that visitors get of your property is the exterior colour scheme, so it needs to be carefully selected given the considerable cost of repainting every 10 or more years.
But it is not just the paint colour that has a major impact on the appearance of a house; the garden, lawn, driveway and fences or walls are also part of the overall presentation and ‘street appeal’.
So how do you start the daunting process of choosing colours to use when there are many different options?
Looking at colour schemes on similar house styles will help you visualise your own home repainted. You can also find inspiration on websites and in design-related magazines. Collect photos and paint swatches in an ‘Ideas Book’ to clarify colour combinations you like, which work well together. Then decide what will suit your home.
You’ll generally need to consider a minimum of three main colours for an exterior scheme; one for the roof, one for the body of the building, and one for the joinery. An additional accent colour can be used to highlight window trim, shutters, doors, fences, and architectural features. Undesirable features or elements such as downpipes can be painted to match the colour of the house so they blend into the background.
If you’re repainting an existing home, your paint options may be limited by the colour of the roof, brick or schist cladding, aluminium joinery, and pre-coloured metal spouting, downpipes and garage door. The challenge is to create a cohesive scheme that pulls the colours together.
Once you’ve narrowed down the choices, it’s time to paint out large samples of each colour in the scheme. Hold them proportionately as they will appear on the house, and view them outside in sunlight and shade.
All colours used on the exterior of a building will look lighter in bright sunlight. Whites and off-whites have a high light reflectance value (LRV) and last longer than darker colours because they reflect most of the sun’s harmful rays.
Darker colours have a low light reflectance value and absorb most of the sun’s heat. This can cause the substrate to warp and damage the surface paint coating, so they are less suitable for large surface areas like the body of a house. Dark colours are best used for accent trim and decorative features which can be easily repainted more frequently.
CoolColour paints are an alternative to standard dark paint colours because they are more durable. Due to their technology they reflect more of the sun‘s energy, and therefore help to reduce the build-up of heat.
When it comes to finalising the colours, aim to achieve a well-coordinated exterior scheme that looks visually pleasing, harmonious and timeless, with no one colour standing out and overpowering the balance.

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Makeover a room that you seldom use – Ideas for decorating

Makeover a RoomIf you have a room that ‘just doesn’t feel right’, you need to identify why you don’t enjoy spending time in that space.
It may be the colour scheme, lack of natural light, unsuitable or disliked furniture, or the complete lack of a focal point. So often a room can be transformed without spending a fortune, but getting started is the hardest stage of the process. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you like or dislike about the room
  • Does it suit the intended function
  • Does it have the right mood or atmosphere
  • Do the colours and finishes reflect your style, lifestyle and personality
  • Is the furniture and furniture layout suitable
  • Is the room chaotic & disorganised
  • Is the room stark and uninviting
  • Is there sufficient storage for your needs
  • Is the lighting adequate

Begin by looking for images of rooms, furniture and accessories such as cushions, throws, rugs, decorative items and artworks that appeal to you. Add fabric swatches and paint colour samples and you’ll build up a ‘picture’ of how you’d like your room to look.
Once you’ve clarified your ideas you can develop a cohesive, co-ordinated scheme and bring new life to a neglected room by creating an inviting space that you’ll want to use. Decide how much you can afford to spend on the project, then paint if required and source products to suit your budget.
Prioritise the most important items then experiment with different layouts for the furniture to get the best result. With the essential items in place, you can enjoy adding finishing touches with accent colour and a variety of different textures.

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Ideas for Window treatments to help protect furniture from the sun

Window TreatmentsThe trend for floor to ceiling glass in modern homes creates stunning light-filled spaces, but our harsh sunlight can cause extreme fading and damage to interior fabrics and floor coverings, particularly on the north and west facing aspects.
New Zealand has one of the highest ultraviolet ratings in the world; with direct sunlight, reflected sunlight, temperature and the angle of the sun all adversely affecting the contents of our home. As a consequence, any upholstered furniture, carpet and hardwood flooring directly exposed to the sun will usually fade over time. The only way to combat damage completely is to block the sun at its source, the window; but it is possible to reduce the intensity of ultraviolet light by installing one or more of the following options:

  • Tinted film on windows
  • Sheer drapes
  • Sunscreen, venetian or wooden blinds
  • Wooden shutters
  • Externally fitted canopies or awnings
  • External louvres

Tinted film is the least obtrusive because the view through windows is not partially obscured. It is available in a range of tint colours to suit different environments, and can block up to 99% of the powerful ultraviolet rays. It minimises fading, and in addition, reduces heat absorption which causes leather to crack and wooden flooring to dry out.
Selecting appropriate fabrics to use in sun-drenched rooms can also dramatically decrease the amount of fading on furniture and window treatments. Although no fabrics are guaranteed to be completely fade-resistant, acrylic and polyester fabrics are some of the most durable in the marketplace. The use of fabrics woven with 100% natural fibres such as silk, cotton and linen should be avoided in rooms exposed to sun for most of the day, because they will fade and deteriorate more rapidly than any manmade or composite fabrics.

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Add value to your property by creating an outdoor room 

Outdoor RoomNo matter where you live in New Zealand, an outdoor room provides an extension of your interior living space, whether it’s an apartment with a small balcony or a rural retreat with unlimited space.
As summer approaches, we all want to spend more time outside relaxing, dining and entertaining. Why not add enjoyment and value to your property by building a deck or patio to create an outdoor room which can be used for many months of the year? When planning, keep in mind that it will be viewed from both inside and out – think about how it will be accessed and the different activities it will be used for. Regardless of your budget, you need to plan and consider the following:

  • The style of your home
  • Creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces
  • How you will use the outdoor space
  • Proximity to living area & kitchen
  • Protection from the sun as required
  • Shelter from the  prevailing wind
  • Optional heating from outdoor fireplace, patio heater or brazier
  • Outdoor lighting

Once the structure and sun shade is in place, select durable outdoor furniture and accessories to link with the style, colours, textures and patterns used in the interior living space. Have fun sourcing decorative outdoor cushions made from solution dyed acrylic fabric, citronella candles, co-ordinated table settings and plants in colourful pots to create a haven which reflects your style and lifestyle.
Arrange furniture both inside and out to ensure that there is clear access through doorways, and landscape around your deck or patio to soften the boundary between the house and garden. In addition, a water feature, sculpture or art installation can provide a stunning focal point.

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Paint colours – Using Warm colours to beat the winter blues

Warm Paint ColoursWhen temperatures drop we’re drawn to warm, inviting interior spaces that feel intimate, relaxed and welcoming. What is it that pulls us in – the interior paint colour of a room, the size of a room, the furniture arrangement, or fabrics and finishing touches? A well-balanced peaceful space is created when all of these elements work together in harmony, but colour has the greatest influence on the mood and atmosphere.
Introducing warmth to your living room can be easy and inexpensive. Start with the selection of a paint colour for the walls, then use accessories to add layers of accent colour and texture. Choose warm colour tones, and if you prefer a neutral colour scheme, prevent blandness by using tonal variation and different textures for visual interest. Link them together with striking artwork and accessories. For more of a punch, add richly coloured, textured cushions, throws, floor rugs and enveloping drapes to suit your style – think rich autumnal tones of red, orange and yellow or fresher warm spring colours.
Comfortable rooms exude personality and reflect the style of those who live in the home. Add interest and character by displaying your favourite family photographs, personal treasures and travel memorabilia. Arrange furniture around a focal point such as a fireplace or view, and if the room is large, use rugs and other furniture groupings to define zones for other activities within the same space. Use diffuser sticks for a subtle background fragrance, and create a relaxing environment where you want to spend time with family and friends. Enjoy scented candles or dimmed lights for a cosy, softer and more restful atmosphere in the evening.

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Colour schemes – Timeless interior colour schemes using neutral colours

Inspired by nature, neutral paint colours vary from bright white through to ebony and black, with the range in between including subtle and stronger shades of brown, ochre, earthy green and grey.
Diverse in colour from light to dark, and warm to cool in tone; lichens, bark, foliage, alpine tussock, riverbed stones, rock formations, sandy beaches and seashells found around New Zealand all inspire our interior and exterior colour schemes.
What makes them so enduring is the soft, muted natural tones, their suitability for traditional or contemporary building styles and their ability to blend rather than compete with our urban, rural or coastal environment.
For interior background wall colour, off-whites, soft greys, creams, beiges and taupes generally work well and provide a backdrop for more vibrant colour to be added with fabrics, rugs, artwork and accessories. As in nature, texture, pattern, tonal variation and accent colour is necessary to prevent blandness and create visual interest.
A neutral exterior colour scheme needs to be well planned, with consideration given to the style of architecture and the surrounding buildings, countryside or seaside. Muted tones suit any style of architecture if the intensity of colour and choice of accent trim is well balanced and co-ordinated. For maximum impact, the presentation and ‘street appeal’ of a home should be further enhanced by making a welcoming front entrance, landscaping the garden, and selecting complementary paving or tiles and outdoor furniture.

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Finding the perfect off-white paint colour for interiors

Just want “designer white”?! Trying to find the perfect off-white can be a challenge – who knew there were so many different subtle cool and warm undertones?
Does that small colour swatch you loved on the fan deck or another home look totally wrong on the wall? Too grey, too pink, too buttery…how do you get it right?!
If you’re starting with a ‘blank canvas’ to decorate a space, paint colour is only part of the overall colour scheme. You need to think about co-ordinating flooring, colours and fabrics on every other surface as well.
Alternatively, you may want to choose a neutral background wall colour to complement all the existing colours and finishes in the space.
As a guide, a cooler off-white will complement schemes using grey, black, brown and blue; whereas a warm, creamy white is ideal with autumn tones such as softened gold, green, orange or earthy red.
Because colour is affected by the amount of natural light in a room and strikes each wall differently, you need to move samples around to see how they look at different times of the day. Check again in the evening under the appropriate light source before making a final decision.
Don’t forget that off-white walls will reflect adjacent colours and finishes – the effect can be quite dramatic in an expansive area where there is a strong contrast with the floor colour or a bold feature wall.
Getting it right before you start painting will ensure a successful outcome which can be enhanced with accessories such as artwork, rugs and decorative items to provide accent colour, texture and pattern.

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