When decorating a home as when buying one it’s true that ‘location, location, location’ is key. While interior design is personal and can be a place for great imagination and creativity it is true that usually for an interior to be really successful it should have a real sense of place, relate to and be practical for its location. Often this is a case of being led by the property and not working against it. Creating a sense of place can be achieved in many ways without being ‘themey’ or overbearing and we have included some examples below that relate to recent projects we have worked on.
Interior Design in the Countryside
When undertaking the interior design of a country house there are many places you can look for inspiration. We often find that our Clients have been attracted to a particular area for its unique character and a desire to connect with the location and spend time outdoors. For a recent interior design project in Cornwall the obvious starting point seemed to be the breath-taking beachfront location, the property had wonderful far reaching views over the surrounding countryside as well as onto the beach and out to sea. Whilst we knew that the coast itself and the heritage of the area would influence the interiors, we wanted to ensure this was done in a thoughtful and subtle way. On this project, the brief stipulated that whilst the interiors had to have interest of their own, it was important that they did not fight with beautiful surroundings. We ended up using a lot of soft blues, olive greens and earth tones, reflecting the colours seen out the window, we utilised simple organic patterns and weaves in the fabrics at the windows and on furniture so as not to distract from the views, which really stole the show. We looked to the beautiful local dry stone walling for pattern inspiration and this natural chevron found its way into woven carpets, upholstery fabric and was even wallpapers. In this way the home has subtle links to its place in the throughout the property without the use of a single wooden seagull or nautical motif.
On this interior design project in Cornwall, it was also important that we reflected the way in which the Client wanted to spend their time in Cornwall. The property was to be a place for relaxation and holidays, a retreat from busy city life and a place to spend time outside in the Cornish countryside. It was really important to take these factors into consideration when designing the interiors. The flooring needed to be suitable for muddy boots, and there needed to be a boot room to store them in. There needed to be large communal lounging spaces for watching a film when a storm rolled in, but also a terrace big enough for all the family that would not only be a place to take in the views, but somewhere to sit in privacy and enjoy the views of the sunset over the sea.
Interior design in the City
Whilst most properties in London aren’t blessed with the same views as those in the country or coast, there is no end of inspiration in an urban environment to help shape the interior design. We often find ourselves looking at the local vernacular, particular the shapes and details of the buildings as inspiration. In London there is a wonderful mix of period properties. Locally to us alone there are large Arts and Crafts properties, ornate Victorian terraces, light filled Edwardian semi-detached houses and Georgian properties overlooking the river. The architectural detailing of these differing property styles often forms the inspiration for many of our London projects. When working on the interior design of a Victorian property we took inspiration from the beautiful original detailing in the porch, with the scrolling acanthus leaf mouldings informing the pattern in the curtaining fabric. On uncovering beautiful original tiling in the entrance hall we used the colours in this to influence the design of the rest of the property.
When working on the interior design of a London property it’s also important to understand how that property will be used. If it’s a pied-a-terre the priority is usually convenience, being able to come home from a long day at work and know that everything is comfortable, simple and easy to use, often within a restricted space. With a family home in London, storage and effective use of space is always a priority, ensuring there’s places to store toys, coats and clothes, with bathrooms that are practical and space for the entire family to sit and relax.
One of the key things to bear in mind when working overseas is the light. It’s amazing how much this affects how colours appear and sit with each other. We have favourite fabrics and colours that we use in the UK but when it came to the interior design project of our project in Greece we knew that these wouldn’t work. The bright light drains subtle colours completely and makes then look dull and lifeless so when working abroad you can go bolder than you think! The traditional Greek island scheme is of course blue and white, drawing on the natural elements of the sea and the sun baked land, but when developing the scheme for our Greek Island project, we wanted to create an interior that would speak not just to its immediate location but draw inspiration from a wider vernacular. Some research showed that while blue in its many forms is indeed found throughout the Greek islands, a lot of the more traditional interiors and paintwork draw on a rainbow wide spectrum of colours which work there very well. Bearing this in mind we included deep red, bright green and burnt orange amongst others to add interest against the whitewashed walls, earth toned flooring and wooden furniture. It’s a combination of colours we would struggle to use in London but in the bright Mediterranean light they have completely different qualities, bringing vibrancy and energy to the schemes.
It goes without saying that the Greek Island lifestyle hugely influenced the interior design of our project in the Cyclades. With long hot summer days, life on the Greek islands is all about indoor/outdoor living, keeping cool and relaxing. The location of the house, on the marina in the main town, means that whilst there are wonderful views of the visiting sailing boats, at times there can also be rather high footfall outside the property. We designed a courtyard to the rear of the property which is completely private and enclosed, with an outdoor shower for hot days, a built in seating area and a separate dining area. Upstairs there is a terrace on the first floor overlooking the marina, which is perfect for evenings spent people watching. For the flooring on the property we restored the original encaustic tiles, which add traditional detail and are cool under foot, and specified rugs in natural fibres that complement the relaxed island vibe. We used light, diaphanous fabrics at the windows that let the cooling breeze in but give privacy during the day when the shutters are open.
Wherever your property is situated in the world, it’s impossible to ignore its location, which is why we believe that it’s so important to reference this even in a small way when designing the interiors. Whether it’s situated in the middle of a city, on a beach or in the deepest countryside, there is no end of inspiration outside your front door to enrich the design of your home. Howark Design offers high quality, professional design services for projects throughout the UK and Europe (and even further afield if required!). Please get in touch with us should you wish to discuss your project, or find out more about our services .
James & Saskia