It’s fair to say that most of us will look back at some interiors, styles and outfits we loved years ago and wonder ‘what was I thinking?!’ The design world moves at such a pace, that it’s easy to get swept along with the current trends, without considering their longevity and how they will age.
Unlike fast fashion its likely you’ll be spending considerable time with your design choices at home so it’s worth taking the time to look beyond what’s ‘on trend’ and find a style that will work with your life and personality for years to come. With the prevalence of apps like Instagram and Pinterest we have never had more sources of inspiration but pulling all the ideas together into a cohesive and comfortable home is a big undertaking.
That’s why at Howark Design we work closely with our clients to help them bring their ideas to life and as part of this process we place real importance on ensuring that the homes we design not only look beautiful now but will truly stand the test of time, not only in terms of quality, but in style too. In this week’s blog we take a look at the merits of designing a timeless home and some tips on how to achieve this.
Start with structure - Getting the ‘bones’ right
A great place to start on your project whether it’s a simple redecoration or complete renovation is the structure itself. Thinking about the ‘bones’ and layout of a space often informs the finer decorative details that come later. Good circulation, great lighting and clever spatial planning never go out of fashion and if you invest in getting these right you will enjoy the benefits for years to come.
Until very recently trends leant towards largely open plan living, but we recommend considering truly how you will live in a space before you start knocking down all the walls. We often suggest a combination of more enclosed, cosy spaces and some flexible open plan living areas as the best use of space. Allowing for single use rooms such as utilities, boot rooms, larders and dressing rooms where possible is often key to keeping larger open spaces free of clutter and who doesn’t need a flower arranging room in their life! Most period properties would originally have had many smaller rooms, with open plan living, kitchen diners and ensuites being virtually unheard of before the 20th century. When renovating an older property, it’s tempting to remove structural walls to create huge open spaces, but this is costly so think carefully about whether you could make better use of the space with less drastic changes.
At Howark Design we spend a great deal of time working on layouts with our clients to ensure these provide the most practical and efficient use of space for their lives and this will add real value to a project in the long run.
Architectural Detailing – Getting the details right
After the layout and structure of a space, we look at architectural detailing. Features like fireplaces, doors, handles, coving and skirting are sometimes overlooked as they may not seem like the most exciting parts of the design to focus on, but they frame the space and are difficult to change if you get them wrong. The architectural detailing should complement the period of the property and the finishes should sit at ease with the space.
Trends for ironmongery (door handles and window furniture etc) have veered from polished brass to shiny polished chrome, copper and then back to antique brass again. As a finish bronze is timeless and we often use this regardless of the period of property. A bronze finish is subtle and inobtrusive and ages beautifully, it sits well with most timbers and paint finishes and is very hardwearing. A bronze finish lends itself to all styles of ironmongery, from a more detailed period doorknob to a very simple clean lined contemporary handle.
Skirting, coving and architraves should be designed with the period of the property in mind, they can be simplified or more decorative depending on the desired level of detailing, and should work with the proportions of the space. Fireplaces, where possible should again be sized proportionately to the room, nod to the era of the property and complement the other finishes. In terms of finish a simple and subtle limestone works well with its warm tones and unfussy look and often complements a more contemporary interior as well as a traditional spaces. Veined marble fireplaces have a more decorative look and add drama to any room.
Symmetry and Balance
When creating a more classical, timeless look, an important point to consider is the balance of a space. English Classical Interiors are rooted in symmetry often with great lengths being taken to accommodate items such as console tables and lamps doubled up, visually balancing a space. These days when creating a timeless space, we often find that it is good to bear symmetry in mind especially in fixed features such as joinery but not to obsess over it. Symmetry creates a harmonious space but too much repetition can make it look stuffy and overly formal.
In the family room below, we created a whole wall media cabinet to house the television and used this as the central focus for the space. The console and lamps mirror the cabinets symmetry, but the large L shaped sofa and coffee table are deliberately asymmetrical to give the room a more relaxed feel perfect for family film nights.
Keeping Colour Timeless
Colour is something that is strongly influenced by trends. We can all reflect on the avocado, brown and camel of the 70’s, the ubiquitous magnolia schemes of the 90’s and the recent trend for blush pink and navy. Colour is something that can really date or make a project, so is always worth thinking about carefully. Many designers will suggest sticking to neutrals and using colours for accessories and although that plays it safe, it can lead to a space feeling cold and corporate, with little character.
Ultimately colour is down to personal taste but a great tip for keeping your use of colour timeless is to pick at least 3 colours for your scheme. Don’t overly ‘theme’ your space or be too strict with one of two colours and choose colours you are drawn to rather than what’s in fashion. Antique textiles are a fantastic example of how using multiple colours can be timeless, multicoloured kantha quilts, Uzbek Suzani’s and Swedish flatweaves often use multiple colours and despite their age work beautifully in timeless interiors, feeling both classic and contemporary in style.
Quality and craftsmanship
We all know that if you want things to stand the test of time then quality and craftsmanship are key, and this is hugely important in interiors. You only have to look at beautifully crafted antiques to see that although trends come and go, beautifully made pieces will always stand the test of time. As a guide, look for timeless materials that are meant to last such as natural oak or elm and carefully considered details. Simpler antiques styles such as Arts and Crafts are often easier to mix with contemporary pieces. Having 2 or 3 antique pieces that show a patina of age can give your home a beautifully curated feel and provide a great contrast to other more contemporary furnishings. Timeless craftsmanship is often purposeful and practical as well as beautiful so can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Timeless design is not difficult to achieve when considered carefully. By paying attention to the architecture, flow, materials and details, you can create spaces that will look great through any passing trend. By investing in quality pieces and ensuring these are practical, you are futureproofing not only the look, but the functionality of a space will never go out of fashion.
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.
Saskia & James