The A-Z of Interior Design: N is for...

Nature

An interior design is not complete without a touch of nature somewhere within the scheme.  Whether that be flamboyant flowers like these lanky lilies, tall twigs, or a plush faux fur throw; until that moment when natural elements are introduced, a house doesn't quite feel like a home.

Flowers may not be to your taste, but natural elements can be introduced in countless ways….


Layers of comfort are introduced to this nature-inspired room.  The knitted bedspread and variety of different textures and materials give a sensual feel...
Credit: Sk├Âna Hem
The flowers lop casually in this curvaceous vase, adding a softness to the glamorous scheme, whilst the flickering candles evoke more of nature's physicality…


Nature has been brought into the home by framing the view of the river and creating a reading haven beside the elements...

Credit: © Luc Roymans

The marmoreal backdrop in this kitchen adds a natural element which reaches to our senses.  The contrast with the dark wood and other textures enhances its beautiful effect.  Would you add the lanky lilies to create a final layer for this room?
Credit: © Derek Swalwell
 

The A-Z of Interior Design - M is for…..

Mid-Century Modern 

Retro home design has swept across the interiors world and shows no sign of waning.  The intense popularity of the style has meant that dealers are facing a severe shortage of original furniture and accessories from the post-war era.  Mid-century modern design is epitomised by clean, simple lines and natural wood finishes.  Mid-century architecture, built between 1945 to the 1970s, incorporates extensive use of glass and open spaces which connect with nature.

Mid-Century Modern key design elements:

* Flat surfaces, including flat roofs.  This retro home, with its matching car, interweaves with the natural surroundings…

Photography: Coles Hairston

* Natural materials combined with modern processes…

Credit: home edit

Credit: Nanette Wong, San Francisco

* Split-level floors with small steps in different zones

* Varying heights for furniture and walls...

Credit: Hammer Architects

* Simplicity in design, form and function…

Credit: Design Within Reach

* Geometric, simple, clean lines

*Expansive glass allowing light to flood in...

Credit: home edit  

* Open plan living began in this way (below) but the trend has since encompassed a new way of living with rear home extensions housing expansive family rooms.

Credit: Renewal Design-Build 

* Strong colours and patterns…

Credit: thehomedecorz 

* Outdoor views, a connection with nature…

Mid Century Modern Interiors

Current designers such as Orla Kiely have embraced the mid-century modern style. "The simple, utilitarian post-war style is welcome again now," says Kiely, who explains that it is "the simplicity that inspires me the most".  See The A-Z of Interior Design - K for Kiely for Orla's designs.

The A-Z of Interior Design - L is for...

Lighting - Rules, Tips and Tricks

We often take the lighting in a room for granted, but it can be used very creatively.  Lighting can add drama and style.  Clever, well-thought-out lighting can reflect mood and can be adapted throughout the day, or as required.  A flat and uniformly-lit room can feel dull - so use different types of lighting depending on what the room is used for.


The interior design rule book encompasses five different types of lighting:

General lighting - also known as background or ambient lighting.  This replaces sunlight and should be bright enough for movement and use of the room without eyestrain.  Avoid fittings which cause glare.  Use pendant lights, chandeliers, spotlights and recessed down lighters.


Task lighting is specific and localised to work, read or sew by.  Use desk or table lamps, directional spotlights and floor lamps to light specific areas, such as the classic Arco lamp (above).  Task lighting is especially important in kitchens where the lighting is usually located between the work areas and the chef, ideally below eye level.  Avoid placing lighting solely behind the areas where users of the space will stand as this will create shadows and make it impractical.  


Local/accent lighting is always directed into one area.  Use standard or table lamps on side tables.  Create pools of light and shade to create atmosphere.  Picture lights or spots cast a soft glow over paintings, plants or other decorative objects.  The installation of subtle, hidden lighting, such as behind panels or recesses is a wise way to wash walls with light or to emphasise textured surfaces.

Neues Designhotel, Berlin

Decorative lighting is of no specific use - it just looks pretty!  Think of pretty chandeliers or fairy lights. This basket lamp by Nendo and Kanaami-Tsuji is inspired by the wire netting cooking utensils made by Kyoto artisans in Japan.  When lit it creates interesting shapes to reflect on the ceiling.


This beautiful Nid table lamp casts a soft, decorative glow.


Kinetic light refers to any moving light such as candles or fish tank, which help to create atmosphere and mood.

A well-lit room is one where people feel comfortable, at ease and relaxed.  Lighting is practical yet subtle.

Lastly, don't forget to install dimmers to all overhead lighting.  Not only do these make the general lighting scheme flexible but they also reduce energy and increase bulb life.

For more inspiration see Lighting Tricks to Transform Any Home .

The A-Z of Interior Design - K is for...

Kiely, Orla - Riding the Vintage Wave

Irish-born designer, Orla Kiely does not sell any of her fabrics or prints - instead, her distinctive designs and motifs adorn a huge variety of home accessories, furniture, wallpaper and fashion pieces, available at various retailers including Anthropologie, Nordstrom and HD Buttercup.

Kiely’s colourful palette has ridden the tidal wave of interest in vintage style in both fashion and interiors since 1997.

Her four-storey, 3,000 square foot, terraced London home epitomises her vibrant, bold look. “Go for the big thing rather than lots of little things,” advises Kiely.

Mid-century style (below) with walls covered in walnut, leading into the dining room containing Kiely’s upholstered dining chairs around a vintage table.  In the hallway, Kiely's side console with gloss vases bearing her leaf motif.


Kiely and her team kept the original features of the Victorian terraced house, including ceiling roses and mouldings but added a mid-century style which would have been curious for the Victorians. “I didn’t want to compromise the Victorian nature of the house,” Kiely explains.

A colourful kitchen combining vintage and modern design with Orla Kiely's striking colours and motifs.

The original fireplace was kept but the flooring was in bad shape so was replaced with recycled floorboards sourced from an architectural salvage yard.
Vintage art and chandelier complete the look.

The two original downstairs rooms were opened up to create one larger space with a sunken seating area leading onto the garden.
Rhododendron Sunflower wallpaper by Kiely with a yellow Eames rocker

Kiely studied textile design at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and knitwear design at the Royal College of Art in London. 
Orla Kiely in her London home.

Orla Kiely's House collection at John Lewis department store in London.



Photography of Orla Kiely's home by Chris Tubbs.

The A-Z of Interior Design - J is for...

Jacobsen, Arne - The Great Dane of Furniture History

The three-legged, Ant chair, model 3100, catapulted Danish-born Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) into the design history books in the 1950s.

Original Ant chairs


The Ant chair decorated by fashion designer, Paul Smith for the Jamie Oliver Better Food Foundation
Photography: David Loftus

Manufacturers Fritz Hansen originally were not too impressed with Jacobsen's original Ant chair, which he designed for a canteen. The iconic lightweight Ant chair (photographed above), with the seat and back made from one piece of moulded wood, was followed by the 3107, often referred to as the Series 7 chair - the most successful item in Danish furniture history. Over five million have been manufactured and sold worldwide.

Series 7 

Nature-loving Jacobsen originally wanted to be a painter, and this is evident in his masterful design drawings. He produced exquisite nature studies, watercolours and hand-drawn Christmas cards for close friends. As well as the famous Egg chair - architect, furniture, interior, ceramic and textile designer, Jacobsen, who set up his own design studio in 1930 - was also responsible for many iconic buildings in Denmark, Britain and Germany.






The Egg (above) with a star-shaped aluminium and satin polished steel pedestal is available in fabric or leather upholstery with a curvaceous matching footstool.

Towards the end of the 1950s, Jacobsen designed the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and it was for this project that he designed the Egg, the Swan, the Swan sofa and Series 3300.

Swans
Jacobsen was greatly inspired by the bent plywood designs of Charles and Ray Eames and the Italian design historian, Ernesto Rogers, who believed that all design, however large or small the scale, was important “from the spoon to the city.” Jacobsen was also in awe of ancient Greek designs saying: "The primary factor is proportions. Proportions are what makes the old Greek temples classic in their beauty. They are like huge blocks, from which the air has been literally hewn out between the columns.”

Arne Jacobsen
In the 1960s, Jacobsen concentrated on classic forms like the circle, cylinder, triangle and cube. All of Jacobsen’s designs went on to become international design classics gracing interiors across the world.
2012 saw Jacobsen’s Ant chair in the limelight as historic furniture company, Republic of Fritz Hansen, donated twenty Ant chairs to be customised by famous artists and then auctioned to raise money for the Jamie Oliver Better Food Foundation and the Fifteen project, helping young people train for careers in the catering industry. Fashion houses, designers and artists including Liberty, Cath Kidston, Paul Smith, Quentin Blake and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen stamped the Ant chairs with their own style.

In 2014, Jacobsen's designs remain vibrant and exciting as another classic, The Drop™ chair is reintroduced.  See more about Arne Jacobsen at Artsy.

The Drop Chair
Images courtesy of Fritz Hansen

The A-Z of Interior Design - J is for...

Jacobsen, Arne - The Great Dane of Furniture History

The three-legged, Ant chair, model 3100, catapulted Danish-born, Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) into the design history books in the 1950s.

Original Ant chairs


The Ant chair decorated by fashion designer, Paul Smith for the Jamie Oliver Better Food Foundation
Photography: David Loftus

Manufacturers Fritz Hansen originally were not too impressed with Jacobsen's original Ant chair, which he designed for a canteen. The iconic lightweight Ant chair (photographed above), with the seat and back made from one piece of moulded wood, was followed by the 3107, often referred to as the Series 7 chair - the most successful item in Danish furniture history. Over five million have been manufactured and sold worldwide.

Series 7 

Nature-loving Jacobsen originally wanted to be a painter, and this is evident in his masterful design drawings. He produced exquisite nature studies, watercolours and hand-drawn Christmas cards for close friends. As well as the famous Egg chair - architect, furniture, interior, ceramic and textile designer, Jacobsen, who set up his own design studio in 1930 - was also responsible for many iconic buildings in Denmark, Britain and Germany.






The Egg (above) with a star-shaped aluminium and satin polished steel pedestal is available in fabric or leather upholstery with a curvaceous matching footstool.

Towards the end of the 1950s, Jacobsen designed the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and it was for this project that he designed the Egg, the Swan, the Swan sofa and Series 3300.

Swans
Jacobsen was greatly inspired by the bent plywood designs of Charles and Ray Eames and the Italian design historian, Ernesto Rogers, who believed that all design, however large or small the scale, was important “from the spoon to the city.” Jacobsen was also in awe of ancient Greek designs saying: "The primary factor is proportions. Proportions are what makes the old Greek temples classic in their beauty. They are like huge blocks, from which the air has been literally hewn out between the columns.”

Arne Jacobsen
In the 1960s, Jacobsen concentrated on classic forms like the circle, cylinder, triangle and cube. All of Jacobsen’s designs went on to become international design classics gracing interiors across the world.
2012 saw Jacobsen’s Ant chair in the limelight as historic furniture company, Republic of Fritz Hansen, donated twenty Ant chairs to be customised by famous artists and then auctioned to raise money for the Jamie Oliver Better Food Foundation and the Fifteen project, helping young people train for careers in the catering industry. Fashion houses, designers and artists including Liberty, Cath Kidston, Paul Smith, Quentin Blake and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen stamped the Ant chairs with their own style.

In 2014, Jacobsen's designs remain vibrant and exciting as another classic, The Drop™ chair is reintroduced.  See more about Arne Jacobsen at Artsy.

The Drop Chair
Images courtesy of Fritz Hansen

The A-Z of Interior Design, I is for Inspiration

Interior design inspiration can come from many sources - not just within the world of interiors.

Fashion often inspires interior decor.  Vintage furniture as well as vintage fashion have helped to revive mid-century modern design, as seen here in Living etc, featuring Harlequin wallpaper.  Fashion design can be a perfect starting point, with coordinating colours and an emphasis on texture and style.


Gathering ideas and soaking up thoughts from the surrounding world helps to consolidate ideas and to  devise an original interior design scheme.  Having a strong concept creates a springboard for change.

Photography: Harlequin
Photography: Harlequin

There are countless beautiful places in the world where creativity can be nurtured; check out London, the design capital of the world, and see what the city has to offer. Visit some design exhibitions and designers’ shops. Don’t miss the amazing V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) or see their Interior Design in the Archive of Art & Design. Enjoy some of the hundreds of museums in the capital, or other towns and cities worldwide. In London you can also seek out the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre via Sloane Square or the Kings Road, the Design Museum, or specific exhibitions such as the Ideal Home Exhibition or Grand Designs.



Let the blues and whites of Greece inspire your creativity.  Use natural textures such as linen, wood and found materials to enliven your decor.


The amazing Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona is an awe-inspiring display of colour and design…
Photography: Ken Kaminesky

Art can also introduce ideas with a particular focus on colour…


Don’t limit your inspiration. Vintage finds can be hugely inspiring and try to remain diverse in your thinking.  Be eccentric or eclectic. Think about the aesthetics of a potential scheme. Inspiration can come from anything that has caught your eye, be it a decorative, ornate antique brooch, an ethereal dress, art, sculpture or architecture, whilst remembering, of course, that nature remains the greatest inspirer.


Imagery and ideas now come from all manner of media and countless photographs are shared online in an instant. Hone in on what inspires you and fires your creativity.





The A-Z of Interior Design - H is for Hoppen

The Queen of Taupe

South African born, Kelly Hoppen rose to the top of the interior design industry although she has no formal training. In 2009 she received an MBE for services to interior design. Hoppen, who is dyslexic, began her career at 16 years old when she designed a “family friend’s” kitchen, who happened to be a famous racing driver, and moved on to design interiors including Gary Rhodes‘ restaurant, the Beckham’s LA home, hotels, ski chalets, yachts, private jets and celebrity homes around the world. Actor Martin Shaw was one of her first clients.


Hoppen, who has never undertaken a project for less than £300,000, is all about luxury. Her website flaunts her opulent, taupe and beige product range.

"The detail in our projects is so couture it's like going to Chanel for a gown. I fly my florists around the world, too. I worry about carbon footprints, but what can you do?"

A typical Hoppen interior using black, white and taupe...

Gary Rhodes', London, W1 restaurant interior designed by Kelly Hoppen...

Kelly's design at the Hotel Murmuri, Barcelona...


One of Kelly Hoppen's previous homes...

Hoppen gutted her Notting Hill Georgian house: “I gutted it because, while I loved the house’s Georgian shell, I wanted to put my own stamp on the interior. It is now very modern. Every room has a sliding door with a six foot vertical door handle running from the top to the bottom. I’ve used a lot of black wood and neutral colours and have gone for concealed lighting wherever possible – with shafts of light coming up from behind walls.”

Asked which rooms in her home Hoppen feels are special to her she replies: "All of them – because they all have a particular character. Although if I had to choose one, it would be the living room. It’s very seductive: all dark wooden floors, a big black glass fireplace, chandeliers, vintage furniture, silk curtains and big photographs on the walls."

Hoppen has a daughter, Natasha, from her first marriage to Graham Corrett, and two stepdaughters, Savannah and Sienna Miller, from her second marriage to Ed Miller. She lives in Notting Hill, London, and has a country house in Oxfordshire.