With the hectic pace of today’s lifestyle, it is common for us to want our interiors to reflect an oasis of calm. But the reality is often far from that, why is this? I am often asked how to create a timeless interior, so I thought I would give you some simple pointers on the do’s and don’ts to creating this look and feel in your home. It is important to understand that timeless has a unique meaning to everyone. To me it means making the home feel relaxed, comfortable and unfussy. It also means having an interior that won’t date as quickly. People often underestimate just how quickly interiors can become dated and find themselves wanting to re-decorate after six months. It is both wasteful and time consuming. I veer my clients towards something that will stand the test of time.
The golden rule is before you tackle any interior space, de clutter. It may seem obvious but it will revolutionise any space. So, make this your first point of call. If you need help on this refer to my blog on decluttering. This can be a liberating process in itself.
So, back to achieving the timeless look….how do we do this? There is one very simple principle that I as a designer base a lot of my designs on. It is the idea that the interior of your home will become the backdrop to your life. If you look through designer magazines and swoon over the amazing interiors, but feel deflated thinking that you could never achieve such a perfected look, take heart. Those photographs are devoid of kid’s toys, the dog and other general paraphernalia that comes with family life, or single life for that matter. Why is this an important point? Well so often clients are looking for the perfect interiors, an interior that has a scheme and a host of different materials. That is fine if you are planning to keep your life hidden from view, but the reality is most people go into an interior and layer over their lives. Our lives are colourful, think of kids and the colour they bring, your hobbies, magazines, the general items we use in our daily lives. I am labouring this point because I truly believe that if you have a busy interior, no matter how lovely it is, when you layer over your life on top of it you lose something. It just becomes a riot of colour and pattern. And with time this can become a problem.
The human brain is programmed to tire of strong colours and patterns. Why, is an entirely different blog. But the fact remains. It is exactly the reason why high-end paint companies often talk of colours being greyed off. It is this added complexity that keeps the brain from getting bored, for want of a better word. It’s why complex colours that you can’t quite describe like blue green, or creamy white seem to always look more satisfying than a primary colour. We are just programmed that way. That is not to say everyone likes the same colours, I hasten to add.
So, what’s the answer? My advice would be to use restrain when decorating. Think of this like I mentioned before, creating a backdrop to your life. Use a simple palette of colours, usually I would only suggest one colour for the paint. White’s and soft variations of white work well; I would be hesitant to travel down the cool grey route as these can often read cold and impersonal. (Sorry to all the grey lovers out there, if you love grey you may choose to opt for one on the warmer side.) When choosing material think about using honest material such as natural woods. This may all seem quite boring, but trust me when I say there is a reason why architects and designers encourage clients to go down this route. It gives you flexibility to change out soft furnishings while looking effortless and timeless.
To me timeless interiors are simple, they are not fussy or pretentious and they are well thought out. They function well; there is a place for everything. This does not mean that all interiors look the same, you would be surprised how much your own personality will still shine through even when using the simplest materials. When choosing fabrics again, go for honest good quality choices like linen, cottons, leather.
Think of timeless interiors as the little black dress of design. It’s a work horse that you will love but one that will grow and change with your needs. Add black. By adding a punch of black, in a chair or lamp you ground the look and stop it from being too insipid and it helps to give a designer element to your space. The same is true of furniture, nothing should be too ‘matchy-matchy’ and just by adding a gorgeous old piece of furniture you can help give the look that effortless feel.
So what are the key takeaways?
- Before you start, de-clutter and assess your space.
- Keep number of materials to an absolute minimum.
- Keep colour scheme simple, the more neutral the better
- Don’t be sucked into complex colour schemes or styles
- Make it functional, think about functional storage and how you specifically live
- Use hardworking classic materials, wood will warm up any interior just keep finish soft
- Add a punch of black and if you aren’t quite brave enough try a navy blue in small amounts will do the trick