Updated: Sep 25, 2019
At Uskuri Theobald Architects we see the external and internal as a whole and not to separate entities. We work with a number of highly talented interior designers to ensure our projects are just as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. Appointing an interior designer at the same time as your architect is key! We can team up and ensure that we are creating that harmony between the internal and external. Collaboration between an architect and an interior designer makes the dream team.⠀ ⠀ This week we’ve been chatting to luxury Interior Designer Anna Bennett from Grove Design London and we have a whole wealth of exciting expert advice from her to share with you. Grab a cuppa (or a gin), get comfy and read on!
What should a prospective client expect at the first meeting?
Anna: Interior design is personal.
The client needs to be certain they want to work with the designer and the designer needs to be certain they want to work with the client. The process of design is a journey – the client has to allow the designer into their home and their life. Trust between client and the designer is a must. So the first meeting is very much about chemistry and establishing a relationship. I want to find out as much as possible about the client, their family, their home and their lifestyle. It’s not enough to take a space and design it – it has to be designed with function in mind. The final scheme has to connect to the people who live there for it to be successful.
At the first meeting I will ask a lot of questions. A lot! Some questions will be obvious as we discuss the project and the transformation that the client is looking for, some will be less obvious – I want to know what interests the client has, where they like to go on holiday, what sort of art work and colours appeal to them and more importantly why. I want to get to the core of the client at a deeper level to ensure we start the process with a brief that leads to success.
I always ask a client to share with me with an object or image that they feel connected to (this could be anything – an item of clothing, a vintage rug, artwork, family heirloom) – this provides a fantastic insight.
Clients often share with me pictures of homes that they have saved on Pinterest or seen in glossy magazines. I dig a little deeper into why and what they like about the images. I don’t want to design an “on-trend” look that the client thinks they want when all the information they have shared with me is completely at odds with that style and personality.
At the first meeting the client should come prepared with questions they want to ask me about the design process. I explain the process and set expectations at the start about what I need from the client and our respective commitments along the journey.
At the end of the first meeting I leave clients feeling inspired and excited about what is to come as we embark on the life changing transformation together.
What do you see as a timeless interior style that best suits modern living?
Anna: What is timeless? This could mean different things to different people. There are always new ideas and new technology driving design that may or may not stand the test of time. It may also depend on the type of property you live in – timeless for a Georgian terrace is going to be different from a Modernist apartment.
I prefer to think about longevity and enduring design that clients will love for years to come. Part of my design process is to understand the client and ensure that the interior style is a true reflection of them and be certain that they will love that design for years to come. I believe that if your home interior style is an extension of you that will achieve that longevity and feeling of timelessness.
I steer my clients away from slavishly following the trends. I do educate my clients on what is new and what direction fashions are moving so they are aware of all the possibilities but I always insist on them being true to themselves first. If a client is keen to add an element of on trend design then I recommend doing this with low cost items such as cushions, décor and lamps that can be replaced easily. Better to spend money on a pineapple lamp rather than on expensive pineapple themed wall coverings! Allocate your budget wisely and invest more on items with longevity such as sofas and furniture.
When you do a whole house refurbishment how do you achieve a sense of continuity through all the interior design elements?
Anna: To achieve a sense of continuity you need two things – a destination and a map.
Let me explain.
Always start with the end in mind; the destination. You need to know where you are going. Even if you are refurbishing your home in phases you should design as much as you can before starting to implement anything. This will make sure that all your design decisions are based on the vision and you will achieve a fantastic result. Your interior designer will create this vision with you and hold the design to account along the way.
A vital part of any design is the concept; the map. Interior Designers always work with a concept to ensure that the design direction is being followed. The concept is created by understanding the practical brief, the clients personality and lifestyle requirements and the building’s architecture. The concept references key elements of interior design theory including line, space, texture, colour and shape as well as design styles and influences. Throughout a project I frequently refer back to the concept to ensure that the design elements being selected are in harmony with the concept and the vision.
I often meet clients who have a lot of ideas and like a lot of different things. But if you put all these things together they may be disappointed as the final look doesn’t feel cohesive. I take cues from what the client likes and include these as inspiration and direction for the concept and final destination.
How do you create a warm and inviting space but without cluttering up a space with lots of items?
Anna: We all want our homes to be warm and inviting. We want our guests to feel at home when they walk through the door and of course when return home we want to feel at ease and relaxed.
There are many ways to create this feeling using design elements – masterfully layering all the elements together is the job of interior design.
Textures are one of the elements that can be easily used to create warmth. Imagine the tactile finish of soft wools, cashmere and velvet or the rustic finish of linen and slubby silks. There are interesting textures that will work with all design schemes from the sleek and modern to country and rustic. Textures are not just limited to fabric choices either, there are others creative ways to layer texture into a scheme – rattan, wicker and rustic wood finishes can all be introduced through furniture and décor choices.
Using asymmetrical layouts will add warmth to a scheme. Intrinsically this will create a more relaxed and less formal vibe within a space that will make you and your guests feel completely at ease. Avoiding hard lines will also help to make a space feel warm; gentle curves and flowing lines can be used in décor, fabric patterns and furniture
Making a space feel personal will always add warmth. I love the combination of old and new and adding an interesting vintage piece that means something to you will instantly inject a friendly vibe into a space. Whether you are a collector or a curator a few objects that tell your story and reveal a little about yourself will always elevate a space and be a conversation starter!
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