We’ve then headed off to our favourite home stores and spent a fortune on furniture and items that we’ve seen used elsewhere. Yet, after all that effort, the room just doesn’t work. At worst, we’ve created an eyesore, and at best, an irritation.
“What you and I wear will be reflected in our homes. You’ve probably bought something that is just so not you,” says Melanie Ewing from Chapters Interior Design Company.
“But you don’t want to throw it away. I have this purple and green maxi-dress that I’ve never worn. This happens when you don’t know your personal style. It’s much cheaper to make these mistakes with your wardrobe than with your interiors! One of the things we focus on is identifying a person’s personal style, so that you can make the right decision for you, or for your client.”
Aside from personal style, the architectural style of the room or home being worked on is something that needs to be factored in.
“If it’s a very modern home, and you go back with Biggie Best fabrics, it obviously won’t work,” Ewing says with a smile.
“What is most important is using your eyes and ears. Take visual cues from people and their environments.”
Ewing suggests that people create a mood board, even if it’s just for a small project at home.
“We tell our students to go and find pictures and examples of everything that appeals to them. This will help you to identify your personal style. We find that it crops up in everything. It can even be seen in the way that students stick pictures on their boards or in their books,” she says.
Ewing believes that being familiar with design principles is one of the major keys to success.
“It’s the recipe for all interiors. You need to know what impact they have on a room and how to create them. One of these is focal points. We’ve all walked into a room and you know something is wrong, but you can’t quite figure out what it is. All rooms should have a focal point – a thing that your eye rests on immediately. Without a focal point, a room feels a bit lost,” she explains.
“Another design principle to consider is repetition. Repetition in a room creates harmony. This can be done through repeating shapes, colours or surfaces – anything that can be repeated. This can also be your focal point. Design principles often overlap.”
Composition is yet another principle that comes into play.
“The best way to explain this is the nonsense on your bedside table that you can never get to look quite right. The trick is to put things in threes or fives, and to use items of different heights and colours,” she says with a smile.
Picking a colour for a room is often a long and frustrating process. Once this is done, finding things that work with that colour can be difficult. According to Ewing, teaching people about colour is a little bit more complicated.
“Some people have a natural affinity for colour, while others have an affinity for something else. We teach people about the science behind colour and how colour varies on different surfaces,” she says.
In the world of colour, there are five colour wheels: A-bright, B-rich, C-calm, D-muted and E-shaded. Each one contains different variations of the colours seen on all of the other wheels.
“Colours are often influenced by societal factors. For example, at the moment muted colours are more popular due to the state of the economy,” Ewing says.
“It’s important to know how to pair colours together. We teach people about triadic colours, which are three colours that work well together. Then there are complimentary colours, which are colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, but that complement each other. Monochromatic colours are different tones of the same colour that can be used.”
Fabrics play a big part in the overall package that is a redecorated room. There are also many practical aspects to consider.
“If you buy silk curtains, the sun will eat them up. You also need to look at the rubs of different fabrics. This will help to determine how durable different fabrics are,” Ewing concludes.