Late last year experts at IMM Cologne, an exhibition and event business, revealed that minimalist interior design would be hot in 2011. And now we have proof!
According to findings compiled in the book ‘Interior Trends 2011′, ‘Emotional Austerity’ is to be a big trend this year.
As a result of the credit crunch, IMM Cologne believes that people are questioning what it is they need to live well. This is leading to a greater desire for simplistic, formal or severe designs that combine the basic and old with the modern and the high-tech.
The Home Improvement Centre has indeed noticed a growing number of simple yet stylish room designs and accessories cropping up in the interiors world.
Kate Jacobs, home interior stylist for the Guardian, for example, recently created a variety of looks for the kitchen, bedroom and lounge, all devoted to caramel and nude hues. By blending a host of natural colours together, Kate says homes can avoid looking dull but instead be subtle and lavish.
She said: “I love white, but too much of it can be boring, so I like to use it with other neutrals.”
The Daily Mail’s Design File also tipped chic white accessorise as a celebration of the minimalist trend.
Their reporter, Emma Love, said: “Could there be anything more clean and crisp than pure white? It’s fresh, spring-like and a big trend for interiors this season.”
So to get you back to basics, here are some of our favourite items for 2011 inspired by Emotional Austerity.
Top to bottom:
Megan left hand corner unit by Homebase.
Washed Linen Bedlinen, Natural, (£25 standard pillowcase and £220 super kingsize duvet cover) by John Lewis.
Ombra Chair (£125 set of two) by Next.
Modern interior designs are no longer dominated by stylish but sterile contemporary looks – in fact, as with so many seasonal trends, the older or ‘retro’ styles are making a comeback of sorts.
Minimalism in its most aesthetically pleasing form is not entirely dead and many homeowners and developers continue to decorate their homes as if they were sleek designer showrooms. One hallmark of the contemporary look that has managed to establish itself is that rooms and living spaces are somewhat empty without ever being so – indeed, contemporary interiors often comprise plenty of features but little in the way of substance.
Although the contemporary interior decor is one to which many will aspire when redecorating their homes, for most people the look can feel barren, lifeless and austere – certainly no design for a family home. However, the contemporary design, which has traditionally been the preserve of the rich playboy or professional ‘never-at-home’ couple, has taken on a new form with the introduction of that to which it has long been opposed: clutter.
Indeed, the sleek contemporary design can be transformed into a usable family home with the odd compromise here and there. This is especially important for homeowners who wish to cling on to their stylish past despite the fact that their children are running riot over any such dreams. Of course, it is entirely possible to maintain that contemporary look whilst also introducing family (timber frame or electronic) photographs, symmetrically positioned ornaments, well-stocked book shelves and the odd keepsake here and there.
Notwithstanding this, it is crucial that any such items are positioned deliberately, as the random look does not mesh well with the contemporary feel. Moreover, lighting is extremely important when attempting to balance the modern look with the homely feel, so it is often useful to employ a range of overhead lights to create an interesting and inviting atmosphere.
Although most furniture retail outfits offer good deals for consumers, particularly in respect to buying in bulk or via credit agreements, a new trend has emerged among homeowners looking for discount furnishings. Indeed, the in vogue method of buying bedroom furniture is no longer on the high street or at popular nationwide retail giants.
In fact, auctions are now seen as one of the more attractive options for homeowners looking to furnish their properties. Whilst offering exceptional bargains, auctions can also be a great deal of fun and the whole experience can be exhilarating. Furthermore, auctions offer homeowners a range of furnishings that perhaps cannot be found in any traditional retail outfit, as the goods on offer will come from a variety of backgrounds and will comprise all styles, shapes and sizes.
Moreover, the range of auctioned furnishings will include those that are decidedly antiquated in addition to more modern items, especially those that may have been collected as a result of bankruptcies.
Although many homeowners might feel uncomfortable about buying furniture at auctions, it has become a perfectly acceptable practice and one that has been driven recently by the recession. Indeed, if an auction presents a great deal then what does it matter if a chair has been sitting around in an attic for fifteen years or if its previous owner could not afford to meet repayments? Ultimately, the crucial aspects to consider are price and quality.
Thus, auctions represent a low budget, high interest medium through which homeowners can improve the furnishings in their homes. Furthermore, auctions are also good for the environment in the sense that they recycle old – but usually in good condition – items that would otherwise be destined for the scrapheap.
Home improvement projects are often framed in a grand context – extending the property, redecorating the home, going green by installing solar panels or priming the garden for a barbecue summer (even if 2009 is turning out to be a damp squib).
These are all perfectly respectable home improvement ventures and installing a renewable energy system in particular is worthwhile. However, sometimes the smallest improvement can make the most dramatic difference to a home. Indeed, sometimes all it takes is a new item of furniture.
One of the most important rooms of the home is the bedroom, which will ideally be a relaxing and quiet environment. Whilst homeowners take great care in ensuring that the bedroom is suitably decorated, the bed is often overlooked. Moreover, the quality of mattress is usually given scant regard when this is arguably the most essential component of the home. Indeed, sleep is obviously important to all human beings. Numerous studies have established that, on average, adults require around eight hours of sleep each night. Furthermore, the quality of this period of sleep predominantly affects the frequency at which sleeping disorders occur, which are themselves linked to a number of serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and various mental disorders. More generally, a bad night’s sleep can also contribute to muscular and joint pains, especially those affecting the back.
Therefore, a high quality mattress and bed are sensible purchases that could be classed as home improvements. Top quality mattresses such as the Miracoil 7 Nova Dream Pocket 2100 are designed to provide the perfect sleeping experience and can seriously improve sleep related health – even if a mattress in excess of £1000 raises the blood pressure!
In consideration of MET Office predictions of a hot and dry Summer this year, it is understandable that most homeowners and property developers look to the garden for their home improvements. Indeed, a new garden patio or spot of landscaping will work wonders when barbecue season arrives. Moreover, there is arguably no better place for homeowners to spend the cooling Summer nights than in the comfort of their own garden. However, unless the idea is to spend the entire night laid back in a deck chair with a glass of wine on hand, people looking to improve their homes will be well advised to spare a thought or two about their bedrooms.
Redecorating the bedroom for the Summer involves a re-arranging of furniture and a refreshingly new décor. Especially where the miserable Winter had forced property dwellers to erect blackout blinds and dark tones, a Summer décor is all about letting the light flow throughout the room. Indeed, the bedroom should be a cool, calm and relaxing place to rest and sleep, which is going to be a whole lot harder if the room is cramped, dark and gloomy.
The easiest and most straightforward way of opening up a room is to whitewash the walls. White helps to redefine the space available in a room by distorting the mind’s perception of where the boundaries actually lie – in effect, white walls can make a small room look spacious and airy. In contrast, dark walls have the effect of closing the boundaries in considerably, therefore giving the impression of less space than there is in reality. Nevertheless, refreshingly white walls ought to be complemented by bold bedroom furniture colours. The bed in particular must be a focal point in the room, therefore it is advisable to opt for rich, deep colour schemes with vivid and imaginative patterns that will instantly draw the eye’s attention.
Furthermore, it is essential that the bedroom is clutter-free and, unless it is absolutely necessary, electrical equipment in the room should be limited to a radio alarm clock and television – peace is essential.
If you have lost the love for your lamp shades, are sick of your sofa, had it with your headboard, feel wearisome about your wood and are ready to call closing time on your curtains, then you need to take heed of Katherine Sorrell’s top tips for revamping your furniture. Courtesy of Sky’s Life and Style section, Sorell explores the latest trends in beating the decoration depression in light of the current economic crisis.
Her top tips lead with advice on throws that revamp tiresome sofas – patterns are recommended as they will hide all manner of stains! Reupholstering is a further option and, if you are handy with a sewing machine and can attempt it yourself, then all the better! Choose cheap canvas material for areas that you cannot see and remember to allow for shrinkage when making cushion covers.
Making over an old lamp is a cheap and effective way to update a room. Get out those craft scissors, glue and double sided sticky tape! Embrace thrifty chic by decorating with buttons, whilst combining eggshell or white with glitter and metallic for greater impact.
Wooden chairs, tables, stools, bookcases and shelves can all be salvaged with a lick of paint! Although, as Sorell hastens to add “do not paint antique furniture!”. Add a twist to cupboards by decorating the inside with wallpaper or sticky back plastic, and change the whole look and feel by replacing and updating knobs and handles.
A stylish headboard is a fantastic way to update your bedroom and it need not be expensive. Hemmed fabric hung from a baton can be a cheap but stylish alternative to a traditional headboard. Furthermore, by embracing your DIY skills you can add hotel chic by making an extra high headboard. Use tactile modern fabrics to complete the look – such as velvet and moleskin.
Modern curtains should be floor length and can be made ad hoc out of anything from a table cloth to a linen sheet – just make sure that they are hemmed and lined properly!
With 3.5 million home workers – employed and self-employed – in the United Kingdom and 35% of employees taking work home on a regular basis a home office or study is becoming a popular addition to many British homes. A home office obviously needs to be comfortable as well as practical – you are likely to spend much of your day in there after all – but a room dedicated solely to a home office may not be possible in all homes.
It may well be, therefore, that a home office needs to be incorporated as an element of say a living room or bedroom design. Striking a balance between the use of a space as an office and for normal domestic functions should not be too difficult, however, although a little forethought may be necessary.
Whilst ergonomics are important typical office furniture may not be necessary. You can, for example, adapt the shelving inside a wardrobe to store your office supplies or choose a cupboard or shelving that matches the décor of the room so that your chosen space does not necessarily look and feel like an office. Additional seating may not only increase the functionality of your office space generally but also provide you with somewhere to relax away from your desk at lunchtime or after work. The use of patterns too can make an office space seem more “homely” but you should be careful that these are not too overpowering or distracting.
Good lighting is a necessity in any office environment but the range of task, ambient and accent lighting fixtures available nowadays means that does not need to be at the expense of other functions. Necessary office items such as an in-tray or a notice board can also be subtly transformed into a basket, a wine rack or wall art, which whilst nonetheless functional are more in keeping with the look and feel of a room as a whole.
A well designed bedroom can not only provide a calm, tranquil environment in which you can escape the pressure of modern living, but also add value to your property through its appeal to potential buyers. The emphasis in any bedroom is on relaxing and sleeping, but depending on what else you what you want to do in your own space – working, watching TV, etc. – there may be other elements that you wish to incorporate into your bedroom design.
You have the choice, of course, of fitted or freestanding bedroom furniture. Fitted furniture allows you to create your own, coordinated look, and can be useful if your bedroom is an odd shape, or there are awkward areas to be filled. Fitted wardrobes also usually extend from floor to ceiling, creating extra storage space for bedding, etc. that needs to be stored separately from your clothes, shoes and accessories. You do need to exercise a little caution when planning fitted furniture, however, as filling more than one of your bedroom walls with fitted wardrobes may make the room feel a little claustrophobic. If you prefer the flexibility – in terms of being able to rearrange various items, at will – of freestanding furniture, you can mix and match pieces that suit your needs, both externally and internally. If you wish to store long winter coats, or party dresses, for example, you’ll need the full height of a wardrobe to hang them in, and don’t forget drawers and shelves, for sweaters, shoes, etc..
The bed is the focal point of any bedroom, of course, and dressing the bed is as important as your choice of furniture. The trend in bed linen this year is likely to be towards brighter and warmer styles, which are reflected in colour and texture in curtains, blinds and other soft furnishings to create a sense of style in the bedroom.
It was Oscar Wilde who said on his deathbed “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go” but those people whose memories of wallpaper include the Anaglytpta, flock or woodchip styles that were popular in the Seventies may be surprised to learn that wallpaper is undergoing a revival. The minimalism of the Nineties is being phased out in many homes and being replaced instead by a full range of colour and pattern including on the walls.
Wallpaper designs on a large scale often work best in well-lit rooms and many interior designers are incorporating them as important elements of living room or bedroom design. You can, for example, choose a wallpaper in a favourite colour, or colours, and coordinate your bedroom furniture, curtains and other soft furnishings accordingly. Another possibility is to pick out a single wall in a room and paper that wall – perhaps with hand printed wallpaper for added richness and depth of colour – as a focal point or feature. If traditional, old-fashioned, hand printed wallpaper is beyond your means there are some wallpapers which, although mass produced and therefore less expensive, have almost the same characteristics.
There is, of course, an issue with wallpaper – as there is with carpet and paint – with regard to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are responsible for a strong odour as well as being hazardous to the environment. Thankfully environmentally friendly wallpaper with no such compounds is readily available nowadays. If you are hanging wallpaper yourself make sure that you remove any existing wall covering and debris – including flaking paint – beforehand and wash down the wall(s) with sugar soap. For ease of hanging and maximum effect afterwards wall surfaces should be smooth, clean and dry before wallpaper is applied.
If you have a growing family or a home office –whether it be in the corner of a living room or bedroom or in a box room as is often the case – or both – you may well find that storage space soon becomes an issue.
In a living room, for example, you may like to choose modular storage units which can be added to as your need for storage space increases and arranged to suit your changing needs. Dual purpose furniture, too, can be a boon if your space is limited. A coffee table with drawers or a window seat with drawers or large, lidded baskets beneath may allow you to dispense with a display cabinet or armchair and free floor space. Shelving is an obvious solution for books and magazines, but if you choose wide, sturdy shelves you may be able to double their capacity by adding a block of wood, painted or stained to match the shelf itself; this allows a back row of books to be raised above those at the front of the shelf.
In a home office, space saving may not necessarily revolve around small, compact items. An office desk, of course, needs to be large enough to accommodate a computer, keyboard, books, files, etc., but a desk designed to lean against a wall or a corner unit – especially in glass – can maximise the amount of storage available and create an illusion of space.
The same principles apply to bedroom design, of course, and bedroom furniture, such as a cabinet with multiple drawers or a chest or coffer placed discretely at the end of your bed can provide crucial extra storage. You need not be restricted solely to bedroom furniture per se; bookshelves and/or a small desk area in a guest bedroom, for example, can be an excellent method of using the available space to maximum effect.