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.
The typical home office is usually tucked away in a corner of the home, such as in a hallway, dining room or spare room. The home office can even find itself in a garage or loft conversion, which do not always offer adequate levels of heating and space to make working conditions pleasant.
There can be many problems associated with the home office, especially where loud and curious young children are involved. Likewise, cabin fever is a real fear for those who work all day at home and then spend their evenings there. Indeed, a change of environment once in a while can be extremely beneficial for physical and mental health of home workers.
Fortunately, for those with a spare £25,000-£30,000 in the bank (or, given the recent economic crisis, under the bed), a garden office can be built to solve most of the aforementioned problems. Although the garden office has been around for quite some time now, its basic designs have evolved considerably over recent years. Indeed, modern garden offices, such as those available from www.roomsoutdoor.co.uk, offer attractive, fully functional and potentially lucrative additions to the home (well, the garden).
Although the cost of a good quality garden office is not at all cheap, their installation at the bottom of a garden can add significant value to the home. Moreover, homeowners who are currently struggling to sell up and move on to larger properties in this depressed market may find that a garden office provides the additional space they require. Furthermore, the garden offices are equipped with solid walls, floors, cladding, electrics and even plumbing, so they provide a peaceful and pleasant environment for home workers. Although the outdoor home office certainly solves a problem or two, homeowners ought to remember that wi-fi signals will not always extend to the bottom of a garden, so construction should be planned carefully.
As Ikea’s renowned, ubiquitous and arguably unsightly Billy Bookcase edges towards its thirtieth birthday next month, thoughts have turned to the nature of the study in this day and age. Of course, the current digital era is essentially all about the computer and how it has affected everyday life.
Indeed, the computer was once considered a newfangled device that was intended solely for nerds and geeks before it became a luxury that many people simply did not require. However, during the last decade or so, computers have become a way of life for most people. The evolution of the Internet has played a huge part in this, whilst many computers have been set up in a home office or for purposes of leisure and social communication.
Accordingly, a question mark has been placed over the role of the home study. Once a place of relaxation, education and quiet comfort, the traditional study would comprise a solid wood desk, leather bound executive chair and rows of book shelves. However, with the exception of professional studies, the need for books is nowhere near as strong as it was twenty years ago. Indeed, most information can now be accessed on-line and the average computer is capable of storing the equivalent of millions of books. Therefore, is it time to do away with the traditional study altogether?
Unreservedly, the answer is no. Book shelves remain the lifeblood of such rooms and there are many fantastic items of furniture available to buy for the study. However, those planning a spot of home improvement are advised to optimise their study space by substituting traditional desks for computer workstations and modernising book shelves and cases. Indeed, the modern study would ideally comprise a combination storage unit, such as one from Ikea’s superb BESTÅ and LIATORP ranges, which is able to house a number of books, DVDs and, most importantly, a large flat screen television.
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.
An old English weather proverb says “If February give much snow, a fine summer it doth foreshow.” so with the end of the current cold snap in sight, maybe now really is the time to look forward to summer and keeping cool. Many motorists consider climate control and car air conditioning necessities during the summer months, but the same is not true of homeowners, with domestic air con units accounting for only a small proportion of the market in the United Kingdom. This is surprising because night-time temperatures can often rise above the optimum “thermo-neutral” temperature required for sleep leading to uncomfortable disturbed nights. Not only can air conditioning help to maintain the temperature and relative humidity of your home, it can also improve the quality of the air that you breathe by capturing pollen and other allergens; this can be of tremendous benefit to hayfever sufferers for example.
Air conditioning has tended to be the preserve of the wealthy, but as many people abandon a traditional office for a home office, or garden office, they are looking for atmospheric comfort all year round and the industry has responded accordingly. Whole house air conditioning may still cost several thousand pounds but basic portable units are available from around £100 or so and more powerful units from around £200.
Garden buildings nowadays are a far cry from what they once were, with a choice of shapes and sizes available and the possibility of creating a really useful additional living or working space. Some garden buildings offer mezzanine floors and even double glazing, which, when used in combination with an air conditioning and heating unit – two-in-one units suitable for installation in a garden office or log cabin for example are readily, and affordably, available – can create a pleasant, comfortable environment inside whatever the ambient temperature outside.
The British obsession with the weather is well known – it’s always too cold or too hot or too wet or too dry – but complaints about the weather often stem from lack of preparation on our own part. So during the current cold snap with snow on the ground in many parts of the country, why not think ahead to the summer months and how you’ll keep yourself and your home cool?
Modern blinds, for example, are manufactured in a wide range of styles and materials all of which are practical, durable and cost-effective. The latest sheer fabrics can gently filter solar radiation so that you can still see the screen of the computer in your home office, for example, and don’t run the risk of fading your soft furnishings or floors but can still experience the beautiful sunny day outside your window. Blinds can be used as an alternative to or combined with, curtains to create the look you desire and, of course, also block heat so that you can keep your home cool without air conditioning.
Roller blinds, for example, can give your room a neat uncluttered look, whilst Venetian blinds can be adjusted to let in as much, or as little, light and heat as you want. Venetian blinds made from wood or faux wood can be a stylish accompaniment to a solid hardwood or laminated floor, although they need to be resistant to warping and mildew if used in areas of high humidity. Many modern blinds are resistant to moisture, dust, etc. and therefore suitable for use throughout your home. As far as cleaning is concerned blinds can be dusted and/or vacuumed in the same way as other soft furnishings or, in the case of Venetian blinds, treated once in a while with a specialist cleaner.
The state of the British housing market – a further fall of 1% in the price of an average residential dwelling in January contributed to a fall of nearly 10% year-on-year according to recent figures – precludes moving home for many homeowners. Families grow, nevertheless, and the emphasis in the immediate future is likely to be on maximising the space available in, or adding space to, existing homes.
A garage conversion, for example – whether you choose a DIY approach or employ a specialist company to complete the work for you – can be an affordable way of adding living space, and value, to your home. You may, for example, want to create an extra bedroom, or a home office, or even a dedicated home cinema.
A loft conversion, similarly, can add an extra bedroom, or bathroom, or both, and anything up to 20% to the value of your property. If you are planning to sell your home when the market recovers, however, prospective buyers may find a permanent solution more attractive than a retractable loft ladder, and Velux® roof windows.
Bear in mind that older properties – built in the early Seventies or before – may require less structural work than newer properties and clearance of 7½’ is required for a ceiling at standard height. If headroom is an issue, dormer windows – gabled windows that extend above the height of the original roof – may be a possibility, subject to planning, building, and fire safety, regulations.
If you are in any doubt about planning permission, etc., contact your local planning office. If you are considering an extra bathroom in your loft spaceyou also need to consider the location of soil pipes and the capacity of your existing heating and hot water system.
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.