Thursday, 13 September 2012

Good Interior Design Doesn't Date

The importance of space planning and design.
By Rowena Vaughan, RJV Designs Ltd

15 Year Old Kitchen

A client of mine recently walked into a now quite old (15 years) kitchen that I had designed and said “This, this is what I want!  A room that doesn’t date, that works well and will take me through the next 20 years of life.”   I have to say that I took this as a compliment.  

What was so effective about this room?  It wasn’t the amount of money spent!  15 years ago most of the funds had been used  turning two flats back into a house – with all the plumbing, electrics and internal works that entails.  By the time the clients came to do the kitchen,  finances were tight.   The kitchen units are simple painted Shaker style, the appliances are just white or chrome, the sink nothing special but the room and kitchen work.  Why?  Because  a lot of time had been  spent considering the room; how it would be used and how the family’s life might change with the years and planning for it.  A well designed property will retain its value and continues to look good through all the trials and tribulations that family life will throw at it.  An interior designer can’t organize a house to self clean, but we can set it out so that keeping it tidy is easier.

Good interior design is not just about the decoration, furniture and curtains.  It is about the design, the space planning, the ergonomics,  the small and important details that make a room work over the long term.  Once this aspect of the interior is sorted then the ‘fun’ part of the decoration and fabrics can be arranged.
Some of the most important details to consider are:
  • Lighting – lighting for different tasks and being able to change and adapt the lighting to suit the purposes.  Providing options and variables.
  • Storage – it is an axiom with London houses that you can NEVER have too much storage.  Plan not just for now, but for future requirements.  A small child and their primary plastic toy collection, morphs into one with a huge amount of sports equipment.
  • Sockets – in our electronic age, with all our gadgets and gizmos you can never have too many of these and placing them in accessible areas is equally essential.
  • Flow – how people will move around a room, a space, a floor.  How will a space be used for a party, children playing, just the family.  All are different but need to be considered.
2 Year Old Kitchen
  • Focal point – a room with a focal point looks better visually – a picture window, a fireplace, a large picture all these provide good focal points.
  • Materials – what to use on the floor, worktops, unit finishes.
I could go on!  But these are just a few of the details to consider. 
Good design does not date.  Well planned and thought out houses,  even if the decoration is old and tired,  will sell easier and better than their hotch-potched and ill considered twin.  A house that has been added to over the years without an overall plan can often look a mess, even if a lot of money has been spent on the property.  An expensive bathroom badly planned  is an annoyance.  An extension which increases the floor area of the property but doesn’t add to the functionality of the house or room is a shame.  All that effort for little gain.

William Morris had it right: 
“Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”