How To Successfully Nail An Open Plan Home

How To Successfully Nail An Open Plan Home

An open plan home is the modern design approach for the smart use of space. However, large spaces can be difficult to contain and decorate. For space AND intimacy, follow these essential tips.

An open plan home is a powerful design statement being spacious with a timeless aesthetic. Boasting freedom of movement, modern homes are now highly social spaces whereby the kitchen is no longer isolated.

As interior designers and renovators, the single biggest area of our work is designing an open plan home with a luxurious kitchen. This space is always connected to a casual dining and living area that flows outdoors via bi-fold or stacker doors. This creates seamless indoor-outdoor living perfect for the Australian lifestyle.

Whilst undeniably aesthetic in nature, there are certain rules to consider for the successful interior design of an open floor plan home.

An Open Plan Home Makes Multiple Rooms into One

In an existing home, it’s common to combine two or more smaller rooms into one spacious kitchen-living combo. Did you know this can have numerous benefits for your psychological well-being?

#1 Benefit: There is a sense of freedom when walls and doors are removed. The removal of these ‘obstacles’ creates a calmness which is highly beneficial.

#2 Benefit: Removing walls will let in more natural light to saturate an expansive interior. Natural light is one of the key architectural tenets that help create a beautiful home.

Are you concerned about noise levels, kitchen aromas, or the lack of privacy? All these issues can be addressed with the smart use of ventilation, textures and layering, and medium-rise furniture.

Retain Structural Integrity

When designing an open plan home, never compromise the structural integrity of the existing building. Always seek advice from a Master Builder to ensure load-bearing walls and other weak points are identified. Load-bearing walls can be removed but must be strengthened with suitable beams, ceiling joists or columns.

Create A Focal Point In Your Open Plan Home

Include a focal point to draw the eye to a hero feature in an open plan space. Great ideas for a focal point include a stone fireplace, an oversized window, or cathedral ceilings. Every room should have some type of focal point. However, in an open plan home, it’s also a way to create intimacy. Because furniture and fixtures can be created around a focal point.

For example, having well-considered furniture styled around a fireplace creates a delineated conversation area. This keeps the space open but also creates a more intimate environment.

Decorating an open plan home can be difficult for the novice decorator. However, consider having a suitable interior designer engaged even before the building stage. Why? Because a qualified interior designer will be able to analyse the proposed floor plan, identify ways to maximise the space, design joinery AND decorate the finished space.

An interior designer will use furniture, lighting, colour, texture, and accessories to fully decorate an open concept space. They will do this in such a way that the space feels intimate not cavernous.

Keep A Unified Theme

Open concept homes must be cohesive especially when areas are delineated with furniture, architectural features, colour and rugs. The last thing you want is a cavernous space with all the furniture hugging the walls. You can still have unique spaces with an open-plan floor plan, just keep the colour palette and theme consistent.

Easily delineate spaces with some interior design tricks. For example, define the dining area by placing a large rug under the dining table and chairs.

How To Define An Area

Define a living area with sofa and chairs in an L-shape, a C-shape, or opposite each other with a rug and coffee table in between. Use console tables at the back of sofas to add some height with lamps, books, and other objects. Therefore, creating visually exciting ways to add energy to your interiors.

Unify spaces by using a similar colour palette – either several shades of the same colour or up to three colours using the 60/30/10 rule. 60% is the primary colour; 30% is the secondary colour; 10% is the accent colour.

Designed by Plush Design Interiors. Kitchen with lowered ceiling area. Image by Claudine Burgess Photography

Use architectural features, such as a low dividing wall, a pair of columns, a bulkhead or rustic beams to acknowledge the difference between spaces. A bulkhead in the kitchen may be lower than the ceiling in the living room, for example. In the image above, designed by Plush Design Interiors, the lowered ceiling delineates the kitchen area in an open plan home. Image by Claudine Burgess Photography.

Open Plan Home Ideas for Other Spaces

Comfortable living spaces aren’t the only areas suitable for an open concept. As more home owners create their own retreat, an open concept bedroom with walk-in robe and bathroom is popular. A free-standing wall hiding a walk-in robe behind has become more common than a walk-in robe with a door, for example.

Bathrooms that are freely seen from the bedroom can maximise the space and natural light beautifully. However, always ensure the toilet is not easily seen from the bedroom area.

I love open concept living. Using a few simple tricks your open plan home can be as warm and luxurious as you wish.

Create An Inspiring Home Office

Create An Inspiring Home Office

Now more than ever, an inspiring home office is on the minds of many business-people. Working from home has become the norm as we battle COVID, restrictions and lockdowns. How will you create yours?

Even before COVID, South Australia was known for having the greatest percentage of small business owners in Australia. Therefore, a functional and inspiring home office is often required regardless of whether that business is run from home full-time or not.

So, whilst this space needs to function well, it can also be stylish and comfortable. I mean, why not? For example, a client of ours is a mad AFL Collingwood fan AND mad about pink. So we decorated her inspiring home office space with black and white striped wallpaper including a bold hot-pink neon sign above the desk that read ‘Boss Babe’. She LOVED it!

An inspiring home office that’s truly functional is totally achievable. Follow these easy designer tips to create a beautiful space that will make you productive and profitable.

The Inspiring Home Office Space

Many a spare bedroom has been turned into a home office, or attic space or even part of the garage. However, tiny spaces can also be used as a home office, even a cupboard. If you have a big enough flat surface and shelf space for your needs, you could create room in surprising places. Add a super cool chair in a bright colour, a charming lamp and co-ordinated storage boxes on shelves to make even the smallest space inspiring.

Of course, if you have more space than a cupboard, think about how much space you realistically need. Perhaps you only work with a laptop. Or perhaps you work with large format items or an array of products. Consider your flat work space as well as storage. I love open shelving to display all my interior design and architecture books. However, I also have cupboards to store all the less-then-glam stuff too.

Handling Clutter

Be realistic about how much space you need and ensure you can keep it tidy and organised. This is where storage containers come into their own. Whether it’s hanging files, ring binders or a multitude of small items, ensure you can store them away on a shelf, in a drawer or under your desk.

The most important part of handling clutter and storage is easy access to what you need, when you need it. Decorative boxes on your desktop, small vases to hold pens, or desk drawers for everyday items. Keep your workspace relatively clutter-free but ensure everything you need is close at hand.

Functional (and chic) Furniture

The old desk in my inspiring home office was formerly our dining room table. It was wooden with turned legs and had a great deal of work surface given it used to seat six people. Trestle tables are popular, having an industrial chic vibe. Small spaces may require a glass top table so you can see through it (thus giving the illusion of more space).

Don’t limit yourself to ‘office’ furniture. Think of something with a flat surface that may suit you… and it may already be in your shed. Similarly, an antique credenza or a bedroom dresser could provide you with all the storage you need.

The Inspiring Home Office Inspiration

Regardless of the size of your home office, have things in there that inspire you. This includes visually pleasing items on the wall, tactile items such as luxurious cushions and throws, inject colour with a great rug, or hang a fabulous chandelier in the space.

Play music, light scented candles, have pictures of your kids, place a bed for your dog… inspiring your home office should be a functional space that also exudes YOUR personality with items you love. Never underestimate the power of an inspiring home office. It may be where your best work is done.

Header Image by Platform 5 Architects

How To Choose The Right Dining Table

How To Choose The Right Dining Table

Maybe you haven’t given too much consideration to choosing the right dining table. After all, a table is a fairly standard piece of furniture, right? Flat top, several legs, what’s to choose?

There is a lot to choose, as it happens. Not simply for eating, the right dining table is an important element in the interior design of your home. Whether you have a formal dining room, an open plan kitchen hub or a small dining nook, choosing the right table is a good investment.

The Right Dining Table Should Have The Style You Want

Before you start looking, have a good idea of the style of dining table you want. For example, are you after something traditional and formal or something industrial and edgy. As a guide;

Traditional: dark timber with turned or carved legs

Industrial: utilitarian feel with a combination of metal and weathered wood

Contemporary: sleek and simple in a modern timber with a glass top of metal base

Transitional: traditional materials but with a casual or relaxed feel

Farmhouse: solid in time-worn timber or with hand-carved details or antique patterns

The Shape Is More Important Than You May Think

Whilst rectangular dining tables are very popular they are not always the right solution for a space. When choosing a dining table think about how you entertain. Are large platters placed in the middle of the table? Are dishes passed over the table? Can items be easily reached?

The right dining table must be right for your needs, not simply a design statement (unless you never eat at your dining table).

With round and oval tables no-one is sitting at the end and conversations can be more inclusive, especially with six people or fewer. These table bases also take up less room and can fit more easily into a small or awkward space.

Square tables can offer the best of both worlds but do require a generous space to move around the table and chairs.

Test out how far in you can push the chairs and how much leg or thigh room is between the chair and the table.

What About The Right Dining Table Size?

The size of your right dining table will be very much based on the size of your dining area. Keep in mind the balance and proportion of the room with adequate space for chairs to be pushed out and for people to circulate.

Consider a drop-leaf or extendable table for more flexibility and bear in mind that table heights can be different between styles and age. Most modern tables are about 76cm high so consider this when you are choosing chairs.

Timber or…?

Hardwoods such as gum, blackbutt, oak, walnut and mahogany will always be stronger and more durable than engineered timbers and MDF. Salvaged wood is great to hide marks, scuffs and spills. Concrete is a popular table top surface that is very durable and glass is a good choice for small spaces.

I use and recommend Reality Furniture at Newton who can design and build a bespoke dining table – interior or exterior – that will be amazing!

Cohesion

Don’t just think about the right dining table. Think also about the lighting above the table and the rug underneath. Look at your room in its entirety, not just the individual elements.

Need More Help?

I will spend the day with you, planning your interior or outdoor living, visiting shops, looking at options and buying items with savings off RRP. Yes, you can hire a Designer for A Day. Please see my ‘Services‘ area for more information or contact me on 0421 043 505 or penelope@plushdesigninteriors.com.au

How To Choose The Right Sofa

How To Choose The Right Sofa

The right sofa choice depends on variables such as budget, quality, size and shape of the room, and comfort factor. Every household is different, so how can you choose the right sofa for you and your family?

Your choice of the right sofa depends on several factors including your lifestyle, the purpose of the sofa, the people using the sofa, the room décor and the size of the room.

However, there are some good rules to follow when it comes to choosing a sofa for any room and any purpose.

The Right Sofa Shape

You have many choices including 2-seater, 3-seater, low back, high back, chaise, modular sofa and more. The shape of your sofa depends on the size and shape of the room. A large modular will be difficult in a small room or a room with lots of doors.

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Choose a sofa that is of a shape and size to comfortably fit the room. In a small space choose a sofa with legs to give the illusion of more space. Ideally, when you walk into a room you don’t want to see the back of a couch, (unless this is an interior design option) so measure well.

The Right Sofa Frame

Always buy a sofa with the best quality frame you can afford. Check the frame construction. Is it hardwood or pine? Are the joints screwed, glued or dowelled? The better the frame the longer it will last.

The Right Sofa Cushions + Springs

It is a personal preference whether you want a soft or a firm sofa. However, like the frame, better quality springs will ensure the longevity of your sofa. Buy for comfort, support and durability.

Cushions should retain their shape when you sit down and not collapse upon impact.

The Right Sofa Material

Family sofas should be covered in tough fabric such as leather – easy to clean and requires only a little effort to maintain. Textured fabrics are good to hide spills and marks if you have small children.

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Scatter cushions and throw rugs can also hide marks. And always Scotch Guard your sofa before use.

The Right Sofa Heights (backs + arms)

Whilst low-back sofas can look cool and modern, they may not give you the back support required. So the height and style if your sofa is, again, a personal decision.

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However, bear in mind the purpose of the sofa – a gorgeous decoration in the foyer or a hard-working sofa in the media room? Choose a sofa with the back and arm height required for long term sitting, and not decoration, if that’s its purpose.

The Right Sofa Price

Always buy the best you can afford, especially if you want to have it for a long time. There are plenty of cheap sofas around but you’ll likely have to replace it again in just a few years.

Expect to pay at least $2,000 for a good quality two or three-seater sofa up to $10,000 or more for a spectacular designer sofa that will last a lifetime.

For more luscious living room inspiration, please visit Plush Living Rooms on Pinterest.

How To Introduce Colour For A Unique Home

How To Introduce Colour For A Unique Home

Are you seeking ways to introduce colour to your home? This can be a scary experience for novice renovators or redecorators. However, why not create a more unique home by using colour like a pro. Here’s how.

There is a revolution on the way. Interior designers are encouraging their clients to be bold and embrace colour. YES, we want you to introduce colour to your home.

If you read interior design magazines, you will have noticed the plethora of white, black, grey, charcoal and wood grain décor around. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Homeowners love the neutral and often minimalist décor of contemporary homes.

However, I am also constantly asked about how to introduce colour. People are confused about colour so the default position is neutral – white, beige, grey being the predominant hues.

To Introduce Colour Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Colourful

There is a difference between ‘colour’ and ‘colourful’. Some people embrace a riot of colours with clashing prints, bold colours that are opposite on the colour wheel and have a maximalist aesthetic. That’s fine for confident decorators and unique artists. However, it’s possible to add colour without feeling like you live in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

When advising clients on their décor, I look at the walls, floors and ceilings first. These tend to be in neutral palette territory except for the occasional dramatic wall. When deciding upon the colours of your walls, floors and ceiling, it’s important to consider how much natural light comes into the space.

You may also like to read my article on ‘The Ten Commandments of Colour‘ published on this blog.

Rooms on the cold side of the house should be painted in warmer colours. Whereas rooms with lots of natural sunlight can be painted in cooler colours. Please also bear in mind that there will be furniture, rugs, window treatments, art works and accessories in the room. These elements are all inter-related.

Should I Add Colour With A Feature Wall?

By all means, choose a neutral tone you love and run with it. The trick is to add colour and texture so the room isn’t cold and clinical. Could you add a feature wall in a deeper tone of the same colour or choose a fabulous wallpaper?

Some of my clients fear that a feature wall will turn their home into a ‘show home’ while others embrace that idea. Personally, I love a good feature wall. A feature wall should be the first wall you see when you enter a room but unencumbered with doors and windows. The bigger the free space the better.

However, a feature wall could also be somewhere surprising, like under the stairs. Paint colour is one thing, but adding wallpaper will elevate your home to another realm. I LOVE wallpaper because there is endless choice. Plus, modern wallpapers are much easier to apply and remove than ever before.

How To Introduce Colour in Furnishings + Accessories

I generally suggest clients choose a non-patterned fabric, or leather, for the bigger furniture like sofas. Add colour with textured, patterned and clashing colours in cushions, throws, lampshades and window treatments.

A rug will anchor furniture and define space. However, a rug is not viewed at eye level; it’s on the floor. So choose a bold and/or patterned rug to add personality and texture to your space.

Add colour, interest and surprise with art works on the wall or a dramatic floor lamp. Perhaps paint a piece of old furniture and add coloured handles or bright upholstery.

Small Space Colour Bursts

Small spaces respond well to dramatic colour bursts. So if you have a small toilet or powder room, consider a bold paint or wallpaper. Bring to life space under the stairs or a pantry door by painting them in a bold glossy colour. Red perhaps?

Image courtesy of Whitehall Homes

The great thing about paint is that it’s easy to replace if you really don’t like it. However, you’ll probably love bursts of colour and texture by choosing at least one surprising cushion or an outrageous art print.

Be bold. Add colour. Live with what you love.