Monthly Archives: October 2017

Seven common mistakes that people frequently make when designing their home

There are seven common mistakes that people frequently make when designing their home. These mistakes are often reinforced in home design magazines and television shows. Explained below are the seven most common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

This article has been written from an Australian perspective. If you live in North America, Europe, or elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, reverse the north/south orientations mentioned below.

1st deadly sin: Not orientating living spaces north
This is the biggest mistake most people make when designing their home. There is nothing worst than living in a home that is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But you can have both.

Ideally, orientate all bedroom & living areas to face north. This will provide perfect sun penetration to every room in the house. But realistically this is impossible for most homes that are restricted by the average suburban block. The following rules generally apply for typical suburban blocks.

Locate all living areas on the north side of your floor plan. The floor plan shown here has good northern sun penetration through northern facing windows and was created using the Planit2d 2D Floorplan creator.
It is preferable to locate the kitchen to the north/east so you can enjoy the beautiful morning sun while sipping your cup of tea.
The main bedroom is preferable on the north/east if you are a morning person and will also be totally protected by other internal spaces from the brutal western summer sun.
All bedrooms should be protected from the western afternoon sun in summer as much as possible – buffer the bedrooms with the laundry, store rooms, the garage or a heavily insulated walls face west.
Window overhangs and shading – 900mm roof overhang is the optimal roof shading depth over windows to the north, on home sites with excellent sun penetration (if your site is shaded by trees or neighbouring house you will need to vary this accordingly).
Avoid having any windows and doors on the west side of the home, unless a small high window is necessary for ventilation. If western windows cannot be avoided (due to views etc) consult a building design specialist.
Insulate all external walls, ceilings and roofs. Ceiling and roof insulation are two different items and you should have both to ensure your home is thermally comfortable throughout the year.

Six talents to sound off on two equally chic aesthetics

Do you believe less is more or more is more? Do you like to stick with the essentials, or do you bring home something new from every excursion? Do you prefer a foundation of serene neutral hues, or are you drawn to no-holds-barred color? Basically, are you a minimalist or a maximalist? Ultimately, there is no wrong answer—there is beauty in both the thoughtful simplicity of a minimalist space and the eye-catching mix of tones and textures in a maximalist one—but many designers (and design lovers) have a preference. So we asked a few top designers to weigh in on why they love one or the other. Here’s what they had to say.

The Minimalists

“Though not necessarily minimalist, we define our style as ‘layered modernism’—a refined aesthetic that combines clean lines with luxurious materials and finishes, creating warm, sophisticated, and comfortable spaces. We do appreciate minimalism’s long unbroken expanses, simple details, and soft color palette—these act as a visual palate cleanser. As a society, we are assaulted every day by a barrage of visual stimuli—it’s overwhelming. A reductive environment allows the eye, the mind, and the soul to rest and rejuvenate. A successful minimalist setting, highlighting form and line and free of superfluous detailing, can be utterly sublime. What I don’t think people appreciate about minimalist design is that it’s not as easy as it looks—in fact, it requires rigorous precision in planning and execution. With traditional detailing, errors in measuring can be masked with thick moldings and flounces of fabric. With minimalism, everything has to be ‘perfect’; adjoining materials, walls, and floors, have to be exactly straight—any deviation shows terribly.” —Russell Groves of Groves & Co.

“Minimalism in architecture is a movement. Maximalism is a lifestyle of living in an unimprovable space that can’t be altered structurally so one must overwhelm the senses with objects, pillows, and color. True minimalism uses the refinement of materials and the poetry of intersecting planes with the relationship of objects and their proximity to each other. Maximalism is hedonistic and bohemian in its message. If you can’t hide it, paint it red.” —Simon Townsend Jacobsen of Jacobsen Architecture

Think About Before You Commit to Stone Flooring

Just like wood or glass, stone is a hugely popular element in interior design, and the possibilities for how to incorporate it are endless. Do you want granite kitchen countertops? Travertine flooring? A stone fireplace surround? To find out how to make the most of the material, we turned to Miriam Fanning, principal at Mim Design in Melbourne, Australia, for advice. But before you decide on an application, you’ll need to choose the stone itself. Fanning’s first rule: “When selecting stone, it’s important to make sure that it is authentic and not faux. Authentic products will stand the test of time and will not be prone to dating.” From there, here are the factors to consider.

Stone should enhance the aesthetic of your space
“The kitchen we created at this residence has a soft look that was achieved by selecting a stone with a minimal vein,” says Fanning. “A stone with a heavier vein would have created a more dramatic look.” Here, the material of choice was white-and-gray Elba marble, but if the room requires a design with more heft, Fanning suggests Calacatta or Statuario marble.

Not every type of stone can stand up to wear and tear
“For heavy-duty spaces and frequent usage, granite can be the best natural stone to use in terms of its performance,” says Fanning. In this commercial kitchen showroom, it was the obvious choice. “Jurassic granite is practical, hard-wearing, and ages well over time. As a natural stone, it will last for many years, gradually forming a patina, and will enhance the value of the home.” Of course, no stone is indestructible; Fanning always recommends applying a sealant to protect the surface from scratches and stains.

Stone doesn’t have to feel unwelcoming
“Underfloor heating ensures a warmth throughout, while selecting a product with a natural form creates a unique look,” says Fanning. Limestone, travertine, granite, and slate are all good options, but Fanning usually opts for marble. “I love how it obtains its different colors from the mineral and fossil elements in the stone,” she says. In this home, light reflects off the veins in the Elegant Grey marble flooring, creating a luminous effect.

Rules That Miles Redd Loves to Break

In the world of interior design, decorating rules often become so embedded they are second nature—but not for everyone. We’re looking to those boundary-pushing talents to find out the popular design ideas they’re ready to move on from, and what they are trying out instead. First up: Miles Redd, who defies easy labels, bringing his own special blend of glamour and wit to every project. Whether he’s decorating a tropical vacation home or a Texas mansion, the New York designer can always be counted on to defy conventions. We turned to Redd, the former creative director of Oscar de la Renta and author of The Big Book of Chic, to learn which design rules he thinks were made to be broken.

Rule to break: Use color in small doses
“Often when I flip through a catalogue, it would appear we live in a world of beige, a great big bowl of coffee ice cream,” says Redd. The designer prefers to embrace rich hues, as in this windowless entryway “where it appears glittering rather than dull like dishwater.”

Rule to break: Scale back in small rooms
“I think people see tiny rooms and they think they need tiny furniture, but often one large thing kissing the ceiling will expand the room,” he says.

Rule to break: Mind your manners in formal spaces
“Good decoration can be so correct, it can be a little boring,” says Redd. The mega metal mosquito on the ceiling of an otherwise formal living room in Houston “takes the edge off things and shows you have a sense of humor.”

Rule to break: Only accent with pattern
Whereas some decorators stop with printed pillows, Redd takes pattern from floor to ceiling. “One really strong pattern can make a statement and lift the ordinary to the unexpected.”

The Inspiration Behind John Derian‘s Fanciful Creations

“Sometimes I feel like a chef at a farmers’ market,” says decoupage artist John Derian, amid the vast collection of antique etchings, engravings, and manuscripts in his studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “What’s available is what I end up using,” he says of the prints, which he finds at estate sales and flea markets and fashions into his signature creations. For more than two decades Derian has sold his own plates, lamps, and other objets alongside a selection of artisan-made home goods at his eponymous shops in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Now his favorite images—from delicate 18th- and 19th-century botanical and animal studies to charming children’s drawings—have come out of their storage bins (Hermès boxes and vintage suitcases) and onto the pages of his first tome, John Derian Picture Book (Artisan, $75). “It’s like a self-portrait,” he says of the volume. “These images have been part of my life for so long, they’re like friends.” On the occasion of the book’s publication, we paid a visit to Derian’s studio to discover the pictures, patterns, and objects that color his imaginative world.

“The two gloxinias were a natural fit together,” says Derian of an exuberant floral spread in his new book. “The left image is from an early-20th-century French magazine, and the right from a 19th-century Belgian horticultural journal.”