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The Fundamentals of Interior Design & Decorating

If picking that matching set of chairs, those scintillating light fittings or perhaps painting the walls of your anteroom in an elegant, sophisticated and yet a simple shade makes you want to cringe in that single position with those butterflies in the tummy taking over. Then, you’re not alone. This remarkable creative trait is something that you’re either born with or something you could develop and hone on later on in your life.

If you’re like myself who falls into the latter category then simply start by learning the basics of home decorating, including design principles, decorating styles, and answers to decorating challenges.

Interior Design and Interior Decorating

Interior design and interior decorating are generally mistaken for the same thing, however, that really isn’t the case although, they may have certain similarities the terms aren’t interchangeable. The former is a profession that requires specific schooling and formal training to master, including space planning, knowledge of architecture and an eye for furniture planning and placement.

While the latter isn’t really expected to have an academic background in the above, however, most interior decorators of this generation tend to lean a tad on the academic aspect as well. Interior decoration revolves more on aesthetics and the peripheral appearance of a space. Whom you’d hire entirely depends on the type of work that’s at hand. For instance, if structural work or space planning is what is required or space planning or need someone to plan the décor only.

Interior Decorating

Elements of Decor

This is the toughest part simply selecting a style for your home interior can be torturous but thankfully the internet will simplify matters for you.

Emalka Hapuarachchi, Founder and Head Interior Designer at Emerie, quotes “The first step is to decide on a concept once that is out of the say, you should have the ability to understand exactly what is required. certain factors such as who is using the space, what is it used for, number to occupants, foot traffic, must be considered.” Next focus on promoting the unity and harmony of the style through design principles while contemporarily taking the entire house into consideration with a unifying theme.

It can be as simple as choosing casual instead of formal or traditional instead of contemporary. From there, you can refine it to a more specific style, such as French countryTuscanmodern Victorian, or shabby chic. “Every design choice we make (be it shapes, color, materials) are linked to the chosen concept, even in the most subtle way so that anyone walking into a space understands the message we try to bring out.” Says Emalka.

Interior Decorating

Most experienced interior decorators tend to focus on an art they call Balance, which is another principle—distributing the visual weight in a room. This is a simple trick that adds glamour to the space. This style is either used as a symmetrical placement, which is generally quite common in traditional interiors in this day and age or as asymmetrical balance as seen in casual interiors.

Emalka believes conceptualizing for a residence is somewhat different to how commercial spaces are created. “When designing for a business we initially try to understand the business and the product/ service, target market, foot traffic, number of staff, etc.  this is because having a well-designed space that connects with the product or service you sell can be a beneficial marketing tool, especially to those who encourage a lot of walk in customers or place importance on brand image. “

“Residential spaces on the other hand are more personal as generally the home owner is our client. Therefore, we try to understand the client and his/her personality and their requirements, personal preferences when concluding on designs.” When considering residential assignment an expert will ideally look into a focal point mainly in a living room, it could perhaps be the fireplace or a painting etc. The idea here is to set the colour or texture apart from the rest of the space. Consider implementing the use of contrast and variety into the design to add visual interest, also pay heed to rhythm, repeating elements of the same colour, texture or pattern and a progression of sizes or colours.

“My personal favorite is working with colonial buildings/ restoration projects. In those the concepts speak for itself. we focus on preserving the history/ characteristics of such spaces while giving it a fresh look.” Says Emalka

Selecting the right hues

Interior Design

Choosing the right colour palette is an integral part of interior design. It is soothing to the eye to lean on to contrasting colours as the blend will often complement each room. On the other, a different style and color scheme in each room would highlight the creativity of the designer. Most advertising agencies and design studios adopt this technique.

Mixing patterns

Patterns technically do not need to match, although it needs to complement and coordinate with each other to give that fulfilling feel. Take colour, sizes and texture into consideration when proceeding with mixing patterns.

Decorating Tips

The choice of materials heavily depend on the design concept. Having said that material choices are forever evolving based on time periods, technology and trends. What was once considered trendy might be completely outdated in the modern-day. So, the most effective way to remain in style is by working around simpler items. For instance, a skilled interior decorator with aptitude can scour the entire room and comprehend which items complement each other and they can also visualize the entire set up and opt to omit certain items provided they add too much clutter or require some form of embellishment.

Pillows are an accessory that adds as a hypothetical accent in interior designing, this simple accessory can alter the complexion of the room simply if positioned right or in some cases, even create a focal point for the room. However, some people have a tendency to overdo it with pillows. Avoid overloading a sofa to the point that a guest has to move all the pillows just to sit down.

Now that we’ve covered pillow setting, let’s focus on the artwork. This part of the interior decorating can be tricky, especially since the options at hand are at an abundance. When choosing paintings, portraits or any other kind of artwork simply bear in mind how you display it and where it would be located. For instance, always set wall hangings at eye-level.

A common mistake people make is hanging a chandelier too high or close to the ceiling hence, always pay heed to the height. A rule of thumb is to consider dropping it low enough to bring light into the premises. So that the first thing when a guest or a visitor enters the eye would automatically capture the chandelier.

The final component furnishing is considered the biggest investment sapping component of Interior Designing. If budgets are of concern focus more on sofas, a set of themed chairs and a bed as these are the most likely pieces of furniture you’d invest in. Saving on area rugs, accent tables, and wall art. A mixture of high-ticket items with less expensive options is a trick of the trade that makes the room still feel stylish without breaking the bank.

Designer’s Tips on Building a Cost-Effective Home

  • When designing spaces in tropical countries like Sri Lanka try and stick with lighter tones for walls unless there is a specific reason/concept.
  • When in doubt always go with white (you can always dress it up with coloured decor if you find it too boring)
  • Make use of this tropical weather and incorporate plants into your design.
  • Pay special attention to the lighting. The Lighting you choose can make or break even the most tastefully designed space. Figure out the function of the space and select accordingly.
  • Incorporating large mirrors and make a small space looking larger and more spacious.
  • Don’t overdo on decoration. Add statement pieces in carefully located places. This gives an elegant feel to the spaces for commercial spaces, add touches of your corporate colours to the space

Happy designing!!!

Emalka Hapuarachchi, is an esteemed interior designer and Founder of Sankalpa Interiors an interior design firm based in Colombo. Her work involves working with colonial buildings/ restoration projects, Eco-Friendly homes, offices and much more.

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