Interior design

Interior design must complement architecture: Here’s why

Architecture is the design and construction of buildings. But it’s not just about making a building stand up to the weather or fit in with the local area; architecture is about responding to ideas and creating a bold structure that speaks to the lifestyle of its inhabitants. This is why some buildings stand the test of time where others fail after a mere decade or two!

Interior design is also about responding to ideas but since you can repaint as often as you like, the world of interior design tends to shake things up more frequently. If you sign up to any magazine on interior design, you’ll see for yourself how colours come and go here as quickly as they do in the fashion world. And you’ll probably see the same colours cycling over and over again. 

So what is the key to great interior design and how can you use the architecture of your home to create a space that makes sense visually and practically?

Design Interior and Exterior Together

If luxury home builders could tell you one thing it’s this: you should always design your home in one go. Don’t build a shell to fill, think carefully about how each room will function from the kind of floor you want and where each plug socket will go to where you want to sit and watch TV or how you prefer to move about the kitchen. 

To create a home that truly sits comfortably with itself, its environment and its inhabitants, you must think about all the finishes as early on as possible. Matching colours and textures inside and out creates a sense of groundedness within any property. So, choosing local stone or matching the colour of your render to the trees outside will give your building an instant sense of belonging. Drawing these colours inside, continues the sense of cohesion. It’s no coincidence that many designers have picked up on using the same tiles inside and out.

When you design the interior and exterior together, you can also think more carefully about getting the right kind of natural light in each room. You can also figure out which views you want to frame and where you are likely to be looking from. Placing a window a little lower down so you can see a gorgeous view from your bed is a fun trick many architects like to play but you’ll need to know more about your bed for it to work properly. 

What Works and What Doesn’t

We all have an instinct for what looks good and what doesn’t. And, that instinct isn’t just about which colours match, it’s also about which materials work together and which periods of design. There are lots of different interior styles too but while some mix and match, others simply don’t work. For example, minimalist design is often limited to a few materials and made to look as simple and elegant as possible, it goes well with mid-century modern as well as brutalist pieces but doesn’t really work with bohemian styles. 

The same rule is true for architecture. When you build, you should be thinking about how you are going to move through each space and how you are going to use it. The practical reasoning here is that you want your dream sofa to fit in your dream living room without a fuss. The stylistic reasoning is slightly different. As we said before, architecture is about creating something to speak to a particular idea or way of living, if you then counteract that idea with something completely different, it begins to jar. This doesn’t mean that you can’t play around with different alternative combinations, just that you should think carefully about what works and what doesn’t. 

Another good way to look at this problem is more difficult to define so let’s call it a ‘vibe’. Every room you’ve ever been in has a vibe from your doctor’s waiting room to your Granny’s living room. Sometimes the vibe is positive and calming, other times – like the waiting room – the vibe can feel stale. Again, this is about natural instinct so what might feel like a good vibe to you could give off something completely different to someone else. You know you’re onto a winner when people like a combination for lots of different reasons. 

Managing Materials, Shapes and Colours

The key components of any design are materials, shapes and colours. However you choose to design your home, it all comes back to materials, shapes and colours. Pick a strong colour and you’ll find that it dominates, no matter what else you do. Create a long curving line and the eye will naturally be drawn to its conclusion. Texture concrete walls with wooden boards and you’ll be pressed not to run your fingers across the surface. Actually, texture is particularly interesting because it affects all three.

All forms of design rely on materials, shapes and colours which is why it is so important that your architectural features complement every other design in your home from the furniture you pick to the objects you choose to display. You can tell almost instantly when something doesn’t match because it doesn’t share an attribute with something else. 

This is where you can learn a lot about complementary design and contrasting design. Sometimes, putting a piece that doesn’t fit with the context creates an exciting feature, like a yellow lampshade in an otherwise neutral room or a squishy sofa in an industrial space. The key is understanding how these items still work, even though they shouldn’t. Again, what works and what doesn’t often comes down to a question of taste. 

Whether you are building your own property or working with what you have, every design should take the building into consideration. Your design should speak to the same ideas, even when you are creating bold contrasts and playing with the boundaries of what works. But more than anything, your design should feel like you have made this house your home. 

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