A new lease on life
Thinking of improving rather than moving? Angela Connolly, director of Conbu Interior Design, talks to Ben Murnane about making the most of your space
Sometimes people become fed up with their current living environment and are ready for a change - but they don't want to leave the area where they live, or can't move for financial reasons.
How should someone approach re-designing or re-invigorating the space that they have - where do you begin?
Angela advises: "If you're not happy with your home but don't want to move from the area or can't afford to, I recommend you start writing a list of everything which isn't working in your home - what don't you like - and focus on this list.
"Prioritise the list and hire a professional interior designer or architect who will help you get the most from your existing space. Engaging a professional could save you money in the long run."
Does Angela have any specific advice for different rooms in a house?
"The kitchen is probably the most expensive room in the house to refurbish. If you're happy with the overall layout, you can have the doors resprayed or replaced and fit a new countertop."
This can be a cheaper way of reinvigorating the space.
"If storage is an issue, and you have enough space, add an island, as it can provide ample storage and an additional work area. Installing a shallow, custom-made floor-to-ceiling pantry provides additional storage and is easily accessible."
If someone is building an extension, what general approach to design should people take - is it important to go with the aesthetic of the older portions of the house, or should something new and different be tried?
"I am often called to design the interior of a new extension - people feel overwhelmed with the new space and don't know where to start. It's important to look at the overall space and then create zones. Make sure there's a good flow between the existing home and the new space."
Light and colour
How important is natural light to create a sense of space? If people can't do away with furniture, etc, to actually create space - how can they achieve 'the illusion of space'?
"Natural light is very important, but it's not always easy to get," says Angela. "You can add artificial light, mirrors and reflective surfaces which will bounce light and create the illusion of space.
"If you have built-in furniture, you can paint these the same colour as your walls, and they will blend into the room without appearing too obtrusive. Add lighting, mirror-back panels, and glass shelves, which will really brighten the space."
There will almost always be some things about your existing home that you like - and Angela reminds us that it's not necessary to replace everything when you renovate. What other tips does Angela offer for remaking the old as new?
"Design the space around some key pieces of furniture and incorporate these into your new scheme. If you have good-quality items, you can have these re-upholstered or refinished.
"Some of my top tips for doing a design renovation are: (i) start with the colour scheme for the entire home and accent colours to add interest; (ii) invest in some quality custom-made furniture - sofas and cabinetry; and (iii) add cushions in contrasting colours, patterns and textures."
When it comes to colour, Angela adds: "Choose colours you like, not what's on trend. Colour can affect your mood and so it's important to choose wisely.
"Your son may want red in his bedroom, but keep it behind the headboard, or he may be too stimulated to sleep! However, because it's stimulating, red can be great for a formal dining room, as it encourages conversation and whets the appetite.
"Again, I'd suggest hiring a professional for advice, as choosing a colour scheme for your home can be daunting."
- Visit www.conbudesign.com or contact Angela on 086 826 9995
Top interiors trends for 2017
What interior design and home improvement ideas will be big in 2017? Angela picks six main trends for this year…
1. Greenery – the colour will be widely available in accessories, tropical prints, etc.
2. Muted pastel tones – white, pale greys, blush pinks.
3. Artisan crafted furniture and ceramic pieces.
4. Brass will be the new copper – and will be seen in lighting, accessories, etc.
5. Textures – pleated velvets, woven metals, silk, sheepskin.
6. Geometric shapes – hexagons will be everywhere!