Don’t be afraid of the dark when it comes to interiors…

I just love the usage of dark colours in an interior.  Dark Charcoal, Blue as dark as midnight, even Black.   It is Dramatic.  Bold.  Sophisticated.  Chic.  And somewhat Glamorous. (There is reason a LBD is not white!)   And I love that it can work with anything from a more rustic aesthetic to contemporary and have the same striking affect.

Many people are intimidated, even fearful of using dark colours in their interior tho as the natural perception is that it will make a room  feel dark and gloomy, depressing even.  Dark colors get such a bad wrap in interior design but they don’t have to. I am going to dispel some myths about “the dark” and shed some light on why it can enhance an interior.

Myth no 1: Dark colours make a room appear smaller.

Dark colours don’t always enclose a room. Sure it may make a space feel more cozy, but if dark colours are used with the correct colours and materials, the look is so dramatic that no ‘space’ issues are even picked up.

A bathroom is traditionally a smaller room in a house…. take a look at the images below where dark colours have been used to full effect. The look is so bold and striking, and the feeling of ‘space’ not even a consideration.

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If you look at doing kitchen cabinets in a darker colour, again, whatever is paired with the colour will pop so much that the feeling of space is not compromised at all.

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Myth no 2: Dark colours make a room feel heavy

If you use darker tones in your interior the correct way, they will never feel heavy as much as they will feel grounded. The key to keeping a dark coloured interior from being heavy is the finishes or colours that it is paired with.

Dark colours are an excellent background color. A dark wall makes artwork pop and stand out, so break the monotony of the décor with some colourful accent details such as a colourful painting or coloured furniture which you place against a black wall.

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Myth no 3: Dark colours are depressing

Black, gray, navy and hunter green have all been given a bad wrap; yes, dark colors do represent depression in many ways, but it’s not the fault of the colour itself. Colour is colour; you either like a certain colour or you don’t. All white rooms have been shown to make people feel just as uncomfortable as all black rooms. So if that’s the case, why blame certain tones in the spectrum as depressing? The key to making sure that a dark room isn’t depressing is what you pair it with.  My personal fav would be metallics, specifically gold. There is something really glamorous about that combination that appeals to me.

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If you are keen on painting a wall or two dark after being inspired by all these gorgeous images , then I really do suggest my all time favourite dark charcoal shade by Plascon called Bovine (Code 47 on the swatch below) It is the perfect shade of dark grey and all other colours just pop off it and look amazing, promise!

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Wow wallpaper

When you think of wallpaper, does the image of a faded, peeling floral pattern in your great grandmother’s living room come to mind?!

Wallpaper has really moved on since those days, and there are plenty of modern and stylish ways to incorporate the most gorgeous patterned or textured paper into your home, whether you want to wallpaper an entire room or just add some flair to a piece of furniture.

So here are a few ideas on how to use wallpaper, which will hopefully inspire you…

1. As a feature wall. A feature or accent wall is still the most common way to use wallpaper, as a statement is created usually on one wall in the room or a specific focal point (alcove, fireplace mantle etc) This provides interest and is cost effective as not much wallpaper is used.  A feature wall is the highlight of the room and really adds drama and character to a space, so a definite game changer to transform a space.

 

Wallpaper is a great tool to use as a feature in a room
Wallpaper is a great tool to use as a feature in a room

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as an accent to highlight an alcove
as an accent to highlight an alcove

I have to say tho, that I think a feature wall is losing its appeal and people are becoming more daring and open to wallpapering whole rooms, as in all four walls. We have Pinterest and Instagram (and the constant feed of beautiful interiors) to thank for this new bolder, dramatic approach, which I just love!

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2. On the ceiling. Wallpaper is not just for walls. For a really bold look, try it on the ceiling. A bit of pattern or texture overhead can help give the room a more defined look and create a feeling of intimacy or make a room larger depending on the type of pattern or texture chosen.

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3. In a small space. Installing wallpaper in a small space, such as a guest loo, is one of my favorite things to do. It is the perfect place to go OTT, and surprise visitors to your home! A pattern en masse can also make the room appear a tad bigger.

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4. To reflect light. Instead of a mirror, use a wallpaper with a shine or metallic detail to bounce light around a moodier or darker space. Some wallpapers even have glass beads in them which also help with light reflection.

Note the shine
Note the shine

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5. Pops of pattern.  If you are still not sold on pattern, take baby steps. There are plenty of small ways to incorporate wallpaper into home decor without committing to an entire wall…. Look at wallpapering a bookshelf, or a chest of drawers. Simple and highly effective! (And it is a good way to use leftovers from a roll of paper!)

wallpaper in a bookshelf is a simply and highly effective way  to change up a piece
wallpaper in a bookshelf is a simply and highly effective way to change up a piece
Upcycle a chest of drawers
Upcycle a chest of drawers

 

How to make a small space appear bigger….

Is it possible to make a space bigger without structurally knocking down walls? This is something us Interior Designers get asked all the time, so here are my top 5 tips in making a space appear larger

 

1. Hang your curtains from floor to ceiling. This is an absolute game changer, I can’t even express enough how this little detail totally transforms a space and gives an illusion of space. To further enhance the idea of space, try match up the colour of your curtains to the walls. And if you can, go for sheers. The more light you let through your windows the bigger your space will appear

 

this little trick is a gamechanger!
this little trick is a gamechanger!

2. Mirrors mirrors mirrors! Mirrors add depth, expand horizons and are actually one of the easiest ways of making small rooms appear larger. They literally add extra light and make small rooms appear so much bigger!

 

mirrors are key!
mirrors are key!

3. Opt for furniture on legs. Use ‘leggy’ furniture as opposed to blocky furniture on the floor. This creates a sense of lightness and space.  It’s all about the illusion….

furniture on legs creates the illusion of space
furniture on legs creates the illusion of space

4. Re-arrange the furniture. If you put things on the angle instead of against a wall, it actually increases the sizeable illusion… clever yes?

position furniture at angles
position furniture at angles

5. Stick to unified colours as this will visually expand a room. Go for fabrics and rugs in small prints or plain colors.   Oh and another little tip… striped rugs make a small room appear wider and longer!

a harmonious colour palette creates more space
a harmonious colour palette creates more space
a striped rug creates the illusion of a longer or wider room
a striped rug creates the illusion of a longer or wider room

Sweet Dreams…

How to choose the perfect nightstand…

 

I have a personal design dilemma.  I am looking for bedside tables for my bedroom at my beach house.   The problem is, there is not much space on either side of our king size bed for regular-sized pedestals (We had originally planned for a queen size bed), so I am going to have to be creative in terms of what to use. For my beach house I have a very casual laid-back, industrial aesthetic going on, so I need something to compliment this as well…. This got me thinking about bedside pedestals/tables/nightstands – they are a very interesting piece of furniture as they need to excel in both the form and function stakes.   There is no point having a stunning nightstand if you can’t reach your bedside lamp, and equally you don’t want the careful design of your bedroom decor to be ruined by an out-of-place, purely practical piece.

 

So here are some tips on how to choose the perfect nightstand/bedside table

  1. Height

The ideal height for a nightstand or bedside table is roughly even with the top of the mattress, i.e.; the sleeping surface (see pic below). Give or take a few centimeters, you want the top of the table to be level with the mattress, making it easy for you to reach and creating a clean sight line across the bed. If you can’t exactly match the height of your mattress, go for something slightly higher rather than lower as this looks better.

The nightstand should roughly be inline with the top of the mattress
The nightstand should roughly be inline with the top of the mattress
  1. Lighting

Lighting is another practical element you need to consider, as you want to be able to reach your light fitting easily.   If you are going for table lamps, you need to make sure your nightstand table top is large enough.    The ideal size of lamp for a bedside table is around 1/3 of the table size. Keep lamps in proportion with your nightstands, and make sure you have room for your other bits and pieces. If you are tight for space, or prefer a minimal look, wall-mounted lights or pendant lights on either side of the bed  are brilliant. These leave the nightstand free for a few small items, and can add drama and focus to a bedroom.  This is a favourite feature of mine to really make a bedroom special, especially a main bedroom.

*I have pendants on either side of my bed so I don’t need a large surface area for my nightstands.

 

Always a striking feature
Always a striking feature

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  1. Storage

Nightstands with drawers are great for hiding away things like glasses, medicines and other bedroom clutter.   You need to consider whether you want something with a door, or an open shelf, or just a simple table top. A combination of all of the above works really well too.   You also need to think about who will be using the nightstand….. In guest bedrooms it is perhaps not always necessary to provide storage and this opens up options to do more interesting pieces as bedside tables; whereas in a main bedroom or a kids bedroom you probably need a lot more storage and surface area.

*Because our beach house is not our primary residence, I don’t need lots of storage.  I must have surface space tho for some good books and the baby monitor!

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  1. Scale

Keep your bedroom furniture in proportion. A large bed requires larger nightstands, and vice versa. If you have a small room and a large bed consider not using bedside tables at all, rather than squeezing too-small ones in and making the room feel cramped. If you have a bed with a headboard, three-drawer chests of drawers work beautifully as the headboard allows for a higher surface next to the bed.

 

Larger pedestals compliment a larger bed and headboard
Larger pedestals compliment a larger bed and headboard
  1. Style

Think about whether you want two matching nightstands, or contrasting ones. The benefit of a matching pair is that it makes a bedroom look really pulled together and intentional. But having different bedside tables can look great too, giving a room a less formal, more eclectic vibe. If you go for different styles make sure there is one continuous element (colour, material or size) to ensure they work together and don’t look too random. In terms of materials and colour you can be pretty free here: go for a pop of colour or keep things muted.  If you don’t have the budget for a nightstand or want something different, you could use reclaimed timber crates, floating shelves, suitcases or even stools and  tree trunk cut-offs.  Be creative and have fun, but just don’t forget the functional aspects too!

A matching set
A matching set
A combination of pedestals
A combination of pedestals

 

If you want to stay tuned to my search for the perfect nightstands for my beach house bedroom, follow Styleast on Instragram as I will be sharing this experience there.

A stool used as a bedside table
A stool used as a bedside table
A vintage suitcase repurposed
A vintage suitcase re-purposed
Floating shelf
Floating shelf

 

Coming up for Air

If you follow Styleast on any social media platform, you will notice that there has been very little activity over the last few months. I have a good reason for this leave of absence…. I gave birth a few months ago to my second beautiful baby girl so it’s been a busy time filled with nappies, breastfeeding, more nappies and nights and days that all blur into one! I decided to take a little break from the pressures of working, as well as all social media and writing, and enjoy this special time with my new baby and the new dynamic of been a mom of two. Now that the newborn craziness has passed and our little family has settled into a ‘new normal’, I feel that I can come up for air and catch up on what has been going on in the design world…..

1. Pink is still a thing
Apparently ‘Millennial pink’ as the colour is termed, is here to stick around for a while so we might as well get used to it. It is quite hard to define this exact shade of pink….kind of salmony-apricoty-blush-skincolourish…but whatever the colour may be; it’s hot, it doesn’t seem to be a fleeting trend and it is time to start thinking about how you can incorporate this colour into your home. I wrote a bit about Pink in interiors a few months ago so go take a read for some ideas….

Millennial Pink
Millennial Pink
Blush Crush
Blush Crush

2. The Zietzz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa)
Do yourself a favour and Google this! Even better, if you are in Cape Town or are planning a trip there soon, go pay it a visit. Cape Town’s new art museum is an architectural and interior masterpiece designed by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick. Situated alongside the V&A Waterfront, existing disused silos were carved out to create the most magnificent atrium. I can’t get enough of this interior and the way the cylindrical shapes were cut to create the vaults and arches reminiscent of a futuristic cathedral. In addition to its grand appearance, Zeitz MOCAA houses the largest collection of contemporary African art on the continent and is the only museum of its kind in Africa.

How amazing is this atrium!?!
How amazing is this atrium!?!
The Exterior of the building
The Exterior of the building

The Silo Hotel which is situated on top of the silos, boasts an equally striking interior that can best be described as eclectic in style, a mix of old and new in the most contemporary shell. The key feature of the hotel has to be the geometric windows that ‘pop’ out. I just love. Cape Town see you very soon!!

 The restaurant of The Silo Hotel - note the windows

The restaurant of The Silo Hotel – note the windows

An eclectic mix of old and new
An eclectic mix of old and new

3. It’s a jungle out there!
In the last year there has been an increased popularity towards incorporating plants indoors. This is still very much happening and I think this has become less of a trend or design movement but more of way of life as we seek out more ‘green’ in a technological world.Read more about this here.

 

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Whether actual plants or prints therof – foliage is very much on point!

 

There are certain corners in our homes that don’t just fit with a piece of furniture, and solution to this is to place a plant behind chairs. This is most useful when you have limited space thus making the room look closer and larger without being crammed full. Another idea if you have limited space in your home and no space for a pot or basket, is to hang one instead. Through this way you can utilize all the remaining spaces and at the same time it can brighten up the area. This look isn’t for everyone tho and favours more of a bohemian look.

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Foliage is still very much a popular print on fabrics, from indigenous (check out Design Teams new range) to lush jungle motifs. So whether you choose to incorporate actual plants or the designs therof, you pretty much on point.

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4. The Shows.
In the last few months I missed out on the premier interior design and decor exhibition shows in South Africa. Design Joburg, featuring Rooms on View – was held towards the end of May and in 100% Design was on in August. Rooms on View in particular is one of my favourite shows as it is a concept whereby leading local interior designers and architects pair with an array of prominent brands to create imaginative “room” sets.  Instagram was abuzz with one stand in particular, that of Weylandts Spaces. Layering raw textures like stone, wood, metal and linen with rich and refined finishes in shades of grey and burnished orange, it was dramatic and moody and had everyone talking. I will definitely not be missing out on next year’s show!

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So hope you are now caught up like I am! Please stay tuned as I hope to start writing more regularly again and sharing my tips and thoughts on interiors as well as bringing a few new features to the blog!