HEAD DESIGNER, APD INTERIORS
Q. Dear Andrew, A couple of my are not very big. How can I make them appear bigger?
A. Before doing anything drastic in terms of decoration, ask yourself whether you could reorganise. Nothing makes a space smaller than clutter, so have a clear-out People often blame a messy room on a lack of storage and in a small room it is essential that you have appropriate storage. If you have awkward spaces, it is worth spending some money to get some bespoke furniture.
You could knock down some walls, especially if you have a couple of small rooms. But plan carefully and consider whether a larger room would work. If you don't want to change the structure, use focal points to draw the eye through the room and beyond.
Decorate – choose light, softer colours which will embrace the feeling of openness. Unless the room benefits from good natural light steer clear of darker colours. A tonal decorating scheme works very well for a small space so focus on one colour with various shades for the different aspects of the room - remember that a calm, harmonious scheme works much better in a small space.
Add interest by using a textured wallpaper – horizontal stripes on a feature wall can enhance your sense of space – and bring stronger colours into the room through a few accessories. Use the same flooring throughout and if you want a tiled or wooden floor, think about how you lay it – laying it on the diagonal helps to enlarge a space.
In terms of furniture and fabrics, don't hang heavy curtains – let the light into the room with roman blinds which still let in a lot of light even when pulled. Use mirrors to bounce this light around the room – in a bedroom, have mirrored furniture (currently very on trend). Counter-intuitively perhaps, bigger is often better for furniture. Use a few simple pieces and favour glass: a glass table creates less of a barrier than a heavy wooden one. Extendable furniture is great and wall-hung furniture that doesn’t reduce the floor space helps to make a room look bigger, especially in a bathroom. If your rooms are small but have high ceilings, use tall feature lighting or a large pendant fitting to draw the eye up.
Q. Dear Andrew, I'm thinking about redecorating and want to plan the lighting. What is your advice?
A. Lighting should be a key element to any interior design project but it is often overlooked. If you are renovating, then plan your lighting from the start; fittings often need to be moved and it is easier to move wiring early on. There are three types of lighting: first, ambient lighting which are your general lights. It is typically used with the other types of lighting to create a good atmosphere – on its own it can appear harsh. Second, task lighting is appropriate for areas where you need to carry out certain activities in comfort – ie, an Anglepoise desk lamp. Third, mood lighting. Its primary function is to accent, not to provide a strong light source, which is often provided by lamps, or lights that provide a small amount of accent lighting.
Floor-level lighting in the hallway or up the stairs is a great way to add drama to your lighting scheme while safely illuminating the staircase without the need for overhead lighting. Hidden lighting is another great way to add interest. You can cut a recess into a wall and add a hidden light or put one on the top of the kitchen cabinets.
Bathroom lighting needs to be carefully considered due to the mix of water and electricity. Try to include both task and mood lighting – task lighting is good in the morning but mood is better for evening soaks.
Andrew Dunning is head designer at APD Interiors, an interior design consultancy, www.apdinteriors.com. Follow his design tips on Twitter @andrewdunning