Unbeknownst to most people, interior design has both a creative and a scientific process. Imagination and flair are needed but so is practicality. Interior design is defined by 7 key elements that must exist in unison for the overall space and design to work. We spoke with interior designer Alena from Alena C Design in Laois about the 7 elements, their importance and how to incorporate them all in a space.
Interior design is a complex process and ideally should unite all listed elements. Each element is responsible for bringing something unique. However, I would highlight two elements as the most important ones: space and light. Space determines and dictates practicality and functionality within interior. It’s important to achieve physical comfort. Lighting helps to control highlights and shadows and creates unique mood and atmosphere.
When you start working on your home’s interior design, space planning is essential. You must establish the internal layout and choose furniture position. At this stage, you can understand how many individual areas you have and later plan design work around them.
Ideally, one should try to use all elements of design and that’s what designers try to achieve when starting a new project. One element complements another. For example, when you use a textured wall finish, you need to apply lighting to highlight its features. When you use pattern, you complement it with colour and line. Interior design is very complex, that’s why it’s not as easy as it seems. The most outstanding and flawless design includes all elements.
Only an empty, white room could have no design elements at all. Even with something as simple as chair, you bring some design elements to a room. One of my favourite elements is texture, which you get from adding interesting finishing materials. Texture always looks attractive and can be a bold statement in a room as well as a soft accent. You decide which role it will play.
I always work with my clients very closely. I listen carefully to their request and I create a detailed design brief. I establish key points to see what is important for my client and their living/working space. From here, I know what kind of mood I need to create and explore various sources of inspiration: nature, international travel, fashion, art, etc. It might sound cliché but inspiration around us.
Every designer has their own approach. For me, it’s important to establish a good level of trust and understanding with a client from a day one. My key role is to help to create the home that they’ve always wanted to have. At the first meeting, we create a design brief and establish key aspects we need to consider while working on design. We create a list of favourite items and other items which should be excluded. It’s very detailed conversation about their lifestyle, expectations etc and takes at least an hour to complete.
From the design brief, I begin working on actual design and present my concept to the client. The client takes time to see and review mood boards, drawings, sketches, samples and other details to understand the design perspective and overall look. I usually allow up to 3 rounds of revision to make necessary changes. It’s unusual to go further than the 2nd round though. When client is happy with the concept and likes all presented details, I prepare specifications and a shopping list, and we start to fit out and styling.
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Absolutely. There are many brands and affordable stores where you can find interesting and attractive furniture and décor for an affordable price. Design becomes expensive when you are looking for unique bespoke solutions or exclusive designer furniture. If your expectations are modest and the room doesn’t have any odds, you easily can create a nice interior with minimum investment.
Each element is like an additional layer to your design scheme. Imagine a cake that looks better as each new layer is added - the same applies to interior design. It’s important to understand what each element brings:
Interior design helps people to live a better life and feel comfortable in their living or working environment. You can focus on any aspect such as family or mindfulness or whatever else is what important to you.
Interior design is very artistic these days. We can see a strong trend in wall panelling, modern furniture, flooring, and ceiling design. The mixing of finishing materials as a trend continues to grow. In the new year we will see a lot of creative decorative panelling and large format tiles (especially with stone/marble effect) being used in various living spaces.
Wall panelling is very popular among clients. Some clients like more classic traditional panelling style, while others prefer a more contemporary, decorative design. In general, many homeowners like interesting textures as well as contrasting colours such as dark teal, blue or rose taupe.
The best approach is to decide on your layout before you start choosing colours, and then choose the colours before you buy decorative pieces. The design process has clear structure:
When you check your internal layout, decide on your statement wall and accent wall. Choose colours and then add colours/textures and patterns to complement what you already have. It’s like a jig-saw, you try different pieces and see what’s the best fit until entire picture is complete.
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The most rewarding part is seeing happy clients. You rarely need to ask how they feel about the finished design because you see their face light up as soon as they enter the room. It’s priceless! In some cases, when we work on several rooms at the same time, my clients struggle to decide which room is their favourite because they like them all. I make sure that every family member finds something personal in each room, that resonates with them personally.
I don’t have a favourite space to work on. I like that every design project brings something new for me - otherwise I might get bored of similar things. It’s great to be able to work on a variety of Interior types so you don’t get locked in the routine.
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